Today is the start of National Parks Week, an annual celebration of Britain’s most beautiful landscapes. So, to kick off the celebrations, here’s a look at my nearest national park, the wonderful Yorkshire Dales. A mention of the Dales immediately brings to mind dry stone walls and field barns in lush green meadows – hence the featured image of the famous view at Gunnerside in Swaledale, one of the Northern Dales.
The park was established in 1954 and currently occupies 1769 square kilometres. The highest point is Whernside (above) at 736m, one of the Yorkshire Three Peaks (the others being Ingleborough and Pen-Y-Ghent) which form a challenging 25 mile walk that traditionally has to be completed in under 12 hours to join the ‘Three Peaks of Yorkshire Club’, which is run by the Pen-Y-Ghent cafe at Horton in Ribblesdale.
Of course not everyone wants a marathon length challenge but there are plenty of gentler strolls to be had in the Dales – one favourite being along the River Ure in Wensleydale near Aysgarth to view the spectacular Aysgarth Falls.
At this time of year you might just want to sit and watch the sun set, and perched on the limestone pavement at Batty Moss near the Ribblehead viaduct is a great place to watch the fading light on the impressive view of Park Fell, Simon Fell and Ingleborough.
As well as wide open spaces and waterfalls there’s also woodland to explore, with one of the most attractive being Strid Wood at Bolton Abbey in Wharfedale. Bolton Abbey is worth a look at any time of year, but the woods are at their beautiful best in autumn. With all this on offer it’s no surprise that the Yorkshire Dales attracts 9.5m visitors a year!