This month I revisited Swaledale in the Yorkshire Dales, for the first time in 17 years on a bike. It’s a place that is very special to me.
Swaledale is a brilliant place for mountain biking. I first discovered this around the age of 14, so I think part of the attraction is nostalgia. Whenever I visit I get the same feeling of discovery and independence that I did as a teenager, being allowed to roam around the Dale without Mum and Dad in tow.
On subsequent visits I made new friends, reaffirmed existing friendships and found new confidence on the bike.
Swaledale is far enough from home for a weekend visit to feel like a stretch, but still doable without booking a holiday.
The added bonus is a hamlet round almost every corner, and less of the bleakness and crowds of, say, Scotland.
There are loads of great places to ride mountain bikes in the UK, but what makes the Dales special in particular are an abundance of trails, and loads of great viewpoints. I’ve come to realise over the years that regularly riding, running or walking to the top of a hill or mountain, and savouring the view in rain or shine, is really important to my wellbeing.