OL30: Swaledale & Wensleydale

OS Explorer map OL30, Yorkshire Dales Northern & Central area: Wensleydale & Swaledale – I own this map, but had not visited the area before starting this blog. Visited for this post 7th February 2020. This is the second of five posts about a trip I did from Friday 7th to Monday 10th February 2020; a long weekend away to the Yorkshire Dales with my friends (and housemates) Erithacus, Millicent and Vesper.

At the end of my last post, Erithacus, Millicent and Vesper and I got back in the car after our dinner stop, resuming our journey northwards to the Yorkshire Dales cottage where we’d be staying the next three nights. We arrived at our cottage a little under two hours later, at about 9:30pm.

Going to bed that night was delayed by getting a little too settled in downstairs after our arrival!

The destination in question was Intake Cottage in Swaledale, between the villages of Low Row, Crackpot and Gunnerside. I won’t lie – when we were choosing where to go on this holiday, the fact that this place was near a village called Crackpot was something of a draw for us…

When we arrived, it was dark and wet, but we managed to locate the key and enter the cottage without too much difficulty. We unloaded the car – this took a while, as I freely admit to having a rather “kitchen sink” approach to packing – and settled down for a warm drink before bed, which ended up lasting quite a while. It was a lovely cottage – really characterful and cosy; with lots of odd little corners and random steps, just like I like in a house! A little cold to begin with, but the heaters soon improved that, and that’s what duvets are for. Various fun quirks, such as having to walk through one bedroom to get to the other. There were also really solid wooden shutters on the windows, that didn’t let in any light at all – great for sleeping in!

The view we awoke to the next morning!

We eventually got off to bed, slept well (as far as I remember), and upon waking in the morning were at last able to admire the views from the window, down to the river Swale and over to the other side of the dale. The landscape is really nice; hilly, of course, with winding dry-stone-walled fields, houses dotted about, and a bewildering number of barn-like structures.

Now, we’d originally picked this location partly because it looked good for walks, and planned to go on at least one lengthy one up on the moors. Unfortunately, though, the weekend looked like it’d be a rather unpleasant one weather-wise – Storm Ciara was due to hit on Saturday night and last through to the end of Sunday; Saturday day time was at least dry but already very windy. We therefore abandoned our plans of a long walk, planning instead to explore the area by car on Saturday, and stay in on Sunday enjoying each other’s company while Ciara battered the world outside.

By our usual holiday standards, Saturday’s wasn’t a particularly lazy morning, as we managed to get away by the bright early time of 11am, having breakfasted and made ourselves a packed lunch. Our plan for the day was to drive up to the top of the moors for a look outside before going to Kirkby Stephen and exploring the area around there – but that’s in another map area, so see my next post for details of the middle of Saturday!

Millicent looks pleased at the prospect of the giant slice of carrot cake before him

Skipping ahead a little, after several stops and visits over the map boundary, we returned to our friend map OL30 at around 2:45pm, seeking a “wee and tea stop”, as we put it. We therefore entered the little town of Hawes in search of such a stop. Hawes was very pleasant! Windy little streets, a little square in the middle, lots of little shops of the kind that tell you it makes most of its money from tourists of the kind who want tea, replacement wellies and some fancy chutney more than fridge magnets or designer handbags. After only a brief walkaround we found a café to seat ourselves in, and were soon happily eating extremely large slices of carrot cake.

We then did a brief shop stop (pausing to admire a very large onion) before heading back to the cottage by means of a tiny road over the top of the moors.

When we got back at about 5pm, we decided to have a short walk down to the river Swale below the house, seeing as how we’d probably have to shelter indoors in terror the next day. It was a very pleasant little walk – we discovered a rope swing, pottered around on the stony bit next to the river, and admired the moon before heading in for a dinner of pasta with mushrooms, veggie sausages, and broccoli.

Storm Ciara delivered as promised overnight, as we opened the bedroom shutters to see the fields we’d walked through thoroughly flooded.

Storm Ciara’s hard work overnight

We dutifully stayed in nearly all day, enjoying each other’s company and filling our day with such pursuits as watching the first half of the terrible 1998 Merlin television film.

In the afternoon, though, the rain ceased for a little while, and Millicent and I decided to venture out briefly. We walked a little way up the hillside on a very muddy and slippery path (we eventually got to the top only by making heavy use of tree-branches for support), and investigated one of the bewilderingly many stone barn-like structures that were dotted around the valley.

On the inside, the structure we reached looked like a pretty unremarkable barn, but poking around the outside, we were surprised to find a plaque embedded in a nearby wall that informed us it was once a church! “Site of the first independent church in Swaledale, founded by Lord Wharton in the year 1690”, said the plaque – itself likely the work of some Victorian local history enthusiast rather than having been present since the chapel’s days.

We continued up the hill just a little way before turning around, and managed to make our way back without any serious slips. We arrived back only slightly wet, though I had managed to get extremely messy hair – Vesper and Erithacus declared themselves glad they hadn’t accompanied us, though I enjoyed it!

Me on the walk back down the hill!

Our quiet day in was followed by a quiet evening in – Millicent made us mushroom risotto for dinner – and we went to bed happy before beginning our journey home the next day. We’d thouroughly enjoyed our few days in the Dales!

5 thoughts on “OL30: Swaledale & Wensleydale

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