I particularly love the many make-shift gates that were clearly made many years ago, often 'it'll do for now' creations, bound together with baler twine, that have somehow managed to hang on for years and years.
Sometimes there are more sophisticated solutions, with proper springs or weighted rocks to help the gate to close, but mostly they're very simple affairs.
Kissing gates dispense with the need for a 'please close the gate' sign and reduce the chances of an errant tup finding the ewes. They're easy for humans to use but tricky for livestock to figure out. The gate swings so that they're just kissing room to pass. There are many variations of this - there's even a double one along the riverside walk at Burnsall.
There are countless wooden stiles abound, often quite rickety and some with little dog doors at the bottom. Whatever the format, stiles, gates and wall squeezes abound, often beautiful in their simplicity and usefulness.
Anyone who enjoys walking in the Yorkshire Dales will be familiar with the many different methods landowners use to enable walkers to use footpaths without letting out their livestock.
Miles and miles of dry stone walls criss cross the landscape, enclosing fields where sheep and cows graze. You'll spot some breaks or 'squeezes' in stone walls, created by vertical stones, which you can just about manage to squeeze through. You'll also find layered steps creating out of stone slabs walking over a dry stone wall.
No one can agree on exactly how many dales there are in the Yorkshire Dales, nor which are the most beautiful, or best to visit. However I think we can all agree that Ribblesdale is packed with the 'big names' of Yorkshire Dales attractions and activities.
The River Ribble starts on the moor above Newby Head, at Gavel Gap and flows on towards the Irish Sea. Ribblesdale is the area from the source of the River Ribble until Settle (or Helllifield depending who you speak to), after which it becomes known as the Ribble Valley.
Along its route you'll find the famous and stunning Ribblehead Viaduct, along the route of the much-lovedSettle-Carlisle Railway. Many visitors are drawn to Ribblesdale to enjoy the wonderful walking routes including part of the Pennine Way and the Dales High Way.
Ribblesdale is home to Yorkshire’s famous Three Peaks, Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen-y-ghent, popular challenges for walkers, cyclists and fell-runners alike. At 2415 ft, Whernside is the highest point in North Yorkshire. With the highs come the lows - in this case deep into the ground. On the southern slopes of Ingleborough lies Gaping Gill, one of the largest underground open chambers in the country and just one of the numerous potholes and cave systems to explore. The more-fainted may prevent less arduous adventure in Ingleborough Cave near Clapham and Ingleton.
This area’s history is written in its landscape. You can find the remnants of walls dating from the pre-Roman era, old drovers’ lanes, dry-stone walls, sheep creeps, wash dubs, bee boles, packhorse bridges and lime kilns, including the remarkable Hoffman Kiln. If you visit in Autumn you may even be able to see the spectacle of salmon leaping at Stainforth.
Images: View from Gauber Bunk Barn by Katie Hawkins; Ribblehead Viaduct by Terry Jackman; Stainforth by Andrew Locking of AndrewsWalks
Do you ever feel like it's time to hibernate?
As Autumn moves from bright cold days when the sun glints on the russet and orange leaves, into a more soggy Winter, it's easy to feel like it's time to step back from the world.
It's lovely to be cosy indoors but I think it's even more enjoyable after some kind of outdoor activity, getting wet, cold and a little tired, and then coming inside to enjoy the contrast.
If you do feel like hibernating in the Dales, here are a few ideas to help you find some comfort and joy.
First of all you might like to pick up some supplies to see you through a long wintry evening - farm shops like Keelham and Town End Farm Shop are cosy places anyway and full of treats.
Once you've got your food and drink supplies, you might want to consider your entertainment. You could go old school with a Yorkshire Dales themed jigsaw from Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust, or maybe visit one of our great independent book shops. You might also enjoy an evening by the fireside with Tales of the Dales by Ian Scott Massie. My best memories of cosy winter evenings as a child centre around days when we'd gone out for a bracing walk, come back and enjoyed a roast dinner and then settled down to enjoy watching James Herriot. How about a touch of nostalgia, watching the Dales of old with a box of All Creatures Great and Small. The new version is currently being filmed in the Dales and will be on our screens late in 2020.
If craft is your thing, then you could add to the cosy feeling, by creating something warming with wool, or you could look into learning a new craft somewhere like ArtisOn or Farfield Mill.
If your idea of hibernation involves a convivial atmosphere, with a few happy souls, a bar and an open fire, then you'll definitely enjoy a cosy Yorkshire Dales pub.
Is Leyburn Yorkshire's most surprising market town? So much of it is hidden, many miss its most special gems. Many visitors arrive in the market place and assume Leyburn simply consists of that one area. The reality is that many of its charms are behind the buildings you first see.
