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Burnsall village, Yorkshire Dales
Burnsall village, Yorkshire Dales

Things To Do In The Yorkshire Dales

David Hockney, one of many famous artists, writers and poets to have grown up and taken inspiration from the scenery of the Yorkshire Dales said: "enjoyment of the landscape is a thrill". He could have been talking about anywhere in the Dales because whether it's a quite leap of happiness at the perfect view, or the adrenaline of hurtling along a mountain bike track, your holiday in the Yorkshire Dales will be full of thrilling moments.

Visit the Yorkshire Dales - the Green Heart of God’s Own County

The Yorkshire Dales is one of Britain's most beautiful and changeable settings. The Dales can appear serene and peaceful, excitingly dramatic, or mysteriously ambiguous – sometimes all in one day! Writers, poets and artists have all taken inspiration from the landscape in and around the Yorkshire Dales National Park for centuries. Isn't it time you discovered its appeal too?


Discovery Days

Discover The Yorkshire Dales
Discover The Yorkshire Dales


A history rich in farming and weaving has left the Yorkshire Dales with a wealth of wonderful market towns and villages. Sedbergh is a fantastic example of the character of the Dales, with beautiful stone buildings that include an impressive thousand-year-old Norman church, and a woollen mill that is now an arts and heritage centre with an excellent cafe. As well as having one of the country's leading independent schools, Sedbergh is a book town with a number of specialist bookshops. The largest of these is Westwood Books, and it is a must-visit for book lovers, even if only for a browse.

Views over Sedbergh
Sunset views over Sedbergh

All that exploration can build up a mean thirst. Quench it with a pint at The Dalesman. The family run business is Sedbergh's only free house which means you will find an exciting array of local ales, wines, and spirits to go with their delicious seasonal menu. The Dalesman is conveniently located on the Cumbria Cycle Way, so add it to your itinerary if you're out on your bike.


Appletreewick is as chocolate-box pretty as its name implies. The village sits beside the River Wharfe in some of the most scenic English countryside imaginable. It may be small, but Appletreewick is the starting point for many beautiful walks. It also benefits from an excellent pub. There is nowhere nicer to sit on a summer's evening than in the beer garden of The Craven Arms watching the sun sink over the hills and fields. It's a blissful escape.

There is a lovely 4.5-mile circular walk along the River Wharfe from Appletreewick to Burnsall or, if you wanted more of a challenge, an 11-mile walk to Grassington that takes you past the Hebden Suspension Bridge and Linton Falls, and back through Thorpe hamlet.


Fountains Abbey
Fountains Abbey

As one of the oldest established communities in the Yorkshire Dales, Ripon is full of beautiful architecture, mature gardens, and a sense of solidity. There is nothing flimsy about places like Newby Hall or Markenfield Hall - these buildings were skillfully designed and built to last. Threaded through the town is a canal that was once a busy thoroughfare but is now a peaceful place to walk beside.

A short detour from Ripon will take you to Hackfall Woods near Masham. It's a wonderful place for a walk through careful landscaping including grottos and a beautiful fountain. The paths are perfect for a colourful exploration in autumn and for keeping cool on a hot summer day. If gardens are your thing, then make sure you visit Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden. The estate is expertly managed by the National Trust and includes a medieval deer park and the romantic ruins of a Cistercian abbey.


Ingleton Falls
Ingleton Falls

The solution to a day of changeable weather could be a visit to Ingleton. The village is at the foot of Ingleborough, one of the Yorkshire Dales' Three Peaks, and it is easy to reach from Kirkby Lonsdale, Settle, and Hawes. If it's bucketing down with rain, then you can take shelter in the independent cafes, shops, or the indoor climbing wall. The nearby waterfalls are even more spectacular after the rain, while the engineering of the Ribblehead Viaduct is always an impressive sight.


