A Travellerspoint blog

July 2021

Yorkshire Dales & Moors 2021

Route: Alstonefield - Great Asby - Newholm (Whitby) - Gunnerside

semi-overcast 18 °C

MAY-JUNE 2021

A three hour drive north from our previous location in the Peak District National Park (NP) found us in the far north west section of the Yorkshire Dales. We had chosen this area as it was an ideal location to visit both the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District (NP) plus the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Once again our base is on a farm, in another very comfortable property with beautiful views out of the front window. We arrived in the early afternoon and with the sun shining, enjoyed the rest of the day around the property. Our enjoyment peaked in late afternoon when we were treated to a display by some very acrobatic Red Squirrels. We had positioned ourselves in the sun on a garden swing seat when the squirrels appeared. They had been attracted by a feeder on a tree at the bottom of the garden and then began to squabble over access to its contents.
The Red Squirrel is an endangered species in England. It has been pushed to the brink of extinction by the introduction of the North American Grey Squirrel in the 1870’s. Therefore every sighting is a rare pleasure.

About to enter the self service restaurant

About to enter the self service restaurant

Acrobatic Red Squirrel looking for his dinner

Acrobatic Red Squirrel looking for his dinner

Eaten too much to leave the restaurant

Eaten too much to leave the restaurant

Private dinning

Private dinning

Red Squirrel

Red Squirrel

Male Pheasant

Male Pheasant

Male Pheasant in beautiful mating plumage

Male Pheasant in beautiful mating plumage

The farm we stayed at Great Asby

The farm we stayed at Great Asby

During our stay, rain was again going to play a major role in our daily activities. We kept a close eye on the weather forecast and it paid dividends. Each day we dodged the heavy downpours and enjoyed the area to the full.

We started with a visit to our local market town of Appleby-in-Westmorland. The aim of the visit was to do a weekly shop but we found this attractive town worth having a good look around. Lots of period building, nice shops selling local produce and a farmers market kept us amused for a good couple of hours.

We planned two visits into the Lake District NP and picked the days with the best weather forecast. Unfortunately this was reduced to one visit due to car problems, a mysterious fault that seem to cure itself.
Our only remaining foray in to the Lake District was to Mardale Head at the far end of Haweswater Reservoir. This point gave us access to the eastern mountains around the peaks of Harter Fell (774m) and High Street (828m). Our aim wasn’t to summit either but to climb up as far as Small Water Lake. It was a steady climb up a stone strewn path, which seamed to double up as a shallow stream for much of the way. Mountain peaks rose all around us and our route followed the Mardale River as it tumbled over small waterfalls on its way down to the reservoir. After about an hour we reached our goal, a small mountain lake encircled by cliffs. The views from here were amazing, as they had been all the way up. After taking in the scenery we turned around and retraced our steps to the car park at Mardale Head.

Starting our walk in Lake District NP

Starting our walk in Lake District NP

Mardale walk Lake District NP

Mardale walk Lake District NP

Close to our base in Great Asby is the Great Asby Scar; an upland moor with elevations over 400 meters. Our walk didn’t have a planned route, more of an amble to see the scenery and rock formations. All across the moor are exposed rocks, many packed close together giving the impression of a man-made pavement, but are actually natural formations created by soil erosion. The best examples of these pavements were beyond the limits of our walk but we did see enough to appreciate the structures. Being so high up gave us great views all around. On one side the North Pennines were clearly visible and on the other the mountains of the Lake District.

Weather over the moors

Weather over the moors

Walking toward Great Asby Scar

Walking toward Great Asby Scar

Great Asby Scar

Great Asby Scar

Away from the more remote walking locations we took in a bit of cultural and town history.
A visit to Brougham Castle (pronounced Broom) gave us an insight into life between the 13th and 17th centuries and was in a beautiful setting on the banks of the River Eamont nestled in the Eden Valley.

Brougham Castle (phonetic Broom)

Brougham Castle (phonetic Broom)

The largest town in the area was Penrith. Steeped in history, we thought we would have a look around. The old town centre was the most interesting and had plaques at strategic points explaining the local history.

Penrith town

Penrith town

Giant's Grave

Giant's Grave

Story behind the Giant's Grave

Story behind the Giant's Grave

We also spent quite a lot of time at our accommodation. It was very comfortable, in a beautiful location and served as a great place to relax come rain or shine.

