Westow to Grassington

Day 5, Saturday October 1, 2022

A slowish start but still packed up and out the door not much after ten. Speaking of packing up though, we always leave an Air BNB super clean and tidy – bundle all used towels together, make sure the bins are emptied etc, but since when do they get to ask you to strip the beds and leave instructions about sheets? That and the smoke alarm issue were the only teeny blips on what has been, I suspect, the best accommodation we’ll have while here in England.

Grassington, in the Yorkshire Dales National Park is just 57 miles away via Harrogate, we can’t, however, check into our Air BNB until 4pm so choose the scenic route via Tan Hill Inn. It adds about 60 miles to the trip, but the views are worth it.

Getting out of York around the ring road was a palaver – plenty of traffic around the park and rides so it really wasn’t until after the Ripon turnoff that the traffic began to ease.

By Bedale we were both needing a bathroom but with markets on there was no parking to be had in town. This was probably lucky as otherwise we wouldn’t have stopped eighteen miles up the road in Reeth – a delightful village just inside the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

From here the scenery was non-stop spectacular with the final twelve or so miles up to Tan Hill bleak, sparse, and beautiful. It was also blowing a gale and cold enough that our parkas had to come out of the back seat for the first time this trip.

Tan Hill Inn sits in the middle of nowhere – there is nothing else for miles around. Nothing but sheep. The nearest town, Kirkby Stephen, is eleven miles away. Britain’s highest inn, the building dates to the 17th century, and in the 18th century it was used by workers digging coal pits.

sheep grazing beside the pub

The last mine was closed and the mine worker’s cottages were gone by the 1930s, but the pub remained open for local sheep farmers and ramblers doing the Pennine Way. It’s been used in the filming of several movies and TV shows and hit the news in November 2021 when Storm Arwen brought with it enough snow to keep patrons locked in for a weekend. It’s not the first time, though, that this has happened.

The bar is completely full when we arrive for lunch and there’s barely room to move – ramblers and their dogs, tourists, whatever. We manage to snag a table and order lunch – a fish finger sandwich for me and nachos for Grant. The beer is good but the food is underwhelming… but then we’re here for the views, not the food.

The scenery fest continues on the road down to Hawes. Drop dead stunning, it feels as though we’re in an episode of All Creatures Great and Small, although I wouldn’t like to be doing the drive in bad weather. The Swaledale sheep roam freely and very often we’d come around a tight bend and have to slam the brakes on as a sheepie face stared back balefully at us.

This road, Buttertubs Pass is one of those roads that regularly appears in those most scenic drive lists – and it’s really no wonder. It’s named after the 65-foot-deep limestone potholes that are found just off the road. Back in the day, these potholes were apparently used by farmers to store their butter on hot days on their way to the market… or so the story goes.

This part of the Dales is known for its cheese (remember Wallace and Grommit?) and we stop at Hawes to visit Wensleydale Creamery. We do a tasting, browse the gift shop (I resist the urge to buy books) buy some cheese for tomorrow night, and share a chocolate orange ice cream before walking back down the hill to the car.

The final leg into Grassington is ridiculously scenic but also steep, twisty, and hairy at times; Grant has certainly earnt his driving brownie points today.

Our accommodation for the next few nights is a small flat above and behind the town’s deli. The kitchen is downstairs behind the shop while up a narrow staircase are two bedrooms, a sitting room and the bathroom. It’s clean and comfortable, but after Westow we are spoilt.

We settle in and head out for a wander.

A lovely market town, Grassington doubles as Darrowby in All Creatures Great and Small. It’s also popular with ramblers and is very busy this Saturday afternoon. I make a mental note to properly check out the bookshop some other afternoon… preferably when Grant is not with me (wink).

Dinner tonight is at the Devonshire which is used as The Drovers Arms in All Creatures Great and Small. I’m glad we made a booking as it’s busy – and no wonder either, the food is excellent. I had the Lancashire cheese and onion pie with champ mash and veg – proper fresh veg. Grant had the bangers and mash and veg.

Tomorrow we’re off to Haworth and Bronte country.

Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

9 thoughts

  1. Beautiful area! What a delight to see your pictures. For two countries that share (more or less) a language, so much of the food served in Britain sounds so foreign to my ears… although those nachos look like something that would be served here in SoCal (except for that pale green stuff… fauxcamole?).

    1. Let’s just say that avo had something other than avo in it. But yes, British food is quite similar to ours although our pubs have more fusion Asian offerings than theirs do.

  2. That sounds like a lovely day wandering through the countryside… though I am not a fan of steep roads or hairpin turns. Thankfully my husband always drives too so I never have to deal with them! 🙂

  3. Oh I so loved that area and honestly don’t remember what we ate at the Tan Hill Inn — just that the countryside was amazing. Exactly what one expects and those roads were a BLAST!! Seems like another stellar day and it makes me want to go back to England so much. Bernie

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