The television reboot of James Herriot’s All Creatures Great & Small has introduced a whole new generation to the beauty of the Yorkshire Dales. Whether it's the grandeur of the fells, the distinctive field barns, the Swaledale sheep or the warmth of the limestone cottages in the many attractive towns and villages, the Dales have something to offer the outdoor enthusiast and the artist in everyone who is drawn to the area.
It’s always been popular with walkers and whether you enjoy a gentle stroll with the dogs or something a bit more strenuous, Nidderdale and Wensleydale have much to offer the outdoor enthusiast. Walks will be found from the garden gate at whatever distance you fancy. Amble along to Masham across the fields or set out on a longer expedition to The Druids Temple, a 200-year-old replica of a Neolithic stone circle - built to provide work for local people at a time of agricultural depression.
The 20,000 acre Swinton Estate offers walking, cycling and mountain biking trails, trout fishing on both river and reservoir, clay pigeon shooting, pony trekking and falconry.
Masham is an attractive market town with buildings set round a large square which hosts markets on Wednesdays and Saturdays. It’s also the venue for the annual Sheep Fair held in September. A well-established Steam Rally is held in July. Known for the two family breweries, Theakston's and Black Sheep, both operate tours and have visitor centres.
A few miles east, just outside Bedale, is Thorp Perrow Arboretum, a collection of rare trees and shrubs in Victorian gardens with a tearoom and a Bird of Prey & Mammal Centre.
Another market town, Leyburn truly is the Gateway to Wensleydale, and its market day is Friday. The road from Masham to Leyburn takes in several local attractions. Sample real dairy ice cream at the Brymor Dairy. Just beyond, in the pretty village of East Witton, is Jervaulx Abbey, a ruined Cistercian abbey with gardens and tea rooms. Billed as “The Strangest Place in the World”, The Forbidden Corner is a unique labyrinth of tunnels, chambers, follies and surprises, created within a four-acre garden in the heart of Tupgill Park. Last stop on this fascinating journey is the historic small town of Middleham. Much of the architecture was built before 1600 and is famous for its large ruined castle, the childhood home of King Richard III. It’s also a renowned centre for training racehorses – and you may be lucky enough to see them being led through the streets from the stables to the gallops.
Heritage diesel trains, and occasional steam locomotives, operate along The Wensleydale Railway, an ideal way to see the beauty of the dale. There are stations at Bedale (9 miles) and Leyburn (13 miles). For a more unusual and quirky tour, why not leave the car at home for a day and be guided through the Dales by Yorkshire Trike Tours, based in Masham.
At the end of a long but pleasant day exploring the fells and dales, what better place to unwind than at the local pub. Fortunately, Fearby still has one, and it’s only a couple of hundred yards from the front gate of the cottage! The Black Swan is a traditional Dales hostelry, serving local ales and a variety of mouthwatering dishes to suit all tastes. Choose from eating in the restaurant or the cosy dog-friendly bar. They also publish leaflets of local walks – just enquire at the bar or look at their website.