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11 Grassington Park Meadow Sign

The Grassington Park Estate Meadows

The Yorkshire Dales will always surprise you.

There will always be something that you stumble upon, not expected, that takes your breath away. The Grassington Park Estate Meadows was just such a place for me today.

The weather forecast was poor for this weekend but Saturday was going to be the best day. Also, Sunday was Father’s Day and that meant family commitments. Where to go on Saturday that was reasonably close and offered good walking opportunities, but with a fast escape route back to shelter should the heavens open.

Grassington

Grassington was the choice, with the added benefit of Festival activities giving street entertainment distractions. We wandered round the village, enjoyed the Harrogate Youth Jazz Band playing in the centre, before off for a walk. On a whim, an unknown route was taken, heading towards the village of Hebden but from the top of the town, over the fields above the river.

The sun appeared, always welcome, as we followed a clear path. Across some open ground we headed towards what looked like a copse of trees. People appeared from within and, in passing, said cheerily something about enjoying the flowers. We crossed the stile and read a sign introducing ‘Grassington Park Estate Meadows’ and offering some explanation.

Grassington Hospital

We were entering the site of the old Grassington Hospital, built in 1919 as a TB Sanatorium and attracting sufferers from all over the North of England to breath in the clean Yorkshire Dales air. Antibiotics killed the disease and the hospital.

The estate grounds had long been used to harvest hay and had been fertilized with manure. When the hay was no longer required the ground was left to fend for itself, as was the hospital building. The grass depleted the ground of nutrients and wild flowers then began to naturally populate the meadows, thriving in a way that would have been impossible had artificial fertilizers been used. Eventually, the hospital was demolished and private housing built in its place. The flower-covered meadows, however, remained and are now protected as an area of Special Scientific Interest.

The Grassington Park Estate Meadows

Grassington Park Meadow, view 4Through the small tunnel of trees the land opened up and so did my mouth. Facing me was a breathtaking blanket of vivid flowers. The carpet of yellow buttercups was mixed with startling white, sultry purple, luscious red and much more. A path of Yorkshire stone slabs ran invitingly through the middle and everywhere you looked your senses were assailed, not just with the flowers themselves but the backdrop of a wider landscape over the Wharfe valley. The photos posted here cannot hope to do justice to the startling mixture of colours.

All too soon we were passing through the short wooded area that marked the end of the meadowland and were back into a land of sheep, lambs and the pungent odour of newly-manured fields. I was sorely tempted to turn straight round and experience it all again.

Apparently, the meadows are at their best in July, a month from now. I can’t wait!

Photos


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