Finding the Nidderdale Way on their doorstep the couple explored the 54 mile waymarked walking route.
It’s a walk that Clare Balding has waxed lyrical about previously for Ramblings on BBC Radio 4, and Beth was equally impressed. “It’s a super walk and really varied but not a lot of people know about it,” she says.
“However, we found various anomalies on the route and got lost at several points and when we looked to see if any guide books were available we found that the two previous ones were out of date.”
She decided to write a guidebook as a retirement project and the new book – Nidderdale Way – which contains numerous photographs as well as detailed route maps and information about local landmarks, is published next week.
The Yorkshire Dales is, of course, known for its beauty. However, Nidderdale, which is wedged between Wharfedale and Wensleydale, is arguably the least well known of its major valleys despite being a designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Beth says there are features that make Nidderdale unique. “It’s most unusual among the dales in having three large bodies of water – the reservoirs of Gouthwaite, Scar House and Angram. It also boasts impressive natural features such as Brimham Rocks, Guise Cliff and How Stean Gorge.
“It’s less well known than Wensleydale or Swaledale, but I think Nidderdale is a very attractive valley.”
The Nidderdale Way (NW) goes up one side of valley and back down the other and almost the entire route lies within the boundaries of the Nidderdale AONB.
And though it isn’t listed as a National Trail it is marked on the Ordinance Survey maps. Writer Paul Hannon, who produced a previous guide, describes Nidderdale as a “jewel of the Dales”, and many of those who have explored its many nooks and crannies would quite possibly agree.
The Nidderdale Way is rich, too, in terms of industrial heritage – from mining to textile mills – and this, along the variety of the landscape, is what helps make it so distinctive.
So while the lower dale is characterised by lush pasture land, gentle hills and plentiful woods with scattered farms and villages. The upper dale is bleaker with sweeping horizons and desolate heather covered moors.
Beth has worked with the North Yorkshire County Council’s countryside access team and The Long Distance Walkers Association, among others, to help reduce the amount of road walking involved, correct any anomalies and improve the signposting to help ramblers.
The circular route can be comfortably walked over four or six days with many people starting and finishing in Pateley Bridge, though some opt for Ripley.
“It’s a circular walk, a bit like a figure of eight so it is possible to start it at any point along the route,” says Beth.
It’s also suitable for day walkers who can devise shorter walks using link routes or local buses which makes enticing for those who something a little less strenuous.
Either way it’s an enticing area to explore and, as a former doctor, Beth understands the simple health benefits of regular walking.
“Walking is so good for our physical and mental health and our network of footpaths in the UK are precious because they allow us to explore our wonderful countryside.”
Nidderdale Way, which is published by Rucksack Readers, is out on March 15.