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Summer’s walking and cycling in the Yorkshire Dales

It’s been a breath of fresh air to escape to the Yorkshire Dales after lockdown! Being in nature has such a positive effect on my mental wellbeing. I’ve been restricted to day trips from York so far but it’s amazing how just one day can recharge those creative batteries.

Kettlewell, Arncliffe and Starbotton walk

A 9 mile walk from Kettlewell to Arncliffe & Starbotton in the Yorkshire Dales.

From Kettlewell I crossed the Wharfe bridge, following the path that rises steeply up through a limestone scar. Blessed with a clear day I had stunning views across the Wharfedale valley.

I continued on through Middlemoor Pastures to the top of the ridge. The view opened out to heather in full bloom on Old Cote Little Moor. The perfect spot for an early lunch, with views across Littondale and Blue Sar. The path descends steeply to the River Skirfare though Byre Bank Wood to the village of Arncliffe in Littondale.

I’d met a lovely York couple on the way up, he was 90 and knew all the pathways well. On his recommendation, I changed my route for the day. I’m so glad I did!

I followed a bridleway up to Old Cote Moor and Starbotton. My favourite view of this part of the walk was looking back towards Arncliffe from here. Cowside Beck winds its way between the craggy Yew Cogar Scar on the left and a patchwork of dry stone wall edge fields along West Moor on the right. A road climbs steeply up towards Nab End and onto Malham. It’s a fabulous road and one I’ve cycled down!

From Starbotton I walked along the Dales Way which follows the River Wharfe twists and turns back to Kettlewell.

The 9 mile walk took me 7 ish hours! Lots of stopping for photos and to soak in the views. I loved it so much!

These are my recently completed print inspired by that walk.

Kettlewell, Yorkshire Dales, hand printed linocut print.

Littondale, Yorkshire Dales, hand printed linocut print.

Ingleborough walk

My first trip to the Yorkshire Dales was a 9 mile walk in July. Starting from Ingleton we walked up the bridleway of Fell Lane, towards Crina Bottom farm.

This is the view that really caught my creative eye. From the farm and White Scar’s, the path winds its way up to the Ingleborough summit. I love the colour and texture contrast of the millstone grit against the grass.

At the top I was greeted with clear panoramic views across to Whernside, the Ribblehead Viaduct, Pen-y-ghent and across to Morecambe Bay.

From here I walked across to Little Ingleborough, then down through a rather boggy Newby Moss, returning via Cold Cotes on the Clapham Ingleton road.

This is my recently completed print inspired by that walk.

‘Ingleborough’ Yorkshire Dales, hand printed linocut print.

Up Hill Down Dale

I find cycling in the Yorkshire Dales a little daunting. It’s obviously hilly! But for me it’s the isolation, being far from villages, up on the tops on my own.

I’d had my heart set on doing this route. My friend Deborah gave me Jack Thurston’s Lost Lanes North book. 36 glorious bike rides in Northern England. If ‘Up Hill Down Dale’ is anything to go by, he’s not wrong!

My drive over from York was thick cloud with very poor visibility across Nidderdale. Not a day for cycling in the Dales! BUT, just outside Grassington, the start of my ride, it cleared. Someone was on my side! I still dithered and procrastinated, as clouds still rolled across the tops. Should I go walking instead?

From Grassington, The Yorkshire Dales Cycleway, takes you along a backroad towards Kettlewell passing Conistone village. Passing Kilnsey Crag, a popular spot for climbing, the road takes you along the Littondale valley, passing through Hawkswick, Arnciffe and Litton to Halton Gill. I absolutely loved this part of the ride as it follows the River Skirfare.

From Halton Gill the road climbs steeply passing by Plover Hill and Pen-y-ghent and along Silverdale. I’d met a couple of cyclists that spurred me on up the hill with a toot of their horn.

Reaching Settle, coffee and cake was in order at Ye Olde Naked Man Cafe. .

The very steep climb out of Settle follows the Way of the Roses cycle route.I needed that sugar hit! It’s a road I’ve cycled up a few times and certainly not easy on a hot summer's day! I’m always drawn to Warrendale Notts and Rye Loaf Hill to the left of the road. I was rewarded with a long down hill into Airton and then onto Malham.

Being late afternoon it wasn’t quite so busy, so I walked to Malham Cove itself. Malham Cove is a large curving cliff of white limestone rock.

Crossing Malham’s stone bridge, I passed Gordale Scar in perfect early evening light. I’ve always loved the ladder of dry stone-walled fields that go beyond Gordale scar. That was where I was heading. After a steep climb, tarmac turned to a rough bridleway and time for me to walk for a couple of kilometers along Mastiles Lane. Back on the bike I dropped down into Threshfield and back to Grassington. I couldn't resist a quick side loop to the lovely village of Linton.

This was one of those days I didn’t want to end!!! 46 hilly miles of cycling heaven. Sooooo much inspiration and such good fun.

Settle and Ribblesdale

I'm spending a week in Yorkshire Dales in September, so that I can gather some more inspiration to add to my new print series. I’ll be staying in a cottage in the village of Langcliffe , just outside Settle. If you know any good walks in the area please do get in touch!

Keep an eye on my printmaking page, blog and online shop to see what for the results.



You may also like my by blog:

See the prints inspired by the photos.

See how I translated this inspiration into three new Yorkshire Dales linocut prints, Ingleborough, Kettlewell and Littondale as well as a mini series of the Yorkshire Three Peaks.


About the artist

Michelle Hughes is a North Yorkshire landscape artist. Much of her work depicts the Yorkshire landscape and Yorkshire coast, including the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors.

Michelle loves exploring the British countryside by bike or on foot, camera in hand, capturing ideas for her next prints. Back in her garden studio, Michelle creates simple but stylised silhouettes based on her photographs, and hand carves these shapes into lino. She hand prints with an etching press, using oil-based inks to create tonal blocks of colour. Michelle’s original linocut prints are limited editions.

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