If you’ve been following the latest series of Winter Walks from the BBC, you may have seen Reverend Kate Bottley’s on-foot exploration of a part of her native county, Yorkshire. The vicar and Gogglebox TV celebrity is originally from Sheffield and during the five and a half-mile walk, shared her thoughts on faith, maintaining life balance and the benefits of communing with nature.
Yorkshire walks on the BBC
Kate’s route begins just after sunrise at the ruins of the early medieval Abbey of Jervaulx, bathed in the golden dawn sunshine, as she crunches the light dusting of freshly fallen snow underfoot. She follows alongside the majestic River Ure under a clear blue sky, to the picture-perfect village of East Whitton. Here she picks up a path beside the River Cover, passing verdant green fields, and continues onto Braithwaite Moor. The riverside moorland provides a more rocky, tree-lined terrain to traverse, before opening up to an expanse of fields, where the brow of a hill provides the first glimpse of Middleham Castle. This impressive fortress was once the childhood home of Richard III and although ruined, provides an immersive glimpse into life in the late Middle Ages.
Middleham Market Square
While the programme ends on the approach to Middleham’s centre, there is much more to be explored in Wensleydale. And it certainly whets the appetite for further wandering in this part of North Yorkshire. Middleham is among our favourite locations. Known as ‘The Newmarket of the North’, it’s a hub for horse racing. The market town features a charming central square, past which the horses are often seen trotting, en route to the Gallops.
Short breaks in Wensleydale
This picturesque square is the setting for The Carriage House, one of our Grade II listed handpicked properties. Guests staying here are greeted by a cobbled entrance just off the square, tall iron gates, a beautifully tended garden and fairy tale turrets on the outside, with designer interiors on the inside, taking their cue from a blend of local, Moorish and on-trend contemporary influences.
Bright, colourful and cosy, painted in stylish Farrow & Ball tones, The Carriage House provides the perfect base for a winter retreat. Post-hike, guests can light the fire, pour a glass of wine, choose a book from among the cottage’s shelves and enjoy the peace and privacy the property affords. Or pop into Middleham and sample one of the wonderful dining establishments just a stone’s throw away. However, with a fully equipped homely (and handmade) kitchen, bedrooms boasting fine linens, fluffy towels, robes and polished marble bathrooms with luxury toiletries, it’s unlikely.
More Yorkshire Dales walks
There are many other wonderful walks available in the vicinity. Just outside of the town is the famed Middleham Gallops. This takes walkers along the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The trail is easy to follow; a 3.2-mile round-trip from Middleham that takes just over an hour, passing the famed castle along the way and watch the highly trained thoroughbreds charging through the countryside — it’s quite a sight.
Those preferring a very gentle stroll, stopping at shops and cafes, should pay a visit to the nearby market town of Leyburn. And if you fancy walking there, you can do so in around 40 minutes, by following the most direct route (the A6108), or via a scenic path, deviating due east off the A-road at the River Ure, continuing through Harmby, then joining the A684 on to Leyburn.
Alternatively, choose a hike that leads south-east, onto Middleham Moor, through Tupgill Park past the Forbidden Corner, over Coverham Bridge and the pretty waterfalls, past Coverham Abbey, then back, crossing over Hullo Bridge. The circular route takes around three hours and provides a moderate level of exertion.
If staying in Middleham, you may like to follow all or part of Kate’s walk, in the opposite direction, with the option to make a stop for some lunch en route, in East Whitton’s 17th century stone inn, The Blue Lion.
Wonderful winter days in Yorkshire
Although not traditionally considered as prime time for a British break, January, February and March are actually some of the most magical months to visit Yorkshire. Morning frosts create landscapes worthy of an oil painting, increasingly lighter nights allow for later walks and restaurant reservations are far easier to come by than during the run-up to Christmas. And nothing quite beats an evening in front of a roaring wood-burning stove on a chilly evening, after a fascinating day’s exploring.
If you’d like to follow in Kate Bottley’s footsteps (quite literally) on her winter walk, do consider booking a luxury Yorkshire cottage, like The Carriage House, for your premium stay in Wensleydale. You can watch Kate’s episode of the programme on BBC iPlayer by clicking here.