A Diary from the Dales - Part 2

Our tales from the dales continues - roughly where we left off….

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The howling wind nearly took the doors from the car as we exited and scurried across to the Tan Hill Inn. Low wooden beamed ceilings and a roaring fire greeted us, but we were far from the only ones there. Many walkers had clearly been braving the elements and had stopped off to dry out, recharge and re-fuel.

The line up of ales was impressive - eight hand pumps all with ales on, so clearly they must be doing the business. The food that was coming out looked - and smelt - pretty good too. We’d got food in for later but decided a couple of bowls of chips wouldn’t hurt - purely for research purposes obviously. Let me tell you now, they were delicious. some of the best I’ve ever had.

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I wasn’t driving, so ordered a second pint, which of course meant a little visit to another part of the pub before we left. On the wall above the loo was a poster giving some info about the pub. sadly these days I need to learn back a bit further to get it into focus - the writing that is. Anyway, the pub is not connected to any mains services - it generates it’s own electricity, has large gas tanks and get’s its water from underground. Accommodation is available in the form of rooms or dorms and you are welcome to bring your caravan or motorhome and camp in the car park. Mind you, towing Patsy all the way up here - on the road we took anyway - is not something I would relish.

I would have happily stayed all afternoon, working my way through the beers but there was more to do and see so we headed off, thankful that the rain was beginning to ease.

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We returned the way we came, passing back through Reeth, then turning right and heading south, arriving in Leyburn to something approaching sunshine. To say that Leyburn was another typical North Yorkshire town is a bit lazy, but there were similarities - sturdy looking stone buildings surrounding a large market square and plenty of independent shops. No shortage of pubs either, but we resisted.

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Last stop of the day was Masham - home to not one but two breweries - Theakstons and Black Sheep. You’ll find it hard to believe but we didn’t visit either. Don’t get me wrong - I enjoy all their beers - but we’ve been around a brewery before and you’ll find Theakstons & Black Sheep ales here everywhere anyway. The town itself was worthy of a stroll around though which we did.

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All in all, a cracking day. Our first venture into the dales rewarded us with some terrific scenery, from stark weather-beaten landscapes to picture postcard towns. And a couple of decent pints too….

Clear blue skies greeted us on Good Friday and after breakfast we joined the queue of traffic at the nearby National Trust property - Fountain Abbey and gardens, just a couple of miles up the road. As members, we got in ‘free’ of course but there were plenty coughing up the thirteen quid to get in too.

I could waffle on here, copying and pasting text from the Trust’s website telling you all about the history, but instead I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

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While the Abbey itself is impressive, the area and surrounding gardens and lakes are wonderful too. On a warm day it would be a great to bring a picnic and spend the day, it was fantastic.

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We were there quite a while - and were walking for most of it, following the various paths up and around the whole site. This was our only planned activity for the day but with the weather set fair we decided to continue west and into the dales to see what they looked like with the sun out.

Pateley Bridge was the first stop and a welcome one as it was clearly time to refuel - this time on tea and delicious scones, but not before negotiating the narrow high street that had doubtless claimed a few wing mirrors in it’s time.

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Heading off, the road got more interesting, particularly when we turned right on to the B6160 and headed north. The scenery of course was fantastic, but I was having just as much fun giving Rosie a little bit of a work out. Steep climbs, tight bends and plunging descents that just deserved to be driven enthusiastically - as long as you could guarantee nothing was coming the other way of course. Sadly, all too often we got stuck behind some flashy sports car with an old codger at the wheel who was oblivious to the mounting queue behind him as he trundled along at the speed of a shopping trolley. Nevertheless it was very enjoyable and the scenery, in the bright afternoon sunshine, was wonderful.

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Our drive brought us back into to Leyburn, then across to Bedale before heading back to base via quick pit stop in one of Ripon’s hostelries. Thirsty work this sightseeing you know…..

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