Sunday, 9 April 2023

Dairy Days - A Walk in Wensleydale

 A Walk in Wensleydale - Askrigg Circular - 4 miles - Easy going

There are five walks in the Dairy Days series all centred on the once prolific dairy industry in Wensleydale.  They were produced by the Yorkshire Dales National Park to complement their Dairy Days Project that researched & recorded memories and stories of milk production and cheese making in the area.  Copies of the walk guides can be found in the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes and there  is a set at Pry House Farm.

The walk starts in the delightful village of Askrigg (one of my favourites) with the iconic Skeldale House made famous in the BBC All Creatures Great & Small series as the home & vetinary practice of James Herriot.  Delightful also because it has a fabulous cafe, good pubs and beautiful craft shop.

Begin by walking out of the village towards Hawes (right as you look at this photo).  Shortly you will come to the primary school on your right. On the opposite side of the road look for a finger post, slightly hidden in some shrubs, marked Yorebridge.  Follow this path for a few yards to another flat stile. Climb over and bear right. You are now on the dismantled railway line which has long since grassed over. The walk takes you behind the old station (now home to Bainbridge Vets) and follows the railway embankment to Chantry Cottage.

   Pass through the gated stile at end of the Chantry Cottage and over this footbridge.  Look right and see the stong stone bridge supports that would have formed the bridge for the trains to pass over the stream.  If its time for a break or a paddle look right at the end of the footbridge to discover this gorgeous little packhorse bridge and place to sit and rest, refresh and cool your feet in the water! Don't miss it, its only a few yards off the path.

Back to the wooden footbridge and the path is easy to follow across the grassy field to Yorebridge where the bridge crosses the River Ure and the where the impressive Yorebridge House Hotel stands.

The path goes straight across the road to another gated stile and fingerpost opposite.  Please watch out for traffic on this busy-ish stretch of road.

Make your way up hill to the metal swing stile that is clearly visible. This is the only confusing part of the whole walk as the waymarker clearly points left along the dismantled railway line but our walk goes straight ahead to the farm at the top of the photograph.  This is Yorescott Farm.  Look out for the small gated stile next to the field gate that goes into the farmyard (on the right hand side of the house as you look at this photograph).

Walk across the yard and down to the road.  If the main gates into the farm are closed there is a small gate immediately to side of the Yorescott Farm sign. It might seem strange walking into someone's farmyard but its okay, this is a public right of way.  As you leave the farm turn left, walk up the road only a short way to the fingerpost which is clearly visible on the right hand side of the road.

Pass through the stile, across the field and follow the waymarkers through pastures that climb up to a stile at the top of the hill.  The path then follows a line to the edge of a small wood and a small stream to the hamlet of Skell Gill.

If the water is low you may be able to cross the stream here at the ford.  Otherwise just a little further on is a stone bride which when I did this walk in March 2023 it was being re-built.  Fortunately a temporary bridge had been provided so I was able to get to the other side without getting my feet wet!

Once over the water follow the quiet tarmac road for about half a mile until on a corner / junction you see a finger post pointing through a gate and along a track.  This track takes you to gated stile into Mill Gill wood.  Turn right through the gate and along the path although it is well worth the short diversion to Mill Gill Force, a very spectacular waterfall that, when in spate, can equal Hardraw Force.

The walk along the  woodland path, high above the steep ravine down to the river, is quite magical. If there are such things as fairies then I am sure they live here!  
The path takes you down to yet another wooden footbridge that crosses the fast flowing and ever fascinating stream.  Follow the track out of the woods and across a field to a gate that opens into a lane that leads back into Askrigg and journeys end. 
This blog describes the main circular walk and not the 1&1/2 mile extension around Askrigg bottoms as  shown on the right of the map which is also a very pleasant stroll along the river.  Enjoy!

Friday, 31 March 2023

Holidays for Herriot Fans

 Holidays for Herriot Fans at Pry House Farm B&B 

So, as a James Herriot fan why should you come to Pry House Farm B&B?
  • When you book Bed & Breakfast at Pry House Farm you are coming to stay on a traditional, working hill farm with a genuine farmer and a genuine farmer's wife.  Although Alf Wight (the real James Herriot) did not practise in Upper Swaledale, Pry House Farm is typical of the type of farm that Alf Wight would have visited on a daily basis throughout his working life. 

