This short post is about a set of nature trails, providing factual information and accompanied by photographs to give a flavour of the place for those wanting to visit, and a vicarious experience for those who’ll never make it.
The site is owned and managed by the National Trust, and sports a fairly large car park (a small charge is made for maintenance) with a toilet block, a picnic area, and a footbridge to cross the river.
Four trails run beside the Swale, one on the north bank and the other three on the southern side. Strollers Trail is a half mile (0.8km) level path, with a few steps, that passes through the picnic area, direct from the car park, and is suitable for the less mobile and those with small children.
Hudswell Woods Trail is one and half miles (2.4km) and labelled ‘strenuous’. It takes walkers close to the river and through mature woods with some steep climbs. Round Howe Grassland Trail is a moderate walk of three quarters of a mile (1.2km) and runs along level ground that is sometimes wet and muddy. Low and Billy Banks Woods Trail is a one mile (1.6 km) moderate walk through riverside woods and alongside some impressive valley-side crags. For all three of these walks stout footwear is advised.
We visited on a damp day, following a rather pleasant lunch further up the dale. The car park had only two other cars as we arrived. There are a couple of information boards, one of which displays wear and tear from the local climate.
Initially, we followed the Hudswell Woods Trail, crossing the fine footbridge and then enjoying the closeness of the river. In times of high rainfall, parts of the trail can be under water, as the river, like most in the Yorkshire Dales, is subject to rapid rise and fall dependent on weather. The river was flowing fast, the water painted dark brown from the peat content from moorland run-off.
We saw a flash of sunlight to begin with, but the majority of our walk was under grey skies. This is a place that must be much enhanced by sunlight and I’d guess it’s a great place for a walk on a crisp winter day, too.
One of our party was a little fragile, so we didn’t follow the full length of the trial. But we experienced enough to get a flavour of the woods and the water. Once we re-crossed the water, we took a short walk along the first part of Strollers Trail and saw some of the old wooden sculptures, some now worn, that adorn the picnic area. It’s easy to imagine small children enjoying this flat space in the fresh clean air.
It’s a hidden gem, missed by many day visitors to this part of the country. The Yorkshire Dales is considered by many hikers to be the best walking country in Europe; a claim I wouldn’t argue against.
If you have the chance, pop along to this quiet haven and enjoy the closeness of trees and water in a gentle valley setting.