GREAT OUTDOORS M onths of lockdown have definitely created an appetite for the outdoors. For which Matt and Helen Coppin are breathing a very outdoorsy sigh of relief. Having given up big jobs in law for a new life in the country some years ago, they recently launched self-guided walking business Muddy Boots, aimed at people with a passion for walking and for Yorkshire. But doing so just before Covid-19 hit seemed like unlucky timing. The reality though, is that after months of venturing no further than the corner shop or local park, people are now desperate to get their boots muddy and wander into the wilderness. The Coppins made their home in lovely West Burton in the Dales seven years ago after travelling the world and turning their backs on legal careers in London. They first set up a tour business aimed at organising self-drive holidays across Britain to overseas visitors. Keen to find a way of working with local businesses, they then established Muddy Boots just as the Covid-19 lockdown began. Now, however, they’re hoping to tap into the nation’s newfound interest in walking and nature as part of a staycation and the demand for finding quieter places away from the traditional visitor honeypots. ‘We’ve spent a large proportion of lockdown fine tuning our initial itineraries that enable guests to explore beautifully remote areas and quieter spots such as Westmorland stretch of the Dales and family holiday packages that include adventure walks for youngsters. HELEN’S HAPPY HIKES ‘We think most walks in the Dales would qualify as happy hikes’ says Helen. ‘But our top six hikes are designed to appeal to a wide cross-section of people and include the essentials for a happy hike – charming Dales scenery, far-reaching views and great places to refuel during or at the end of a walk.’ MALHAM LANDSCAPE CIRCULAR For spectacular geology It’s popular but this seven-mile walk has to be one of the best for the spectacle and variety of walking. The vast amphitheatre of Malham Cove and view over the southern Dales from the top are highlights along with the scramble up the waterfall at Gordale Scar. In between there’s much to enjoy by following the quieter paths as you head over limestone-strewn moorland to the peaceful Malham Tarn and descend through the ‘dry valley’ of Watlowes. It is hard to find a better country pub than the Lister Arms to relax in when you return – cosy nooks and crannies, great food and a wide drinks selection. They’re hoping to tap into the nation’s newfound interest in walking and nature as part of a staycation and the demand for finding quieter places away from the traditional visitor honeypots Arkengarthdale, Coverdale and Bishopdale as well as finding the less-trodden paths towards well-known highlights such as Malham’s limestone pavements. ‘We’re working with some fantastic country pubs and small hotels so that guests can have a rewarding hike each day and still have all the comforts that make so much difference to the experience. Many people, including a younger age group, have discovered the simple delights of walking in beautiful countryside during lockdown and so we’re hoping to show the Yorkshire Dales offers much more than the beauty spots that normally draw the crowds,’ says Helen. The initial Muddy Boots itineraries focus on Wensleydale and its tributaries, Swaledale and Arkengarthdale and the southern Dales around Malham and Burnsall. More routes are in the offing including those exploring the lesserknown Malham Tarn, a calm space in a popular area Yorkshire Life: October 2020 43
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