The Yorkshire Dales is famous for having some of the loveliest limestone scenery in the UK. There are so many things to do here; with multiple pretty towns and villages to wander around, plus numerous caves and crags to explore, you won’t be left feeling bored when visiting.
Summers in the Yorkshire Dales are usually mild, with sunshine illuminating stunning moorland landscape that cascades through the countryside. Although winters are generally wet and windy, the scenery still holds an unmatched, raw beauty.
Rolling hills and extensive countryside cover thousands of square miles, making the Yorkshire Dales an excellent place for hiking, climbing, cycling and many more outdoor activities.
If you plan to visit this beautiful national park, you are probably wondering what towns are worth seeing. Here’s our guide to the best places to go in the Yorkshire Dales.
The North Yorkshire town of Wensleydale is located in the upper valley of the Dales and is most famous for its cheese. It’s an area that brims with gentle, sweeping countryside and offers plenty of places to explore, such as the ruins of Jervaulx Abbey which is hidden away in undisturbed woodland.
A visit to the garden at Constable Burton Hall is a great way to uncover Wensleydale, home to beautiful forestry and wooded paths that lead to pretty rose gardens. In addition, the grounds offer the chance to see the highest single-drop waterfall in England, which is at Aysgarth Falls in Upper Wensleydale.
Wensleydale has many wonders worth visiting, with even more waterfalls in places like Cauldron Falls in West Burton, offering excellent opportunities to experience the beauty of the Yorkshire countryside.
Appletreewick is just 5 miles from Bolton Abbey and 2 miles from Burnsall in North Yorkshire. Being so close to other local tourist destinations makes it ideal for those seeking to explore the Dales’ surrounding areas.
Travellers head to this quaint village each year for its walking offering, as there are trails that take you through the vast countryside and along moorland that weaves in and out of rugged crags.
There are multiple picturesque old houses in Appletreewick, with some dating back to the 12th century. The pretty cottages, alongside the dramatic views of the fells in the background, make it an idyllic setting for those looking to enjoy the Yorkshire Dales scenery at its finest.
If you are pursuing a relaxing trip to the Yorkshire Dales then Appletreewick will help you do just that, as its secluded location surrounded by countryside provides a tranquil environment for a quiet getaway. An excellent place to relax in the area is the local pub, which offers a comfortable and friendly atmosphere with local ales and great food.
The town of Horton-in-Ribblesdale lies below the renowned Pen-y-ghent and is usually where hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts set up a base when spending a day exploring the area.
Horton-in-Ribblesdale is best known as the starting point for the Yorkshire Three Peaks. Many head to the village to start the walking challenge that combines the ascent of 7,000 feet over Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough. The walk is 24 miles, and the challenge is to do it in under 12 hours.
Although Horton-in-Ribblesdale is best known for the Yorkshire Three Peaks, many other hiking trails are prevalent around the village. In addition, the Pennine Way starts near the Settle-Carlisle railway and is another point of interest for many walkers.
Malham is undoubtedly one of the most popular places in the Yorkshire Dales. Its dramatic limestone landscape is home to some of the best landmarks and hiking routes in the county.
A favoured hike is from the centre of Malham to Malham Cove; an impressive limestone cliff that sits in a crescent shape that is visible for miles. If you climb the steps to the side of the cove, the path will take you to the top of the cliff, which provides spectacular views over Malham and the surrounding countryside.
If you are visiting the Yorkshire Dales with kids, Malham is an excellent option as the little ones can play in the stream that runs alongside the village and the adults are able to visit the numerous pubs that offer great food in a tranquil setting.
It is worth noting that due to its popularity, Malham can get very busy, especially during summer. Occasionally, visitors have to park outside the village and walk in as it becomes incredibly crowded with foot and car traffic.
Masham is a town in the Yorkshire Dales that is full of great pubs, cafes and family-run breweries. The town is in lower Wensleydale in the north of the region, allowing visitors to see the neighbouring Knaresborough, Pateley Bridge and the city of Ripon.
If you happen to visit Masham in September, the Annual Sheep Fair is definitely worth seeing. Farmers from near and far come to show off their livestock in the hopes of winning a prize, and spectators gather in the market square to enjoy sheep showing and racing alongside market stalls and live entertainment.
The town is renowned for its links to famous authors such as JW Turner and Lewis Carroll, making it a great historical and cultural attraction for those visiting the Yorkshire Dales.
Known for being the ‘gateway to the Yorkshire Dales’, Skipton is an attractive market town. It’s a perfect place for those seeking somewhere with lots to do all whilst being close to the nearby rolling hills.
