Warning: We enjoyed our time in Yorkshire immensely and thus this a longer than normal post. 🙂
After a week of work, getting reacclimated to driving on the left side of the road, and just our general adjustment to the time change, we were ready to start exploring. So off we went to Yorkshire. Yorkshire has two areas we wanted to explore: the Dales and the Moors. Both areas have wonderful landscapes, classic rock walls separating fields, sheep frolicing freely, beautiful villages and farms, and narrow roads. Each area also has its own respective National Park which is where we centered our visits around. There are lots of great hikes, or “walks” as they call them in Yorkshire. We knew it would be colder up north, especially in October. Our hope was the fall weather would bring us crisp air and warm pubs with fireplaces. Our first stop was the Dales and the village of Grassington. This is James Harriot/All Creatures Great and Small country.
Grassington is about 50 miles west of York and serves as a southern gateway to Yorkshire Dales National Park. Perfect for our planned adventure. Grassington is also the village which serves as the set for filming the new TV series “All Creatures Great and Small”. It is a lovely village and we spent a lot of time exploring, walking, and visiting all the local shops and pubs. Most of the local shops, buildings and pubs are used in filming the TV series and we recognized many of them.
We stayed at Ashfield House, a quaint, 400 year old building that has served as a place for travelers to enjoy since the 1930’s. It is at the end of a narrow lane and provided a friendly and spacious spot for us to live for a week.
Being located in the National Park also made Grassington a great place for us to use as a base for all our “walks”. Our first was around the outskirts of town. The Grass Woods walk leaves from the visitor center in town and heads down a short trail bordered by stone walls to Linton Falls, then along the River Wharfe and into the Grass Woods.
There is an old, but active, hydroelectric plant further upriver, before walking up and over the bridge on the main road into town. You don’t really walk in the woods too much, mostly along the stone wall bordering the woods.
The final stretch of the walk, along the farm roads, proved to be muddier than we like, but at that point we were pretty much committed so we pushed on through.
Our second walk was a longer hike further north near the town of Malham. The Malham Landscape Trail combines three walks into a convenient loop of about 4.5 miles. The first section walks along the Gordale Beck, through the forest and on to Janet’s Foss, a beautiful waterfall. This first section was also when we got our first opportunity to test out our rain gear. At least the rain was helping put lots of water down the waterfall.
Just past Janet’s Foss we took a side trail to Gordale Scar, a hidden gorge carved deeper and deeper by the meltwater of successive ice ages with a winding, jagged waterfall. The rain had turned to just sprinkles by then and we found some shelter under an overhang cove in the gorge. When the weather is dryer and the rock not so slippery, lots of hikers climb the rocks along the side of the waterfall to the top.
Back on the main trail, the path cuts across meadows and pastures, up and over grass hills and rock wall stiles on the way to the top of Malham Cove.
The cove is limestone, cut thorough by rainwater. It is also the location of a scene from the Deathly Hallows/Harry Potter movie where Harry and Hermione camp. Unfortunately, the rain made the limestone very slick, so we were very careful watching our footing and we did not spend as much time exploring as we would have liked.
The way back to the bottom of the dale was via a limestone natural staircase with over 200 steps! We were glad we were going down and not climbing up. As we reached the bottom and looked back at the cove, the rain subsided and the sun came out with bright blue sky. That’s Yorkshire weather.
Dales Way is a 90ish mile trail through Yorkshire. A portion of it transits Yorkshire Dales National Park and Grassington. We took a small section of the walk that follows the River Wharfe down to a suspension bridge near Hebden and then on to the village of Burnsall and the Burnsall Bridge. The trailhead is at the visitor center, just like the Grass Woods walk, and follows the same path down to Linton Falls but turns left instead, across sheep pastures and down to a path along the river. One of the reasons we chose this walk was the paved pathways. It had rained the last few days and things were getting extremely muddy, so we were glad to be on this trail.
At the edge of Linton is the Linton Church where there are a series of steppingstones crossing the river. With all the rain, the steps were pretty much submerged, so we did not get to cross them.
The suspension bridge at Hebden is a narrow, one-person wide bridge over the river and to the trail on the opposite bank. Along the river were beautiful rock cliffs and steep hills with sheep walking and grazing.
The bridge at Burnsall was originally built in the mid 1600’s and has been repaired multiple times over the years due to damage from flooding. It is one of the most photographed bridges in the Yorkshire Dales. We found a nice bench in the riverside park and had a snack lunch before heading back. It was a pleasant 5.5 mi out-and-back walk and our only without a drop of rain.
Our visit was not all walking though. We also took a lovely drive around the Dales. National Parks in the UK are a little different than the ones in the U.S. Both are designated to preserve areas of natural beauty or historic significance but those in the UK also incorporate the preexisting towns and villages, farms and main roads. That is fortunate for those of us interested in seeing the countryside and as well as the preservation areas. We drove north out of Grassington towards Aysgarth. There are waterfalls there and lots of little villages along the way. As we approached Aysgarth, the rain picked up. The clouds had been hanging low all morning, so we knew it was imminent.
We decided to double back and take a loop route up and around to Arncliffe and then back through Malham where we had hiked earlier, but this time approaching from the north. On our way, we passed through the quaint village of Kilnsey and drove up and through the immense fields of heather. There were sheep walking the roads and many a “sheep jam” that we patiently waited for. The weather cleared as the day wore on. Seeing Malham Cove was unique from this vantage point and well worth the drive as well.
We had a wonderful visit in “James Herriot” country and visiting the Yorkshire Dales. Grassington was the perfect place to base out of. While we were sorry to have to leave, we departed with fond memories and were looking forward to our next stop, the Yorkshire Moors.