Skipton, Gateway to the Dales

Skipton, Gateway to the Dales


This was our first Ramblers Countrywide holiday– near Skipton, North Yorkshire. We checked the region’s predicted weather before leaving home. We expected it to be partly-cloudy on both days, with a chance of a shower. So I packed a rain-resistant jacket rather than a rainproof one: a big mistake! It rained a lot on day two.

On day one we did a circular walk, above Embsay, on gritstone (which is usually wet, but was very dry this year). After climbing up to the moorland we descended gradually past Lower Barden Reservoir, then ascended gradually through the Bolton Abbey estate on a gravel track to Upper Barden Reservoir where we ate our packed lunches in the wind-shelter of the reservoir wall.

I was so glad that I had pampered my feet with creams and had clean socks to change into, as these measures greatly limited the degree of prickly heat rash on my feet and ankles. It was a hot, dry day and from past experience this could well have caused very severe rash. Next time, though, I would wear thick socks over my double-layered thin ones in the hope of avoiding heel blisters. (Our leader came to rescue with Compeed plasters.) None of us got sunburned. We re-applied sunscreen at lunch and wore hats. Making excellent time, we crossed the moor to a third reservoir, then back down to Embsay by a different path.Highlights were:– lots of sheep (some of which were sheltering in two shooting-bluffs as we passed by), also a chick of some kind hopping into the heather, curlews gliding and calling above us, and really peaceful expanses of softly rolling scrubby hills, plus good companionship and the comfort of trusting our leader to get us back safely.


On the second day we walked from Arncliff to Grassington. That took us along the valleys of the Skirfare and Wharfe rivers. This is limestone country. During the morning we stayed closer to the river. The water was very clear. This limestone terrain is not peaty and has no heather, unlike the nearby gritstone country where we were the day before.

Then we climbed up the hillside. The weather turned drizzly and then rainy, and we put on our jackets. My new jacket kept the rain off and I didn’t feel wet or uncomfortable. The day was warm enough and I didn’t feel cold. We climbed above a TV tower. Where four trails met we sat and ate our sandwiches.

Walking along after lunch, we were following the valley again but higher now. We could glimpse the far side of the valley in places, but all around us we saw grassy hillsides with a few rocks. Instead of seeing scenery far away, we were right in the midst of the scenery ourselves! This place was a good reward for me, for coming to live in England.

The wet rocks were slippery, but the ground didn’t get muddy because the water can soak down through the limestone. This was more exercise than I’m used to. I felt tired at times but not exhausted. Between chatting with people, I walked along feeling pleasantly dreamy.