Given the unusually cold April it was not until the May Bank Holiday weekend that we managed to get away for our first trip this year in Lydia, our camper van. We headed south from bonnie Scotland to the Yorkshire Dales, an area we don’t know too well but had planned to visit for some time.
Our destination was Mason’s Campsite in the wonderfully-named hamlet of Appletreewick, a campsite we’d seen recommended by others. Appletreewick (Ap’trick to the locals) is right in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It boasts a street of stone cottages, a few farms, a chapel, two pubs, a campsite and … a peaceful setting on the banks of the River Wharfe.
Well, peaceful it might be on a cold, wet morning in February perhaps but on a May Bank Holiday weekend it certainly wasn’t. It was h-e-a-v-i-n-g. It seemed that the whole of West Yorkshire had descended on the Dales that weekend (is it always like this ??).
It was great to see everyone out and about enjoying The Great Outdoors. It reminded me of period dramas, where the TV company recreates a stereotypical scene with lots of activity happening in the background behind the main characters. Driving along the narrow Dales lanes last weekend, we’d see a group of cyclists racing down hill, a gaggle of ramblers (is that the term ?) studying their maps beside a stile, yet more walkers enjoying tea and cakes al fresco outside the village tea room. All very quaint ! But we just couldn’t get over how many people there were … everywhere. Living in Scotland, we’re just not used to crowds in the countryside. When I’m away walking by myself I personally like to get as far away from people as I possibly can !
Anyway, the Dales were very picturesque with its patchwork of walls enclosing fields from the valley floor right up to the heather-clad, almost treeless moorland. (Yorkshire farmers over the last few hundred years must have been the most industrious wall-builders in history !).
We took a walk along the river between Appletreewick and Burnsall and enjoyed the aforementioned tearoom (where the staff coped admirably at high speed with the deluge of customers). One evening we ate out at the Craven Arms in Appletreewick (great atmosphere, excellent beer and locally-sourced food) but in contrast, they were utterly overwhelmed with the crowds and kept us and others waiting over an hour to receive our food. We visited Skipton, a small market town, which on this particular Saturday was host to the market, a festival and hoards of people.
Mason’s Campsite is in a fabulous location, with a couple of flat fields right beside the river. Given the number of tents and camper vans – there must have been around 300 people last weekend – it almost had a ‘festival’ atmosphere. They badly need to invest in more washing facilities, though; only four sinks in each of the ladies/gents washblocks is hardly sufficient for this number of people.
They’re into ‘glamping’ and you can hire out an Airstream caravan or a Brazilian T2 camper van.
At some point we’ll probably return to Mason’s Campsite. But it will be in the summer when we can swim in the river. It’s also a long 4-hour journey from where we live (make that 5 hours given the motorway accidents and traffic jams in Central Scotland on a wet Friday evening after school). Arriving grumpily in the dark at 10pm on a Friday evening isn’t a great start to a weekend away. And so, Yorkshire (and further south) will have to wait until we have at least a week away. In the meantime, we’ll save our weekends away (in term time) to no more than a 2.5 hour drive from home.