Steam trains, a Vintage bus, pretty Dales villages, waterfalls and beautifully bumpy scenery- sounds like ”a grand day out”? It certainly was, and no shortage of cheese, Gromit lad!
We started our trip in Bedale, a sizeable Yorkshire village that we hadn’t really explored previously. With an hour to kill till the next train and gentle sunshine percolating down, now seemed like a good time. A genteel sort of place; the butchers, bakers and greengrocers’ produce looked super fresh and inviting, the florists displays standing crisply to attention. Georgian houses line the front street. Tuesdays host a lively market. A heritage trail can guide you around key points of interest. http://www.bedale.com/heritage_trail.htm
Back to the railway station for the main event– the gleaming, huffing, 11.38 chugs into view. A ripple of excitement shivers down the platform, and not only amongst the small boys! (the main lure for my husband on this “grand day out” was the promise of steam). The youthful volunteer guard leaps down to position a footstool, to assist us up into the carriage. His whistle toots and I settle back to admire the gently unravelling scenery. So very English, the tantalising glimpses of back gardens, cornfields and dappled shade; not quite so English, my delinquent glass of Zinfandel, served by the charming elderly gentleman in charge of the tea urn.
The railway runs year round and covers 16 miles from Leeming Bar, just off the A1, to Redmire, on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The scenery increases in drama as you approach Redmire, where a Vintage bus can take you deeper into the National Park. We hopped down from the train and there waiting stood a little green bus. It felt like a scene directly out of Thomas the Tank Engine as we trundled off down the country lanes. In barely 15 minutes we’d reached Aysgarth Falls – time for a little footwork.
Before setting off to see the triple flight of waterfalls, it’s a good idea to call into the Visitor Centre. A wealth of information on the area is available, though frugally we spent just 50p on a walk leaflet, to assist our return to Redmire. Very tasty and substantial meals are served, plus a seriously tempting selection of home baked cakes. Of course, Wensleydale cheese is the star of the show. Mindful that I would be walking the 4 miles back to the station, I restricted myself to a scone, albeit a huge and extremely cheesy one. If you’re not walking, or just fancy lunch in a good traditional pub, the Bolton Arms in Redmire will do nicely, and can even provide accommodation if you don’t feel inclined to move on. www.boltonarmsredmire.co.uk
The obliging English weather had supplied plentiful rainfall to ensure that the River Ure was full, and the falls an exhilarating tumble of water. If they look familiar, you may have seen them in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves. You can linger at the falls, or stride off across the fields. Our leaflet was easy to follow, and soon we came in sight of medieval Castle Bolton. If you’ve not been before, it’s well worth a look, and is an excellent cup of tea spot. Numerous events take place here, including Living History weekends. Don’t miss the wild boar park, with 9 child-pleasing baby boarlets. www.boltoncastle.co.uk
The rain followed us across the fields, but it was with a sense of a full day out that we boarded the train again. I gazed out of the window and plotted a deeper expedition into the Dales for my next trip.
The Vintage Bus carries on to Hawes and Garsdale on selected days between 1st April and 30th October. Full details, including proposed extensions to the Railway, can be found on www.wensleydalerailway.com