Isolated garage converted into shelter for walkers

An old garage in the middle of Whitaside Moor, without a door but complete with walls and a roof, is now a welcome shelter for mountain bikers and walkers caught in bad weather.

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Incredibly enough, the garage dates from the 1940s, when motorcars first came to the Yorkshire Dales.

The long way home

The garage was built to house Joseph Sunters first car, a Standard 12. It had to be built besides the road because there was no track leading from the family home, Robson House Farm, and once the car was parked, the last leg of the journey took place by tractor.

Once a farm track was laid, and cars could drive to the farm, the garage fell into disrepair. So it remained until Norman Sunter, Josephs grandson, had a bright idea.

Take the garage doors off

Over the years, Mr Sunter had seen hundreds of visitors to the moors sheltering beside the structure. Deciding that the garage may as well be repurposed as a proper shelter, letting people get out of the elements, he contacted Michael Briggs, the local Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) area ranger.

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Where Norman Sunter had decided to simply take the doors off, the YDNPA decided to do the job properly and with a budget of just 900, they have totally transformed the old building. After their work, the garage looks as if you could simply add a garage door installation from a trusted supplier like, and it would be fit for use as a garage again. However, in this popular part of the moors, its new purpose is ideal.

The ideal location

The new shelter, which has had a new roof and lintel, a new floor and some benches, was achieved with help from local running and cycling businesses that are likely to get a great deal of use from it. The newly developed shelter sits at the end of the Swaledale to Wensleydale bridleway and connects to other bridleways popular with ramblers and cyclists.

What started as a generous offer from a farmer who wanted to see a useful old building repurposed rather than demolished, has been brought to fruition by the dedicated Dales Volunteers.


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