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In the Summer of 2009 I visited Dent Dale, one of the small villages in the Yorkshire dales, and being a proud city dewller, it was an experience both beguiling and also very relaxing. In summary, it is a place I'd gladly visit, but I think I'd go absolutely mental if I lived there for good. Dent is technically in Cumbria, and is a tiny town with a population of less than 700, where virtually everyone knows everyone. There is a little touristy area, though, with cottages that visitors can book to stay in. We stayed in a little cottage called Dragon Cottage, which was lovely and actually surprisingly had Sky TV reception. However, the area is generally very poor for mobile phone reception, and I believe the only one that works is Orange, so expect to be out of contact with loved ones for a while if you do go there, as this is true of most areas in the Dales. The town has a post office and a convenience store, although it's obviously important to find out when they're open as otherwise you have quite a drive ahead of you to find another one! The village is also known for its Dent Brewery, which means they have a unique brand of beers at the pubs and restaurants around, of which there are surprisingly quite a few for such a small populus. Some of the ales and beers they have are lovely and smooth, and a nice bit of something different. Dent is a great town if you want to get fit, though; you can go on a walk in virtually any direction for miles, and you can pick up free maps from various places around the town. However, it is VERY easy to get lost if you're not paying attention, and in the less pleasant months it can be more of a slog than fun if you're soaking and muddy. Because it doesn't have phone service and all of my urban creature comforts like a cinema, an HMV and a GAME, I would go absolutely nuts living somewhere like this, but as a nice diversion from my city life, it is a fine getaway and also not too expensive either.
The yorkshire dales is renowned for one of englands toughest challenges, the yorkshire 3 peaks, comprising Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen Y Ghent, all to be completed within 24 hours, I have done Pen Y Ghent and the views from the summit are amazing. The Yorkshire Dales is like stepping back in time, beautiful unspoilt countryside, sheep everywhere you look, farms, lovely little villages, great pubs (Black Sheep and Theakstons are unmissable) and eminates traditional english country life. Some of the best locations to head for are Malham, home to Malham Cove a massive 200ft limestone cliff that you can often see people climbing on, and Gordale Scar, beautiful waterfalls. Grassington is another lovely town and they have a great market here, some nice shops and good pubs again, just what you need after a good walk through the dales. There are loads of beautiful riverside walks (Burnsall to Grassington is a good one) and loads of waterfall walks that the kids will love
The Yorkshire Dales National Park, one of Britains most beautiful areas of natural beaty, with thousands of people arriving each year to enjoy the lush green valleys, wildlife, attractions and limestone scenery. Whether it be a visit to go walking, or simply to relax and get away, whatever your reason, the Yorkshire Dales will offer an enjoyable experience for people of all ages and walks of life. Why not visit the limestone gorges of Malham Cove, explore several naturally formed caves and potholes, including the famous 'Buttercups'. Also visit the histric towns of the Vale of York, Ripon, Thirk, as well as participating in famous walks such as the Dales Way and the Coast-To-Coast walk. From spending over 20 years here, I always have, and still always do see the continous smiles, and the satisfacion on everyone's face from visiting this wonderful place. Also be sure to visit over popular locations within the Dales, including Aysgarth Falls, where Robin Hood was filmed. Also stop by and try the local cheese's and honey from Swaledale and Wensleydale, before visiting other beaty spots including; Bolton Abbey, Gordale Scare, Brimham Rocks, Waterfalls Walk, High Force, Hardraw Force. With all this and more, and the Lake District within easy reach, I can recommend the Yorkshire Dales National Park to everyone and I know whoever you are, you will have a fantastic enjoyable experience.
