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Exploring the Dales - Day 1

Our 3 day visit to the Yorkshire Dales

Day 1

Our first destination is the gorgeous market town of Grassington. It’s a fairly short drive from the cottages.com office and is the perfect place for visitors to Wharfedale to begin their journey. For starters it’s a complete honeypot location with lovely cobbled streets, limestone buildings, a host of quirky boutiques and tearooms and a packed calendar of cultural events that belies its small stature. Trust us; this is a small town with a lot going on! And it’s also where you will find the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority office and our very own regional office.

Visiting the Grassington Office

Helen, Rob and Victoria from the office welcome us with tea, biscuits and plenty of suggestions. Rob is known as the office oracle was more than willing to share his knowledge of the area. Along with a list of must see locations as long as your arm he throws in a few facts. For example, did you know that the British Museum has more artefacts from the Yorkshire Dales than anywhere else in the country? We also found out that the town’s Dickensian Fair continues to draw the crowds from all over the country because everyone says that’s when Christmas truly begins.

We look out of the window at the idyllic spring scene as people mill around the town square and can only imagine how lovely it would look with a light dusting of snow whilst we cradle a cup of warmed gluhwein in our hands. We leave with a promise of a return visit in December and a recommendation for The Angel Inn at Hetton for lunch.

"Did you know that the British Museum has more artefacts from the Yorkshire Dales than anywhere else in the country?"

We look out of the window at the idyllic spring scene as people mill around the town square and can only imagine how lovely it would look with a light dusting of snow whilst we cradle a cup of warmed gluhwein in our hands. We leave with a promise of a return visit in December and a recommendation for The Angel Inn at Hetton for lunch.

Kathryn Storey from the National Park Authority

We then walk over to the National Park Authority office on Hebden Road to meet Kathryn Storey. She briefs us on some of the great work the National Park Authority are doing to preserve the beautiful landscapes of Yorkshire whilst making them more accessible (a child friendly cycling track around Malham Tarn for example). Kathryn arranges to put us in touch with some of the Park’s Rangers so we can get some first-hand recommendations for wild walks in the Dales.

From there we take narrow roads past Hetton to Malham. Lambs are running in the fields and you can see the advance of spring through patches of sun winding over the bright green hills, wildflowers growing on verges and birds chirping merrily away. After half an hour of scenic driving we turn a corner and descend into a valley to see the craggy face of Malham Cove loom on the horizon.

Malham Cove is one of the Dales’ must-visit locations. It’s an awe-inspiring limestone crag formed by glacial meltwater falling hundreds of feet many thousands of years ago. Today, the water flows underground, leaving a dry pavement at the top which offers views of Airedale that will take your breath away. That is, if you have any left after climbing the 400 steps to the top! The limestone pavement that crests the cove was featured in one of the latter Harry Potter films. We’re sure they didn’t have to do much to make it look magical and otherworldly.

"It’s an awe-inspiring limestone crag formed by glacial meltwater falling hundreds of feet many thousands of years ago."

Malham Cove

Lunch is next on the agenda. The Angel at Hetton is something of an institution due to its quality food, long and varied wine list and renowned status as one of the very first gastropubs. Despite a busy lunchtime crowd we manage to get a table in the bar. The chef sends out delicately presented saffron figs with parma ham and slivers of melon to tide us over. I order Angel’s Little Moneybag: a delicious concoction of seafood sealed in a crispy pastry pouch surrounded by lobster sauce. The chef Bruce Ellsworth comes out to talk to us about ‘Le Tour’ effect – how last year’s race really put the Dales on the map. He shows us a list of recommended local produce suppliers, which wasn’t really necessary as the quality and presentation of his starters was the perfect showcase. The sirloin steak served with sauted potatoes, slow-roasted tomatoes and mushrooms that follows just seals the deal (and makes me think that I may be able to go the full three days without eating another thing!).

  • Saffron figs with parma ham
  • Angel’s Little Moneybag
  • Sirloin steak
  • Roasted Shallot Tart Tatin

Stepping outside to catch the afternoon sun, we bump into Juliet Watkins, owner of The Angel for the past thirty or so years. I compliment her on the quality of food and welcome afforded to us. She thanks us and from her response it becomes clear that The Angel’s success – if not the region’s recent resurgence – is down to focussing on what makes the Dales so great: fantastic local produce, beautiful scenery and the warmest of welcomes.

Linton Falls

As we drive off towards Linton, well fed and rested, the sun moving lower on the horizon bathing the hills in gorgeous golden light, it becomes clear that the rest of the week will have some work to do if it is to compete with our first day. We still have one stop to go and have already exceeded our expectations of how many friendly faces we could meet, photogenic scenery we can gaze at and how much incredible food we can sample.

A pint at The Fountaine

The village of Linton is probably most renowned for the falls that churn the River Wharfe into white-water and provide a wonderful spectacle to walkers on the banks and the bridge. We park in the square and walk along the green and over the narrow stone bridge that spans the gently flowing beck. The falls are just a short walk away through tranquil countryside, and we make a note to stop off at the lovely looking Fountaine Inn on the way back.

We arrive at Linton Falls during the golden hour: the sun gently sparkles on the waters as flow quickly towards the River Ouse. We wander over and listen to the falls; it’s the only sound disturbing the perfect calm of a late spring afternoon. We sit in silence for minutes and soak it all in, it’s an idyllic scene, the perfect end to a day outdoors.

On the way back we stop off for a pint at The Fountaine. It has a lovely homely décor, a crackling fire and some great local ales on tap. We all think that we could happily stay there for ever, but we have two more days to go. We leave reluctantly and only because we’re desperate to see what day two will bring!

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