Start with the market place and you'll find some unexpected delights. Few shops can boost such fine views as those from the top floor of Milners of Leyburn. The amazing hardware and cookware selection of the Aladdin's cave For House & Home has to be seen to be believed. You'd never guess from the unassuming entrance of Campbell's that this is not just a shop - it's an emporium, attracting gourmets and fine wine enthusiasts from far afield.
Wander just off the market place and you'll discover Emma Sedman Jewellery, the Little Alf Shop, and other interesting and quirky shops, with a really good selection of pubs and cafes. The Auction Mart is an experience in itself! Tucked away round the corner is the Old School House which has a regular programme of events and film screenings.
Walk out of the market place towards the Shawl and you'll not only be treading in the footsteps of Mary, Queen of Scots but be treated to wonderful views and an incredible playground.
A very short drive out of Leyburn will take you to Tennants. In addition to their regular auction sales, Tennants now have an interesting exhibition space and the Garden Rooms' - the popular cafe, restaurant, bar and gift shop with regular events.
Nearby is Inspired Chocolate where you can see chocolates being made (the chocolate shoes and pizzas are popular!) and take part in chocolate-making workshops from time to time. Not far away is Constable Burton Hall, famous for its annual Tulip Festival.
Leyburn has a great programme of events too - look out for the Dales Festival of Food & Drink, Wensleydale Tournament of Song, Leyburn 1940s Weekend, and Wensleydale Agricultural Show.
There is parking behind the market place near the Auction Mart. For a real sense of arrival, why not take a trip on the Wensleydale Railway?
Skipton bills itself as the 'Gateway to the Dales' as if you might simply want to base yourself there to visit the Yorkshire Dales yet it's got plenty to attract visitors in its own right.
The name has nothing to do with skipping: it means 'Sheep Town', relating to its heritage, trading sheep and woollen goods.They hold a very popular 'Sheep Day' in July, and Yarndale, an event for anyone with a passion for wool and wool-related handicrafts.
Skipton Castle watches over the town like a matriarch watching their relatives at a party, thinking over the past and reflecting with satisfaction that although there are changes, the family is still strong. Yorkshire isn't short of castles but Skipton is definitely one of the best kept - retaining its room is a distinct advantage. Some may think of Skipton Castle Woods as the castle's back garden but the woods are worth a visit in their own right.
You can enjoy a different view of the market town by taking a canal boat along the Leeds Liverpool canal, or follow the tow path to see more of Skipton's industrial heritage. The Canal Basin is the setting for the annual Waterway Festival and farmers markets.
Skipton's high street has managed to retain much of its character, and still holds a market on Mondays, Wednesdays, Friday and Saturdays. The high street is often praised for its good range of independent shops. On the edge of Skipton is one of Yorkshire's best farm shops - Keelham.
The auction mart also still attracts good trade and has a novel dual personality, transforming itself into a very special theatre!
There seems to be so much doom and gloom around at the moment, I decided to abandon my planned blog in favour of something upbeat. I'm hoping that you'll add to this with your own ideas and we can create our own little virtual retreat with positive people in and around the Yorkshire Dales.
I've been thinking about people I know in the Yorkshire Dales who make me smile in one way or another. Even as I write this I'm realising that I'm bound to leave out some essential souls. Please don't be offended, this is just my initial list. I'm sure you'll have some more to add?
Guy Carpenter is a photographer who lives in Richmond and whose atmospheric images you'll see on many of these blogs. He has recently photographed and written a fantastic book about Dales folk. He's upbeat, generous and I love his interest in people and places around the Yorkshire Dales, highlighting their stories through photos and prose.
When I think of people who're incredibly generous with their skills and time, Josie Beszant, owner of Masham Gallery immediately springs to mind. She puts a huge amount of her time into running the wonderful Crafted by Hand event with lovely Charlotte Morrison twice a year, supporting artists and makers. Josie also mentors and nurtures so many creative people, and has been fundraising for Karkeri School in Rajasthan for several years.
Liz Cornish runs Cordilleras House in Richmond and not only delights her guests but also works with Marie Curie when she's able, and does laundry for Coast to Coast walkers in return for donations to charity - a simple idea that makes a difference both to her guests and the charities she supports.
I think of Glenda Calvert as the leader of what I call the 'Swaledale Mafia', a delightful group of women who run fantastic accommodation in Swaledale and Arkengarthdale. Glenda has been generous in her support of this blog and shares her own experiences of living on an upland farm in her own fascinating blog. That genuine sense of sharing and caring for each other is one of the things that makes Swaledale so special, shown too by initiatives like the Keld 'pop up' cafe in Winter, the brainchild of Jacqui from Butt House.
