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Yorkshire Dales Quick Guide
Most of the Yorkshire Dales National Park is in the counties of North and West Yorkshire, though part lies within Cumbria, including the town of Sedbergh, and the villages of Dent and Garsdale. The Dales is a collection of river valleys and the hills among them. Quieter than the Lake District and the better known Dales it is an area of sublime beauty and tranquility with excellent walking and wildlife interest. Particularly popular for self catering holiday cottages the area also has a sprinkling of accommodation in country Inns as well as town and village hotels and bed and breakfasts.
The National Park is crossed by several long-distance routes – The Pennine Way, The Dales Way, and The Coast to Coast Path.
The attractive old market town of Sedbergh with its old world atmosphere is dwarfed by the mighty Howgills, some of Alfred Wainwright‘s favourite fells, and is an excellent base for walkers. An historic town, Sedbergh has been a thriving community for hundreds of years, with a market dating from the 13th Century. Now one of only 3 ‘Book Towns’ in the UK it is England’s ‘official Book Town’ home to a printer’s finisher and numerous writers and book sellers. Sedbergh’s Festival of Books and Drama is held annually in September. Farfield Mill Arts and Heritage Centre is an interesting place to visit located just a mile from the town.
Dent is a delightfully pretty village with cobbled streets and a pink granite fountain in the centre, just 6 miles south of Sedbergh. It lies in Dentdale, possibly the most attractive of the Dales in Cumbria, full of beauty and historic interest. There are several good places to stay and eat in and around the village. Dent is also home to the Dent Brewery, one of the most remote in England.
Just over the National Park border and close enough to merit mention (10 miles north of Sedbergh) is the charming village of Ravenstonedale, a tranquil, attractive village lying among beautiful rolling countryside. There is superb walking in the Howgill Fells from here and a good variety of quality accommodation and places to eat. For Ravenstonedale accommodation see the Eden Valley page.
A similar distance over the border and also worth a mention is the historic market town of Kirkby Lonsdale. It is situated on the River Lune and boasts a 12th or 13th Century bridge the “Devil’s Bridge”, now an ancient monument. Turner painted the view of the river from the brow behind St Mary’s Church. This painting is now known as ‘Ruskin’s View’ after the poet wrote of it ‘I do not know in all my own country, still less in France or Italy, a place more naturally divine’.
Passing through this area is the famous Carlisle to Settle Railway, with 2 of its most remote stations at Dent and Garsdale. Just south of Dent are the 3 most impressive viaducts on the line, and the area is a haven for railway photographers capturing photos of the many steam hauled charter trains. There is a small exhibition on the history of the line in the buildings at the beautifully restored Garsdale station.
The Quaker religion was very strong in this area with a place of pilgrimage near Sedbergh now known as Fox’s Pulpit. Here, in 1652, fresh from his vision on Pendle Hill, George Fox addressed a multitude, and thus began the Quaker movement. In the hamlet of Brigflatts is a typical ancient Quaker meeting house.