I love the series All Creatures Great and Small and read all the James Herriot books as a teenager. Series 3 has just been released in the UK and I have been watching that each week. We have not had a chance to travel up to the Yorkshire Dales and I thought we will leave that for 2023 or 2024.
We have stayed in the Southern half of England to keep transport costs down whilst house-sitting (apart from a quick jaunt up to Edinburgh and my godparents in Perth, Scotland).
But suddenly chaos ensued. A day before our flight to Italy we got a notification that our flight was cancelled. Air traffic controllers across Italian airports decided to go on strike for two days and 280 flights across six airlines were effected. This meant that flight prices for dates immediately afterward trebled.
We spent so many stressed hours looking at different options. Did we need to cancel the sit and give our hosts a chance to find a local sitter? We couldn’t now pay four times the price for a new ticket. We had been really looking forward to exploring Southern Italy.
Finally we found a flight via Edinburgh to Bari for the early hours of Sunday. We would need to stay at the airport on Saturday night and somewhere midway for Friday night. Our hosts kindly said we could stay with them, but we know how you want your house back to yourselves once a trip is over (especially when you are coping with jetlag). I looked at the map & thought James Herriot, Yorkshire Dales … let’s investigate 😀
A quick check of trip advisor, which I just love for information, gave me an amazing route as the best drive to see parts of All Creatures Great and Small scenery. Thank-you Marshmellow999!
“The current reboot of All Creatures Great and Small is filmed mainly around Wharfdale. So I would head first to Grassington to (‘Darrowby’ and Skeldale House). Then north through Kettlewell to Buckden and turn left opposite the shop to Hubberholme. Continue along the river, passing Helen’s farm on the opposite bank at Yockenthwaite. Carry on through Oughtershaw to Gayle and then to Hawes stopping at the Wensleydale Creamery if you like cheese.”
We also checked the weather and realised that Saturday was a much better day so we booked into a hotel in Buckden for Friday night which was about midway in our beautiful All Creatures Great and Small planned route. This would allow us to explore for a few hours and still make the three-hour drive to Edinburgh airport on Saturday.
On Friday we set off around 1030 am and headed in the direction of Harrogate. After several hours of driving, we made it into the Yorkshire Dales conservation area. But there was a typical English drizzle. The scenery was still lovely, with lots of stone paddocks and sheep that are so typical for this area.
We drove past a sheepdog in action and at least 100 sheep. Adu pulled over on the opposite side for me to take the picture into the opposite fields. I climbed onto the bottom part of a gate. Suddenly I heard this yelling. It was the farmer with the sheepdog. I was quite shocked 😳 but I explained of course I was not trying to climb over the gate, I just wanted to take a photo. It reminded me a bit of the public who trespass on farmer’s lands in the Midlands, KZN when there is snow, not that I was wanting to do that.
We drove through Grassington which is the fictional village Darrowby in the series and then via Kettlewell onto Buckden.
We stayed at the Buck Inn and both had a restless night. Although we were in a lovely spot I think there still was stress weighing on us. Would we actually get to Italy? would there be more flight cancellations?
Saturday after a lovely full breakfast including black pudding, which I could just not taste, we set off. The sun was shining and I was excited. We drove back to Kettlewell to retrace our steps.
Kettlewell is made famous by the lovely movie Calendar Girls with Helen Mirren and Julie Waters. It represents the fictional village of Knapeley. I must admit, now knowing this I am keen to watch the inspirational movie again. Kettlewell is about 8 miles from Grassington and very close to Buckden. So everything is very close together. There were some utterly amazing views.
The road was often incredibly narrow but Adu was ever so patient pulling off when he could so I could take photos. Other drivers were also just unhurried and friendly.
Eventually, we got closer to the river and to Yockenthwaite and Helen’s farm. This route is the lesser known route to Hawes so there was very little traffic thank goodness.
Then on through Outershaw and then Gaye the tiniest of hamlets, and then to Hawes.
Hawes is a bustling town with two churches, a museum, many tourist shops, and pubs. It also has the famous Wensleydale Creamery which is mentioned in the animated Wallace and Grommit movies.
St Margaret’s Church was built in 1850 as a smaller church. I thought the avenue of trees to the church was very pretty as well as the view over the pastures and the sheep. It had a very peaceful feel to it and seemed very community orientated.
The name Hawes is derived from the old Norse word Hals which means “neck” or “pass between mountains” as it stands at the head of Wensleydale between Buttertubs and Fleet Moss. Hawes was granted a charter to hold markets by King William Ill in 1699.
We tried the various cheeses at the creamery. I loved the one with pickled onions and another with cranberries. Sadly the queue to buy was so very long and we had to get going to get to Edinburgh airport.
We took a shortcut left via Tommy road. The curves are sharp, and it said this road was not suitable for HGV vehicles. We saw a cyclist or two climbing the hill with great determination. The views were spectacular and it was a great last memory of the Dales.
The Yorkshire Dales very much met and exceeded my expectations and we will definitely return for a longer explore sometime in the future.