The Two Dales Bakery is a relatively recent arrival in Reeth, headed up by smiley Hannah whose baking and lovely cafe is a wonderful addition to the Dales. You might want to combine your delicious bread from the bakery with cheese from 'the other cheesemaker in Hawes' aka Ribblesdale Cheese made by the wonderful Iona. While we're on the topic of cheese, I have to mention Andy Swinscoe, a real food hero who mentors and showcases independent cheese makers at the Courtyard Dairy. I don't think you could ever meet a man who is more passionate about his product.
Actually a contender for the 'passionate about food' prize would definitely be Chris Wildman over in Airton near Malham. Chris runs the excellent Town End Farm Shop and tea room. Chris just oozes enthusiasm, and the only time he seems to stop talking about Yorkshire food and drink is when he's eating and drinking it!
There's a lot of uncertainty in farming at the moment so I think we really do have to take our hats off to anyone who is still positive and seeking solutions to make farming more sustainable, and to educate the public about the realities of farming today. Neil Heseltine and his partner Leigh who farm at Hilltop Farm in Malhamdale are definitely in this category. Tim Durham introduces visitors to the animals on the farm at Wensleydale Experience in a fun way, opening the doors to further understanding.
The Spence brothers recently returned to Home Farm to expand their family farm and develop new approaches to farming. They've quickly established themselves as innovators, thanks to their fantastic mobile milk vending machine which sells some of the best and freshest milk you're likely to ever drink. Their love for their cows and enthusiasm for what they're doing is infectious.
I recently met another farmer who is passionate about attracting more wildlife to her farm, and making it accessible to others who might not otherwise have the chance to enjoy the fresh air and get up close to the animals. Sheila Mason at Keasdon Head Farm is an inspirational human whirlwind, with great dedication despite the harsh realities of life on a remote upland farm.
Just as not all heroes wear capes, some of the people who contribute so positively to life in the Dales are a little hidden, maybe unknown to many. One of these is Charlotte Foster who works for the Plunkett Foundation and who supports those who want to develop a community pub or shop, or safeguard other rural services.
Many communities have people who work behind the scenes to make things better. In Clapham there's a whole team of lovely people working for the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust who rightly describe themselves as 'a small charity doing big things in the Yorkshire Dales'. If you're ever feeling down, just take a look at all they do and see if there's a way you can get involved as they are an incredibly upbeat group of people.
There are two smiley people round the corner in Ingleton who deserve a mention. Sue at Harling House is passionate about her adopted home, and loves to showcase Ingleton's charms. She was the one who first told me about Amanda who has brought colour and smiles to the village with Craftopia.
Nearby Settle would be a very different place without the efforts of Steve Amphlett, who promotes the market town, and has done wonders to ensure the survival of Settle Folly, together with other volunteers.
To be continued.. It's getting late and I'm hungry so I think I'll stop here and do a second edition of this blog another day as I think there are many more people to add! In the meantime if you want to add your suggestions in the comments, please do so!
It's never hard to find places in the Yorkshire Dales where you can be completely alone. When the Autumn mists take their time to rise in the morning, you can feel more alone, the mist masking far-off views and creating a little shroud of solitude.
Sometimes being alone can feel like a reward for good behaviour, a chance to catch up with yourself and just wander (and wonder) at will.
I love the sensation of standing on top of a hill, breathing in the calm view and relishing the serenity, undisturbed by human activity. Disappearing into a deciduous wood can feel equally good. Some people associate wandering alone in dimly lit woods with something more akin to a Blair Witch Project horror. I see them more as friendly and welcoming, attracting me to look at each tree.
This morning as I set off, the soft mist felt wet and not particularly enticing. It seemed to cushion sound, making the woods feel sightly alien and deserted.
Within minutes that feeling changed as I slowed down and trod more carefully, looking out for mushrooms, not to pick so much as marvel at their form. Leaves and sticks crunched satisfying under my feet, the dogs' more regular pitter patter of furry feet falling softly on the wet ground. When you're alone in the woods on a misty day, sound is curiously muffled and accentuated at the same time. It's as if the silence is a more deliberate backdrop, with each individual sound picked out and emphasised so every falling leaf can be heard as it lands.
Every now and then there's something that grabs my attention: the gorgeous green moss on a pile of sticks, the flap of a pheasant's wings as it desperately tries to remember how to fly again. I like to travel around the Dales and see its different colours and sights but sometimes standing in one spot, just looking and listening can be equally rewarding.
Many people are surprised to learn that the Coast to Coast route isn't an officially designated National Trail whereas the Pennine Way is. No matter what it's official status, Alfred Wainwright devised it in 1973 and it's now a popular walk stretching 190 miles from St. Bees in Cumbria to Robin Hoods Bay on the North York Moors coast.
Most people choose to walk it from West to East to make it slightly easier so the prevailing weather comes from behind.
