Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Yorkshire Dales 19-25th October 2008

The Dales Way is an 84 mile long-distance footpath which follows the lovely Wharfedale valley through the beautiful Yorkshire Dales National Park all the way to the Lake District. With only a week we knew it would be a challenge - of logistics at least, with a campervan to move along with us, as well as the dog. Fortunately the forcast was rain and everyone else stayed home -we saw very few people, some days no-one!

We wanted to find hideaway spots (hidden away outside of commercial campsites) but the first commercial campsite we happened to look at was so deserted, we felt like it was ours alone and there is no delying that a warm toilet, shower and dish washup area are a plus.
The outcrop is predominantly Carboniferous Limestone and the "Yoredale Series" of layered limestones interspersed with shales and sandstones, capped on the higher fells by Millstone Grit. The first day we walked along a stream valley,Troller's Ghyll near Appletreewick, and sometimes the flow totally disappeared into caverns and then later the dry valley would suddenly have a river emerging from a spring.
The second day we raced down the dirt lane and just manage to catch the local bus to the ruins of Bouton Priory (that training paid off!) and walked back to Appletreewick. Then the next day we bussed up to Grassington and walked back. The autumn colours were beautiful and both days the rain held off almost until we made it back - just in time to head for the pub!

When the limestone was at the surface, we walked across an other-worldly "limestone pavement". Nelly didn't like jumping between the blocks!
Finding a place to camp in Barden was harder, and we finally negociated a spot snuggled up against a stone barn with some privacy out of the weather.

Then we headed up into the deserted upper Wharfdale valley where Billy chatted with this stonewall-mending air-guitar player. The rain settled in, so we drove the loop to the north of the national park, stopping off at the Wensleydale Cheese factory where we saw the most walkers in the whole trip!
National Parks are different in the UK than the US. People live in the parks and own the land here. Wilderness is hard to find, but the picturesque stone-cottage villages are really inhabited with craft workshops, antique and other speciality shops, hotels, pubs, restaurants and caf├ęs. Some tourist tat, but not alot.

The best day out was the last when we made a 12 mile loop up Flintergill and around the village of Dent. I liked the history of Dent which was at one time a veritable power-house of hand-knitting, the profits from which provided an often essential addition to their meagre farming income. The "terrible knitters of Dent" would knit during church (shock!) and until the early 19th century the men, women and children would knit by holding one of the needles protruding from a belt, and with the other in the right hand, the left hand was free to do another job, such as churning the butter or wrapping the cheeses.. Cool, I'll have to try it for knitting and walking!


Petraruns said...

Well come on Drusy - tell us more! It's gorgeous - did you drive it, cycle it, run it, walk it, drag your lovely dog along all of it?

I'm ashamed to say I didn't even know about it! I'm going to head up there now I think. Can you cycle on it?

Drusy said...

We walked except for running for the bus. It is mostly footpath, with kissing gates and narrow stone styles, but there are roads, bridalpaths and tracks that get very little traffic this time of year which would be brilliant for cycling!

Alisa said...


Joe S said...

Ever since I saw, 'All Creatures Great and Small' on television, I have fallen in love with the Yorkshire region. I had the opportunity to visit there about 10 years ago and it did not disappoint. Great pictures!!!

--Joe S