Our next location required us to cross the country from west to east. Passing through a scenic corridor between the North Pennines (AONB) and the Yorkshire Dales NP. Then entering the northern section of the North York Moors NP (see below) and on to the east coast near Whitby. Scenic it might be, but on the day of our journey we had heavy rain all the way and saw very little of it.

Home for the next week was a compact cottage on the outskirts of Whitby just inside the North York Moors NP.
Needing to do some food shopping we combined this task with a look around Whitby. An attractive coastal town where the River Esk spills out into the North Sea. It still retains evidence of its historic past and has a famous former resident in Captain James Cook (see below) who was born nearby and did his merchant navy apprenticeship there.

Swing bridge at Whitby

Swing bridge at Whitby

Whitby

Whitby

The wet weather had become a bit of a theme over the past few weeks and was again with us for our stay in the North York Moors. This put some restrictions on our outdoor activities with two days pretty much washed out.

Stormy day at Sandsend

Stormy day at Sandsend

For the rest of the time we dodged the showers and got out to see this beautiful part of England.
Two river walks got us out on to the moors. Both a bit slippery under foot after all the rain, but enjoyable all the same.

North York Moor walk

North York Moor walk

Falling Foss (67 feet heigh)

Falling Foss (67 feet heigh)

A cliff walk under a rare bit of sunshine got a view of the coast. Which also included the picturesque coastal village of Staithes.

Staithes Harbour

Staithes Harbour

North Yorkshire coastal walk

North Yorkshire coastal walk

And a visit to this part of the world wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Whitby Abbey. Despite the intermittent rain we braved the elements and went to look around. Whitby Abbey (see below) is an impressive ruin steeped in history and commanding a prominent position perched on top of a cliff overlooking Whitby harbour. Access is via 199 steps from the harbour or from the car park next to the abbey, we choose the later. We also visited the adjacent church for the views over the harbour, but then retreated back to the car as the rain got heavier.

Whitby Abbey

Whitby Abbey

Whitby Abbey

Whitby Abbey

Whitby Abbey

Whitby Abbey

Whitby Abbey

Whitby Abbey

199 Steps from Whitby to the Abbey

199 Steps from Whitby to the Abbey

We were now on the move again. Our seven nights in the North York Moors had flown by leaving so much more to see. For our next location it was back into the Yorkshire Dales NP with a visit to the city of York en route.
The sun was shining as we drove south across the moors, showing off the stunning scenery to the best effect. By the time we arrived in York a light rain had began to fall, but it didn’t dampen our spirits. We parked in the city centre and started our walk with a stroll through the Museum Gardens. The gardens are a tranquil place right next to the River Ouse. Well managed lawns wrap around historic ruins making it a very pleasant place to be. Of all the ruins the garden has to offer the 11th century remains of St Mary’s Abbey are the most impressive.

Immediately upon leaving the gardens the next impressive structure to come in to sight is York Minster. The size of York Minster makes it very imposing, one of the largest cathedrals in Northern Europe. The stone work and stained glass windows are of the highest craftsmanship.

York Minster

York Minster

Historic York

Historic York

After a short walk along the remains of the Roman City Wall we made our way into the heart of the old York. Cobbled streets led us to the famous “Shambles” district (see below) and onto York’s shortest street, Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate (see below). By now the rain was getting harder so we retreated to a rather nice Italian restaurant for a spot of lunch.
Our self guided tour of York was now complete and we continued our journey into the the Yorkshire Dales NP.

Home for the next week was a cottage in the picturesque village of Gunnerside. Although the cottage was pretty average, the view from the upstairs windows was amazing. Sitting low in the dale (valley) we had moorland topped hills rising either side and the River Swale just below us.

The village of Gunnerside

The village of Gunnerside

The weather was great the whole stay, which allowed us to get out and explore the beautiful countryside on our doorstep.

We started and ended our stay with walks from our front door.
The first required a steep ascent up a farm road to reach a ridge that looked down onto the village. The views from up there were extensive and breathtaking. Once on the ridge we walked east for a while negotiating livestock as we went, we even had an inquisitive sheep for company part of the way. We choose a diagonal traverse of the hillside for our route back, which in part was a bit steep and slippery. Safely back in the village we were eager to explore more, but that would have to wait for another day.