It's not for the faint-hearted and if you walked the entire route, it would take you around 10-14 days. If you don't fancy doing the whole length, you might consider doing the part in the middle, which conveniently happens to be in the Yorkshire Dales...
You could start at Kirkby Stephen, which has a railway station a little outside the small town. The route from Kirkby Stephen to Keld is relatively easy - eleven miles. En route you'll see fine views and Nine Standards Rigg, giant cairns on the old Westmoreland boundary. From there the route goes across some boggy moorland on to Keld, where there some stunning waterfalls and good places to stay overnight.
From Keld the route continues through Swaledale towards Reeth. You can choose from a gentle route along the River Swale or through the ruins of the former lead mines. Wainwright suggested that walkers should choose to see the legacy of the leadmining on the landscape, which contrast strongly with the hay meadows. Crackpot Hall is a much loved local landmark, deteriorating over time but still in a beautiful setting. Arriving in Reeth, there are plenty of pubs, cafes and places to stay overnight, all clustered around the attractive green.
After a rest in Reeth, the Coast to Coast route continues to Marrick Priory, once home of Bendictine nuns. and now a curious mixture of priory ruins, run-down house and an outdoor activity centre. There are about 375 'Nun's Stairs' from the priory up to the hamlet of Marrick. After Marrick comes Marsk and eventually the views into Richmond, where you can easily spend a couple of days, resting, enjoying the Georgian architecture and castle.
All images by Guy Carpenter
Nidderdale is one of the most accessible dales for many in Yorkshire, since it lies so close to Harrogate, Otley and is easily accessible from West Yorkshire and yet it's unknown to many. It's just outside the Yorkshire Dales National Park but still has its own denomination as the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. I'm surprised it's as quiet as it is, because it has so much to offer.
Nidderdale is the long dale of the River Nidd running from Great Whernside towards the Vale of York, a wild gritstone landscape and moorland to the west and a pastoral landscape to the east. Reservoirs such as Gouthwaite and Scar are a distinctive feature of the dale and their stories are told at the Nidderdale Museum in Pateley Bridge.
Sandstone crags and tors punctuate the landscape – visitors love to marvel at the curious shapes of Brimham Rocks. Spectacular views across the dale reward those who take the short walk up to the Coldstones Cut, Yorkshire’s largest public artwork.
Nidderdale is home to internationally important species of bird such as red grouse, golden plover and merlin. It includes a World Heritage Site at Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal, a vast historic estate comprising the largest abbey ruins in the country, a deer park and a Georgian water garden designed by John Aislabie. The Aislabie connection continues at magical Hackfall Wood where his son William designed a woodland garden complete with follies, waterfalls and gushing fountain.
Traditional hamlets and villages, such as Middlesmoor and Lofthouse, are scattered throughout Nidderdale, some on old drovers’ roads snaking over the moor. At Nidderdale’s heart is the small town of Pateley Bridge which winds its way up the hill and is renowned for shops selling local produce and The Oldest Sweet Shop in England! The town is a great place to stop and buy delicious local foods before a trip 'updale'. King Street Workshops are well worth a visit - it's where you'll also find renowned sculptor Joseph Hayton.
Towards the top of the Dale you’ll find some remarkable attractions: How Stean Gorge; Nidderdale Llamas and the Studfold Adventure Trail, on land farmed by 16 generations of the same family.
Have you ever noticed quite regular strips of terraced land cut into hillsides in the Dales?
If this were somewhere else you might see a vineyard or rice growing on such a landscape. In the Dales, it's simply a reminder of an ancient field system.
In Anglo-Saxon times, the land surrounding each village was held in common. There was a well-organised system of land usage. The land was carefully divided and allocated to villagers or 'commoners'.
Hay was usually taken from the low-lying meadow land by rivers. A little higher up, another layer of land was used to grow crops and then grazed by livestock after harvest. The uplands were also be grazed. Commoners took turns to use the land or 'do their stint'.
The land in a productive field was carefully divided into strips so each family had an area to use to grow their own food These strips were used to grow crops such as rye and barley (for beer), and oxen were used to plough the strips or flat terraces cut into the hillside. The result of this was row upon row of 'lynchets'.
You can still see these medieval lynchets on the south facing slopes of many hills in the Dales. There are particularly good examples in Swaledale, Wensleydale and Wharfedale. I still find it incredible to think that these terraces from almost a thousand years ago can still be seen. They're been left largely undisturbed for centuries. Some of the lynchets were built up by piling stones cleared from the strips as they were cultivated. The flat strips are not wide, but were broad enough for oxen to plough. You may also spot some ridges and furrow, long ridges separated by ditches and used for arable farming.
365 Ways to discover the Yorkshire Dales - a daily blog of insider tips - places to go, things to do, where to eat and what to enjoy as a visitor or local.