6 November 2017
Category Events
6 November 2017,

Yorkshire Dales Millenium Trust

This summer, a number of our members had and took the opportunity to visit the Yorkshire Dales. This was an exciting opportunity made possible by the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust, who we’re really grateful to for partnering up with us. In all, our members made 4 visits into the Dales, travelling by both mini-bus and train to get there.
The members involved all also opted to complete the John Muir award. (More on John Muir below!). Part of what’s needed to complete this is that members share with others what they know about, and have learned and experienced in, the great outdoors. What follows in this blog is part of their efforts to do just this. Thanks to all who authored their bit, and thanks to Greg for your editing work. Thanks also to Daniel, for photo-documenting the trips and supplying the pictures for illustration…


Specialist Autism Services and the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust organised events over four days in the Yorkshire Dales for SAS members. The four dates were the 28th June, 12th July, the 26th July and 13th September.  We went to the Malham, Airton and Ribblehead areas.


We spent a lot of time in Malham which is a village in the Yorkshire Dales. Malham Cove, Gordale Scar, Janet’s Foss and Malham Tarn are four of the features within the Malham area. It is an area of spectacular beauty.

YDMT (Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust)

YDMT are a charity that assists in caring for the Yorkshire Dales. They do this by maintaining and improving the communities, economy, environment and landscape of the area. Also, they organise events and activities for groups so that people can experience the Dales directly and learn new skills. The trust worked with SAS to organise days out in the Dales for SAS members and introduced members to the John Muir Award (on which, see below)*

Day 1: Malham Cove (written by Ryan D)

We set off on the mini bus at 10.15am. I sat at the back on the bus and it was very bumpy and a very long tiring journey. Along the way we created our own questions for a quiz to entertain us. About 11.30 am we arrived at Malham.  It was raining heavily so we borrowed waterproof clothing including trousers, tops and boots.

We filled in some paperwork and had our lunch at the visitors centre. After that we walked around Malham and we walked through the countryside to Malham Cove which is like Niagara Falls but smaller! Whilst at Malham Cove we passed a stream on a small stone slate bridge with fast flowing water.

While we walked around Malham, Sarah told us about the local area and the John Muir award. All the time we were in Malham it was not too warm and it was raining and raining hard!

Whilst on the way back we looked in a barn and the information that was in there. Sarah told us about how the workers were given beer back in the old days to get them to work harder and to concentrate on the job in hand!

We stopped at the café and had a cup of tea and something to eat. After that we gave the waterproofs back to Sarah and we went back on the bus. We got stuck in traffic and came back later than expected but the day was something new and good all round!

Day 2: Sapling Day in Airton (written by Ryan H)

We set off at 10:15am from SAS, Leeds. On the way to Airton we stopped off at a farm shop. I bought a drink from there and biscuits. After the break, we went back on the minibus and the driver took us to the countryside in Airton which was a 10 to 15 minute journey. The driver followed Sarah, so we knew where we were going.

When we got there, Sarah explained what we were going to do, we carried equipment for the activity and walked through fields. There were loads of bugs that kept flying on me, it was quite annoying!

We stopped to have lunch near a stream.  After having our lunch we had to cross the stream and walk up a hill to get to the saplings. Sarah demonstrated what we needed to do to maintain the saplings. We split into groups and started maintenance on the saplings. I went with William.

I lifted the tree guard and William pulled out the weeds that were preventing growth of the saplings. We had to check if the tree stake was firmly set in the ground. If it wasn’t we had to use a hammer so it would be secure. William and I got through a few saplings! Ryan D took on the biggest tree; it was like the Ents tree in Lord of the Rings!

It felt good being in the fresh air and countryside; it felt liberating. It was good exercise and it kept me active. Overall, I enjoyed the sapling and weed maintenance in Airton. It was a red hot day, so that helped. Airton is a beautiful village. I love the views and the scenery is picturesque in the Yorkshire Dales. I enjoyed day 2 and I felt good about helping the saplings.

Day 3: Malham Tarn (written by Daniel)

Today we went to Malham Tarn, the Journey took a long time due to roadworks blocking multiple turn offs. During our time in the bus we entertained ourselves with Trivial Pursuit.

On arrival we ate lunch under a canopy due to the weather, which was cold and very wet. After lunch we did some orienteering with Sarah, our guide, who was a green guardian project officer. I really enjoyed it, apart from some slippery rocky stairs!

