Exploring the Hills of Yorkshire

Posted: 20th August 2008 by admin in Travel

Originally harking from the mostly flat Midlands (Leicester to be precise), a large hill to me was about 200-250m high, with those heights being reached only by Old John and Beacon Hill.  So when I moved to Yorkshire and in the centre of the Pennnine  belt running down the middle of the UK from Hadrians Wall to Derbyshire, it was a bit of a culture shock.  Where I live in Halifax, you either live on, on the side or in the valley of a hill.  It was a few years before I got into hill walking after I moved here, and so when I first started exploring the Yorkshire Dales around 2001-2002, I fell in love with them straight away.  Since then I’ve been multiple times to far more dramatic country like Snowdonia and the Lake District, my favorite area is still the dales. 

I must admit to yearly fling with the Lake District each year however, as I have been making a habit of going camping for a night up there for the last 3 years, this year it was a 23 mile loop around Haweswater in June taking High Street and its surrounding peaks (but thats for another article, probably my next one, while it still relatively fresh in my mind), wild camping on the shores of Haweswater, then walking out a 4.30 in the morning along a beautifully deserted lake.  For the previous 2 years it was a (failed) attempt on Pillar Rock with my friend Mike, however he couldn’t make it this year due to a new child, so a third attempt was put off for another year.  You can read about the 2007 attempt in an earlier blog entry.

I went through a period of doing a lot of walking up there in 2003 before my daughter elise was born, then parental duty took over a bit, and my possibilities of free time dried up.  However I still get up there 6-7 times a year, whether it be for climbing, canoeing or walking.  I’m having a lot more chances to get up there now, as my daughter is now 5, is starting to be able to walk some short routes now.  My last visit was the river walk through the Bolton Abbey estate with several members of my family, which is well worth a visit, with a spectaular views of the Strid, where the whole River Wharfe reduces to a 4ft slot.

This last week has seen two visits to the area, one, a couple of days ago, took in some great scenery in the south Yorkshire Dales, and a brief visit to the Chevin above Otley, just outside the national park area, a place I have climbed a couple of times before, but never walked along the top of.

Sunday we had been to an farm park up near Yeadon so Elise, my daughter could go and feed the animals, and then onto a picnic  at Yeadon Tarn, which resides at the end of Leeds Bradford Airport, which normally means you get a passenger jet shooting past every few minutes, however it was rather behreft of jets today, so after lunch we drove up the Chevin for a walk, and was rewarded by some amazing parnoramic views as we walked from Suprise Panorama for a couple of miles.  On a very good day they say you can see 60 miles, I reckon we got about 15-20 miles visibility that day. 

As you can see above, you can see from the head of Wharfe Valley at Bolton Abbey on the left to Almscliffe Crag on top of its hill on the right (click on any photo to see a larger version).  If you had the time, you could spend a full day exporing the forests and paths in this area, something I intend to do in the autumn.  Below are few more photos taken from top.

Lakes near Otley

Leeds Airport

View to North East

Almscliffe Rock

On Wednesday, me and Elise did a mini tour of the south dales, starting with a pleasant drive up to Langcliffe via Settle, with a brief stop to get some kit in.  Then after short drive up to Langcliffe we parked up on the outskirts of the village, and began the steady ascent of about 200m up Attamere Scar, the first mile was following the road to Malham Tarn, up a steady hill, this being the steepest part of the walk, however this road did give some great views over the Ribble Valley, as you can see below.

At a sharp left bend, you leave the road and take the track to the right, this skirts a wood for a few hundered yards and then, goes to the left, following the dry stone walling up a gentle hill, over to the right you can see towards Malhamdales looking past Attamere Scar and its 2 obvious caves, among others which are not so visible.  Walking past an uninhabited farm building, you get a view of the closest cave to the far west of the scar.  Elise had walked all the way up to here, with a couple of breaks for food, however, looking behind me I saw a heavy shower, and knew that we would get caught if walking at child pace, so I popped elise onto my shoulders and made good time to the cave, just in time.  Sheltering in the cave, we sat out the rain and started the easier downhill walk back to the car, only being caught by a light shower halfway down.  The total walk was about 2.25 miles, you can extend by walking the length of the scar and coming back via footpaths on the other side of the valley to the scar. If you carry on walking on the track past the cave for 100m, you get a great panoramic view from Pen-Y-Ghent to Settle.

After we got back to the car, we drove over to Malham Tarn, and had some more lunch over a freshly made brew and some warmed milk for elise.  This location is a great stopfor a picnic, if you want to sit by the waters edge about 400m from the car park, however it was a bit soggy underfoot, and we had done it several times before, so decided to stay in the car.  We then drove down towards Gordale Scar via Malham village, and parked up near the small bridge, just before the entrance to the campsite and footpath to gorge.  A change into wellingtons for elise, and we were off, me on the path, her following the deepest puddles.

As we walked past the campsite you could see that the normally placid stream had turned into a small river, and I thought the upper and lower waterfalls were going to fantastic, and they didn’t disappoint.  See the images below

We spent a couple of hours there, with elise enjoying climbing the rocks to the side of gorge and me making the most of the view and photo opportunties.  Elises climbing sparked off every other kid there wanting to do it, I’m sure I was popular with the other parents.

When it has not been raining quite so much you can normally climb up the rock you see in the centre of the two lower waterfalls, then up a rock staircase, and then proceed up to Malham Tarn across fields, and return via a valley to the top of Malham Cove, and then into the village of Malham, before walking the mile along the road back to the camp site.  But today that wouldn’t have been possible.  I come into the gorge from above in slightly lower water levels and had to turn back as the descent down was very trecharous, so had to backtrack across fields and down the road to Malham.  I’ve also walked the full lendth of the gorge from its source, and that was a great fun as well.
If you only ever visit the Yorkshire Dales for 1 day in your life, do the Malham area with a visit to Malham Cove (which is one of my locations for this saturday), and then Gordale Scar.  Do it after a week of heavy rain and its even more spectacular.

A quick detour over to Rhystone in the Wharfe Valley on some fantastic single track road and a stop in Skipton at the Royal Shephard on the Canal Road for a pint, finished off a great day.

  1. Susan M says:

    I enjoy reading about your adventures with your young family in tow.
    My sons and their wives plus grandchildren, all live and work in the UK (I am in Sydney). With a view to moving to UK to enjoy approaching retirement and family life with much loved grandchildren I regularly browse the internet for info on life in UK. Your stories inspire me and I look forward to discovering the beautiful country my sons now call ‘home’.