  • Chris and I are both staunch fans of All Creatures Great and Small and have an in depth knowledge of the locations that were used for the filming of the BBC tv series. We can point you in the direction of many of the iconic locations such as the famous watersplash that James & Siegfried drive through in the opening sequence of every episode, The Red Lion in Langthwaite that has a gallery of photographs of the cast during filming, Askrigg (or Darrowby) with its cobbled streets, market cross and Skeldale House (its still there!).
  • During your stay with us have a meal at Keld Lodge. Keld Lodge was formerly Keld Youth Hostel and is where Alf Wight stayed when walking in Swaledale which, by the way, was his favourite dale!  The Punchbowl in Low Row is another excellent place to eat and is where Robert Hardy who played Siegfried Farnon stayed during filming.
Do you like to walk or do you prefer touring in your car?  Or a bit of both?  
Whichever, a trip to the The World of James Herriot in Thirsk is a MUST for all fans.

  • Step inside the World of James Herriot where Alf Wight worked, lived and wrote his incredibly popular and successful series of books based on his own experiences as a young vet in North Yorkshire  A visit to this incredible museum which was the vet's home and surgery is always on my list of places to go when we have a day off the farm. See the kitchen, the surgery, the dispensary and the living room where Alf Wight tapped out his stories on his manual typewriter and the rest, as they say, is history. Of course there is lots more - I promise you, you won't be disappointed.

  • If you are a keen walker then why not follow in the footsteps of Alf Wight?  While you are here walk part or parts of The Herriot Way Herriot Way is a 4 day, 52 mile circular walk that encompasses Swaledale and Wensleydale.  It is a holiday in itself but can easily be broken down into half day sections of 5-7 mile walks which can be incorporated into your day's activities.  Keld to Gunnerside is lovely, as is Gunnerside to Reeth and Askrigg to Hawes however if you fancy some high level hill walking then have a go at Hawes to Keld over Great Shunner Fell (Yorkshire's 3rd highest mountain). I have maps and guides at Pry House Farm for you to borrow.

  •  The Herriot Trail.  Spend a day or two following the Herriot Trail in Swaledale and Wensleydale.  Discover many of the locations and landmarks synonymous with the BBC All Creatures Great & Small series.  Also discover other less-known little places that held a more personal significance to Alf and Joan Wight.  Find a Herriot Trail leaflet at Pry House Farm and Hillcrest Cottage or download a copy here Herriot Trail Booklet 
  • Visit Grassington, the home of Darrowby in the new Channel 5 version of All Creatures Great & Small.  The drive from Pry House Farm in Swaledale over the Buttertubs Pass into Wensleydale then into Whafedale is simply breathtaking.  This tantalising scenic route passes through the quaintest little places with even quainter names such as Buckden, Starbotton and Kettlewell.  Return via Coverdale for a truly perfect Dales Day Out. 

  • And finally at the end of your day kick back and relax with a good James Herriot book and a hot drink out of an All Creatures Great & Small mug.  And yes, I know all the best places to find the best Herriot memorabilia!  I look forward to sharing them with you.  Contact me via our website Upper Swaledale Holidays to discuss your perfect 4, 5 or 6 day Herriot Holiday.



Monday, 19 December 2022

Dreaming of a White Christmas?

 Dreaming of a White Christmas?

Be careful what you wish for!

On Saturday morning (17th December 2022) we woke up to about 8 inches of snow.  It had been a wild night with the wind plastering the snow to every vertical surface and leaving a deep layer on roads, paths, wall tops and even the washing line!

By breakfast time the electricity went off and we were left without power for 14 hours.

We kept the log burner well fed with logs & coal all day and had plenty candles at the ready as it was dark by 4:30!  We were able to heat water in a kettle on top of the log burner but otherwise it was sandwiches and cheese & biscuits!

