Books and Boots … and Red Squirrels

red squirrel

Books and Boots is the website name for the Richmond Walking and Book Festival which started on Friday and is taking place over the next week.

“Books and boots, walks and words … Come and join our unique festival with ten days of book events and guided walks in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales.”

Back in March I sat next to a woman from Richmond [North Yorkshire] on my flight to Rome. We began talking and found that we had several interests in common one of which was enjoying staying at Landmark Trust properties. It turned out that I was staying at Sant’Antonio in Tivoli and she had booked the Piazza di Spagna the Landmark flat above the Keats-Shelley Museum by the Spanish Steps. Caroline and family visited me at Sant’Antonio on the Sunday morning. As it also turned out we were both keen walkers and swopped walking holiday agencies and I suggested that perhaps we could both meet up again during the Books and Boots Festival.

We booked to join the ‘Red Squirrels of Snaizeholme’ walk last Sunday – and what glorious weather we had for our ‘9 miles Moderate/Hard’ walk. A group of about 15 of us assembled in the car park in Hawes under the guidance of Richard, who was backed-up by Bruce.

A shorter version of this very popular walk, which now omits an unpleasant road section. This circular walk takes us into a secluded area of coniferous plantations, where red squirrels are protected. We steadily ascend the Pennine Way out of Hawes then the Old Cam Roman Road with commanding views of the head of the classic U-shaped Snaizeholmedale. We descend to Snaizeholme Beck and the red squirrel viewing area for lunch. We return by farm and forest tracks and a new permissive path with views of Widdale, and later, across and down Wensleydale. This walk is mainly on upland areas with gradients including a steep pathless descent down the valley side.”

Oh yes, I am feeling the effects of the ascents and descents today but it was definitely a case of no pain, no gain. We had wonderful views over the surrounding fells and hills, excellent tracks and paths, for the most part, and enjoyed spending time watching the red squirrels in their protected habitat.

Here is a similar walk leaflet. Instead of the linear there-and-back route we took the Pennine Way and Cam Road paths.

wensleydale creamery

Waiting for  a couple of late arrivals

Another Country

I think it’s saying Watch out for squirrels on the road

Hawes from Pennine Way

Looking back towards Hawes from the Pennine Way

Still climbing

Still climbing on the Pennine Way

Pennine Way sign

Pennine Way Signpost

Snaizeholme Dale

Snaizeholmedale from Cam Road

From Snaizholme

View along the Red Squirrel Trail

viewpoint sign



Looking back

Looking back along the Squirrel Trail

The land around Snaizeholme has been planted with trees such as larch, Sitka spruce and Scots pine that provide and ideal food source for red squirrels. These conifer woodlands have been designated as one of 16 Red Squirrel Reserve areas in northern England where red squirrels have the best chance of long-term survival. The abundant food source and isolation from grey squirrels make this and the adjacent plantations ideal sites for red squirrels. They typically feed on seeds found within the cones of the conifer trees. [Adapted from Information Boards at the Viewpoint]

We also came across cows and horses and

Also saw sheep


and pigs

and pigs


9 comments on “Books and Boots … and Red Squirrels

  1. Fran says:

    What a lovely day for such a walk. Red squirrels remind me of childhood Lake District holidays. Good to see them being given back their natural habitats in this way.

    • Yes, Fran, back in those childhood days they were much more common. It was very exciting to see them happily running around in the wild – one seemed even to be putting on a performance for us!

  2. What a wonderful walk. Thank you for sharing it with us – it’s a tonic!

  3. hilarythorpe says:

    Hi! Thought you might enjoy this as it’s almost as good as doing the walk! I subscribe to this lady’s blogs as they are always interesting trips. Love Jxxx


  4. nilly says:

    I love dialect signs & have put the squirrel one on my Best of British Pinterest board ! By the way, hev you seen the “Slow you down” road signs in Norfolk?

  5. Glad to hear that there are red squirrels in Yorkshire, too. I’ve been told that south of the Scottish border (or, in other words, in England) you can only find them in the Lake District. So that information was wrong, it seems. Here in Germany red squirrels are stilll the standard squirrels although the larger and greedier North American grey squirrel has already found its way into the country. My mum is constantly visited by the furry little chaps (the red ones I mean) in her back yard lapping water out of the bird bath and, in winter, stealing nuts and kernels from the birdhouse.

    • We have many grey squirrels here in our garden, Baerbel. They behave just like your mum’s red ones but just don’t look so attractive. It was great to see the red squirrels at Snaizholme.

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