The rolling hills of Yorkshire, stretching out in glorious green as far as the eye can see, have been immortalised in books and television countless times over the years. In James Herriot’s words, “the fields glittering under the first pale sunshine and the wisps of mist still hanging on the high tops” are truly magical.
The Herriot Way is a 52-mile circular route which takes its name from the popular fictional veterinary surgeon whose adventures were put to paper by James Alfred Wight. Having lived and worked in Yorkshire for almost 50 years, Wight’s novels perfectly capture the tranquil charm of the Dales.
There are so many reasons to tempt you into exploring the Herriot Way, but I’ve listed five below to get you started …
In the market town of Hawes in the heart of Yorkshire, Wensleydale Creamery was established in 1897, but cheese-making in this region actually dates back as early as 1150! Visitors can enjoy the on-site museum and cheese-making demonstrations, and most importantly, sample the mouth-watering produce.
As Hawes is both the start and finish point of the Herriot Way, you can definitely justify two visits to the Creamery- one to fuel up for your walk and one as a reward afterwards! Whether you prefer oak smoked cheese, crumbly blue cheese or traditional cheddar, there is something for you – I’m sure we’re all picturing the perfect sandwich right now…
Between Aysgarth and Hawes, the Herriot Way follows the twists and turns of the River Ure, and this reveals two beautiful, but strikingly different, waterfalls. Aysgarth Falls stretch over nearly a mile of the river, with water spilling over layers of rock thought to be produced in the Ice Age. Contrastingly, Hardraw Force is England’s largest single drop waterfall, with an impressive 100-foot drop!
Take an additional day to explore the limestone gorges of the River Swale, near Keld. It boasts four waterfalls – Kisdon Force, East Gill Force, Catrake Force and Wain Wath Force – all within a few miles.
If you, like us, enjoy surrounding yourself with nature and the outdoors, you will find yourself at home among like-minded folk in Yorkshire. From accommodation hosts to pub landlords, the friendly locals you’ll come across all have one thing in common – a deep-rooted love and respect for their surroundings. Many are keen hillwalkers themselves and are eager to share their insider tips and unrivalled knowledge.
Of course, the Herriot Way isn’t the only long-distance route to wind through Yorkshire. The Pennine Way and Wainwright’s Coast to Coast also overlap in this area, so don’t be surprised if you meet other walkers along the way discovering the delights of the Dales.
Nestled among the rolling hills and wild moors are traditional provincial villages, providing much needed cosy hospitality after a day of walking. With cheerful country pubs offering local ales, charming tea rooms and delightful winding cobbled streets, these villages are bursting with quintessential British charm.
Many started out as market towns and farming communities, but have since become popular with visitors and inspired authors and television producers alike. Askrigg and Bainbridge were used in the TV dramatisation of James Herriot’s adventures in All Creatures Great and Small.
A walking holiday is supposed to be just that – a holiday. The Yorkshire Dales offer a quiet break from the hustle and bustle of day to day life, and the Herriot Way is a bubble of calm to escape to.
The hiking is gentle and leisurely but still provides stunning views from heights such as Great Shunner Fell. Wide empty moors allow you to get off the beaten track, while never being too far from the nearest village.
In perhaps his most well-known story, All Creatures Great and Small, James Herriot says,
“I could find other excuses to get out and sit on the crisp grass and look out over the airy roof of Yorkshire. It was like taking time out of life. Time to get things into perspective and assess my progress.”
I’ve given you five reasons to explore Yorkshire on the Herriot Way, but there is plenty more to discover…
PS. Absolute Escapes offer two itineraries for the Herriot Way, and we would be delighted to add any additional sightseeing days you may want to your holiday too. Send us an enquiry or give us a call, and we can get to work on planning your relaxing escape to the Dales.