Walking the moors Gunnerside Hill

Walking the moors Gunnerside Hill

Remote house above Gunnerside

Remote house above Gunnerside

Gunnerside Hill walk

Gunnerside Hill walk

The second was a more gentle climb, albeit a longer one, up an old mining road to reach the ridge above Gunnerside Gill. It seemed like another world up there. Apart from a few farm buildings and lead mining ruins the land all around us was left to nature. We met no other humans and just had a few sheep, a Curlew and Skylark for company. Behind us were green pastures and ahead of us was open moorland, no road access and minimal foot traffic. We stopped regularly to take photos and absorb the atmosphere. After about 4km we reached the point where the path dropped down into the valley. We couldn’t see the benefit of the extra exertion so returned the way we came. A hearty lunch in the local pub followed as a reward for our morning exercise.

Start of the Gunnerside Gill walk

Start of the Gunnerside Gill walk

Gunnerside Gill walk

Gunnerside Gill walk

Views on the Gunnerside Gill walk

Views on the Gunnerside Gill walk

Six miles down the road from us was the village of Reeth. It was here that our next walk started. From our parking spot in the centre of the village we walked down to the banks of the River Swale. Almost immediately we crossed it via a new bridge, the old one having been washed away in a recent flood. Our route now took us along the river bank as far as the hamlet of Grinton. Here we crossed the river once more and made our way back to Reeth. A pleasant walk, but without the dramatic scenery our other walks had offered us.

View of river walk at Reeth

View of river walk at Reeth

Reeth was much livelier when we got back, as it was their festival weekend. A band of drummers were playing on the edge of village green. In the centre, massive kites were being launched in to the sky, not always successfully. And all around families were picnicking whilst enjoying the sunshine and entertainment.

Reeth Festival Day

Reeth Festival Day

Unsual Kite flying

Unsual Kite flying

For us, thirst and hunger was at the forefront of our minds so we headed for the pub for a beer and Sunday roast. I had roast beef and Anne roast Chicken, both with the largest Yorkshire Pudding we had ever seen. Well, I suppose we are in the county of Yorkshire after all. Now, I said Anne had roast chicken, that is not strictly true as the slab of meat fall off the plate just before arriving at the table. The young waiter was mortified, but we quailed his concerns by explaining that Anne was only really interested in the Yorkshire Pudding and vegetables anyway.
Fed and watered, we returned to our cottage.

The next day we went in the opposite direction to the tiny village of Keld which sits next to the River Swale. A this point the river tumbles over a number of waterfalls cutting its way through a gorge, down to the valley floor and the attractive village of Muker.
Our plan was to walk towards Muker and turn back when the path got steep. This plan soon got abandoned when we found ourselves in such beautiful scenery and the greed to see more kept us going. In the end we walked almost to Muker before crossing a bridge over the river and returning up the opposite side of the gorge. This was a tough one but rewarded by the views all around us.

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Running low on provisions, we decided to combine the next day with a bit of sightseeing and shopping.
First stop was the Buttertubs Pass, a high road that allows transit between the Swaledale and Wensleydale districts of the Yorkshire Dales NP. A stop near the top provided us great views over Swaledale.

Butter Tubs Pass

Butter Tubs Pass

Once over the pass we made our way to the village of Hardraw. A pretty village in its own right but the main draw is its waterfall. Around the back of the Green Dragon Inn and in a private gardens is the highest single drop waterfall in England, Hardraw Force. The gardens have been allowed to grow wild in some places which benefits the atmosphere. A short walk to the foot of the falls rewards you with a good view of the drop.

Hardraw Force fall

Hardraw Force fall

Finally it was time to do some shopping and the market town of Hawes was our destination for this. Local cheeses and honey were purchased from a market stall, whilst our bread, meat and general groceries were provided by the local shops in the high street. Shopping done and after a quick look around the town, we headed back over the Buttertubs Pass towards home.

In pursuit of a late lunch, we stopped in the village of Muker as the Farmers Arms pub had been recommended. Unfortunately it was closed on Tuesday’s so we had a look around a local gallery instead. The gallery was full of beautiful art work and we made a few small purchases to help the local economy.
With no pub lunch, we returned home and set about preparing a meal from the lovely ingredients just purchased in Hawes.

Our last adventure in the Yorkshire Dales was maybe our favourite, although its hard to say, they had been all very good. After a drive up onto moorland, our walk started in the village of Langthwaite and on the edge of Booze Moor. A level start following the Arkle Beck preceded a steady climb, first through woodland then out into open countryside. Our path now ran along the west side of the Slei Gill, a steep sided valley that channeled a small river from the moors above us. We continued to climb with only the noise of nature around us. Buzzards circled above our heads whilst the remains of their dinner lay at our feet (surprising number of rabbit carcasses). We were alone, not another human anywhere to be seen. It was beautifully peaceful, that was until three airforce fighter jets flew low over our heads breaking the silence.

