Rural life moves on in Yorkshire Dales village of Appletreewick

The times they are a changin’, Bob Dylan sang in 1964, lyrics that are as relevant now as they were then. Decades of human history teach us that nothing stands still, life moves on and not even a tiny village in the Yorkshire Dales can avoid that.

The Yorkshire Dales village of Appletreewick has existed in many guises, from a lead mining centre and busy market hub to a farming stronghold and popular tourist spot. Picture by Gary Longbottom.

Bill Sutcliffe can remember a time when life in the Dales village of Appletreewick was very different from today but he is philosophical about how it has evolved.

A former parish councillor and farmer at High Hall Farm, Mr Sutcliffe has lived locally for 50-odd years. “Years ago we used to supply milk to every house in the village and you knew everyone and they knew you, it’s not like that today. More than half of the village is holiday cottages but it’s the same elsewhere in the Dales and people have to make a living.”

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Mr Sutcliffe, 75, and his wife Hazel help out at the village hall.

Many of the original houses that sprung up to accommodate lead mining workers still stand in Appletreewick, though some homes have become holiday lets. Picture by Gary Longbottom.

“We have lived here, married here, had children here who have gone to school here and made a living here, so under that score we have helped keep the community alive. I’m not sure that is not going to happen in the future.”

Naturally, life in Appletreewick as Mr Sutcliffe’s knew it is a far cry from earlier years. In the early part of the 14th century it was a flourishing market location. Later it became a thriving lead mining spot, spawning many of the houses that still stand today.

The village was also once known for its annual onion fair. A lane in the village is named Onion Lane.

“You have to accept that the world has changed. I’m old enough to remember milking cows by hand!” Mr Sutcliffe said.

The community, remains an active one, with the village hall playing an important role. It hosts performances by a local amateur dramatics group, exercise classes and other events.

Unlike many villages of similar size its single through road is adorned with two pubs, The New Inn and The Craven Arms. At the latter, David Aynesworth, has been serving patrons for 15 years and on taking the pub over he stripped it of modern fittings and returned its interior to the traditional surroundings that locals pined for. The result is a thriving business with 28 staff and a reputation for offering fine food and a wide range of ales.

The adjoining Cruck Barn is used for live music and hosting private functions.

Mr Aynesworth said he is proud of what he has achieved and loves to serve the local community, saying: “Appletreewick has an amazing community, a very active one with a lot of great people in the village.”

He tells of a cricket match that is held every Boxing Day, irrespective of the weather - Appletreewick Cricket Club versus rivals, Malham. Though times change, local traditions die hard.


A popular spot with holidaymakers in the summer, Appletreewick, on the banks of the River Wharfe, has a busy camping and caravan site, Masons.

Attracting hikers and cyclists, the landscape attracts people from beyond the Dales. Simon’s Seat, its summit rising to 1,925ft, dominates the eastern skyline.

The civil parish had a population of 218 at the time of the 2011 Census.