Visitors have been passing through Kettlewell for hundreds of years, and the village is known for its hospitality. Whether you're there as part of a longer walk through the Dales, or simply meandering through the narrow lanes, you will be charmed by its stone cottages and pretty views. If you're lucky enough to be in the area in mid-August, you will find the town decorated with hundreds of scarecrows that are part of a week-long family festival and treasure hunt.

One of England's finest painters, J. M.Turner, stayed in Kettlewell in summer 1816. You can follow in his footsteps and see the landscape that so inspired him on a visit to nearby Dow Cave. There is a map of the Turner Trails in the main car park of the village, and the cave is around one and a half miles from there.


Dent Head Viaduct
Dent Head Viaduct

Dent village is potentially the prettiest of any of the villages in the Yorkshire Dales. Make your way to The Sun Inn at the top of the cobbled main street, and you can treat yourself to a pint or two of ale brewed in nearby Kirkby Lonsdale. Dent's train station is the highest in the UK and a perfect place to jump on board the Settle to Carlisle train that goes over the Ribblehead Viaduct and through the beautiful Yorkshire Dales landscape.

Dent's fortune was built in part on the quarrying of Dent marble, and the village's prosperity is evident in the quality of the medieval church. It is worth a visit to the Dent Village Heritage Centre to see what life in the town would have been like for previous generations.


The Yorkshire Dales National Park grew by almost a quarter when the boundaries were extended in August 2016. As a result, Orton is now included in the north part of the national park. It's a lovely village with a reputation for good food. If you visit on the second Saturday of the month, you can shop at the farmer's market and pick up ingredients for a delicious picnic to take while you walk Wainwright's Coast to Coast footpath or cycle the Walney to Wearside route, both of which pass through the village.

Orton also boasts a chocolate factory, a beautiful village green, and an impressive church.

Rainy Days

Views over Malham Dale
Views over Malham Dale

Caving and Potholing

When the weather outside is less than appealing but staying indoors seems like a waste of a holiday, caving is an obvious solution. We have already mentioned the Yorkshire Dales' show caves of White Scar and Ingleborough, but there is an almost inexhaustible choice of places for subterranean exploration.

Discover the beauty of mineral formations like stalactites and stalagmites, as well as underground waterfalls and fossils with some tour companies who offer guided caving and potholing expeditions including Live For Today and Yorkshire Dales Guides.


Aysgarth Falls
Aysgarth Falls

There are some days you just can't escape the rain but a wet weather day in the Yorkshire Dales is no cause for disappointment with so many natural waterfalls that look even more beautiful in the rain.

In the centre of the National Park is Hardraw Force near Hawes. Hardraw Force is the tallest single drop waterfall in England, with water plummeting around 100 feet over the Hardraw Scaur cliff to rocks below. Access to the falls is by a turnstile. It requires exact change, and the price was £2.50 at the time of writing. Unusually - and conveniently - the falls are on the grounds of a pub, The Green Dragon Inn.

The Ingleton Waterfalls can be seen from a four-mile waymarked trail that is privately owned and maintained. The walk takes between two and four hours to complete, and there are toilets, a cafe, and plenty of parking at the site. There is an entry fee.

Aysgarth Falls is near Wensleydale, and around a 20-minute drive from Ingleton Falls. Three sets of falls cascade their way down limestone steps made by the current of the River Ure. Paths lead to each set of falls and maps can be found at the Aysgarth Falls National Park Centre.


The North Dales town of Hawes is an excellent wet-weather destination. Take a tour of The Wensleydale Creamery and see where the famous cheese is made before digging into a delicious meal in the restaurant, or something lighter from the cafe. After you've tucked your truckle of cheese away (there's also a great gift shop!), you can visit the Dales Countryside Museum to find out more about the fascinating history of the local area, or book a workshop at Gayle Mill and take a new skill home as a souvenir.

Bolton Castle

Bolton Castle
Bolton Castle, near Wensleydale

One of the most impressive castles in the Yorkshire Dales is Bolton Castle in Leyburn near Wensleydale, in the north-west of the national park. Built in the late 1300s by Richard le Scrope, 1st Baron Scrope of Bolton, and still owned by the Scrope family, it is now preserved as a Scheduled Ancient Monument. See where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned in 1658, and examine the scars left by the Civil War.

