Five go to Cyprus!

Tour of Nicosia

On 5th December, five staff and volunteer members from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority set off to Lefkara in Cyprus to take part in a PRIDE2 (Partnership for Rural Improvement & Development in Europe) week-long training course, organised by GRAMPUS and funded by the EU through its Erasmus+ programme. This was was a cultural exchange and a chance to share knowledge, as well as a great opportunity to learn about a new culture, food and traditions, and to see a completely different way of life.

Continue reading “Five go to Cyprus!”

Come Walking in our Winter Wonderland

Top tips for getting the whole family out into the National Park this Christmas season

The Yorkshire Dales National Park is beautiful all year round, but when nature adds that extra frost-kissed sparkle there really is no better place to get outdoors and close to nature, and enjoy time together as a family.

We’ve picked some of our favourite walks and outdoor activities which are suitable for the whole family over the Christmas period – wrap up warm and enjoy!

Church bells ring… are you listening?

Looking over a suspension bridge over a river
The suspension bridge at Hebden

The whole family can have a go at our ‘Miles without Stiles’ routes – 17 specially developed trails to enable mixed ability parties to explore the National Park.

One of our favourites is a walk from the village of Burnsall along the River Wharfe. Listen out for the bells of St Wilfred’s Parish Church as you stroll this popular section of the Dales Way between Burnsall and Hebden Suspension Bridge.

More information can be found at www.yorkshiredales.org.uk/miles-without-stiles

Down the lane… our waterfalls are glistening

Another of our ‘Miles without Stiles’ routes takes you to the bottom of Gordale Scar, one of the jewels in the crown of the National Park. This awesome hidden gorge has wowed visitors for hundreds of years and inspired famous artists and writers.

Carey Davies of BMC and TGO at Gordale Scar (Photo: Chris Davies)
Carey Davies of BMC and TGO at Gordale Scar (Photo: Chris Davies)

Part of the Middle Craven Fault, Gordale Scar was created as torrents of glacial meltwater flowed over it, cutting down through faults in the rock. Successive Ice Ages carved it deeper and deeper over thousands of years to create the deep gorge we see today. The water that flows over the waterfall at the heart of the ravine is rich in dissolved limestone, and earlier this year it transformed into a ‘Frozen’-esque 20ft sheet of ice!

Wensleydale, known as the ‘the valley of the waterfalls’, is home to both the world-famous eponymous cheese (which goes well with a slice of Christmas cake) and Cotter Force. This lovely secluded waterfall, west of Hawes, is in a wooded setting, and part of a series of around six falls with the largest single drop being about 1.5m.

The accessible routes to Gordale Scar and Cotter Force can also be found at www.yorkshiredales.org.uk/miles-without-stiles. For a longer route at Malham, the gorge is part of our popular ‘Malham Landscape Trail’ and trail leaflets can be bought at Malham National Park Centre.

To find out more about the geology of the National Park, take a look at this great new website dalesrocks.org.uk

A beautiful sight… we’re stargazing tonight

A stunning night sky over Ribblehead Viaduct
A stunning night sky over Ribblehead Viaduct

The superb dark skies of the Yorkshire Dales National Park are one of the things that make it such a special place. Our winter skies are a stargazer’s paradise and it is most certainly an activity the whole family can enjoy together. On a clear night you could see as many as 2,000 stars, the Milky Way, planets, the northern lights and shooting stars – and not forgetting our Moon.

Wrap up very warm, bring a flask, a pair of binoculars (if you have them) and something to sit on, and head out to the National Park. All you have to do is look up and enjoy nature’s Christmas sparkle.

There are four Dark Sky Discovery Sites around the National Park, which are a great place to start your stargazing adventure. These locations are open to the public, provide parking and other facilities, and are accessible to people of all abilities: Malham National Park Centre (BD23 4DA), Buckden National Park Car Park (BD23 5JA), Hawes

National Park Centre (DL8 3NT) and Tan Hill Inn (DL11 6ED).

Download our stargazers’ leaflet for more information

Walking in a Winter… Woodland

Woodland covers only about 5% of the National Park, but what we have is very special for maintaining our diverse mix of plants, animals and habitats.

Two children holding branches and smiling
Enjoying the forest in Freeholders Wood (Photo: Stephen Garnett Photography) 

Grass Woods (near Grassington), Bolton Abbey, and Freeholders’ Wood (near Aysgarth Falls) are all great locations for a family woodland walk – pull on your wellies and go explore along the paths.

