In a country as beautiful as England, the Yorkshire Dales are equivalent to the icing on a cake. They have something to entice everyone, whether someone is seeking solitude and serenity; or whether he or she is looking for an energetic, activity-filled holiday; or even if the individual is just looking for an opportunity to spend time among some of nature’s most bountiful regions. Tourism is one of the main industries in this region, and the visitors always go back with memories of outstanding scenery and varied natural habitats.
The Yorkshire Dales is a National Park in Northern England, it was designated in 1954 and currently has over 22 million visitors per year. There are over 20 main dales, and each one of these dales has a unique characteristic and appearance altogether. The southern dales are the most populated region and have most of the industries set up on their land; while up to the Tees and beyond lay the thinly populated northern dales. Within the scattered villages and small towns live over 20,000 people. A rich 10,000 year old cultural heritage and a peaceful and serene atmosphere mark the Dales as one of the favourite tourist spots in the whole of England.
Areas of Outstanding Beauty (AONB)
An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the Yorkshire Dales National Park covers an area of 680 square miles. Within the park nestle some of the scenic farmlands, protected wildlife, and limestone pavements. Some of the quaintest villages that one can ever come across are also part of this region. The visitor can stroll through the villages, or just take a lovely walk through the undulating dales, and have a look at the old castles, the stately country homes, and the mills that dot the countryside. Take a ride on the steam trains; take part in the village festivals, or just sample some of the excellent food available at the small pubs and restaurants, there is so much to do at the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
Another Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Nidderdale takes its name from the river Nidd. Here the lovely town of Pateley Bridge beckons the visitors to its tea rooms, its lively pubs and the crafts centre. The visitors can drive around the Nidderdale loop from this place, feasting upon the spectacular scenic vistas all along this 53-mile route. No visit here can be deemed complete if one does not visit England’s Oldest Sweet Shop at Pateley Bridge to savour their traditional sweets and take a walk down memory lane. Just a few miles away are the awe-inspiring, Birmham Rocks. Nature is at her creative best at Birmham Rocks, while she presents her sandstone rocks of fantastic forms. How Stean Gorge or Little Switzerland, as it is commonly known, is a limestone cleft that can plummet over 80 ft. in some places. The bridges over these places provide some spectacular views of the surrounding Dales.
The Yorkshire dales have some of the finest castles in the country. They epitomise centuries of history and they proudly carry the legacy of times long ago. Situated in the pretty town of Leyburn is the Blton Castle, where Mary, Queen of Scots, was imprisoned for a year in 1658. For over 900 years, the Skipton Castle has guarded the gateways of the Yorkshire dales, standing majestically on the hills above the town of Skipton. Beautifully preserved, it is open to the public for viewing and the visitors can travel through the renowned dungeons and the watchtower, and also have tea at the Clifford Tea Rooms. On a high cliff overlooking the River Swale is the Richmond Castle. The construction work at this place began in 1031 and the keep towers are believed to have walls, which are over 11 ft. thick.
A great way to really take in the atmosphere and ambience of the Yorkshire Dale is by visiting the farm parks in the area. The Thornton Hall Farm near Skipton is a lovely place to spend a whole day with the family. The children will learn about animals and farms and they will get a first-hand experience of riding a tractor and making farmyard friends. The other Farm Parks are St. Leonard’s Farm Park and the Bondcroft at Embsay, where they also have staying arrangements.
In a region where history has played such a major role in formulating its character, it is but natural that there should be some excellent museums. The National Children’s Museum at Eureka is a place that fascinates and enthrals children and adults alike. They can indulge in many interactive activities here and get some real hands-on experience. The Nidderdale Museum offers visitor sections on transport, agriculture and religion among others. In Hawes, the Wensleydale Cheese Museum not only teaches the visitor about how cheese is made, but it also offers them the opportunity to sample and purchase some of their excellent products.
One of the most popular activities in the Yorkshire Dales is to go walking through the scenic areas all around. Even though in some regions, the terrain is not easy to access and is quite vast, there are many visitors who come here just to go for a walk in the Yorkshire Dales. They may want to just gently stroll through the villages, or they may want to go for a full day’s hike through the hills, or they may just want to stroll down the banks of the river. Wherever they go, they are sure to find a lovely pub or a small tea room to rest their legs and have some flavourful home fare.
The Yorkshire Dales are among the most popular fishing spots in the UK. Raygill Fishing Lakes offer an awesome fishing experience, and the children can be taught fishing at the Kilnsey Trout Farm. Only a short ride away from Skipton is the Foulridge Reservoir, which covers over 97.5 acres and has a variety of fishes within its territory.