Travels with an Eriba
Information from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority
Our stunning landscape was shaped over millennia by ice. This created a rolling landscape of lush dales (valleys), windswept hills like the famous Three Peaks and vast expanses of heather-covered moors.
Over the centuries, people's interaction with nature has produced countryside of incredible beauty. Covering 1,762 sq kilometres (860 sq miles), the National Park is a treasure trove of special features. You can enjoy deep ravines like Gordale Scar, the soaring limestone amphitheatre that is Malham Cove, awesome cave systems including Gaping Gill, the lakes of Semerwater and Malham Tarn and spectacular waterfalls like Hardraw Force and Aysgarth Falls. Each valley or 'dale' has its own distinct character, set against expansive heather moorland tops.
Stone-built villages sit amongst traditional farming landscapes of field barns, drystone walls and flower-rich hay meadows, and show how the area has been shaped over thousands of years by the people who have lived and worked here.
Spectacular waterfalls and ancient broadleaved woodland contrast with the scattered remains of former mine workings and other rural industries which remind us of the area's rich industrial heritage.
More Delightful Dales Destinations
For antiquities addicts such as ourselves, North Yorkshire proved to be a perfect paradise!
Janet's Foss and Gordale Scar
Foss/Force is the old Norse name for a waterfall
This is a beautiful little dell with a stream leading to a picturesque waterfall that comes with its own splashpool. It is protected and hosts a sheltered micro-climate of rare wild flowers, ferns and many birds. It’s easy to see how mythical beings have featured strongly around here. For example, local Queen of the Fairies Jennet (the name has been modernised to Janet) is said to inhabit a cave behind the waterfall.
William Wordsworth wrote in the sonnet Gordale, "let thy feet repair to Gordale chasm, terrific as the lair where the young lions crouch"
A great limestone gorge near Malham some 400 feet (150 m) deep, Gordale Scar is a spectacular feature of the Craven Fault and is believed by some geologists to be the remains of a huge underground cavern whose roof collapsed around the time of the last ice age. Less dramatic theories, however, have the gorge being formed as a glacial meltwater channel. Whatever Gordale Scar's origins actually are it is hugely impressive. Nowadays Gordale Beck cascades down the ravine in three separate waterfalls, the higher of which pours through a natural arch in the rock above the lower (double) waterfalls. An awe-inspiring sight.
A Walk to Janet's Foss via Gordale Scar from Malham Village
After crossing the river on the old bridge, we walked via the National Park Centre and then across the delightful clapper bridge so that we could join the footpath first by the Malham Beck and then the Gordale Beck. It's a walk that has everything - lovely views, riverside and forest paths, waterfalls and extraordinary rock formations.
Malham Cove & Limestone Pavement
Above the village, Malham Cove is a great limestone amphitheatre formed through ice and water erosion during the last million years. A section of the Pennine Way leads from Malham Village to the Cove, ascending the western grassy side of the 250-feet high cliff. At the top there is a remarkable limestone pavement with its clints and grikes and a sensational view over the valley. Beyond, the Dry Valley leads northwards towards the Water Sinks and Malham Tarn. When we visited some representatives were there from the RSPB with telescopes so that we could see the peregrine falcons nesting on the cliff . Their four young ones were just getting ready to fly for the first time.
Video Tour of the Cove, Janet's Foss & Gordale
Where we stayed in the Dales
Lower Wensleydale Caravan Club Site, nr Leyburn N Yorkshire
Lower Wensleydale Caravan Club Site is set within the sheltered hollow of a disused quarry that is now overrun with a vast array of wild flowers, mosses and mature trees. This caravan park is managed by the Club on behalf of the owners. Ducks and rabbits roam the site freely and it is also perfectly situated to watch the local steam trains pass by. Leyburn is a quaint market town, only one mile away, where there are additional pubs and shops. We stayed there for two weeks.
Knight Stainforth Hall Caravan & Camping Park, nr Settle
Set in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the site which stands on a 45 acre estate in the attractive village of Stainforth, is just 2 miles north of the market town of Settle and is on the banks of the River Ribble. Knight Stainforth Hall is a manor house dating back to pre-Norman times which reputedly belonged to the Knights Templar. It's ideally situated for exploring the Dales. We camped there for a fortnight and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Their website indicates that the facilities block now has been updated and that there is good wi-fi availability. They have also opened a bar/cafe/restaurant which, like the site in general, has excellent reviews.