Well those little men in their white coats and fancy instruments actually got the forecast right and today was beautiful, weather wise. Perfect for a ROAD TRIP.
Just as well because I spent some time last night working out a route that would take me through some of the most picturesque villages in North Yorkshire. It would be an 111 mile almost circular drive from my home in Leeds via Appletreewick, Burnsall, Grassington, Starbotton and West Burton before heading back down the A1 and home again.
So despite going to bed at 2am and reading for a while, I set my alarm for 9am with a plan to leave the house by 10am. I’m glad I did because I needed it to wake me up and still half asleep, I showered, had my porridge, grabbed a bottle of pop from the fridge and was off by 10:05am.
By the way, the start and end points on that map are close to where I live, but not exactly. Gotta have my privacy y’know !
All went well for the first 10 mins or so. I drove up the A61 towards Harrogate and then branched off to go to the little commuter village of North Rigton. This is my favourite way to get up into the Yorkshire Dales as it’s quick and scenic from the get go.
But at the mini roundabout in the village where I’d take the 2nd exit to go up High Moor Road, there was a police presence blocking the exit so I’d no choice but to take the 1st exit……and head off into the unknown.
Now this was fine by me in so far as I was in no hurry and always fancy new routes……but the problem was my phone GPS app, Waze, kept wanting to take me back to that mini roundabout no matter which turn I took to get it to bypass the village.
In the end it did recalculate and I continued north and picked up my original route. By now I was really in the Dales and I got the first inkling that I was going to have a fab day as the light was amazing. You know that lovely light you see just before a storm…..when the sky is black but there is enough sunlight to hit the surrounding area with a beautiful yellow-like glow that makes everything unreal and magical ?
Oh, so it’s only me then !
I donno if it was because I had my sunglasses on the whole time but that’s the light I saw all day. But looking at the photos now, I can see the light I’m talking about and despite only using the phone’s camera today, that wonderful light is obvious. I don’t remember seeing it last a whole day before but it made both the driving and the walking an absolutely awesome (sorry UK readers) experience.
The great thing about driving in the Dales at this time of year is the lack of tourist traffic. Yes there were loads of cyclists and walkers today but they add to the scenery whereas thousands of cars can make driving a misery. As you can see from all the photos today, I pretty much had the Dales to myself, car wise !
It took me a while to get to Appletreewick as I kept stopping to get out and take photos. In this country you need to enjoy the good weather when it arrives and I couldn’t be sure it would last all day. Sad but true.
With all the rain we’ve had since Christmas, there was a lot of standing water around but when taken over by wildlife, these pools could be enchanting.
I hadn’t actually climbed very high at this point but there was a dusting of snow in some places. This only added to the views before me.
Then I arrived at Appletreewick. It didn’t take long to explore as with most of these little Dales villages, they don’t amount to much as far as buildings go. They’re just super scenic, given their location but after half an hour or less and ignoring the pub at the village exit, I was back on the road.
It was lunchtime of course but I’d already made up my mind to eat at Burnsall as, when checking online last night, I noticed it had both a pub and a tea room !
And it was only 2 miles away.
I was heading there when I came to a steep hill with a scenic view in front of me. Being a narrow road, I couldn’t risk stopping and getting out to take a photo so I just stopped and took a quick snap from inside the car. Two cyclists were struggling up the hill and they added something to the photo – it’s just a shame that parts of the car’s dash can be seen reflected at the bottom. Despite the strong shadows cast by the farm buildings on the left, I’m glad I took the shot.
I approached Burnsall on the B6160 by going over a lovely stone bridge. There had been some cars parked up along the side of the road before the bridge so I turned around, drove back over the bridge and parked up at the head of the line.
Then I walked back to the village, taking photos of the River Wharfe, with the whole area bathed in the fantastic light I’d been experiencing all morning.
On the other side I came to the pub/hotel but I carried on taking photos….just in case.
I went down to the village green to have a look at the tea room before making a decision where to have lunch. It certainly looked inviting and was very popular with the walking and cycling communities. I popped in and once my glasses had demisted, I saw all the tables were taken so I went back out to explore a bit more and let the crowds die down.
The views looking back to the bridge were enhanced by a little group of ducks that waddled over to me in the hope that I’d feed them. Sorry ducks. I needed feeding myself !
Then it was back to the tea room and once again my glasses misted up. Once I could see, I saw all the tables were still taken but a couple who had had their meal and were just talking, saw me and got up and left me their table ! Hurrah.
