welcome to the forum
The bark on hawthorn is coarse ,but you can finish it how you want .The hawthorne shank i have has the barked stripped its the only variety of shanks i strip the bark off . i find its to coarse .
I stripped mine with a draw knife its a quick job then rubbed it down . I havnt done anything with it yet its still waiting to be finished but i suppose it will end up with a water buffalo horn collar and some kind of carved topper.It will have a brass ferule put on when its time to do . i have had this nearly a couple of years ,so its a lady in waiting.
there are quite a few stickmakers clubs around depends what part of the coutry your in .Most of these use ram and water buffalo horn but a few carve toppers so there is plenty of old hands that can give you advice on here or around your locality .
You will also find hazel pretty easy to get hold of it grows in most countys its strong with a variety of colour on its bark its easy to straighten and work also ash and chestnut isnt difficult to get .
I finish vitually all my shanks with danish oil but was considering using a varnish on the hawthorn it depends on what type of finish you like.