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Grassington - capital of Upper Wharfedale

Grassington has always been my favourite Dales village. I've been visiting there for about forty years now, and while it's changed, it's still just about kept its integrity which is more than you can say for a lot of places.

Grassington Grassington was a boomtown in the 18th and 19th centuries, being the local centre for the lead mining industry, but that died out a long time ago, and nowadays it's dependant on agriculture and even more so on tourism. That's why an ever increasing number of shops are being turned into tourist rubbish like potteries, candle makers and antique shops. But the balance hasn't tipped yet and there's still some decent shops.

My favourite of all the shops is The Mountaineer. An outdoor shop where the staff really do know what they're talking about, and where they always came up trumps with walking boots for the kids when they were small.

In the main square, Robert Bunney's is still there selling fine country clothing. I've no idea how long that place has been open, but I remember my Dad buying me a jumper from there in about 1970, and it was well established then.

Linton fallsIf For pubs there are but three, but they're all cracking good ones, and the Foresters Arms in particular has survived as a good old fashioned local. The other two are both good, the Black Horse doing great food and a nice pint, while the Devonshire just oozes character. Mind you, when I stayed there one Christmas, I used rather stronger words than "character" to describe the antiquated hot water system when we came in frozen to the marrow after being caught out in a snowstorm on the moors and couldn't get a bath or a shower. That was a long time ago now, so perhaps it's better now.

Apart from tea shops, antique shops, potters, art galleries and such-like rubbish, there's not an awful lot in the way of actual tourist attractions. There's a small folk museum in the main square and that's about it really - the real beauty of the place is the setting and the glorious walking country all around.

Parking was always a nightmare, the streets are just too narrow and the square has limited room. So fortunately they built a Visitor Centre just outside the village on the Pateley Bridge Road. And a good centre it is too, decent toilets and lots of parking at reasonable cost. The only downside is that having done that they felt free to close the wonderful underground toilets in the square. Somehow it just doesn't feel the same without them.

you're prepared to walk a little there's lots to see. If we start at the visitor centre, and head downhill towards the river, you immediately come to Linton falls, a lovely example of a limestone waterfall on the Cravel Fault line. Right opposite is Linton Mills, a former textile mill now converted into flats. If you cross the river and turn left you shortly come to Linton Church set in the most magnificent bend in the river. The church has some Norman features, but as ancient Pagan temples were often built on river bends, and early Christian churches were often built on the site of Pagan temples, I'd guess that it's a whole lot older.

Yarnbury Lead Mines Walk in and take a look round the church, it's generally open during daylight hours and id an oasis of peace and tranquility. Just beyond the church is a wonderful set of stepping stones over the river Wharfe. Great fun, but not when the river's high.

If instead of turning left along the river you turn right and walk along the near bank, you come to Ghaistrill's Strid, which is far nicer than the one they charge you to see at Bolton Abbey and makes a perfect picnic spot. A little further along you come to Bastow Wood and Grass Wood, some of the few tiny pieces of truly ancient woodlands left in the dales.

To the west of Grassington itself is a wonderful system of field barns and mediaeval fields. To the North West above Grass Woods are the remains of the mediaevel village that Grassington replaced, and on the moors above the village are the amazing remains of the Yarnbury Lead Mines. Crawling through the tunnels up here is every child's dream cone true, and to hell with the Health and Safety mafia.


In fact, there are so many great walks around here it's unbelievable, but just for starters here's my favourite amle.A circular walk along the Wharfe and home via Grass Woods

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Comments (1)
Interesting sites but you're a damned snob!
posted by none of your business 26/01/2011 17:15:06
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