Sunday 10 January 2010

Short and Sweet in the Yorkshire Dales

I’m not well travelled in the Yorkshire Dales for either business or pleasure so when I was offered a chance to do a bit of both (in loose terms of course) I wanted to make the most of the opportunity.

The folks at the Charles Bathurst Inn enticed us up with a free short break to enjoy the local walking and hospitality - in return I would give a frank and honest review of my experience on this blog. I sometimes love Social Media!

Now, cards on the table, none of this review has been edited or seen by anyone other than me before I clicked the button, but bear in mind the accommodation and food were provided free of charge so do with that what you will!

So as I said before, I’m not familiar with the Dales in general and the only trip I’ve done in the vicinity in a walking sense was the Three Peaks walk last March. Charl holidayed as a child in the Dales and has spent time in hired cottages so is already very fond of the area. The invite was an ideal opportunity for me to make the most of some luxury whilst actually doing some walking with Charlotte for the first time in ages!

The old coaching Inn is nestled in the picture postcard valley of Arkengarthdale so to take advantage of the great weather and walking we set off early on Sunday morning. Oddly for me the weather was cool and sunny and the drive up felt a lot shorter than it was. To be honest there was a lot resting on this from a personal view as Charl is always banging on about the Yorkshire Dales and I always step in and turn the topic to the Lakes instead! It turned into a sort of unspoken competition between my beloved Lakes and Charl’s Dales!

We parked in the small pay and display car park in Langthwaite with a loose plan of walking up onto Booze Moor via Slei Gill. It made a change to be out with Charl and with no times to keep to as such, we were in no rush and to top it the weather was glorious for November.

arkle_beck_bridge The bridge over Arkle Beck at Langthwaite

We crossed the small bridge and took a right turn to join the path east along Arkle Beck. The landscapes and small villages remind me of those quaint TV adverts and it dawned on me that its a very different place to the Lakes and has a strange charm that’s difficult to describe. Wallace and Gromit just didn’t do it justice!

Like a lot of the Dales this area was once all about the mining and its evident in the scars across the landscape. The hillsides all around Slei Gill tell tales of how it was once worked hard whilst mother nature slowly takes it back.

fremington_slei_gill Fremington Edge from the track 

The route we took up to the moor was easy but I was already thinking of ways I could work this into a two day backpack! Moorland has always had a strange beauty for me that’s hard not to like – despite is hard weathered face – and Charl is besotted with it no matter what. She didn’t moan once so I knew she was preoccupied (just a little joke Charl)!

up_slei_gill The pits at Slei Gill

We passed by the falls along the boggy track and let a local photographer pass us whilst we rolled up our trouser legs. He was as thrilled as we were about the weather and I cursed not bringing my SLR and tripod as he trudged on up with a full Lowepro backpack with tripod strapped to the back. Photographers envy is a sin so I said a Hail Mary as penance and carried on up enjoying the views. Soon the old derelict water house came into view and we were then forced to cross the river to keep to the track. It was very water logged in places but we worked around it, often shaken up by the grouse that seemed to enjoy taking off in our faces and frantically flapping and squawking to get away to safer ground. Clearly I’m not the only one setting up camp on the paths!

As is customary for November the sun sank low early on and gave the moorland that opened out in front of us an increasingly red hue.

It wasn't long before the Booze Moor Hut came into view with the vivid colours of the moors leading the way like natures red carpet.

grouse_butts_booze A brooding sky over Booze Moor

We picked our way between the heather and grasses trying not to lose our shoes in bouncy boggy ground that felt as though it would give way at any point. Gradually as we appraoched the hut things hardened out and it we had another chance to just stand and take in the 360 degree views.

I was eager to check out the hut which seemed to be open and was just filled with long wooden tables and a few chairs. Today was stunning and easy but the but would be a God send if conditions weren't as friendly.

We crossed over the landrover track and sat in a small dug out area to eat our sandwiches and milkshakes - Enid Blyton style, with a view to match!

fell_end_moor Booze Moor hut and Fell End Moor from our sheltered snack stop

I was really pleased we'd made the effort and we'd been duly rewarded. It was great to be out enjoying it Charl too and I'll now be working hard on her for a wild camp this spring.

The tracks made for good mountain biking as a group of 5 thundered past the hut whooping and cheering to temporarily break the peace. It was getting cold in the wind so we packed up and got moving again heading west along the track to rejoin the dale. The sun was now shafting into the valley but the stiff wind was bitingly cold.

shafts_in_the_dale Late after sun shafting through the rain clouds closing in from the west.

