I know vacations are over, the kids are back in school and everyone is suffering from a bit of holiday blues… and autumn is setting in and there is a nip in the air… I say, this is the perfect time to plan a quick getaway for the weekend. And I have the perfect plan!
The Yorkshire Dales has many moods; it can be wild and windswept or quietly tranquil; the perfect setting where nature and people have created a special landscape of immense beauty and character. Its National Park gives numerous opportunities for recreation: short walks, cycling, hiking, driving through or just sitting down and gazing at the amazing beauty of the deep valleys ( AKA Dales). We spent a good two days there in August with an extra day spent in the city of York and it was just so refreshing, you must try it for yourself.
We reached our airbnb digs at Wensleydale House (a Victorian townhouse, oozing character, that belongs to an artist) in the picturesque market town of Leyburn. Situated above the River Ure, Leyburn has a host of cafes, restaurants and shops. You can walk from here to the summit of Leyburn Shawl or further, to take in the views of the Eastern Dales. While keen walkers continue up to Bolton Castle, we were slightly knackered from our journey and with the LO in tow, decided to drive. The 14th century castle is well preserved and has beautiful gardens with a maze, falconry and a tea room. While one can easily spend a day, we spent just a couple of hours here and moved further.
Top tip: check their schedule online in advance to ensure the castle or the grounds aren’t closed off for private functions.
The three-stepped Aysgarth Falls (sounds so like Asgard, right?!) has been a popular tourist attraction for more than two centuries now with the likes of Wordsworth and Turner among its celebrated visitors. The National Park Centre has a cafe and car park and the three levels of the falls can be reached by foot from here. The pathways leading to the falls are easy to traverse – even the toddler walked and jumped through them. The place is kitted well for a day out or a picnic, if you bring your own stuff.
Top tip: The waterfalls are more dramatic after a heavy rain, so check the local weather update, carry good shoes and be a little wary when walking or climbing the stones.
Driving back to our accommodation, we ended the day with dinner at a local restaurant and a stroll around the town centre. Other nearby attractions includes:
- The Forbidden Corner – an adventure park
- Hawes National Park Centre housed in the Dales Countryside Museum
- Wensleydale Creamery – home to the famed cheese
- Widdale – a lesser known dale, home to red squirrels
Waking up to a marvellous day and a kitchen stocked up for a hearty breakfast, we had our heart’s fill of food and conversation for the better part of the morning. While the initial plan was to make an early start and drive through the Buttertubs Pass, we chose to drive on to Bolton Abbey.
Did I mention how picturesque the Dales are, with the roads meandering through the meadows and dry stone walls and bales and flocks of sheep and cattle looking like cotton balls from the distance? Or the trees bowing down to make gorgeous arches and streams of water trickling down the walls of the valley…We ended up making quite a few stops in the middle of nowhere, jumped into a pasture and over a stream and the Little Miss, having found her kindred spirits in the lambs, refused to go anywhere else until she got too close to an ewe. Onwards, we drove through a scarecrow festival (yes, that’s a real thing!).
We reached Bolton Abbey, expecting to spend only a couple of hours – but were we wrong or what? The place is just perfect for a family day out, whatever the size and mix of your family might be. It is so beautiful, the ambience so perfect – you would envy the people living and working on site. The extremely well-maintained country estate on the banks of the River Wharfe belongs to the Duke of Devonshire and has loads to see and do. You can explore the stunning Priory Church and Ruins, hop across the Stepping Stones, walk, run, sit and enjoy the place or drive on to the other car parks on the estate and access the other sections there. You can also hog on some freshly-prepared grub in the numerous tea rooms in the village.
We walked a fair bit, the little one mostly jumped, splished and splashed, taking in the sights of the riverside, watching people fishing, taking circuitous walks around the estate or just blowing off some steam. We had only covered a small part of it, but I must say it is an absolutely stunning place.
Top tip: Carry your wellies!
Exhausted but content, we went back to Leyburn to prepare for our return home the next day via the City of York. We dined at one of the two fine dining restaurants here and had a brilliant end to a surprisingly fantastic day … did I mention it was our 5th wedding anniversary? 🙂
Note and keep all relevant postcodes handy. You may lose internet connectivity intermittently in the Dales.
Use your sat nav with caution and keep a look out for actual road signs. If you think you’re being sent in the wrong direction, you probably are!
So, are you planning to make a trip to the Dales yet? Send over any queries you might have and I will be happy to help.
Until next time,