On Countryfile this Sunday: The Yorkshire Dales

This week the Countryfile team discovers ancient ruins, red squirrels and James Herriot in the Yorkshire Dales. Join in the action here

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Jervaulx Abbey

The abbey is one of many beautiful ruins to explore in the Dales. Now privately owned, it is the remains of a magnificent Cistercian monastery dating back to 1156. The crumbling walls evoke an enchanting, romantic atmosphere harking back to the former life and times of Cistercian monks. These former residents were devoted to a simple life of labour, prayer and tranquillity in the spiritual vacuum left by the Vikings. Despite being ravaged during the Dissolution of Monasteries in the 1530s, when the church was blown up with gunpowder, Jervaulx’s stonework retains a harmonious ambience with the Yorkshire landscape as wild flowers adorn the rambling architecture. 

Dales Countryside Museum

Managed by the National Park Authority and housed in a conversion of Hawes railway station, the museum offers real insight into the people and landscape of the Dales. Visitors can learn about local past and present with themes such as farming, transport, leisure and school days. Engage in a sense of place through stories of the living and working countryside, while being inspired about the future of the Yorkshire Dales. Look out for special events and interactive workshops too.

Settle-Carlisle Railway

This feat of Victorian engineering is deservedly proclaimed England’s most scenic railway, offering a great opportunity to see more of the Yorkshire Dales. The 72-mile line was constructed over seven years by about 6,000 men, and finally opened to passengers in 1876. Views from the comfort of the train carriage are spectacular as you journey through the western Dales and over the impressive 24 arches of Ribblehead Viaduct. Make a day of it and stop off at different stations to go exploring!

ACTIVITIES

Walking

One of the simplest and most rewarding ways to get out and enjoy the Yorkshire Dales! The famous Three Peaks Challenge invites many experienced, fit walkers to complete the circuit of Whernside (736m/2,415ft), Ingleborough (723m/2,372ft) and Pen-y-Ghent (694m/2,277ft) within 12 hours. An exhilarating experience, but the magnificent views and well-laid paths can be enjoyed at any pace! The opportunities for walking in the Dales are really endless. Discover the vet’s country along the Herriot Way through Wensleydale and Swaledale.

Cycling

Have you heard? The 2014 Tour de France will be coming through the Yorkshire Dales! As the National Park prepares to welcome the world-famous cyclists, many people will be inspired to get out on their bikes in this beautiful part of our countryside. There is something for everyone, with a network of minor roads between pretty villages and 500 miles of mountain bike trails. Take your time on the hills and be rewarded with fantastic, unspoilt views!

Caving

Caves and potholes are an eminent feature of the Dales landscape and geology, carved in the region’s famous limestone over thousands of years. There’s plenty going on underground with extensive cave systems for experts to explore and special show caves for the more casual visitor: White Scar Cave near Ingleton, Ingleborough Cave near Clapham and Stump Cross Caverns near Greenhow. To further your experience, join a local club or go with a qualified guide to really appreciate the drama in over 400km of surveyed passage.

NATURE

Malham Cove

Along the top of Malham Cove lies one of the best examples of the Dale’s spectacular limestone pavement. The scouring action of glaciers during the last ice age has laid bare a plateau of rock, in which deep crevices have been weathered to produce interlocking ‘clints’ and ‘grykes’. The cove itself is a dramatic limestone cliff 80 metres high and 300 metres wide. Where a spectacular waterfall once cut it back, the cliff has been a nesting site for peregrine falcons since 1993. There is a special RSPB viewpoint open to the public at certain times during the year, where you are likely to see many other upland bird species too!

Snaizeholme Red Squirrel Trail

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If, like Julia Bradbury, you would like to see some of our country’s native red squirrels and learn about their plight, head to this special viewing area! Situated in Widdale Red Squirrel Reserve in the heart of the Dales, Snaizeholme is one of 16 designated woodland areas in north England helping the long-term survival of this charming native species. You can enjoy a self-guided walk along 9.5 miles of trail, with audio or written information about the reds, their habitat, and competition with larger North American grey squirrels. The viewpoint into a woodland clearing offers an excellent chance of sighting the red squirrel along with roe deer and other wildlife.