Almost every one stopped to talk, ask about families and exchange news. At 15 I was anxious to be on my way and out into the world so I found it really frustrating, but it was that sense of community that brought me home again.
We don't have the biggest selection of shops in the Yorkshire Dales, but you do have a sense that there's real heart in every business.
There's a big difference between shopping in independent businesses in the Yorkshire Dales and in large shops in bigger towns. When you walk into a shop, gallery, cafe, pub or any other small business here, you're likely to be greeted by the owner, a member of their family or someone who lives locally and has worked there for a while. There's a sense of welcome and connection. It doesn't take long before they remember you and what you like. There's banter in the butchers, the wine shop owner who always remembers your favourite wine even when you don't, the gallery owner who can second-guess not only your preferences but those of the friends you've bought for in the past.
Shopping can take a bit longer here, as you go from shop to shop in search of each of their specialities. But that's a good thing. Slowing down can do us all good, and the conversations along the way are uplifting and satisfying. You're not just spending money in a shop - you're investing in a sense of community. It might be easy for me to drive to the nearest supermarket but they won't remember me next week, nor will they gather up produce and take it out to the person on a mobility scooter outside, checking that they're well. Shops here perform a service beyond their basic sales.
Research found that when you shop locally, for every £10 you spend, about £50 is generated in the local economy through the multiplier effect. You spend £10 in the grocers, and then they go and buy a paper from the newsagents, who pays a local window-cleaner for their services, who can then afford dance lessons for their daughter in the village hall, and so it goes on.
Another benefit of shopping in the Yorkshire Dales is that each market town is genuinely different. You won't find the same products or shops on every High Street. Visit Hawes, Richmond, Masham, Settle, Pateley Bridge, Skipton, Leyburn, Sedbergh, Kirkby Lonsdale, Kirkby Stephen, Grassington and Ingleton, and you'll soon see just how different they are.