What I’m writing about now actually happened more than a fortnight ago (meaning I am really behind here – I do have good reasons though!)
We actually stayed in the Dales for a week, and as well as all the waterfalls that I’ve already written about (click here if you’ve not read it yet), we enjoyed simply driving along the country roads (and along some of the high passes), visiting a couple of the towns and villages and discovering Fountains Abbey and Castle Bolton.
Driving down the road from the campsite we came across an escarpment at Cray that a number of people were climbing. So we stopped and went up to have a closer look 🙂
From here we continued along the road until we came to Grassington – make no mistake through several pretty villages before getting here; this was just where we decided to stop 🙂
Grassington is actually a town, albeit a small town with a population at the last census of 1,126. It’s very pretty with a history of lead mining, a country park, a folk museum and several gift shops and eateries. Well worth a visit; we enjoyed wandering around for a short while 🙂
We were actually aiming for Ripon when we set out in the morning, and once we’d left Grassington we aimed once again for this town. On the way we saw signs for How Stean Gorge which I had read about in the Rough Guide, and I thought it looked like it could be really good to visit. It took a while to get there, but we couldn’t see much. Unless we paid £7 each… Now it might well have been worth this money, but it’s only about 1000m long, and the weather wasn’t brilliant, so we decided against it.
There is however an awful lot on offer including canyoning, gorge walking, canoeing and the via ferrata (a high wire adventure), so I really think it’s worth a visit for the more adventurous among us (okay among you…!) Check out their website here if you’re interested in that sort of thing.
Back on the road again to Ripon we next came across Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden. Now I did, of course, know that this was here, but I wasn’t going to suggest stopping. But then we saw the magic words ‘World Heritage Site’, so decided to have a look after all. Being members of the National Trust we had nothing to lose – if we weren’t impressed we could just leave 🙂
We weren’t disappointed even though we didn’t actually manage to visit the church in the grounds (where Freddie Truman is apparently buried – according to my dad anyway 🙂 ) (I have just checked and Wikipedia says he’s buried in Bolton Abbey; but then again Wikipedia has been known to get it wrong…!), or the Studley Royal Gardens (which are actually the World Heritage Site). But we did see the hall (much of it now holiday & staff accommodation) and the remains of the abbey itself. These are really impressive being very extensive. You can clearly see the seats where the monks sat in the choir, visit an upstairs room (still completely intact) and a massive hall that still has it’s ceiling and arches.
There is quite a steep climb back up from the ruins – so much so that the tall church tower looks a little like a gatehouse as you’re walking towards it!
We fully intended to go back with our bikes to visit the water gardens and the deer park, but sadly never actually made it (as is so often the case).
Time was no getting on so we just drove through Ripon and headed back to the van via a Co-op in Masham (there is a distinct lack of shops in the Dales themselves!)
This we found out to our cost later that evening. We had forgotten a vital item when in the shop, but decided to wait until after our tea to go back out. Big mistake! We headed back out at 7.35pm. The garage in Aysgarth had closed at 7pm, so we decided to head for Hawes, 8 miles away, as that’s a fairly decent size – no, all that was open were pubs. And a Chinese takeaway. So then we had to come back and head for Leyburn, 8 miles in the other direction, all the way looking for shops, garages etc. There were a couple of village shops and garages, but everything was shut, except for the pubs!
Finally in Leyburn – a decent sized town, we found a choice of 2 shops. So because we forgot something we drove about 36 miles and were out for over an hour. And we complain at home because our nearest shop is a mile away!!
We headed back to Hawes another day, although we didn’t stop (this was the day that we visited Hardraw Force). We then took the Buttertubs Pass, an amazing road with wonderful views over the dales. So called because apparently farmers would leave unsold butter in the deep natural potholes along the side of the road when they left market.
We drove a 2nd pass – no name given – and at the bottom we spotted a mole running along the side of the road! Just amazing 🙂
At the top of the pass we found Muker, a busy little village with a couple of tea rooms and a pub. We were confused as to why it was quite so busy until I realised that it was on the route of a long distance walking path.
We continued along the ‘back road’ to Aysgarth until we got to Castle Bolton. This is where the reception for the wedding I mentioned previously was held. It was very cold that time! This time not so much.
There was a medieval music festival being held there this weekend and we were able to access the ground floor as well as the café on the 1st floor free of charge. There was quite a lot to see!
So another couple of lovely days in the Dales were concluded. Just 1 more post on this, dealing with a visit to Richmond and Leyburn 🙂
Other posts from our time in the Yorkshire Dales:-
Waterfalls (Aysgarth, Hardraw & West Burton)