I would like to share with you one of my favourite drives in Yorkshire. This travelogue was written and read out on local radio.
The drive I describe is a route I have followed a multitude of times over the years in a variety of vehicles; hitchhiking in the early days followed by Morris Minors, Renault 5s, a Talbot Horizon, Ford Focuses and Citroen Picassos.
The drive begins at Bolton Abbey, passing the Strid on your right. This narrow but dangerous part of the River Wharfe has claimed the lives of many who have tried to jump across the turbulent mass of water.
My mother used to recite a poem by Wordsworth from which I remember the verse:
He sprang in glee,--for what cared he
That the river was strong, and the rocks were steep?--
But the greyhound in the leash hung back,
And checked him in his leap.
It certainly put us off trying to jump over if not give us nightmares.
Continuing along the road, lined by miles of dry stone walling, we come across the historical ruins of Barden Tower, a former hunting lodge, part of which is now a restaurant.
Drive over the bridge and as you climb the hill, look out for the turn off to Skyreholme and follow signs to Parcevall Hall and Gardens, still in use as a retreat. After a stroll through the more formal herb and Japanese gardens, broach the fairly steep ascent to take advantage of stunning views of the surrounding countryside where vehicles appear like dinky cars and livestock like model farm animals. I recommend you visit in the daffodil season where you will be bowled over by the colour and perfume.
Taking up the original route, you will pass a campsite on your right which is the starting point for the hike up to the bleak landscape of Simon’s Seat, descending into the Valley of Desolation and over the stepping stones to Cavendish Pavilion which has been serving tea to visitors since 1898. I have only just discovered that the name Seat probably comes from the Norse word Sita meaning alpine meadow or the upland pasture used for the cattle in the Summer months, saving the lower fields for winter grazing.
Continuing on brings you to Appletreewick, where one of the two pubs was a phenomenon and oxymoron in its time; a non-smoking pub. The Ladies, however, resembled an ashtray! Over to the right is the campsite, where we had many an enjoyable but wet weekend. Driving a few miles further and crossing over the bridge will bring you to the picturesque village of Burnsall. This is a perfect place for a paddle, a cup of tea and a cake or a pint in the Red Lion pub, from where you can stroll along to the suspension bridge and walk back on the other side to use up the calories.
If you really want to indulge yourself, follow the road back to the starting point and order a scrumptious but expensive afternoon tea at the Devonshire Arms.
I would be interested to hear about one of your favourite drives.