Yorkshire (Part III) – North York Moors & Dales National Parks

White rose country (Yorkshire), with its 2 National Parks on either side of the A1(M), was one of the eagerly awaited highlights of our 5 months in UK. We planned a day visiting the moors, then a couple of days in the larger Dales. For the blog, I anticipated creating a post for each area, with loads of photos expounding the sheer natural beauty of both these areas. Regrettably, mother nature intervened, with conditions not conducive to photography. In fact, the day we toured the moors, visibility was measured in mere yards and in the Dales we experienced a torrential downpour causing extensive flooding in many areas.

North York Moors National Park

In addition to driving around the Moors, we planned to visit Helmsley Market and Capt Cook’s Schoolhouse Museum in Great Ayton. Departing our condo, we turned left onto A170, heading East towards Helmsley, which is about 10 miles. After a few miles, we again hit the massive 25% hill with 2 hairpin bends. Sure glad we didn’t have the 16,000 lb Redwood.

Crossing the bridge over the River Rye, we entered the small market town of Helmsley, which has a market every Friday. OMG!!! there were cars parked everywhere – every side street and all sections of Main Street that didn’t have double yellow lines. Basically to visit the market, we would have had to park almost 1 mile away, right at the East side of town. Even more disappointing for me is that they had a micro-brewery. With the lack of parking, we elected to skip the market and continue with our adventure.

View from Claybanks – courtesy of Walking Englishman

Taking the B1257, we headed North through a valley at the western edge of the park. The road climbed gradually, then just below the summit we spotted Claybank parking lot, which overlooks the valley to the north. I couldn’t get any photos due to visibility, but I found the above image on another blog site (Walking Englishman). While the view was impressive, on a sunny day it must be spectacular.

River Leven outside Capt Cook Museum (courtesy Yorkshire Life)

Next stop was the Capt Cook’s Schoolhouse Museum in Great Ayton, which is a quaint village with the small, shallow River Leven meandering through the outskirts of the village.

Capt Cook Schoolhouse Museum

Born in Mareton-in-Cleveland, another local village, Capt Cook’s family moved to a farm close to Great Atton, when he was a young lad. He attended the village primary school, pictured above, which is now a small museum. Entry is complimentary, with a donation recommended. The museum outlines life in a 1-room village school and Capt Cook’s life and voyages.

Navigation tools and his voyages

Our drive through the moors took us through – Kildale, Commondale, Castleton, Danby, Ainthorpe and Hutton-le Hole. We proceeded along mostly single track roads, with a number of steep hills, of up to 20%. Unfortunately, on top of the moors, the visibility was minimal, so we didn’t see much of the scenery.

Moors covered with heather (pinterest)

Typical narrow road and steep hill (DrivetheDales)

Yorkshire Dales National Park

Since the rather inclement weather precluded enjoying much of the stunning countryside, we planned to visit a number of attractions – Bedale Village, Inspired Chocolate (Leyland), White Rose Candles (Wensley Mill), Askrigg Village, Wensleydale Creamery and Swaledale Woolens (Muker).

Departing our condo we headed through Thirsk and across the A1(M) towards Bedale, a small market town that has existed since the days of the Domesday Book. The heavy rain precluded wandering around the market square, so we drove through and continued to the next attraction.


Our next stop was White Rose Candles in the small village of Wensley Mill, next to the Three Horse Shoes Pub. It is basically a large shed (old watermill), at the end of a lane that backs onto the river.










White Rose Candles

They had a good selection of hand-made candles, however they were a little on the pricey side. Continuing into the Dales, we drove through the small village of Askrigg, which also pre-dates the Domesday Book. More recently it was the location for the filming of “All Creatures Great & Small“, the series based on the James Herriot books. We saw Skeldale House, but did not recognise any other sights from the TV program.





We continued along the A684 to Hawes, where we stopped at Wensleydale Creamery, which offers tours, cheese making demos, gift shop and cafe. Cheese making started in the late 1800’s, but in 1966 then owners Dairy Crest shut down operations and moved production to neighbouring Lancashire. A few months later, a group of ex-managers purchased the assets and have developed and grown the business, now employing over 200 staff.









Cheese making seen from the gallery

Entering the visitor centre, we booked tickets for the cheese making demonstration, where they make a 1 lb block of cheese from 8 pints of milk in only 40 minutes. To compress the time frame they use about 10 times the normal quantity of culture and other additive. During the demo, they also show a short film that covers the history of cheese making at the creamery.










Wensleydale cheese

On completion of the demonstration we wandered through the museum, where they cover the history of cheese making and have lots of exhibits of old cheese and butter making tools and equipment. Next we headed to the Cheese Experience, which is a new attraction, with interactive exhibits culminating in the gallery overlooking the factory. During our entire visit at the creamery, the rain was literally pounding down.

Heading to Swaledale Woolens in Muker, we crossed the River Ure, which was running hard, then headed over the Dales on Cliff Gate Road.











One of many times we encountered sheep on the road






View from the top of the Dales

After a quick stop at Swaledale Woolens and a couple of other shops, we retraced our route back to Hawes, a small market town with a 1-way, narrow, cobble-stoned street through the centre of town. Driving along the River Ure, we were amazed at how quickly the river flooded, with the adjacent road already covered with about 6″ of water. We got through slowly, but I suspect another hour and the road would have been closed.

Having completed our list of attractions we elected to take a drive around the Dales, on what was still a rather soggy day. We headed south on the B6255, passing the Ribblehead Viaduct, joining the A65 at Ingleton. The scenery was amazing, with lots of burns/streams in full flow, miles of dry stone walls along the side of the road and throughout the many square miles of fairly gently sloping Dales.

At Skipton, we turned North again on B625, passing through some of the locations used during filming for “Calendar Girls”. It was a very interesting and varied drive, with lots of open spaces, but we also passed through a number of small villages with narrow bridges, etc. Calendar Girls was one of the DVD’s available at the condo, so we watched it that night, trying to recognise a number of the locations we drove through.

Other than the almost continuous rain, it was a most enjoyable day, with visibility definitely better than the day we visited the Moors.





2 thoughts on “Yorkshire (Part III) – North York Moors & Dales National Parks

    • Coming from Vancouver or Canada’s Wet Coast, we are unfortunately used to the weather, but it was still disappointing. On the positive side, it gives us an excuse to return on our next trip to UK.

      Liked by 2 people

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