Going up on Booze Moor

Going up on Booze Moor

Moors walk from Langthwaite

Moors walk from Langthwaite

Floral Yorkshire Dales

Floral Yorkshire Dales

Well deserved lunch in the Dales

Well deserved lunch in the Dales

However, peace was soon restored and we continued our climb, past the remains of the lead mining industry and up onto Booze moor. By now there were very few trees and all we could see was heather. Buzzards were still catching thermals above our heads but now we could hear Grouse, hidden amongst the heather. We traversed the moor for a short way before circling back towards our starting point. It wasn’t long before the small community of Booze came into sight, then a steep decent back down into Langthwaite completed a very enjoyable walk. Before returning to the car we felt it was only right to give something back to the village, so a pint each in the local pub seemed mandatory.
The day was then completed by a very nice pub lunch on our way home.

Sadly our time in the Yorkshire Dales was now up and we drove south for more adventures.

Personal Observations & Interesting Facts

North York Moors National Park
The North York Moors is an upland area in north-eastern Yorkshire, England. It contain one of the largest expanses of heather moorland in the United Kingdom. The area was designated as a National Park in 1952 and covers 1,436 km².

North York Moors

North York Moors

Captain James Cook
Captain James Cook (7/11/1728 to 14/2/1779) was a British explorer, navigator, cartographer, and captain in the British Royal Navy, famous for his three voyages between 1768 and 1779 in the Pacific Ocean and Australia in particular. His life and achievements are far to great to record here but additional reading is highly recommended for anyone interested in British maritime history.

Whitby Abbey
Whitby Abbey was a 7th-century Christian monastery that later became a Benedictine abbey. The abbey church was situated overlooking the North Sea on the East Cliff above Whitby in North Yorkshire, England, a centre of the medieval Northumbrian kingdom.
In 664 the Synod of Whitby took place at the monastery to resolve the question of whether the Northumbrian church would adopt and follow Celtic Christian traditions or adopt Roman practice, including the manner of calculating the date of Easter and form of the monastic tonsure. The decision, with the support of King Oswy, was for adopting Roman practices and the date of Easter was set.
The abbey and its possessions were confiscated by the crown under Henry VIII during the Dissolution of the Monasteries between 1536 and 1545. Since that time, the ruins of the abbey have continued to be used by sailors as a landmark at the headland. In the 20th century, the substantial ruins of the church have been declared a Grade I Listed Building and are in the care of English Heritage.
The abbey is a setting in Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” (1897). Count Dracula, as a creature resembling a large dog, which came ashore at the Whitby headland, runs up the 199 steps to the graveyard of St Mary’s Church, in the shadow of the abbey ruins.

Whitby Abbey

Whitby Abbey

The “Shambles”, York
The Shambles is an old street lined with overhanging timber-framed buildings, some dating back as far as the fourteenth century. It was once known as The Great Flesh Shambles, probably from the Anglo-Saxon Fleshammels (literally 'flesh- shelves'), the word for the shelves that butchers used to display their meat. As recently as 1872 twenty-five butchers' shops were located along the street, but now none remain.
Although the butchers have now vanished, a number of the shops on the street still have meat-hooks hanging outside and, below them, shelves on which meat was displayed. Today the shops include a mix of restaurants, bookshop, bakeries and “Harry Potter” memorabilia.

The Shambles in York

The Shambles in York

Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate
Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate is the shortest streets in York. It is currently a length of raised pavement between St Crux church hall and a road junction.
The origin of the name is unclear. A plaque erected in the street states that it derives from a phrase Whitnourwhatnourgate meaning "What a street!", but most modern sources translate the phrase as "Neither one thing nor the other". The city's whipping post and stocks were here in the middle ages, which may have influenced the change to the modern spelling and has certainly provided an alternative folk ethymology.

Shortest Street Plaque

Shortest Street Plaque

Shortest Street in York

Shortest Street in York

Yorkshire Dales National Park
The Yorkshire Dales is an upland area of the Pennines in the historic county of Yorkshire, England. Most of the 2,179 km² is in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, created in 1954.
The Dales comprise of river valleys and the hills. Rising from the Vale of York westwards to the hilltops of the Pennines. With the exception of Ribblesdale, Dentdale and Gardale all of the valleys drain eastwards into the River Ouse and the River Humber. The extensive limestone cave systems makes it a major area for caving in the UK and the numerous trails that run through the hills and dales make it ideal for walking.

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Posted by MAd4travel 12:13 Archived in England Comments (1)

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