We were jointly released from parenting duties this weekend for the first time. This, coupled with the balmy mini-heatwave, meant that we were giddy with excitement at the prospect of a weekend in the Yorkshire Dales. We had booked in to the Blue Lion at East Whitton, which held fond memories for us both and had a list of places we wanted to visit, including some suggestions from fellow Tweeters. I’ve long been a visitor to the Yorkshire Dales, but it was a year or so since we had last ventured there and I was really looking forward to a weekend of fresh air, long walks, a bit of romance and superb food.
For those of you who don’t know, the Yorkshire Dales is one of ten National Parks in England and covers a whopping 680 square miles, situated in ‘Gods Own County’ Yorkshire and is currently the star of a prime-time ITV Show ‘The Dales’, where Adrian Edmonson is delving into the local people and landscape. To me, the Dales is a fascinating mix of dramatic limestone craggs, pretty dales, famous pubs and exceptionally pretty villages.
After bidding our goodbyes to my one year old (didn’t expect it to be so hard), we stopped in Masham and had a look around the Saturday market and pretty shops. We didn’t linger as we were keen to shake our City limbs out in the beautiful fresh sunshine. Following a recommendation on Twiitter we walked around Jervaulx Abbey, where neither of us had been and we were suitably impressed. A perfect picnic spot it also affords Capability Brown views over the surrounding countryside. We sat on a bench and watched the lambs in the next feel leaping around.
I had heard of the Wensleydale Heifer and given the splendid weather we thought a seafood lunch would hit the spot. It has won ‘seafish’ pub of the year and has had a lot of very good press. I’m not surprised, we felt a bit scruffy initially, as we were the only customers in our walking gear, but were given a warm welcome anyway. We had a pre-prandial drink in the lounge area and then were treated to an exceptionally good lunch. My husband had a whole baked seabass with a shrimp and dill stuffing, and I had a salad of lobster, scallops, prawns, pork belly and pancetta in a maple syrup glaze. It’s not often anything upstages lobster, but as you;ll see from the photo, the seabass was stunning, and the stuffing made it as tender as it could be. We spent the whole afternoon waxing lyrical about it. They also have themed bedrooms to stay in – we’d love to go back and stay one day.
Feeling we’d had a lot more than an ‘elegant sufficiency’ we made our way to the Blue Lion in East Whitton. After resisting the urge to have an afternoon snooze in our room, we set off on a a circular walk to Middleham, famous for it’s racing stables and Castle, belonging to Richard 3rd. It really was a special walk; the afternoon sun was blazing, we spotted a host of wildlife (a hare, a fox cub, fine thoroughbreds in their fields, curlews and lots of lovely lambs) and after dipping down to the river Cover we climbed back up and onto Middleham, walking down towards the splendid Castle with views over Swaledale. We had a refreshing drink and watch of the Grand National at The Black Swan in Middleham (which had a very good atmosphere given the local racing population) and set off back to East Whitton.
We were looking forward to dinner at the Blue Lion, although our lunch was always going to take some beating, and felt a bit let down by the service. There was a mix up over our reservation, we were asked what time we wanted a table, and whether in the restaurant or bar when we booked – we said bar. When we arrived we were told there were no tables in the bar. When we communicated our disappointment we got “But it’s Saturday night, we can’t just save tables in the bar”. OK, but don’t give us that as an option then! The service was efficient but unsmiling – a big difference to the welcome we got at the Wensleydale Heifer. Quibbles aside, we did eventually get a table and the food was faultless. Pink rack of lamb and cod wrapped in pancetta were a delight. East Whitton is such a pretty village, we eyed up all the properties up for sale and decided we need to get rich, quick!
We woke up on Sunday after having our first lie in in ages (8am!) and had a very good breakfast at the pub. Although I was really keen to get back to York quickly to see my daughter, we stopped at Aysgarth Falls and took in all three of the falls there. The last time I visited it was winter and still awe-inspiring but the colours in the Spring light were incredible, I’m not sure the below pictures do it justice, we really felt like we were in a far away land like Canada or British Columbia! All three of the falls are picturesque and a pretty woodland walk was full of scented flowers.
We set off back to York feeling refreshed and inspired by the landscapes. Remembering these huge vistas and unspoiled countryside are right on the doorstep made us vow to bring our children here as often as possible so that they can begin to love the area as much as we do. Next time we’ll camp, does anyone have any campsite recommendations?
Thanks to everyone who sent me suggestions to shape our weekend, very much appreciated! Our Flickr stream of the weekend is below:
The Blue Lion, East Whitton
The village of East Whitton
Bridge over the River Cover
The Bar at the Blue Lion
Lobster Salad, The Wensley Heifer
The Wensley Heifer
Tony taking pics
Ruth enjoying the views at Jervaulx