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Dales Run

Howe Stean Gorge, Jervaulx Abbey, Kettlewell, Hawes, Dentdale, Ribblehead and Pen-y-gent are just some of the names most evocative of the Yorkshire Dales and those who came on the Dales Run crank down drove by all of these places and more.

The 12th of October, the first day of a two day run, dawned bright and clear and developed into one of the loveliest days of the summer evidenced by all of the Jeeps running with their tops and windscreens down. From the start line, just outside Harrogate, the convoy of 10 Jeeps, three Landi’s and two Matchless outriders plunged straight into the beautiful Dales village of Hampsthwaite with its pretty stone cottages and an idyllic village green it typified the countless similar villages along the route. Passing close to Brimham Rocks and through Pateley Bridge the group soon reached the first stop, for morning coffee, at Howe Stean Gorge. 
The diversion to Middlesmoor that followed was deliberate to gain the magnificent views down Nidderdale but the group couldn’t have expected the chaos this caused turning around in the tiny village in the midst of a Mothers Union convention; hard luck on Brian and Tom for having a trailer. dales2.jpg (68916 bytes)
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Regaining the route the convoy took to the moor route between Lofthouse and Ellingsting. Just past Leighton reservoir we took a second diversion to the Leeds Pals monument at Breary Banks, suggested by Mick and Colin, our two intrepid outriders. Many of us had not known that this impressive monument existed and stands at the place on the moors where the Leeds Pals trained before leaving for France and oblivion. 

 The monument stands on a dead-end road and rather than turning all the vehicles around Simon scouted ahead and agreed with a friendly farmer that we could take an excursion through the fields to reach the parallel road at the other side of the valley. It was a short but enjoyable length of off-roading that ended in a spectacular ford and a link back to our main route.

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Soon after we roared into the car park at Jervaulx Abbey for lunch; it was perhaps a shame that none of us ventured to visit the romantic ruins of the Abbey as they are easily reached via an ‘honesty box’. After a mile of so, on the main road heading for Leyburn, we took a left into the village of East Witten to reach the tiny Dales lane on the south side of Coverdale. If you know where to go in the Dales few cars will be encountered and so it was as we toured between the hedge rows and fields.
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Rising out of Coverdale we were heading for the high moors again to reach the watershed between Wensleydale and Wharfedale. Here we paused for another group photo and to admire the magnificent views to the south. A steep decent followed, testing to the limit 60 year old breaking systems, to the village of Kettlewell and our camp site for the night ahead.

The campsite was simple but adequate; we pitched tents at the end of the ample field, and were blessed with a fine view of the limestone crags rising above us on all sides. A short walk took Denis, Hugo and others to sample the local brews whilst those remaining erected Brian’s dining shelter and readied the barbeque. 

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dales16.jpg (68097 bytes) We were soon all gathered around a blazing fire, contained in an old washing machine (!) marvelling at a wonderful first day and relishing the prospect of the journey still to come.  

Sunday dawned fine but clouded over and whilst warm we didn’t see the sun again that day. The revellery must have worked as we were a little behind schedule setting off (it certainly did for Denise who had to duck out with a bad head); however we were soon heading up the valley and into Langstrothdale before climbing for a third time to the moors. Just before the high point and the Roman road at Barkdale Head the convoy stopped on a steep hill, much to Hugo’s consternation as he was straining with the Jeeps gear box, to take in the views looking back towards Ingleborough. At this moment some 50 Mazda MX5 spotscars sped past; they would have been well teed off to have caught us up on the open road. 

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Another decent took us into Hawes and at the edge of the village a second ford over some very slippery limestone that almost put Nick Storey in a spin. After a toilet break in Hawes we descended on an unsuspecting hostelry at Gardsdale Head for lunch and despite our numbers, being the size of a modest coach party, they soon served us in readiness for our last leg.  dales22.jpg (80774 bytes)
dales23.jpg (60790 bytes) From Garsdale we ascended to the moors for a forth time via a small back lane to our highest point of the trip, 1,750 feet, above the place where the Settle to Carlisle railway races north through the Wry Gill tunnel. After more stunning views towards Sedbergh and the Lake District we trundled down into Dent Dale and via another narrow lane headed up again to the open moor road that runs along the back of Whernside to Ingleton. We had already encountered some gates but this lane had more than its fair share and guiding a convoy of 13 vehicles through each one and remembering to shut the gate was only made possible by the sterling work of Dave Reap, our tail end Charlie.
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The afternoon was wearing on after we traversed Ingleton and at White Scar Caves Tony and Nev left the formation for a quicker route home. With the Land Rovers all out of the way the Jeeps could really rattle along and picking up their skirts they soon passed Ribblehead Viaduct and sped down to Horton, At Stainforth is was back to the high ground and over to Arncliffe, the inspiration for the original Emmerdale. Careering down Littondale along the final narrow lane of the trip we gathered for a final group photo’ just before Kilnsey Crags.

So ended an epic run in through our fantastic Dales scenery, with some saying it’s the best trip the Yorkshire MVT has ever had. Therefore, if you would prefer to use your vehicle, instead of letting it fester standing on a cold wet show ground, then book your place on next years convoy. You’ll easily spot next years run; the competition to name the convoy was won by Paul and Val with the clever name of a “Ridge too Far” a title that’s bound to stick.

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