Embracing Slow Travel in the Yorkshire Dales
This article, brought to you by National Geographic Traveller (UK), explores the beauty of slow travel in the Yorkshire Dales, where time seems to stand still, and each village tells its own unique story.
One such place is the Muker Literary Institute, a charming museum that embodies the essence of the village. Built in the 1860s, it provided a space for villagers to educate themselves through books and newspapers. The museum’s single room holds a diverse collection, from trumpets to miners’ boots, and even tools used for castrating rams. As I browse through the exhibits, the melodious strains of brass band music fill the air. On Mondays, lucky visitors might catch the Muker Silver Band rehearsing upstairs, their lively notes echoing through the hills. Nearby, the Muker Tea Shop offers a delightful break with its invigorating cuppas and delectable cakes. The shop is rumored to be where King Charles buys his gloves from the neighboring wool-seller.
The charm of the Yorkshire Dales extends beyond Muker. In Swaledale, a valley bearing the scars of an ancient lead-mining industry, one can witness the captivating beauty of the national park. Dry stone walls cascade down shaggy slopes, and sheep lazily graze on distant ridges while the River Swale meanders gracefully through the landscape. It’s no wonder that Alfred Wainwright chose to incorporate Swaledale into his famous Coast to Coast walk, recognizing the allure of this picturesque hiking territory.
My journey through the Dales involves a leisurely village-to-village trip, meandering along single-track roads that weave like silver threads through the vast, green hills. The surroundings embrace me in their all-encompassing contours, evoking a feeling of both tranquility and humility.
Just a few miles from Muker lies the quaint settlement of Keld. The rough stone houses glisten after a brief rain shower, and a path leads to a breathtaking river gorge in the hills. Among the ruins of Crackpot Hall, an 18th-century house, I relish the serenity of the surroundings. As I return to Keld, I encounter a group of schoolchildren on a guided walk, learning the art of ascending hills steadily to conserve energy.
Throughout the region, stone cowsheds known as ‘cow’usses’ dot the landscape. Some date back to as early as 1687 and served as shelters for farmers during harsh winters, taking advantage of the warmth provided by their animals.
A day later, I take a detour to the high moors and visit Tan Hill Inn, Britain’s highest pub, known for its delectable pies. My journey then leads south to the picturesque valley of Wensleydale. The scenic Buttertubs Pass, a challenging route that tested Tour de France riders in 2014, offers stunning vistas along the way.
In Hawes, a larger village bustling with character, I explore the cheese-lovers’ paradise, Wensleydale Creamery. But the true gems lie in the surrounding countryside. A gentle walk across mellow water meadows leads me to the 13th-century Green Dragon pub. Although the nearby inn sadly closed in 2022, the real treasure lies hidden behind it—Hardraw Force, England’s largest single-drop waterfall. A modest fee grants me access to the serene forested area, where the sound of cascading water creates a soothing ambience. Kevin Costner once filmed scenes here for the movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, but today, it’s just me and a grey wagtail by the water’s edge.
The Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes uncovers the Roman history of the area, revealing their network of roads and forts. Even back then, the vast landscape extended to the distant horizon, offering a sense of boundless wonder that still captivates visitors today.
In the Yorkshire Dales, time seems to slow down, and the world opens up to those who embrace the art of slow travel. The picturesque villages, stunning landscapes, and rich history all come together to create an unforgettable experience. So, why not take a step back, savor the moment, and let the beauty of the Yorkshire Dales envelop your soul?
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Slow travel in Yorkshire Dales.
What is the Yorkshire Dales known for?
The Yorkshire Dales are renowned for their picturesque landscapes, charming villages, and opportunities for slow travel, hiking, and exploring historic sites.
What can I expect to see in Muker?
In Muker, you can visit the Muker Literary Institute, a local museum with diverse exhibits, and enjoy the Muker Tea Shop, known for its delightful cuppas and cakes.
Is Swaledale a good place for hiking?
Yes, Swaledale is an excellent spot for hiking. Alfred Wainwright even incorporated it into his famous Coast to Coast walk, highlighting its captivating beauty.
What are ‘cow’usses’ in the Yorkshire Dales?
‘Cow’usses’ are stone cowsheds sporadically dotted around the landscape. Farmers historically used them as shelters during harsh winters, taking advantage of their animals’ warmth.
How can I visit Hardraw Force waterfall?
To visit Hardraw Force, head to the now-closed Green Dragon pub in Hawes. Pay a small fee for access to the forested area and enjoy England’s largest single-drop waterfall.
What can I explore in Wensleydale?
In Wensleydale, you can visit the Wensleydale Creamery, a paradise for cheese lovers, and explore the surrounding countryside with its mellow water meadows and ancient history.
Is slow travel the best way to experience the Yorkshire Dales?
Yes, slow travel allows you to savor the timeless allure of the Yorkshire Dales, immerse yourself in village life, and appreciate the breathtaking landscapes and rich history.