A walk around the Upper Wharfedale market town of Grassington can be like taking a step back in time, especially if you visit during December.
With its cobbled main square, narrow streets and traditional stone cottages, Grassington has changed little in the past 200 years, but during the three Saturdays leading up to Christmas it hosts a Dickensian Festival and people walking around in Victorian attire are a common sight.
A traditional market takes place selling festive goods and foods, while the square is little up with lights and hosts performances from brass bands as well as carol singers. It’s enough to get even Ebenezer Scrooge in a Yuletide mood without the need for three ghosts to visit.
Grassington also celebrates yesteryear each September when it holds a 1940s weekend with wartime re-enactments, a display of military vehicles and swing dances.
The town is a major hub for tourism even when specialist events are not taking place. In the town square there is the Grassington Folk Museum which is housed in two former mining cottages and tells the story of rural life in Wharfedale.
It is run by volunteers and is open between March and October each year. Inside, visitors will see a number of exhibits, including Mesolithic arrow points, Iron Age bones and domestic artefacts.
Accommodation in Grassington
Grassington and the area around it has plenty of high quality places to stay – from plush country hotels to delightful B&Bs and laid-back camp sites.
On Hebden Road just off Main Street is a Yorkshire Dales National Park Centre. There you can obtain tourist information on local attractions, buy maps and hire GPS devices for more effective hiking. The centre makes a great starting place for a walk.
One enjoyable hiking route heads towards the nearby village of Hebden before heading north along the banks of the Hebden Beck to West Scar Wood and then cutting across the moor to the Yarnbury lead mines.
While the mines are no longer operational, they can still be explored. There is a tunnel entrance called Barrett’s Incline near Yarnbury House which as the year 1828 carved into its arched top stone.
If a visit to the mines leads to a love of subterranean exploration then head to the Stump Cross Caverns just along the B6265 from Grassington. The caverns are some of the best show caves in the country and were created by an ocean that covered the land around 500,000 years ago.
They were found by miners in 1860 and have been a great site for archaeologists as a number of fossils have been uncovered inside. Today visitors can explore the caves and see stalactites in a variety of colours.
Another place of interest close by is Kilnsey Crag. This limestone hill has a cliff face that stands at 170 feet and is popular for with rock climbers. According to local legend, the Crag was once home to a witch named Old Nan who could tell people their fortunes and even had her own stall on Skipton Market.
The Kilnsey Park Estate hosts a special train each Halloween that takes children up to a purpose built grotto at the crag where they can partake in pumpkin carving and face painting.
A good place to take animal-loving children in Upper Wharfedale is the Hesketh Farm Park near Bolton Abbey. Set over ten acres, the farm looks over picturesque countryside as well as the Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Railway. It has more than 1,000 livestock and lets children see a working farm as well as go on tractor rides and enjoy an adventure playground.