During orienteering we had to find the boathouse (I was disappointed we couldn’t go inside), also a weather station which I found interesting, with various measuring instruments. We were set the task of identifying three different tree species, we identified the monkey puzzle tree, willow tree, and guessed the last one.

Later on in the day we had a practical session on fire-starting using a fire striker. We struggled to gain a spark but eventually I was successful and started a small fire. When combined with the other fires in the fire pit it became a blaze. Sarah, once the fire was established, boiled water using two Storm kettles (see diagram).

We used the water to make hot chocolate. Mine was polluted by foliage dropping from trees above so I threw it away. Some used the fire for cooking marshmallows. That was the end of day 3, it was a good day.

Day 4 – Ribblehead (written by William)

For the 4th (and final) installment of this adventurous agricultural project, we all took the train and travelled northwards by rail to Ribblehead. Our train travelled up the Aire Valley, passing the fellow Yorkshire towns of Shipley, Keighley, Skipton, Hellifield and Settle en-route before arriving at none other than Ribblehead (which is just before the historically infamous Ribblehead Viaduct in the distance).

Having alighted at the station platform, we got together in the adjacent station car park, prepared ourselves by changing into boots and waterproof clothing. We walked down and under the nearby railway bridge emerging on the opposite side and up the other side from the railway station.

There we ventured onto and across the incredible agricultural Ingleborough Nature Reserve, and in-between we slid and nearly tripped as we encountered moss-covered stone slabs and rocks, even very wet and muddy puddles across the fields.

Eventually (despite the hailstones and rain) we made it to a local farm, where we had our lunches, which were worth waiting for!

Whilst we were there, we learned even more about the past and heard an RAF jet plane fly by. After all that we eventually began venturing back across to Ribblehead railway station, through the Nature Reserve in-between.

Around here is the wonderful dramatic backdrop of the 3 Peaks of Yorkshire, Whernside, Pen-Y-Ghent and of course Ingleborough itself.

We eventually made it back to where we began earlier. Whilst waiting for the train back to Leeds, we all had a good look around the station building, checking out its history, and the story of its infamous involvement in forever saving the S&C, the exact railway line where Yorkshire and Cumbria both meet. This concluded this memorable project.

* Who was John Muir? (written by Joseph)

John Muir was born in Scotland on April 21 1838. He died in Los Angeles (USA) on December 24 1914. Muir was a Scottish-American naturalist, author, environmental philosopher, glaciologist and early advocate for the preservation of wilderness in the United States. His activism has helped to preserve the Yosemite Valley, Sequoia National Park, and many other wilderness areas. There are many walkways in Scotland, Canada and the United States named after him. He was nicknamed “John of the Mountains” for his conservation work, perhaps suggesting a fascination with nature. His interest in natural environments may have been inspired by growing up in a working class Victorian area of Scotland. On the other hand, being Scottish may have furthered his interest in the great outdoors as Scotland has more mountain areas than England.

In his later life, Muir devoted most of his time to the preservation of the Western forests. He argued for the US congress for the National Park Bill which established the first American national park – Yosemite National Park. He is today regarded as “the father of the national parks” and the USA National Park Service has produced a short documentary about his life. He is regarded as “an inspiration to both Scots and Americans” and is regarded as a very important figure in the history of 20th century American conservation.

Early life: Born in Scotland, Muir spent much of his life in the United States. Muir’s family moved to the United States in 1849, starting a farm near Wisconsin. Muir was especially interested in natural biological science such as animals and mountains. In the 1860s Muir completed several major walks around the United States. Muir generally believed that “wild is superior” and was a keen believer in city dwellers making regular trips into the countryside.  Muir is associated with activism and controversy—his ideas were not always agreed with by other conservationists.

Muir later formed a relationship with a woman named Jeanne Carr and the two bonded together over their love for wildlife and natural environments. Both had a very keen interest in the natural environment and this was the main thing which brought them together. Muir’s friends later told him to “return to society” yet he preferred to spend most of his time in the natural environments. This led to him being to some extent considered an outsider and an outcast.

California: Muir settled in San Francisco around 1900 and immediately left the big city for Yosemite, a place he had only read about. He was fascinated by the area’s natural beauty and he strongly believed in it being turned into a national park area. He had a keen interest in how glaciers formed and how they were related to ice ages. Because of this he can perhaps be considered a geographer as well as a scientist. He died in Los Angeles in 1914. An award was named after him…

John Muir Award

The John Muir Award is about being engaged with nature. It is a major lottery funded environmental award which is accessible to all. The main elements of the award are: discovering, exploring, conserving, caring and – one of our intentions with this blog – sharing.


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