Visiting the Yorkshire Dales? Or the Lakes..Great..But please consider this. There is a small corner of England, where the three great counties of Lancashire, Yorkshire, and Cumbria meet, which is often overlooked by the tourist, as they hurtle along the M6 motorway to the Lake District and beyond. And I’m hoping to persuade any that may be holidaying either in the Lakes, or Yorkshire Dales, to take the time to ‘stop off’ enroute to take a look around. I was born in the seaside Town of Morecambe (pause whilst readers express sympathetic sighs, or snorts of derision) long before the days of Mr BlobbyLand, or whatever the dratted place is called. In the good old days Morecambe was noted for being a bit ‘up-market’. An elegant resort, much beloved by the Scots. Neither brash like the upstart Blackpool, nor quite as boring as Southport and in the Midland Hotel, a 1930’s art deco inspired building; this elegance can still be seen. (They also serve a mean afternoon tea.) But little else of the old Morecambe remains, and unless you are on holiday with young children, who are content to spend hours building sand-castles and paddling there is not much to interest the sightseer, expect perhaps the sun setting over Morecambe Bay. Although railway anoraks will doubtless enjoy a visit to the Railway museum in Carnforth, to be found a short journey away along the coast. I could say more about Morecambe, but I don’t want to put you off the general area, so I will move on to the City of Lancaster, with its castle, old militia barracks, museum, and University. The City council has made quite a few improvements lately. Pedestrian only shopping area’s, a cleaner Canal, better parking etc. But most of the ‘attractions’ can be seen in a day. The castle belongs to the Queen, (somehow I don’t see Her Majesty ever staying there) and was used as a prison for many years. Bu t if your kids are impressionable. Don’t let them visit the dungeons! Mine had nightmares for weeks, after the ‘guide’ closed the door to one of the ‘cells’, leaving them in the pitch dank dark for long enough to scare them witless. Nor were they too impressed with the instruments of torture, such as the ‘gossips bridle’, and the branding irons they were shown. Still the views from the battlements over the Lune Valley are worth the climb up the seemingly endless stone stairs. Heading out of Lancaster on the A683 for Kirkby-in-Lonsdale, if you take the B6480 for High Bentham, you can take a break in the picturesque village of Wray, and stretch your legs along the river Roeburn. Or simply take one of the unclassified single-track roads that lead to Ingleton and the White Scar Caves, if you enjoy the tourist thing. But if there is a personal heaven to be found on earth, I found mine many years ago. And whenever I get really down, or thoroughly hacked off with life I return there to feed my spiritual self. Even if it’s only in my mind’s eye. So if like me, the sheer beauty, and magnificence of nature can rob you of breath, and make you weak at the knees. Just follow these simple directions, and be prepared. Just outside Ingleton northbound on the A65 there is turning, which leads to a narrow unclassified track. To use it walkers/cyclists will need very strong leg muscles, and a good pair of lungs. Motorised vehicles will require a driver with nerves of steel, an engine with pulling power, and first rate brakes, before attempting to negotiate the track. Bordered by stout stone walls, the track climbs quite spectacularly, with tight bends, and few passing places (so be prepared for some nifty reversing). Until finally it widens and levels off for about 25 yards. I don’t need to tell you to halt here. The view alone will stop all but a Philistine in their tracks. For laid before you is the valley known locally as Deepdale. To one side, Whernside, one of the peaks ‘climbed’ in the annual Three Peaks Race. (The others being Ingleton and Pen-Y-Ghent) To the other is Craghill rising to 686 feet. Whilst in the background Garsdale rises away into the distance. For me it is simply the most beautiful sight on earth. I have stood up there at sunrise, sunset, mid-afternoon, and mid-morning. I have stared in awe whilst storms broke over the Peaks, ignoring the winds and the deluges that followed. Taken whole reels of film on gloriously sunny days, and toasted the majesty of it all with quite a few bottles of wine. (Not when I was driving of course). And have waxed lyrical about the place to anyone who would listen for years. As you can probably tell? If you can tear yourself away (I have difficulty doing so) the track then falls steeply (1in4), but fairly straightly, leading you into the village of Dent. A village now largely inhabited by quite a few artists, writers, and crafts folk. Whose ‘works’ are available for purchase in several arty/crafty/souvenir type establishments, by the avid collector. From Dent you can meander southwards cross-country to visit the Ribble Viaduct, another must see, for any interested in architecture. ( I am always fascinated by how such fantastic structures were built in the days before mechanical cranes etc were invented, and what the lives of the men who built them must have been like) Or turn northwest for a trip to Kendal, home of the famous,or infamous depending on how sweet a tooth one has, Kendal Mint-Cake. Now ending a ‘location’ op with a bacon and egg roll, washed down with a freshly made mug of tea, may at first glance seem odd. However, if on leaving Dent, one has taken another unclassified road which leads to Kirkby-in-Lonsdale a visit to the mobile café situated in the Devil’s Bridge lay-by off the A 683 at Kirkby-in-Lonsdale, is a very definite must. I found this gem back in the 1980’s, and the only change the proprietor has made since then, is to acquire a larger caravan. The food, and excellent friendly service, remains the same, and is frankly quite outstanding. Although it must be said, that the biker fraternity (a group who always seem to know where the best grub can be found) have made the place their own, and sometimes the queue can be lengthy. But once you have put in your order (all food is cooked to order). You can always spend the time watching the River Lune rushing under the Devil’s Bridge, (the river runs too fast to play Pooh sticks) or in feeding the cheeky chaffinches, and other birds, tame enough to take food from your hand, which congregate around the café. And believe me the mug of tea alone is worth the wait. It will certainly ‘fortify’ the nerves if one intends to rejoin the Motorway traffic.
Yorkshire's greatest feature, apart from the congenial populace and sporting teams is undoubtedly the Dales. The whole park is a vast expanse of unspoilt countryside, in which there are tonnes of great activites to experience. This mostly means hiking, because let's face it, going to a place full of beautiful views and mountains without doing some hiking is tantamount to blasphemy. There's also activites for the self preservationally challenged, include potholing, caving and hand-gliding. For any serious walker, the three hills walk is as essential as a visit to Mecca is for Muslims. In this walk, the idea is to climb the hills Ingleborough, Pen-y-ghent and Whernside. The walk usually ends in one of the areas superb pubs for a celebratory drinking session. Other attraction include the mighty Malham and its Cove (and fine pubs) and Grassington. The Dales is easily accessible and makes for a family great day out. The only potential difficulty is parking in some of the more touristy towns, but this can often be circumvented by the canny visitor. This truly is the finest that the people's republic of Yorkshire has to offer.