We arrived yesterday evening at ‘The Gateway to the Dales‘ – Skipton, North Yorkshire. Pulling into our cottage just after dark, we relaxed after the long drive before sitting in a local restaurant to wolf down one of the North’s most famous dinners (what else other than fish & chips? And dammit, these northerners were right, they do taste better up here!)
We then waddled back to our cottage, slower on the way back because of the new sheen of ice now glistening on the pavements – we slipped a couple times but suffered no falls, thankfully!
Despite all of this, I felt today was really our first (and full!) day in Yorkshire, so that’s why I’ve decided to start my diary from here. But have no fear, yesterday’s heavenly fish & chip dinner may have been my first (in the north), but certainly won’t be my last! So a review has not been missed. The same goes for the cottage, and its jacuzzi bath, we also tried last night – it’s just so good it deserves it’s own post!
Anyway, on with our first day!
In the morning I decided we would venture to Bolton Abbey, located only 10 minutes drive out of Skipton. The roads were clear and perfectly drivable, regardless of the flurries of new snow laying last night and this morning!
We parked up in the Sandholme Riverside car park and began the Strid Wood walk. It cost £7 for a ticket, which included both of our admissions and parking in all three car parks around the area – bit of a bargain if you ask me.
There’s roughly a five mile walk upto Barden Bridge, taking you across the River Wharfe and back round to the starting point. There are different routes to take along the path, some hilly, going up and into the trees, and others flat but bending around the river (wheelchair accessible and dog friendly!) We did a mix of both.
There’s many very pretty and natural streams, like above, all along the path and although this had an icy beauty in the snow, I can imagine this looking spectacular in the summer too!
The River Wharfe is forced through a narrow gorge, creating rapids, at one point of the walk. You can get a closer look at this by leaving the path and walking over the nearby rocks which though being mostly flat, accidents can happen – I managed to trip and drop my boyfriend David’s camera out of my pocket, breaking it, thus making me the worst girlfriend ever 😦 anyone know about digital camera repairs?
Further on, you come to an aqueduct, splendidly disguised as castellation bridge that actually takes water from Nidderdale to West Yorkshire. Past this is Barden Tower (originally a hunting lodge) and Barden Bridge, where we crossed and walked the route back.
Confused as to where the Priory Ruins were actually situated, the most visually famous site from the Bolton Abbey area, we drove back to its nearest car park before realising we could have included this into our walk and got there by foot!
But bugger it, we walked quite enough and stopped off at the Bolton Abbey’s tea rooms right next to the ruins for a pot of tea and a scone (very English!) There are also light bites to eat here for those who have walked the whole way.
Bolton Abbey, stunning even as ruins, goes back as far as 12th Century (crazy long ago) and had a good run before being dismantled (most likely burnt to a crisp when Henvy VIII went through his ‘burn the monasteries!’ phase.) Definitely worth the stop and walking within.
On the advice of the owners of our cottage, we then drove to Appletreewick, a village past Barden Bridge we could have again walked to (however this could have added another hour) and stopped off at The Craven Arms pub. We were so glad we did!
Built in the 16th Century sometime, it’s one of those great English pubs which probably hasn’t changed much in terms of its looks over the years. Small, winding little walkways with cosy little corners and wooden beamed ceilings (sorry, I don’t know the correct term for this), the place is heated with big, and I mean biiig, log fires and charming staff.
We probably wouldn’t have found a pub this traditional around the local area, there’s a free car park and lovely scenery surrounding it too.
A good range of great pub grub is also served here – some of the choices on the menu which made me salivate was the locally sourced game pie, roasted pheasant (or pigeon?), pork belly and err, burger.
However in the end, I thought you couldn’t go wrong with a traditional Steak and Ale pie, which it most certainly didn’t! It was bloody lovely and I am now a mushy peas convert!
Any ale drinkers wondering what that ale might be David is drinking – it is a Hetton Pale Ale, one of the best ales he has ever tried (in his opinion.)
We overheard one of the staff giving somewhat of a tour to a local family – she was planning to have her wedding here! – enquiries can be made via the website and it sounds like they welcome bands too.
On the way out it was almost getting dark so we headed back to the cottage to bask in the warmth of our own log fire and tiredness of our first day! Bring on tomorrow.