Friday, 25 May 2012

Chaffage...who needs it!

What are you doing this hot late May weekend? How does a 100km trek over 30 hours (yes – that is non-stop, day and night) across the Yorkshire Dales National Park appeal? 

Well, that’s exactly what over 1,000 intrepid walkers are up to as part of Oxfam’s Trailtrekker to raise money to help people in poverty.
Walkers on the Settle Loop get in their stride

While we ponder the epic size of that task over an ice cream, it's got us thinking about some of the challenges endurance events like this throw up and how best to prepare for this, and any hill walking - from what to pack to how to deal with blisters.  

As you would imagine, Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority staff are keen, outdoorsy types, so who better to ask for some top tips on that ultimate horror: chafing.

Lubricant seems to be the key – and an awful lot of it. 

For Ranger Matt – who, in 2010, ran an incredible 190 miles from coast to coast in just over 61 hours for charity – the solution is fundamental: “Vaseline all over your feet and E45 cream for your nether regions - nowt worse than undercarriage chaffage...”.

The thing about blisters is to stop them before they form, says Mark, our Access and Recreation Manager and a keen cyclist.

“You normally get a ‘hot spot’ often on the heel when going uphill – that is the time to put on tape to stop the rubbing from getting worse. Stopping and sticking your feet in a cold stream works wonders.”

He has a few words to say about saddle sores, too: “Cycle shorts are the answer and, if you don’t like the look, wear another pair of shorts or skirt over the top. 

“Nappy rash cream after the event sorts you out for the next day.”

Media Officer and walker Nick has a cheekier solution: “Sneak your kit into your companion’s bag, that’ll take the weight off your own feet!”

Whether you’re after a gentle stroll or a real leg stretcher, the National Park offers some truly spectacular hiking and has its fair share of famous long-distance routes. Did you know the UK’s first National Trail was our own Pennine Way which opened in the Dales in 1965? 

This summer the newest and the first designed specifically for horse riders, mountain bikers AND walkers - the Pennine Bridleway - will be launched, 52 miles of which cross the Yorkshire Dales National Park so there’s no better time to hit the trail.

And if you are one of the noble number taking part in Trailtrekker this weekend, we salute you and wish you a chafe-free adventure!

Even the most experienced walkers can end up in trouble if they don’t pay attention to a few simple rules – thinking about your clothing, equipment and, of course, the weather before you set out can ensure that your day is great not grim. For some handy advice, see

Friday, 18 May 2012

The Yorkshire Dales sandwich, a real breadwinner

If you heard a weird rumbling noise in the Yorkshire Dales National Park this week, do not fear - it was only our tummies!

Turns out it’s British Sandwich Week 12 to 19 May and ever since hearing the news we can’t stop thinking about what makes a great Yorkshire Dales sarnie. And you see that started the hunger pangs, which started the tummies rumbling….

A pit stop while out
The name ‘sandwich’ is British – born and bread! – and we have taken it to our hearts and into our countryside as a perfect accompaniment to lazy riverside afternoons and as fuel for days rambling or mountain biking on the fells.

No two sandwiches are ever the same and in the Dales we have our own preferences. To really experience a great Yorkshire Dales sandwich, leave your supermarket shop at home and call in to a local deli, cafĂ© or pub when you’re in the National Park and get your chops around the real deal.  

For the most heavenly sandwich try fresh local bread, or even beer bread using ale from one our many local micro breweries, a good spread of butter made from the milk of local cows that graze on our sweet limestone pastures, and wash it all down with lashings of elderflower or dandelion and burdock cordial.

Using local Yorkshire Dales produce, these are some mouthwatering sandwich ideas that have made our ‘lunchbox list’… 

·          Limestone country beef and horseradish
·          Cream cheese mixed with cooked nettles and smoked salmon
·          Heather honey sandwiches (best after a good game of Pooh sticks)
·          Wensleydale cheese, apple and carrot with farmhouse chutney
·          Grassington air-dried ham with spinach and black pepper
·          A TLT: Kilnsey trout, lettuce and tomato
·          Rosemary and wild garlic marinated grilled lamb with cress
·          Swaledale ewes’ milk cheese and onion marmalade
·          Yorkshire chorizo and allotment salad leaves
·          The breakfast butty: free range farm eggs, Malham bacon and The Yorkshire Sausage
·          Grated Wensleydale cheese mixed with spring onion and mayo (known as a 'cheese savoury')
·          Foraged hedgerow fruit jam spread on top of a thick layer of hand-churned butter

Yorkshire Dales chorizo.
Photo courtesy of local
online butcher
If your favourite sandwich using produce from the Yorkshire Dales hasn’t made our list, post it in the comments below.
For more delicious celebrations of Yorkshire Dales food, please visit our sister blog and subscribe for updates.

For a list of farmers markets in and around the National Park visit our website  

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

April showers bring forth May flowers..?

It’s just possible looking outside the window on this, the last day of April, that May could – could - begin warm and sunny. And this would be very welcome for any May Day revelries in the Dales this bank holiday weekend.
When will we see the first may flower?

As flowers emerge and crops begin to grow, the start of May has traditionally been a time of great celebration in rural areas, marking the end of the harsh winter months and looking forward to the fruitful summer months ahead.

Associated with all things fertile and green, it’s no wonder that plants and trees play a key role in the fun - and superstitions.

In England, May Day (1 May) was associated with the blooming of the may tree (hawthorn) but since the calendar changed in 1752 flowering now takes place a week to ten days later. 

Dancing round the maypole in Long Preston

Having been out ‘a-maying’ the night before to gather what was needed, homes and villages would have been decorated with flowers and greenery in the belief that this would bring good fortune. Young women washed their faces with morning dew to make themselves beautiful for the rest of the year and would create garlands of flowers and foliage – with one girl chosen as May Queen to be crowned during the celebrations.

On a darker note, country people lived in fear of evil spirits, devising many ways of keeping them out of their houses, and May Day was no exception with faeries and witches said to be particularly busy. Surrounding your home and garden with plants known to repel them and send a firm warning message was a good start. The two most powerful trees were rowan – known as witchwood in Yorkshire and Cumbria - and hazel, and it made sense to pin branches to the front door and tie twigs to the milking pail in case they tried to turn the milk sour.

A foolish person might also ignore the ancient advice that one shouldn’t buy a broom in May or wash a blanket, and that cats born this month were, sadly, not destined to be good rat catchers.

And if you’ve an inclination at this time of year to make some vitamin-packed nettle tea or soup, folklore states that the leaves should be picked before 1 May because after that the Devil uses them to make his shirts. You have been warned.

Finally, don’t forget, ‘ne`er cast a clout till May is out’. In other words, don’t take off your winter clothes until the end of the month - or until the mayflower has finished flowering. Whichever way you interpret it, even the sturdiest of Yorkshire folk might want to wait a few weeks before breaking out the shorts!  

For more on rural traditions and way of life in Yorkshire, why not pay the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes a visit this bank holiday weekend? Opening times and info at