The sheep of course are oblivious to power cuts but are very aware that a heavy fall of snow compromises their food source. On days like this Chris spends daylight hours feeding endless hungry mouths.  No sooner has he got round them all and its time to set off again to give them more feed before dark.

The electricity was restored through the night.  It was wonderful to have the central heating on and electric light, electric kettle and cooker.  You can keep the good old days!  Then the freezing rain arrived and the views were obscured. It was like looking through bathroom glass!

I'm hoping that we have had our 'white Christmas' early and we can get back to normal very soon.  Here's wishing you all a very Merry Christmas.  Stay safe, well and happy.  

With every good wish for the festive season ~ from Chris & Glenda, Pry House Farm, Keld 

Sunday, 30 October 2022

The Seasons of the Year at Pry House Farm B&B

 Which is your favourite time to stay on the farm ?

Pry House Farm Bed & Breakfast

At Pry House Farm we welcome guests into our home from mid April to the end of October.  We close in winter - you'll see why!


and that means new life on the farm

At the head of the dale spring comes late.  The winters are long here which is why we have a shorter B&B season than most.  Because spring come late, our grass is slow to grow. Sometimes the weather is unkind so we don't start lambing until mid April.  Up here in the hills, it would be foolish to start sooner.

Some lambs are born indoors in the buildings close to the house.  Seeing a lamb being born never fails to astonish and amaze.  Our Swaledale sheep make very good mothers and bond with their new arrivals instantly.  They lick their wet coats dry to stimulate circulation which in turn helps the lamb get to its feet and suckle.  While this is happening the ewe makes a constant babble of little bleating noises that forms the bleat that her lambs will always recognise. If they get parted they instantly know which sheep to run to. 

During April and May there will always be plenty of lambing action to delight and entertain you.  See them gambol & play, feed & interact with each other as they learn to be part of a flock.  Watch all this from your bedroom window, the front garden or the roadside. 

Sheep and lambs turn up in the most unexpected places!

Pet lambs are orphan lambs that have to be hand reared.  A helping hand is always welcome. 

and that means glorious flower filled hay meadows

Farms in upper Swaledale are renowned for their flower rich hay meadows.  They are farmed using traditional methods to allow the flower, herb & grasses to go to seed.  At Pry House Farm we are proud of our meadows.  They give us the sweetest, softest hay that smells heavenly and provides a high nutrient diet for our sheep throughout winter and lambing time. 

Staying on a hill farm high in the Yorkshire Dales is a peaceful and tranquil experience however during hay time the peace can be shattered for a short time.  Guests are fascinated with the hay making process and love to see the swathes of grass being 'strowed' (tossed about), baled, sometimes wrapped, led in and stacked.



There are of course other things to do besides watch us work.  Picnics by the river, wild swimming, walking in the wide open spaces or a day at a local show .... the list is endless.


and that means sale time when we sell some of our breeding ewes and tup lambs

Our sheep are meticulously prepared so that they look their very best on the day.

Autumn is also the time to make sure all is safe & strong before winter begins. 

Our cows have spent the summer roaming free on the moor but as the weather the gets colder its time to bring them into the buildings in the yard.

Autumn is the perfect walking season. Catch an early morning sunrise and watch the mist as it clings to the river until it reveals a paint box of ochres & reds & oranges.

and that means 'the east wind will blow and we will have snow'.

Winter is cold and dark at the head of the dale.  It can be pretty but it can be hazardous.

When the snow lays on the groung 'deep and crisp and even', the sheep on the fell need feeding and checking twice a day.

All our sheep will be pregnant with one or two lambs.  It is important that they have plenty to eat.

We have a lot of hungry mouths to feed.

Our sheep live on the fell, many miles from the farmstead.

They quickly recognise the sound of the tractor coming and make their way to the foddering ground.  They are not stupid!

Welcome to the Yorkshire Dales.  We love to have you here.  
We love having you to stay on the farm and sharing our way of life with you.  But please .... come in spring when the days are lengthening and the sun is warming the land and we are ready once again to welcome new life and new & old B&B guests.