Clapham is quite simply one of the prettiest villages you could care to imagine. It truly is like something out of a postcard.
Clapham is a popular stopping place for people who are keen to explore Ingleborough, the second highest mountain in the Dales, and the caves underneath it.
Through the centre of the villages runs Clapham Beck, which is crossed by a series of old stone bridges. The slate-roofed houses around it are built from the same or similar stone, with most of them dating back to the 18th century.
The best established walk in the area is the Ingleborough Estate Nature Trail. It was created to celebrate the work of Clapham-native Reginald Farrer, a plant collector and author, who travelled the world gathering many rare plant species before cultivating them in the area.
Dubbed as ‘the father of English rock gardening’, Farrer brought many plants to the UK for the first time and a number, including Bulbophylium Farreri and Viburnum Farreri, are named after him.
The trail leads to Ingleborough Cave. A tour lasting one hour can be taken of the cave network, allowing visitors to see what is believed to be the biggest stalactite in Great Britain at 16ft and 5ins.
On the way to the trail you can stop off at the magnificent Church of St James, which traces its history back to 1160. Much of the original church was destroyed when Scottish forces invaded the village following the Battle of Bannockburn in the 14th century. The original tower is in place, but the majority of the building as it stands is the result of Victorian restoration work.
Another common walk is up to the Norber Erratics. The route is clearly signposted form the road between Clapham and Austwick and takes walkers up to the collection of odd shaped but superb rocks which were transported to the area by a glacier during the last Ice Age.
Like many regions in the Dales, Clapham has its share of legends. Once folktale claims that the village was once home to a witch by the name of Dame Alice Ketyll, who was tried for witchcraft and ordered to line the roof of the village church with lead has a punishment. Unable to afford the lead she escorted a group of workman and clerics up to Ingleborough where both lead and silver were discovered. She was rewarded for her find by being pardoned and was latter buried in the churchyard.
However, some historians believe the tale to be a plagiarism of an older Irish story involving a woman called Anne Kyteler in County Kilkenny.
A real mystery locally began in 1947 when human remains were found in a cave at Trow Ghyll close to Clapham. The body was never identified but locals believe it was that of a Nazi spy. A post mortem established that the man was aged between 22 and 30 and had perished between two and six years earlier. His identity and cause of death were never confirmed but foul play was ruled out.
The village is served by a train station on the Leeds to Morecambe line and has many places to stay, including hotels, guest houses and holiday cottages.