As the trees have lost their leaves now, winter is all about the twig. Just like leaves each tree has a different twig – see how many you can spot.

There are so many things to do in the wood – Grandad certainly won’t be bored! Take a matchbox and collect 10 tiny treasures (not insects, though), do some contrasting bark rubbings, make twig art, or just sit quietly for a while and see what you can hear.

We challenge you to find the biggest tree in the wood by measuring how many family members you need to join together to give it a big warm hug. If you want to learn more about winter trees, we really love The Woodland Trust’s Winter Tree ID kit .

Gone away, has the blue bird; here to stay, is…

Well, lots of our feathered friends, actually. Bird spotting is a great winter activity and, with the leaves on the trees gone, you’ve got even more chance of finding them. Can you spot any of our winter thrushes on your walk (fieldfare, redwing, blackbird and song thrush)? They might be seen feeding on berries along hedgerows or woodland edges and/or in the fields.

Who do you think made these footprints?

The accessible footpath through the nature reserve at Killington New Bridge runs alongside a traditionally managed native hedgerow, grassland and shrub, all offering a perfect habitat and food for wildlife. Keep your eyes and ears out and, as well as winter thrushes, you could see mammals such as squirrels and stoats (or their tracks in the snow). You’ll have to look carefully, though, as the hair on a stoat can turn pure white in winter to camouflage it against the snow. The tip of the tail always remains black, which is the way to tell a stoat from a weasel.

He sings a love song, as we go along…

A closeup photo of a Robin
A very friendly robin posing for the camera

Most of our song birds quieten down for winter – they are too busy finding food and keeping warm – but listen out for the robin who is one of the few birds in the National Park who sings all year long. Robins always make us smile, so, if you spot one this winter, please share your picture with us.

Have fun… Walking in our Winter Wonderland!

Cheese Festival – a second bite

Cheese Festival Street Food

A month has passed since our second, incredible Yorkshire Dales Cheese Festival. We believe we managed to achieve an ever bigger and better event this year, and we hope you think so, too!

We had not one, but two hub events, including the first ever Beer and Beef Festival in the region.

The Cheese Festival @ Wensleydale Creamery opened the week-long festivities, with 35 local food and drink producers ‘wedged’ into the bustling marquee. There were cheese tastings, pairings and talks, cookery demonstrations, street food stalls, and excellent live entertainment from some very talented bands.

The Beer and Beef Festival, at Springhill Farm, Jervaulx, ended the celebrations with a bang – twelve hours of (unsurprisingly) beer, beef, fun and music!

Throughout the week some truly brilliant businesses got on board the cheese train, creating cheese-themed menus, farm walks, and demos, and helping people discover the fabulous dairying heritage of the Yorkshire Dales.


We’re going to let the pictures do most of the talking, but before we do we’d like to say a massive THANK YOU to all the fantastic producers, suppliers and businesses that took part – it wouldn’t be what it is without you.

Visit www.yorkshiredales.org.uk/cheese-festival to see the full star line-up for 2018 and find out more about them, as well as keeping an eye out for what’s coming in 2019. When it comes to our amazing local produce we have so much to celebrate.

Here’s to #CheeseFest19.

Dog enjoying cheese
“Yes, that’s fine. I’ll take half a pound, please.”
Cheese sniffing
“Boy, that’s a smelly cheese!”
Having a good laugh at the cheese tasting
“What does cheese say to itself in the mirror?” “Halloumi”
Band playing at the Cheese Festival
“Sweet dreams are made of cheese, who am I to diss a brie, I Cheddar the world and the Feta cheese, everybodys looking for Stilton.”
Cheese cake tower
No if’s, no buts, this will be my wedding cake!
Cheese tasting at the Festival
Give me that cheeeese!
Cheese selfie with some cheese
Say cheese… eat cheese… sleep cheese! Good advice from John Natlacen of The Churchmouse, Barbon.
This cheese comes with matching sunglasses.
We even have invisible cheese! The lovely Razan Alsous of Yorkshire Dama demonstrates.
A cheese explosion! Was that supposed to happen?
“Can we go home now? You two have had enough cheese!”
“Please sir, have some Baa Bon cheese?”
Cheese Hay Bales
…and we have some extra large packs for the serious cheese eater!

Young People in Rural Communities Call for Action

The Youth Manifesto

I don’t know if you have heard, but we are facing a serious issue in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It’s not a new issue, but it’s escalating – and escalating fast.

We cannot attract or retain young people in the area.