We chose the slightly gentler ascent back to the dale via Booze where large rain drops began to hit with a disappointing regularity. As we approach the steep and winding lane running from Booze to Langthwaite we struggled to locate a stile in the stone wall. Eventually a helpful farmer stopped by in the his tractor and pointed us in the right direction. From here it was a thigh crunching descent through Langthwaite and eventually on to the bridge.

We swapped footwear and dived into the car as the rain hit hard and fast. We didn't have far to go the hotel from here, almost not worth driving in fact. We pulled into the car park, grabbed bags and ran into the entrance to be greeted by a log fire, a well supplied bar and friendly faces.

We were checked in to our room which was very tastefully decorated with a great view of the moors. We had been given a Superior Double for the night which is a world away from either the dark and wet drive back home or a windy night under canvass.

room_at_the_inn The room at the CB Inn - Not a tent peg in sight!

I was eager to try some local ales so we hit the bar and booked our table for our evening meal. There were a few locals enjoying the bar, which has two levels to allow pool and music in a section away from the restaurant and a residents lounge with sofas and an obligatory dart board!

The wine list is impressive and so was the menu with lots of local ingredients and very reasonable prices. Trying to choose from the all the well marketed dishes on the huge mirror over the fire was a nightmare and after deliberating at length we got their in the end by process of elimination! I had the Thai mussels and slow roasted pork, whilst Charl opted for the chicken liver pate and lambs liver and bacon.

I'd heard that the food was notably good but was still surprised at the quality and service we received in the restaurant. Its cosy and understated but with bags of character. It was clearly popular with the locals too who'd dropped by to eat after their charity sky dive for the Air Ambulance had been cancelled.

The Inn is clearly very good at catering to tourists and locals and on this Sunday night they were hosting the weekly pool tournament in the other room which attracted a fair few people of all ages. It was great to see that the business model relies as much on local spondoolies as it does on the tourists and they'd found a way of integrating the two without alienating either one. On this night for example they'd laid on some chilli and chips and Thai curry for the teams to enjoy - nice touch.

We finished off we a few more drinks before heading back to the room for a much needed sleep. We'd managed to cram so much into the day and I'd like try this approach more often, particularly over the winter months

After a great nights sleep we enjoyed the usual cereals and smoked salmon and scrambled eggs for breakfast before thanking our hosts and heading back out into the incessant rain for some causal sight seeing. We had no plan but ended up heading to Reeth and then onto Redmire over Grinton Moor via the pass. It was wet, windy and bags of low cloud to top it off and we wouldn't have wanted it any other way! Redmire is a small village and Charl had holidayed with family here many years ago. Today it was quite and too early for a pub stop so we headed  over to Aysgarth Falls via Castle Bolton. These falls are impressive and seem to just come out of nowhere!

aysgarth_falls The peat stained falls at Aysgarth in Wensleydale

We decided that it could be avoided no longer and we made straight for the Wensleydale creamery over in Hawes. We spent an hour buying various incarnations of cheese and I just had to top it off with a Yorkshire cream tea! We watched the weather pass on by down the valley from our window seat and reluctantly decided to head back home around 2pm

We'd had it all, a walk, great hospitality, half a day of sightseeing and all weathers but snow! Overall a great little trip in the Dales and I'll be going back no doubt. There's plenty more I'd like to see and do so the Lakes will have to fight a bit more for my attention after all!


James Boulter said...

Hang on a minute, did you say a free night? How did you manage to wrangle that one? That hut up on Booze moor is a great spot for lunch. Cooked a meal whilst backpacking that way last year. A great area for a good stomp.

Eni said...

Those sandwiches and milkshakes remind me of The Famous Five's "lashings of food and ginger beer." In fact, I have a segment, sub-titled, "Food in Blytonian Literature," in my book, The Famous Five: A Personal Anecdotage (,
Stephen Isabirye

Marcus said...

Hi James , yes I know it was a lucky scoop and well worth the trip.

I wouldn't mind heading back up there soon but head on east past the hut for a longer round.

Alan Sloman said...

Sounds like you had a good time Dude! The Inn is a spendid place after a wild day out.

Marcus said...

Hi Alan,

We did indeed and I know you enjoyed the hospitality too!


Anonymous said...

a nice little trip and no mistake. The indoor campsite must have been hell to cope with ;)