Yorkshire Dales: A Traveler’s Paradise
Written by Austin Sullivan
Yorkshire Dales, situated between England and Wales, is perhaps one of the United Kingdom’s best-kept secrets. Established as a National Park in 1954, the 1769 square kilometers of pristine English countryside offers the traveler a one of a kind experience they are not soon likely to forget. With its fascinating array of rolling green valleys, “dales”, interspersed with limestone cliffs and gorges complete with underground waterfalls and caves, the park has something to offer everybody.
For the traveler who seeks solitude and unspoiled wildness, Yorkshire Dales will not disappoint. Within the vast expanse of the park’s boundaries can be found not only Great Britain’s highest unbroken waterfall above ground but also the country’s highest unbroken waterfall underground as well. The former, Hardraw force, located in Wensleydale cascades approximately 100 feet over a sheer cliff before exploding in a dazzling white display onto the rocks below. Fell Beck, by comparison, drops a whopping 300 feet over the abyss at Gaping hill as it disappears into a subterranean environment of stalactite and stalagmite filled caves and potholes. Although the extensive underground cave system is still being explored and mapped, travelers can take advantage of the numerous cave tours offered in the park. Adventure seekers exploring the Lancaster Pot and Easegill Caverns System will discover over 70 km of known passages throughout this little known gem, rendering it the longest cave system in the United Kingdom.
For even more adventure, the traveler to Yorkshire Dales can take advantage of the three famous peaks at Ribbesdale: Ingleborough, Pen-y-ghent, and Whernside. Not only do all three peaks afford magnificent views of the “dales” below, but all are also relatively easy to climb. For the particularly daring and ambitious traveler, all three peaks can even be climbed in one day! For those who do manage to climb all three 700-meter peaks, membership in the Three Peaks of Yorkshire Club is extended. Finally, for the traveler looking for an even greater challenge, the 250-mile long Pennine Way, Great Britain’s most famous long distance footpath, passes through Yorkshire Dales as it extends from the Derbyshire Peak District to Scotland. The footpath not only offers the solitude and tranquillity of the English countryside, but it also affords the traveler the opportunity to partake in one of the United Kingdom’s greatest natural treasures. Indeed, for travelers seeking adventure in the outdoors, the diverse landscape and natural beauty of Yorkshire Dales cannot be surpassed.
For those seeking all of the charm and splendor the quaint English countryside has to offer, a visit to Yorkshire Dales presents the traveler with a multitude of different experiences. History comes alive at places like medieval Bolton Castle where Mary, Queen of Scots was imprisoned for 6 months and which also boasts connections to Richard II. Meanwhile Middleham Castle at Middleham affords the traveler a unique look back in history at the early life of Richard III. Local pottery and artwork are also popular attractions within Yorkshire Dales. At the Teapottery in Leyburn, the so-called “home of the eccentric teapot”, travelers can watch teapots as they are being made and then intricately decorated. At the Hawes Ropemaker, the secrets behind the sophisticated art of ropemaking are revealed. The Spinning Gallery in Sedbergh offers visitors a glimpse back into the history of wool manufacturing and knitting in England. Travelers interested in flyfishing in the park can visit the Blackburn Farm Trout Fishery in Gayle where anglers can rent rods and other supplies before testing their skills at the local fishery. Lastly, travelers can enjoy a carefree and pleasure filled ride on the Settle-Carlisle Railway that passes through the park. The spectacular scenery and uncompromising views make the train ride an especially memorable part of the Yorkshire Dales experience.
Whether it is the solitude and beauty of nature that the traveler seeks or a whole world of adventures within the confines of a single park that lures the traveler, Yorkshire Dales offers it all. Railways and footpaths, history and local culture, tranquillity and adventure are all part of the unique landscape of the United Kingdom’s Yorkshire Dales National Park.