This week is National Parks Week, an annual celebration of Britain’s most beautiful landscapes, so we though we should mark the occasion with a little celebration of our own of the Yorkshire Dales – our nearest national park and the location of all of our workshops! Think of the Dales and often the first thing that springs to mind is a scene of undulating lush meadows dotted with barns and surrounded by dry stone walls, and there is certainly no shortage of those to photograph – the red door barn in Swaledale above is a fine example. But the Dales has far more to offer the photographer than barns and dry stone walls…
Established in 1954, the Yorkshire Dales covers a mighty 1769 square kilometres and has its highest point of 736m at Whernside (above) which is one of the Yorkshire Three Peaks along with Ingleborough and Pen-Y-Ghent (shown with Hull Pot in the foreground, below).
The Three Peaks area lies in the western Dales around the Ribble valley where the landscape features rugged moorland and limestone pavement surrounded by impressive fells.
Up at Ribblehead the famous viaduct strides across the valley below the slopes of Whernside – pictured above at sunset on a winter’s day with Blea Moor behind. We’re looking forward to our new Ribblehead Workshop in September where the viaduct is visible from just about everywhere around the walk – as is a fine view of at least one of the three peaks!
In the southern area of the national park lies Malhamdale which boasts the rather forbidding valley at Gordale Scar and the splendid limestone cliffs at Malham Cove, topped by perhaps the most famous stretch of limestone pavement (all of which feature in our Malham Workshop). There’s limestone pavement dotted all over the Dales, though – another fine example can be found not far away at Winskill Stones, near Settle (above).
Back to the northern Dales, Wensleydale, sculpted by the mighty River Ure, is best known for the magnificent stepped waterfalls at Aysgarth, though there are many other waterfalls worthy of a visit along this dale. Cotter Force and Hardraw Force further upstream are worth a look, but my personal favourite is on a tributary of the Ure in the village of West Burton near Aysgarth. West Burton Waterfall (also known as Cauldron Falls) is the highlight at the end of the day on our Aysgarth Workshop.
No celebration of the Yorkshire Dales would be complete without a mention of Wharfedale. From bleak winter landscape around Cray to summer buttercup meadows near Kettlewell and colourful autumn woodland at Grass Wood, Wharfedale has a bit of everything. Perhaps the jewel in its crown, though is further downstream at Bolton Abbey where the river flows fast through the hard gritstone constriction of The Strid (above) in Strid Wood. It’s not surprising our final autumn workshop each year is here at Bolton Abbey and Strid Wood. Nor is it surprising that the Yorkshire Dales as a whole attracts some 9.5 million visitors each year!