I loved everything on the menu and had the usual internal struggle between a heavy or light meal. I decided I’d need plenty of energy for the walk ahead so I took the middle ground and ordered the locally sourced sausages, free range egg and homemade chips.
And to wash it all down ? Why a pot of Yorkshire tea of course.
I wasn’t expecting 3 sausages but apart from a few chips, I scoffed the lot and the whole meal was delicious. The pot of tea (with the added pot of hot water) gave me 4 cuppas so was fantastic value for money.
I was well impressed and could see why the place was so popular.
Once outside again I took a couple of photos…..one of the tea room and one looking away from the bridge, into the sun, but it came out ok.
Passing down the side of the pub, which lay just before the bridge, I went down to the river’s edge and picked up the path which ran alongside it.
I could see it was going to be a lovely walk but I’d no idea I’d actually joined a part of the 84 mile Dales Way, a long distance path that runs from Ilkley to Bowness-On-Windermere in the Lake District.
Who knew ?!
Not knowing this, I was expecting the excellent path to run out at any moment but it went on and on and apart from some places where it became more like what you’d expect from a riverside path, it was a well maintained concrete walk all the way to a curious bridge over the river which was my turning point.
There were great views all along the walk…….
After about half a mile the calm river suddenly woke up a bit and became a mini torrent. It coincided with a bend in the landscape with low cliffs replacing the green hills.
And then, as the countryside flattened out again, it became a sedate river once more.
I suddenly came upon one of nature’s little oddities. A tree that didn’t want to get its branches wet ! It was growing out from the bank and over the river when it took a dramatic turn towards the heavens.
It tickled my sense of the absurd. I loved it.
Then a bit further along, I came to the bridge I’d been told about by one of the few people I’d met on the path. They’d told me it swayed a lot but they never told me it was so narrow that there was barely room for one person to cross over.
Once across the bridge I saw a sign that was my first clue that the path I was on was not just some short riverside walkway but part of a much larger…..ummm…..walk.
I took photos from both sides and even a video crossing the bridge but sadly WordPress doesn’t seem to like mp4 format videos. It was probably two big for a blog anyway.
So here are the two photos.
On the return walk, the sun was rapidly going down below the hills to my right and so I was in the shade. This contrasted with the bright sunshine still on the far bank but I was glad I’d taken all the photos on my outward walk.
Once the sun left my side, I became aware of how cold it really was and I returned to the car as fast as possible and left Burnsall.
It was a lovely 13 mile drive up to Starbotton taking me past Kilnsey Crag and the overly touristy Kettlewell. I only stopped to take one photo……Kilnsey Crag.
As the light wasn’t good by this time, I took it in black & white.
The drive along the B6160 was really amazing. It must be one of the most scenic drives in the country and despite the fading winter light, it was still spectacular. Narrow in the extreme in places with sharp bends worthy of a Top Gear episode. Then it would open out into a classic Dales climb up to the snow line with small waterfalls in full flow after all the winter rain we’ve had.
I looked across to my right and spotted a small waterfall feeding a stream and just had to stop. I jumped a gate and started walking across the boggy ground and quickly realised that the approach to the waterfall was cut off by a fence I’d not seen from the road. Given the limitations of the phone camera, I have no decent shot of the waterfall and even the stream didn’t “come out” too well…and I even got my shadow in it ! Pah.
Back up on the road I took a last photo of the day as there was some snow on the grass verge. Again, due to the low light, it’s not very good but it’s still a memory which, after all, is why I take so many photos.
It was another 12 miles along the B6160 to my final village, West Burton.
This was a more substantial village but I had to walk around it in the semi darkness as it was after 5pm by now. It has a lovely and substantial village green and I sat on one of the many benches for a while to take it all in.
Then I got too cold and needed the warmth of the car and so I set off again on the 60 mile drive home, via the A684 and the A1, joining commuters who I’m pretty sure hadn’t enjoyed as good a day as I had.
God’s Own County indeed.
I was still fairly full from my lunch in Burnsall so had a light supper. After watching Barcelona put 7 past Valencia and then a few recorded shows, I went to bed at 1am as I was worn out. Let’s face it, this old body does NOT do 9am rises followed by LOTS of fresh air.
It was a day to remember and thanks to the photos and this diary post, I hope to do so in the years to come.