However the other day a small group of us were walking through a meadow looking across the drystone walls as our eyes fixed on the shimmering blue of the reservoir in the distance. It was a beautiful day and in that one moment I felt as giddy as a kipper, or for those who have never seen a giddy kipper, like a lamb that's just discovered the joy of bounding skywards.
With that in mind, here are just some walks we think are worthy of mention for inducing an ‘all is well’ feeling. In fact, it’s a tricky thing narrowing down the choice so I have no doubt we’ll revisit this subject further down the line. First up though are a couple of suggestions venturing into some of the lesser-visited parts of the Dales and one more well-known option for those who are looking for a challenge.
Buckden to Yockenthwaite, Upper Wharfedale
For us, this has it all, a choice of good pubs and tearooms along the way, the beautiful river Wharfe, a stretch of limestone pavement, wildflower-rich meadows that are a riot of colour in late spring, small hamlets and superb views right down the dale.There are a couple of opt-outs if you want to shorten the 8-mile circular as well and apart from one shortish uphill section it’s fairly easy walking throughout.
Middleham to Coverham in Wensleydale
If you like castles, horses and a bit of Yorkshire quirk, then this route of around six miles could be for you, with plenty of places to dawdle and distract along the way. Starting from the village of Middleham the route leads you onto the surrounding moor with a grand view back to the impressive castle, which was the childhood home of Richard lll. Middleham is also famous as a racehorse training base and it’s quite a sight seeing the horses being put through their paces on the gallops as you stride along.
By now you’ll have ventured into Coverdale, dropping down from the moor and into Tupgill Park where the fantastic Forbidden Corner with its labyrinth of follies, grottoes and other strange surprises awaits. It’s definitely worth a detour here, especially if there are children in the party, and is an easy way to spend an hour or two. From there, you can press onto the hamlet of Coverham with a view across to the Abbey before returning to Middleham.
While you’re unlikely to have this walk to yourself, it’s worth doing as a more challenging hike where you can claim to have conquered Yorkshire’s highest peak Whernside at some 736 metres.
We did this as part of the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge but there is a circular route if you want to stick to just Whernside with the start and finish at one of the most iconic images from this part of the Dales, the Ribblehead Viaduct.
If you’re thinking of doing the whole Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge, 24 miles and around 1600 feet of ascent and descent within 12 hours, then we’d recommend joining a trip run by guided walking specialist Large Outdoors.
Not only do they sort all the logistics, including accommodation nearby, but the guides are great morale-boosters when you’re having that inner tussle where your mind is thinking that bailing out from doing the last peak might just be a good idea!
Large Outdoors runs regular guided Yorkshire Three Peak challenge events throughout the summer as well as other weekend trips around Kettlewell during the autumn and winter. They’re very obliging and if your party comprises eight or more people, they’re willing to organise a guided walking trip for your group that can include overnight accommodation and homemade meals. Blog by Amanda Brown