Skipton is home to an excellent market every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, which is one of the town’s biggest attractions. Here, you will find local arts and crafts, clothing stalls and plenty of fresh produce.
Once you have wandered through the cobbled streets of Skipton and browsed the multiple shops, cafes, bars and restaurants, a trip to Embsay Reservoir, approximately 10 minutes away by car, will provide you with a serene stroll around the water.
For an evening out in Skipton, there is a cinema alongside a small nightclub and plenty of pubs. The town can get busy on weekends, making it difficult to park, so be sure to arrive early if you plan to spend the day here.
If you’re seeking a traditional village in the Yorkshire Dales that offers idyllic stone cottages, a pretty cobbled town square and excellent places to grab a bite to eat, Grassington won’t disappoint.
The Grand Town Hall in the centre of Grassington often hosts music and art events, which are a focal point of interest for tourists and locals alike. If you happen to visit the town in June, Grassington Festival is worth checking out, offering an events calendar of music, comedy and art.
Grassington doesn’t fall short when it comes to hiking routes either, as there are trails for the Dalesway that take you along the River Wharfe, plus great hikes over Grassington moorland. Located 9.4 miles from Skipton and 9.8 miles from Bolton Abbey, it’s also an ideal town for those who aim to explore other areas of the Yorkshire Dales nearby.
Kettlewell is a pretty, grey stone village. The charming area has plenty of attractive tea rooms and cosy pubs, perfect for hiding away when the weather isn’t so good. However, when the sun does make an appearance, exploring the narrow lanes lined with rows of cottages make Kettlewell an authentic countryside town that displays the Dales at its finest.
The town of Kettlewell is most famous for its annual Scarecrow Festival, which started in 1994. Visitors find scarecrows throughout the town, following the trail to spot the different figures. It is a great way to spend a day in Yorkshire as the community comes together to show off their scarecrow crafting.
There are many great hiking trails from Kettlewell, with routes up the Dales Way north towards Buckden and the chance to climb Great Whernside that resides nearby, providing visitors with opportunities to explore the surrounding countryside.
Pateley Bridge is a small town nestled in the county of Nidderdale, one of the Yorkshire Dales. The area has a sense of tranquillity and charm as the hills roll in the background and greenery surrounds the village.
A visit to Coldstones Cut, the manufactured land sculpture cut into the side of Coldstone quarry, is a great way to experience Pateley Bridge, as the attraction allows spectacular views over Nidderdale and the Yorkshire Dales. The sculpture was created by Andrew Sabin, who took three years to form the design. However, construction began in 2010 and was finished in the same year which was then open to visitors by September 16th.
Walking is abundant around Pateley Bridge, with places such as Brimham Rocks and How Stean Gorge attracting hikers, cyclists and other outdoor enthusiasts. There is also the oldest sweet shop in England in Pateley Bridge, so if you feel the need to satisfy your sweet tooth, this is the place to be!
Ripon is a city that is best known for its wealth of cultural heritage, primarily down to the seventh-century cathedral, mediaeval streets and Georgian marketplace. There is always plenty going on in Ripon as it is brimming with shops, cafes, bars and restaurants, so you will never find yourself bored.
A trip to Newby Hall is undoubtedly something worth doing when deciding to visit Ripon. The beautifully landscaped ground and country house provide visitors with an authentic countryside manor house which is great to visit with the whole family.
Markenfield Hall is another mediaeval country house worth visiting when in Ripon. The well-preserved home and grounds are stunning and are great for wandering around, especially on a warm, sunny day. Visitors can take part in the tours that take you around the estate and give insight into the history here. Alternatively, you could sit in the hall’s tearoom and try out the selection of cakes on offer.
If you fancy a bit more of a thrill or need something to keep the kids entertained, Lightwater Valley theme park sits just 4.3 miles out of the city of Ripon and offers the chance to ride roller coasters and spot some fascinating wildlife in the park.
From historical towns to quaint villages and rolling countryside, the Yorkshire Dales has it all. You can choose to be in the midst of it in a city or nestled away in one of the towns deep in the valley; whatever your ideal setting is, you will find it in the Dales.
As each of the towns above displays a unique offering, you just have to choose the right one for you, or better yet, extend your trip and see them all!
If you’re planning a trip to the Yorkshire Dales and are looking for somewhere to stay, Independent Cottages offer a range of stunning rental properties that will help give you an excellent base for exploring the area further. Check out our range of cottages here.