Disabled access in the Yorkshire Dales
Named National Park of the Year 2017, the Yorkshire Dales is one of several protected parks sweeping across the north of England. It’s dramatic valleys, patchwork farmland, purple moorland and charming villages make it one of the country’s top destinations for rural adventure! Here are just a few of the places you can explore with good disabled access around this rugged part of the country:
Imagine the grandeur of an estate with over 80 miles of footpaths to explore! The landscape of Bolton Abbey is a place where you can investigate mysterious ruins, enjoy moorland trails, visit quaint tearooms or a indulge in a picnic by the River Wharfe.
“Bolton Abbey has been one of my favourite walking routes for many years. The walks that surround the ruins of what was once, a truly stunning church, are not only accessible to all, they are also filled with culture and quintessential English countryside. My favourite aspect of this trail is that one minute you can be enjoying the flowing river either side of you, and then within seconds you’re then immersed deep into a forest, filled with wildlife and beautiful trees.”
Strid Wood and the Strid
An ancient woodland tucked inside the Bolton Abbey Estate, Strid Wood and the Strid is the place to go to see sessile oak trees, bluebells in spring and garlic later in the summer. Look out for otters, kingfishers and listen out for the frantic work of the local woodpeckers echoing around the trees.
“This out and back route is an accessible trail within the Bolton Abbey estate. We were given a free map of the estate on parking – this shows the accessible route and steps clearly. We didn’t notice any signs on the paths though. However, it was easy to navigate.”
In the lively market town of Skipton, the Beamsley Project is a converted church building which offers accommodation ideal for large groups. The main accommodation sleeps up to 24 people, but there is also a cottage available to hire for a more private holiday. The best bit is that the Beamsley Project has been designed with disabled access in mind from start to finish, including the ‘accessible garden’.
“The truly stunning feature of the Beamsley Project is the huge hall that greets you as you get to the top of the stairs (which are gated for safety), or the elevator doors which open at the first floor. With an automatic door leading into the hall and gorgeous beams on the ceiling, the Beamsley Project has really hit the ‘happy medium’ between accessible function and aesthetics with this room. For event and party use, there is also a microphone and amp set, and a hearing loop system.”
Limestone country at its greatest, Malham is full of potholes, dissolving rock and dazzling formations – but don’t worry, the access isn’t as perilous as you might think! Two of the most impressive rock features to look out for are Malham Cove and Gordale Scar.
Gordale Scar is a ‘rugged route’ to a massive gorge which was carved out of the rock during Ice Ages gone by. Intrepid reviewer Sue told us about her trek to the gorge:
“This is not for everyone, but if you can make it, Gordale Scar is an amazing landscape and the path enjoyable to take. Help may be needed in all likelihood on a few short sections (bumpy and uneven). This route is featured in the Miles without Stiles series. A laminated route card is available from the Visitor Centre in Malham.
The first part of the path is through the campsite – a rough track through a field. Access is through a wide gate from the road. The National Park class this as a route ‘for all’ – I hate to disagree but whilst the route does not have steep sections, you will need sturdy wheels capable of off road work and possibly some assistance on rocky sections (scree slopes shed rocks onto the path in large quantities in a few places) in order to do this.”
Sue also made the trip to Malham Cove, a vertical cliff face of limestone so magical looking that it was a major filming location for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!
“This outing to Malham Cove is another ‘Miles without Stiles’ route – it won’t be for everyone but a great close up view of the Cove awaits if you can manage it. Access is classified by the National Park as suitable ‘for some’ which is fair. Once you arrive at the gate to access the path, the route goes sharply uphill on loose chippings – grip for wheels is poor and even my battery powered Viper powercycle needed some help. The route undulates a bit before heading downwards to the stream. The path is compacted earth by now, but littered with rocks, tree roots and cow pats. The very last bit is inaccessible due to rocks and a narrow gate, but you’ll get close enough for a wonderful view of the cliff face.”
Photo: From review of Malham Cove on Euan’s Guide by Sue.
Also check out Malham Tarn, a gravel and grassy walk with bird watching posts and a track all the way to Tarn House.
Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal
A place that has been drawing visitors for hundreds of years, Fountains Abbey is a ruined site and ‘window into a way of life which shaped the medieval world.’ The Cistercian abbey, pretty Georgian water garden and historic deer park are just a few of the things you can enjoy at this World Heritage Site in the Yorkshire Dales.
“Despite the limitations of an ancient monument, I managed to access more of the ruins than I expected. We sent five hours here, taking the accessible route around the river and lakes, getting wonderful views of the grounds.”
Wren, National Trust Holiday Cottage
A single-storey barn that sleeps two people and has views across the Vale of York and the Hambleton Hills, Wren is listed on Euan’s Guide as being wheelchair accessible and has a wet-room shower.
“The group of eighteenth-century farm buildings are situated around a paved courtyard in open countryside. It is situated less than a mile from Fountains Abbey.”
Picture at top, picture of Gordale Scar and picture of Malham Cove courtesy of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.
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