Snaizeholme in Widdale, on the Hawes to Ribblehead road is probably the best place to see red squirrels in the Yorkshire Dales. The protected woodland is well set with a viewing area. However the red squirrels are just a part of a short walk in an interesting and very rarely visited side dale.
Red Squirrels in the Yorkshire Dales have been in the news lately (Nov 2021) with positive reports showing a geographical spread of creatures, particularly in the Wensleydale area. However it is Snaizeholme in Widdale where you are most likely to encounter the red squirrels. We did when we visited them recently. Mirk Pot Farm is the base for a small area of coniferous woodland now managed as a protected site for the squirrels. It can be difficult to spot them amongst the fir trees so a viewing area has been set up (pleasant and in keeping) and that is where we saw them. They scurried around and seemed unfazed by the small number of people who were there (us and another couple). It was a great experience and nice to see them. However others who we saw in the woods said they had seen them elsewhere on the tree branches.
Even if you do not spot any squirrels (and nothing is guaranteed) there are plenty of other small mammals, rabbits, birds and wild flowers in the woodland. What is more surprising is that the short walk goes past some cottages in the woods, a true out of the way place to live. Look out for the statue of the madonna on one! ost of the walk is through the woods but the return is on tarmac through this dead end valley, quiet and pleasant.
Parking is an issue at Snaizeholme. The parking up the valley is discouraged (but there is some) and some additional places on the main road at Widdale Foot. The official advice is to book a parking slot (there appears to be 4) at Mirk Pot Farm via the National Park centre at Hawes which is fine when it is open. However during winter the opening hours are limited and I cannot find an on line option. The final option is to get the Little White Bus.
The walk through the woods is straightforward with the visiting area well signposted and only just off the path. For those after real remoteness just follow the road, becoming a track up the valley to its end.
Are dogs Allowed?
I think so but on a lead for sure. The quieter the dog the better to be honest as they may put off the squirrels.
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