A few weeks after spending the Easter weekend walking the southern half of the Cotswold Way, Catherine and I were looking forward to an early May Bank holiday weekend exploring the Yorkshire Dales. The county of Yorkshire, home to Yorkshire tea and of course Geoffrey Boycott, is situated in the north of England and the area known as the Yorkshire Dales is one of 10 National Parks in England. I hadn’t realised that a ‘dale’ is a synonym for a valley.
It took us most of the morning to drive up from London and once arriving in the National Park, it was fun driving through little villages on narrow, windy country roads. We arrived into Malham around lunch-time, set up our tent at what we thought was the campsite we’d booked and set off walking as it started to hail!
It was a fun climb up and over a waterfall and through the Gordale Scar gorge, where it looked like the earth had been pulled apart. We continued to Malham Tarn and onto Malham Cove for spectacular late afternoon views as the weather cleared and the sun came out.
We dropped into town for a delicious cold pint at the local pub and then made our way back to the campsite for pasta and sauce. We had experienced four seasons in one day and we were in our tent soon after dinner as the temperature dropped very quickly.
The following day we drove to Clapham to climb Ingleborough, the second-highest mountain in the Yorkshire Dales and one of the peaks making up the ‘Yorkshire Three Peaks’ challenge. The walk up Ingleborough was more expansive and more exposed and there were lots of people out walking. They looked well prepared – clearly this was not their first rodeo in the Yorkshire weather!
After enjoying views from the summit, we found a spot out the wind to enjoy our delicious picnic lunch before heading across and down Little Ingleborough. We admired Gaping Gill, a very big hole which I’ll admit doesn’t sound all that appealing but is interesting to see, and stumbled on the Ingleborough Caves.
Our timing was perfect as we arrived minutes before the next hourly tour. You never imagine exploring caves in England and we really enjoyed the informative tour and beautiful caves with its many formations and stalactites and stalagmites of all shapes and sizes. Popping into the visitor center after the tour, we saw a freezer of Vegan Magnums – another magnificent discovery in the middle of nowhere!
On our final morning we drove to Ingleton and followed the very pretty 8 km Ingleton waterfalls walk. We made our way to six waterfalls, past lots of bluebell and really enjoyed being in the woods. It’s a really lovely little walk but be sure to go early – we were one of the first cars in the car park and by the time we got back, even the overflow car park was full.
The Yorkshire Dales is very green, very open and very craggy. It’s also dramatic, which is definitely not a word you often use to describe English scenery. With footpaths everywhere, you could walk for weeks and regardless of how long you walked for, you’d have sheep everywhere you look for company (apparently over 1.3 million live in the Dales although it looked like those numbers might have doubled with all the new lambs)!. We’re certainly looking forward to coming back to explore a few more of those footpaths.
Accommodation – we camped at what is no longer a campsite and it’s best to stay here! https://www.malhamdale.com/camping/
Weather – come prepared for all types of weather at all times of year – even in May it was still cold at night and we had four seasons in a day.
Food – we brought food for the weekend but there’s no shortage of pubs and cafes in and around the villages
Transport – we borrowed a friend’s car but there are a few trains stations around and in the summer there’s the Dales Bus. The Dales Bus website has all the information you need – https://www.dalesbus.org/
Ingleton Waterfalls Trail Cost – £7 / person