One of the many things I love about living in the UK, and the Dales in particular, is the distinct changes in the seasons. Even month by month you can see these little changes gradually taking place which we can experience with all our senses.
What makes this even more special in the Dales is that from the north to the south, from the valleys to the hills, the seasons can emerge at different times. This means that as you travel around the National Park you might see bluebells only just emerging in one location, while they may be in full bloom in another – which means you can experience and enjoy the season for even longer.
At the end of the winter months, the snow on the top of the hills disappears and little green buds appear on the trees, the dawn chorus bursts into song and the wildlife prepare for their newborn. In early March you can see the wash of yellow daffodils followed by blankets of woodland bluebells in April and the distinctive potent smell of wild garlic. With the warm spring days and the refreshing rain, the colours become more vivid and bright.
Summer brings trees in full leaf, the boundless white flowers of hawthorn and the colourful array of wildflowers in the meadows. Listen to the buzzing of the bees and watch playful butterflies flutter among the flowers while swallows skim through the air.
Then the colour transforms once again as the various rich shades of green turn to the rusty copper of autumn, red, orange and yellow. You can hear the rustle of leaves as they start to fall and the bustle of wildlife perhaps finding comfort ready for the return of the cold nights. Fruits start to form on trees and shrubs – blackberries, elderberries, sloes and conkers, and many species of fungi thrive in the damp earth below.
And we come full circle to winter, when we can appreciate the beauty of the bare trees with their frosted tips. Snow lies on the distant hills, and there are some gentle reminders that spring is not far off as the woodland primroses and snowdrops start to appear.
Why not take a look at our guide to the seasons in the National Park and let us know which is your favourite time of year in the Dales and why.