When we moved to our current flat in Grassington a couple of years ago, I brought along one of the bird nesting boxes from our former home. It’s a contraption made of ‘woodcrete’ – a mix of wood chippings and concrete – very heavy, but also very durable.
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.
Mary Queen of Scots is the focus of a new film. But did you know about her connection to the Yorkshire Dales? She was briefly imprisoned at Bolton Castle. Read January’s Site of the Month on the 14th century Castle to find out more about the connection. Continue reading “Bolton Castle – a home, a prison, a ruin”
On an extremely wet and wild day in Wensleydale I was invited to join a group of farmers to talk about rush management. As every keen and eager apprentice should, I snapped up the opportunity to don every conceivable form of waterproof clothing and learn all I could. Continue reading “Let’s talk rushes!”
Hi! I’m Katy, I’m 26 years old, and growing up I was never sure what I wanted to do in life.
Now, I work in the Communications Team for the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and have just achieved my Level 3 Digital Marketer Apprenticeship with Distinction.
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?
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.
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
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.
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.
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…
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!
December’s Site of the Month is Black Dub Monument. The monument is situated at the source of River Lyvennet on Crosby Ravensworth Fell – Dub itself means watering hole. The obelisk records that Charles II and his army rested at that spot (that is now commemorated) on their march from Scotland on 8th August 1651.
November’s Site of the Month is Devil’s Bridge. It is situated right on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It is considered one of the finest bridges in England of its date, and is regarded by Jervoise as by far the finest bridge in the North of England. However it is disappointing that so little is know about its history. Continue reading “Devil’s Bridge on the River Lune”
Jan Hicks, the chair of Lunesdale Archaeology Society, has written a summary of their recent community excavation in the Lune Valley. This turned out to be a very interesting, but complex site. Continue reading “Digging for Britons in the Lune Valley”
You may have wondered when you were travelling through the Yorkshire Dales what all those earthworks in the fields might be. Field systems are ubiquitous features of the British countryside and are iconic in the Dales, being found in many areas. For October’s Site of the Month we will be exploring an area of medieval field systems in Lower Wharfedale.
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.
They point the way for millions of people every year, but how are the fingerposts and signs in the Yorkshire Dales National Park made?
The answer is to be found in a well-lit corner of a workshop in Grassington. Continue reading “Behind the signs – the man and the machine”
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.
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”
Farming in the Dales is entering a 10 year period of massive change because of Brexit and the Government’s new policy on farm payments, set out last week in the Agriculture Bill.
Earlier this month Dr David Johnson led a community excavation with a group of volunteers, many of whom are members of Ingleborough Archaeology Group. They were investigating a likely early medieval site at Clapham Bottoms. I was lucky enough to visit the site on one of the days and get involved. Continue reading “Getting to the bottom of it”
There we were plodding across a floodplain in Hawes, carrying boxes of measuring equipment, flags and poles.
“There are lumps everywhere,” said Stuart Brown, rubbing his eyes after a Tuesday morning in the classroom at the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes.
Dame Schools are interesting buildings that give insights into the early education of children. Not many former Dame School buildings have survived making this a really lovely example, and is now open to the public.
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.
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.
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!”
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 Archaeological Field Survey training day
Tuesday 4th September 2018
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.
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.
Phone: 01969 652353
July’s Site of the Month is the church in Grinton dedicated to St Andrew (the missionary saint). It is often called “the Cathedral of the Dales”. St Andrew’s has had an important role as one of only four parish churches in Swaledale and Arkengarthdale. The Church is Grade I listed…it is not difficult to see why.
The sandstone quarries at Stags Fell are June’s Site of the Month. Stags Fell Quarries are the most extensive areas of stone working in the Dales, and are clearly visible looking north across the dale from Hawes as an unbroken line of spoil heaps skirting the edge of Stags Fell. Continue reading “The Quarries at Stags Fell”
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.
From 21 to 25 May this year, a group of 30 young people from protected areas and rural communities all across Europe, including myself from the Yorkshire Dales, met together in the Cairngorms National Park. The aim was to give our thoughts and ideas, and to discuss the problems we face as young people living, working and learning in rural areas.