Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Discovering the Yorkshire Dales

During a visit to Wigan, my uncle Terry suggested that we might want to take the opportunity to stay in their caravan in the Yorkshire Dales. Without much hesitation we said yes and it wasn’t too long before we were heading up the M6 highway to Cumbria and a little town called Sedbergh. Typically the weather was inclement, but it didn’t dampen our enthusiasm to explore ‘The Dales’, which were made so familiar to Jules and I through the highly popular BBC series ‘All Creatures Great and Small’. It turns out that Sedbergh itself is a lovely little town with narrow lanes and classic stone buildings. It is just how we had imagined a typical Yorkshire village to be, however there is a much wider region to explore and it’s not too long before we are winding our way around extremely narrow country roads in search of picturesque and interesting locations. Our first stop is the Wensleydale Creamery in the town of Hawes. The dairy products here are regarded as some of the best in England, but it is particularly well known as the cheese of choice for the animated characters ‘Wallace and Gromit’. After a generous tasting session we thread our way through to Ingleton, Kirby Lonsdale and Casterton, with quick stops along the way as we complete a loop back toward Sedbergh. However the major place we wanted to visit was Dent as before the caravan came along, the town was the regular holiday destination of my uncle and aunty, who always rented a traditional white walled cottage and spent many a day walking across the dales. True to their description, we found it to be a truly authentic Yorkshire village looking much as it would have looked a generation ago. There still remains a rustic yet rugged isolation in the villages and countryside of this area and It is no surprise that the lush green scenery and peaceful atmosphere continues to attract tourists. The Lakes District in particular makes for some spectacular sight seeing and we were certainly keen to explore it further. So the next day we set off to explore Lake Windermere, a location that was familiar to me as the stretch of water that was frequently the location for many water speed records in the 1950’s along with nearby Coniston Water. Being 10.5 miles long, Lake Windermere is the largest and certainly the most beautiful natural lake in Britain. Naturally enough it has always been a haven for boats of all shapes and sizes; everything from yachts to steamboats, however on the day we are there the skies were grey and the lake remained surprisingly empty. After driving the full length of the lake, we headed back via the tiny village of Cartmel who’s claim to fame was that it professes to be the home of ‘the worlds best sticky toffee pudding’! True to its word, it turned out to be pretty darn good, but once again it was the delightful village itself that was the highlight. As with so many places we had passed through during our short stay, it had truly reflected the unique character of northern England. While the weather was not always at it’s best, the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District had not disappointed. We had thoroughly enjoyed experiencing its rugged landscape and the warmth of the local people.

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