As a young person who moved to live in the Yorkshire Dales and work in the National Park a year ago, the barriers for those wishing to do the same in rural and protected areas have been brought to my attention.

Continue reading “Young People in Rural Communities Call for Action”

All Aboard the Longest Conservation Area

For September’s Site of the Month we are looking at something a little bit different. It is focused on the whole Settle to Carlisle Railway, which is still a working line today. It is also the longest Conservation Area in the UK! The construction of the railway has been described by some as one of the most extraordinary feats of Victorian railway engineering, and by others as one of the most foolhardy. Continue reading “All Aboard the Longest Conservation Area”

How are ‘priority habitats’ assessed in the Yorkshire Dales National Park?

Ecologist Robyn Guppy of Haycock & Jay Associates in Hodgehill Wood near Sedbergh, inputting survey data into a tablet

From where I’m sitting at a desk in Bainbridge, gazing out of the window (hard life), the Yorkshire Dales National Park is looking mighty fine.  But is it as lovely as it looks?  Just what is the state of nature in the Park?  Do we even know?

It was these questions which prompted me to take a look at a piece of work our wildlife conservation team has been conducting since the start of the decade.

Continue reading “How are ‘priority habitats’ assessed in the Yorkshire Dales National Park?”

Digging at the Hagg in 2018

SWAAG, the Swaledale and Arkengarthdale Archaeology Group, recently completed their excavations at the Hagg for this year. SWAAG have been working at the site since 2009, which comprises a Romano-British farmstead. This year the dig took place for two weeks and made a number of interesting discoveries. The excavations are adding a wealth of new information about Romano-British life in the dales. At present our understanding of these sites in the dales generally is rather limited.

Continue reading “Digging at the Hagg in 2018”

Mud pies for grown ups!

This spring, I was tasked with some soil sampling to support a farmer’s agri-environment scheme. As support officer for the Farm Conservation team, this is a straightforward but enjoyable task that allows me to practise the skills I need to progress in my job – talking to farmers, map reading, species and habitat identification, and taking photos in the sunshine! Continue reading “Mud pies for grown ups!”

So quick? The unstoppable spread of ash dieback disease

It started with a chance conversation with a workmate who commutes to our offices in Bainbridge from Sedbergh.   Had I seen the young ash trees dying on the Garsdale road verges?  I confessed I hadn’t.

A week or so later I was driving that way and my eyes were opened.  It was true. All along the Garsdale road there were young ash trees in a bad state.  It was mid-summer, but their branches were bare.  Continue reading “So quick? The unstoppable spread of ash dieback disease”

Dairy Days Training Day: archaeological field surveying

Dairy Days Archaeological Field Survey training day
Tuesday 4th September 2018
Hawes

A really exciting aspect of the HLF-funded Dairy Days project is the archaeological field surveys and excavation we have planned for the coming year.

For our first training day we will be learning to survey and record the enigmatic archaeological features known as stackstands. Read our blog post on ‘Stackstands and stackgarths‘ for background information on these important sites.

Stackstands and field barns near Askrigg

Our Community Heritage Officer Douglas Mitcham has sent us the following short summary of the aims of the day:

This Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority-led one day training event aims to teach local volunteers basic archaeological survey techniques. It forms part of the HLF-funded Dairy Days project, which is currently investigating the heritage of dairying in Wensleydale. The course aim is to equip people with the skills needed to help us survey a number of key dairying sites in the dale. Participants will be given an introduction to the Dairy Days project and the role that archaeological survey will play. The course then comprises five main sessions which will focus on understanding survey, planning and reconnaissance; understanding earthworks; conducting reconnaissance and level 1 survey; undertaking plane table survey; undertaking tape and offset survey. A final open session will give participants the chance to undertake further practice in whatever techniques they wish. The day will conclude with a re-cap on what the course has covered, including forthcoming opportunities to take part in archaeological surveys for the Dairy Days project.

If you would like to join us then contact Douglas Mitcham to book your free place. Lunch will be provided.

Email: douglas.mitcham@yorkshiredales.org.uk
Phone: 01969 652353

My Memorable Working Week

Kate behind the camera, filming the interview

I first thought work experience was a waste of time, an excuse to get the kids out of school for a week. But how wrong I was.

Doing work experience at Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority has been one of the most eye-opening and exciting opportunities I have ever had. From Human Resources to Reception, from the Rangers to the Communications teams (which I worked with), everyone is so welcoming and friendly.

Continue reading “My Memorable Working Week”