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Yorkshire’s Green jewel

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The Yorkshire Dales is a glorious, green jewel of a landscape, an easy to reach National Park full of pretty market towns amid sheep-grazed pastures, heather moorland, limestone crags and gushing waterfalls. The writer visits one of his favourite places and is spoilt for a choice for things to do. Photo - Malham Cove - the famous landmark on the Pennine Way, in the Yorkshire Dales, www.royalnavy.mod.uk

Winged Majesty

It’s Britain’s greatest show on wings, the 112 mile an hour assassin. See the peregrine for yourself at the beauty spot Malham Cove as it drops like a stone (‘stoops’) onto its prey off the vertical 260 feet high rock face. No birdwatching skills or equipment required. Wardens and volunteers will guide your eye through telescopes and binoculars as Britain’s largest falcon displays its power-hunting technique. It’s part of the RSPB and National Park’s ‘Aren’t Birds Brilliant!’scheme (until late July, bringing people closer to birds. A full supporting cast includes little owls, green woodpeckers and redstarts.
There’s a green and thrifty way to get there. The Malham Tarn shuttle bus runs from Ilkley, Skipton (www.dalesbus.org) and Settle. Plenty of time for a circular walks in the surrounding hills and valleys.

Star track

Is this Britain’s most thrilling railway? Victorian visionaries speared the Settle to Carlisle line up the west flank of the Dales, through the sinew of the Pennines. It’s still the best way to see this wild and awesomely beautiful place.
I took the through train from Leeds. Starting with gentle riverside pastures behind dry stone walls, the view grew ever grander, up through desolate mires and raw moorland backed by glowering peaks slashed with waterfalls. Streams the colour of Islay malt cascaded off rock shelves. From Ribblehead station I walked (via Station Inn pub, on the way) under the 24 vast arches of the Ribblehead viaduct, a work of enginering art saved for the nation. Bloated globules of water shuddered down from on high.

Hail the Dales

Some places in the Dales are good enough to eat. Welcome to Appletreewick, Buttertubs. and the home of are all cobbled market places, specialist shops, pretty tea rooms and cosy pubs. Richmond, girdled by the river Swale and dominated by its Norman castle, is a good place to stay. Hawes has the Dales Countryside Museum, and the Wensleydale Creamery – open for visits (www.wensleydale.co.uk) ''Pick of the festivals and galas is the Grassington Festival every June. For genuine `Bertie Bus’trips in a 1960s single-decker between Ripon, Leyburn, Redmire and Hawes.

Flower Power

They are turning back the clock in the Dales, recreating nature’s `art galleries’, those old-fashioned hay meadows bursting with flowers. Unique to the Dales and a few other areas in N England, many were lost to intensive farming. Under the Hay Time Project farmers are restoring fields to multi-coloured glory using traditional harvesting methods and spreading seed from surviving meadows. To find meadows already bursting with sweet vernal-grass, buttercup, common sorrel, lady’s mantle and other famous old flora, go to
Best of all, take one of the Hay Time
Festival guided walks this summer:
Then catch the Roman view of the Yorkshire Dales, from Cam High Road, the Roman Road from Ingleton. This and other `green lanes’are peaceful again this year, closed to off road vehicles.

All Creatures Country

The humped back bridge in Langthwaite in the opening credits for the much loved series All Creatures Great and Small brought Swaledale, one of the quietest of the Dales, into millions of homes. 30 years on, this stumpy, richly meadowed valley, with its villages Marske, Keld, Booze and Reeth spaced out like a string of beads - still feels as tucked away as its TV image. In the Red Lion in Langthwaite, where the All Creatures cast used to drink, conversation bounced drowsily around the tiny bar. I took the high road over the fells through pure Lord of the Rings location Arkengarthdale. The only sound was the wail of a lapwing and the eerie bubbling of the curlew. Then back to Muker, where Coast-To-Coast Path meets Pennine Way, for the splendid Tea Shop.

Power Shower

There’s a brilliant way to freshen up before dinner if you stay at the Green Dragon at Hardraw . Walk out of the back door from this 700 year old inn and you come to England’s highest waterfall, Hardraw Force. (See Turner’s painting in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.) For another insight into the glorious Dales landscape, sample the highest pub in England, Tan Hill Inn, at 1732 feet. They do B&B, Black Sheep beer, and free WiFi: . For pure pampering, one top choice is the Devonshire Arms Hotel Spa on the Duke of Devonshire’s Bolton Abbey Estate. (Named Small Hotel of the Year, Enjoy England Awards for Excellence 2008). Dining choices are the hotel’s one Michelin star Burlington and the Devonshire Brasserie

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