Yorkshire, a county of rolling dales with fields full of sheep and wild flowers, rugged moors with wide open spaces and big skies, steep hills with amazing vistas, and a collection of cities and towns, from roman York with its enclosing walls to modern urbanisations like Leeds, to rival anywhere in England!
Add in over 90 miles of coastline rich in contrasts, from Staithes in the north down through some of England’s earliest Victorian seaside resorts like Whitby and Scarborough, through Hornsea to Spurn point in the south.
This trip, ideal for lovers of waterfalls, cheese and real ale, will take in a small but beautiful section of this amazing area, travelling on a mix of A- and B- roads that link some of the most beautiful villages, waterfalls and rolling backdrops northern England has to offer.
The starting point for this route is in Harrogate, a town whose heritage as a fashionable spa resort continues in the Montpellier Quarter with the Royal Pump Room Museum, documenting the importance of local mineral springs. Nearby is the restored, Moorish-style Turkish Baths & Health Spa, which are well worth a visit if you have the time and fancy a bit of indulgence.
Whilst in Harrogate, you could also try out Betty’s Tea Rooms for one of their famous Yorkshire Rascal’s.
Garden enthusiasts could also pay a visit to the Royal Horticultural Society’s Harlow Carr Gardens a couple of miles to the south west of the town.
From Harrogate set off on the A59 heading towards Skipton. Follow this road as far as Kettlesing Head, just after Millstones and Mill 67 restaurant/café where you can stop for refreshments if required. Take the right-hand turn onto the unusually named “Slack Lane or Cold Cotes Road”, from which you can get a good view of the impressive golf-ball shaped radomes at RAF Menwith Hill, and follow as far as the cross-roads. Turn left onto Menwith Hill Lane and follow this to the end of the road. At the junction, turn right onto Greenhow Hill Road and follow to the junction with the B6265.
Here you should turn left onto the B6265 and follow the road past Stump Cross Caverns (well worth a look if you are into cave systems), through the village of Hebden and finally on to the historic market town of Grassington.
Grassington is a market town and civil parish in the Craven district of North Yorkshire, England. Historically part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, the town is situated in Wharfedale, about 8 miles north-west from Bolton Abbey, and is surrounded by limestone scenery. It has a lovely cobbled market place surrounded by gift shops, pubs, cafés and a Folk Museum. There is a large car park at the National Park Centre, from where you can follow the path down for a photo opportunity at Linton Falls on the River Wharfe.
Once you have finished exploring Grassington, again head west on the B6265 to Threshfield, then turn right onto the B6160 and follow the road through Kettlewell, Starbotton, Buckden, Cray, Kidstones, West Burton, then onto the A684 to Aysgarth Falls, a wide, multi-tiered falls that’s perfect for a ramble.
Along this stretch of beautiful Dales landscape, you can stop off for visits to Cray Gill waterfall (just after Buckden), Middle Falls (about half a mile further on), and Cauldron Falls (at West Burton). Also, on this stretch are the towering hills of Great Whernside and Buckden Pike, if you are energetic enough for a scenic walk!
From Aysgarth, take the A684 west for 8.5 miles, following the route of the River Ure, directly into Hawes.
Hawes is a small market town in the Richmondshire district of North Yorkshire, at the head of
Wensleydale in the Yorkshire Dales. The River Ure north of the town is a tourist attraction in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Hawes is also famous for being the home of the Wensleydale Creamery and Visitor Centre – creators of the cheese immortalised in the Wallace & Grommit animated films. More cheese, Grommit?
When you’ve finished exploring Hawes, travel north on Burnt Acres Road to cross the River Ure, and follow the road to its junction with Bellow Hill. Turn left and follow Bellow Hill for about half a mile and you will come to the picturesque Hardraw Force waterfall, next to The Green Dragon Inn.
After your photo opportunity here, retrace your route on Bellow Hill, past the junction you
originally joined this road from, and continue heading east, passing through Askrigg, Woodhall and Carperby and on to Redmire. Redmire is at one end of the 22-mile Wensleydale Railway, which runs occasional services to and from Northallerton via places such as Leyburn, Jervaulx and Bedale.
Situated about a mile away from Redmire is the historic Bolton Castle, which dates back to 1399, and offers group tours, falconry experiences and a tearoom serving lunch.
Leave Redmire and head east, passing through Wensley and on down to Middleham, a famous horseracing stables area and the location of the 12th century Middleham Castle, a childhood home of Richard III.
From here, you can follow the A6108 through East Witton and on to Jervaulx Abbey, a dramatic ruined Cistercian abbey in 126 acres of parkland which also has a visitors's centre and tea rooms for a pit stop.
After spooking yourself around the ruins, and being refreshed at the tea rooms, head out on the A6108 towards Masham. After about a mile you will pass High Jervaulx Farm, home
of delicious Brymor ice cream with a café on site, so if you didn’t take refreshments at
Jervaulx here’s your chance. And if you did, well, you are on your holidays after all……...
After you’ve finished eating ice cream, continue on the A6108 through Low Ellington and into the picturesque town of Masham. This is always a perfect end to a road trip, as the town has an excellent camper site at the Old Station Holiday Park and some great pubs, as well as TWO great breweries (Black Sheep Brewery and Theakston’s) and a gin distillery, all offering tasting tours!
The welcome here is warm, the people friendly, the surrounding landscapes wild, and the beer strong. It's undoubtedly one of our favourite road trips in the UK.
Best for: Ale drinkers, cheese lovers, waterfalls.
Duration: 3 days.
Need to know: The Yorkshire Dales are a magnet for tour buses and parking, as well as some of the narrower roads, can cause major headaches.
Where to stay:
Harrogate: Harrogate Caravan Park
Grassington: Wood Nook Caravan Park
Hawes: Shaw Ghyll Caravan & Camping
Masham: Old Station Holiday Park