But what do you DO in February in the Yorkshire Dales?
This year we opted to spend February half term in Yorkshire. But what did we actually DO in February in the Yorkshire Dales?
I know, I know – February is not normally a time any sane person chooses to holiday in the UK, is it? And if you WERE going to do it, you possibly wouldn’t head to one of the bleakest, more remote areas with four children in tow.
I have teenagers. What was I even thinking??
Well, actually I was thinking that what our family needed was some time. Time without the distractions of life – time to be together, to reconnect, to just… be.
And there were some mitigating circumstances, honest.
And frankly, most of the week looked rather a lot that looked like this…
There were fresh snow falls on the hill tops while we were away, and though the winds were biting the the weather stayed clear and ridiculously beautiful for us. Having gone prepared for a grey & soggy trip we spent the week outdoors in amazing weather.
The walk to Malham Cove was exceptional, and probably my absolute favourite of the week – of course the pavement itself is amazing, and when you stand on the top of the cliff the view laid out before you is spellbinding.
We worked out a simple 7 mile route, starting on the road at the far side of Malham Tarn , and walking through the Field Centre and round the Tarn to join the Pennine Way all the way to the top of Malham Cove. As we finally made our slightly weary way back through the deserted field centre and past the Tarn the day was getting late and the sun was starting to set.
I’m not sure I’ll ever forget seeing the sun lower itself into the hills beyond the frosty tarn as we sat, quietly entranced, watching the colours play out across the mirror of the water.
We did dip into civilisation a couple of times during the week… Bolton Abbey had been on our To Visit list for a while, and it was very pretty – though we admitted that it did feel a little ‘tame’ after our days of yomping across the moors.
We also came down off the moors to follow a tamer walk around the Ingleton Waterfall Trail – though the path was a little too civilised for us (we’re not used to tarmac stretches underfoot!), the waterfalls themselves were definitely worth the walk.
Much more to our liking are the ruins of Jervaulx Abbey – much much wilder and exciting. Once again the sun shone through a bitingly cold afternoon, and we spent a large number of hours amongst the ruins, playing a highly competitive game of ‘block’ (sometimes called 40-40, I believe) as is our wont when we find ourselves alone amongst ruins. This is us at Jervaulx just before the game of Block began – Mr C actually managed to get all four of them in a photo with me (those of you with a number of teens will know just how rare a group photo becomes). He didn’t manage to spot the 9yr old poking her tongue out at him though…
Once the cold started to embed into our bones there was only one thing to do with what remained of the daylight – obviously we headed just down the road to Brymor Dairy for a stupid amount of amazing ice cream.
We finished up the week with a final frozen 9 miles along the Pennine Way, starting just outside Hawes – and once again we were ridiculously lucky with the weather. Though we saw the storm clouds building on the next range of hills, with the snow falling across the valley ahead, we had sunshine almost all day (though the wind had arctic teeth, I swear…). Though the path was wide and well travelled there were long stretches which were sheets of treacherous ice, fringed with dramatic icicles on the grassy edges.
Easy eating – as any self catering afficionado knows – is essential to a stress-free holiday. My own method to reduce the holiday work is to batch cook and freeze before I go, taking 5 one-pot meals with me that mean I have zero cooking to think about while away. Every morning I simply pop a frozen meal into a slow oven before we go out for the day; when we get home cold and starving a hot meal is all ready and waiting for us.
And every day, after a wild and chilly and windswept day embracing all the the Dales had to offer us, we headed back to the cosy warm haven of our cottage home for the week. The heating system (always an important consideration in February) was thankfully great, and the house was permanently warm and comfortable. As I said, dinner was always waiting for us in the AGA, and the sitting room was filled with cosy armchairs.
A couple of nights we sat around the dining table and played cards (getting consistently beaten by young people who should just have a little more respect, shaming their elders that way…), and on others we naturally drifted to the games room where we played a constantly running winner-stays-on Pool contest (yeah, Mr C stayed on all week…), some Table Football, and fought over whose music got to be played on the stereo.