In addition to a murky yet fascinating history and some impressive architecture, Bolton Castle has daily wild boar feeding and birds of prey displays. If the rain eases you can walk through the medieval gardens and maze, or warm yourself in the welcoming castle tea room.

Adventure Days

Hot Air Balloon over the Dales
Hot Air Balloon ride over the Yorkshire Dales


All these hills and sweeping roads make the Yorkshire Dales one of the nation's most popular cycling destinations. You could find yourself rolling along a Roman road, through ancient moorland, or around part of the 2014 Tour de France route. Dales Bike Centre in Fremington near Swaledale is an excellent shop where you can hire bikes, pick up maps and tips, and even organise a guided tour with a local expert.

Build your confidence on a 12-mile route from Pateley Bridge that goes around the Gouthwaite Reservoir and is mainly stone track with a little bit of tarmac and a short technical section. There is another 12-mile route from Clapham that offers a mix of scenery and surfaces, or you can push yourself for 25 miles through Stainforth and Littondale for the reward of incredible views.

Cycle the Dales is a useful resource to help you plan your cycling holiday in the Yorkshire Dales.

Hiking and Climbing

Pennine Way
Walk parts of the Pennine Way

There is certainly no shortage of trails to walk and peaks to scale in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Energetic visitors can tackle the 23 mile Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge. Starting in Horton, the trail takes in Whernside (736 metres), Ingleborough (724 metres) and Pen-y-Ghent (694 metres). Complete it in 12 hours and not only will you bag serious bragging rights but you will earn yourself a place in the Three Peaks of Yorkshire Club.

Understandably, not everyone is willing or able to climb mountains but that's ok because the Yorkshire Dales has an enormous network of paths to suit every ability. Walking Britain has a good selection of suggestions on their website too. "Miles without Stiles" accessible routes include lovely walks in Aysgarth Falls, Hawes, Cotter Force, Gordale Scar, and Malham Cove.

Hot Air ballooning

If you have a head for heights then there's no finer view of the Dales, than the one you will get from high up in the sky in a hot air balloon. Admittedly, it may cost nearly as much as your cottage rental (or more!) but the experience and views are sure to stay with you forever and it really is a super way of celebrating a special occasion. Airborne Adventures fly over some of the national parks most significant landmarks like Malham Cove and end the hour long flight with champagne.


What you can see above ground is only part of what the Yorkshire Dales landscape has to offer. Underground has a whole world of caves and caverns to discover! The Dales are a popular caving holiday destination for a good reason: there are more than 2,500 known caves including Britain's longest cave system. The naturally formed caves range in size from small hollows to Gaping Gill, which is big enough to accommodate St Paul's Cathedral with room to spare!

Ingleborough Cave is an easy and safe way to experience the sensation of being underground without any necessary caving experience. The walkways are well lit and simple to navigate and provide a beautiful and fascinating insight into millions of years of the history of the area. You can go at your own pace or join one of the regular tours. A nearby alternative is White Scar Cave.

Activity Centres

There are some excellent activity centres in the Yorkshire Dales providing well-organised fun. One of these is How Stean Gorge which has canyoning, gorge walking, abseiling, canoeing, and rock climbing. It's perfect for a family day out as, even though some activities are not safe for those under seven years old, everyone can explore the paths with hidden fossils and rock pools.

Yorkshire Outdoors has quad biking and 4x4 off roading, clay pigeon and target shooting, or why not try something entirely new and take a llama for a walk at Nidderdale Llamas.

Lazy Days

stepping stones across the river Wharfe
Stepping stones across the river Wharfe

Drive the Dales

It is not necessary to clamber to the top of a mountain for a great view. Why not drive through the Dales and enjoy their beauty from the comfort of your car. Follow the 2014 Tour de France route, see the 3 Peaks, or explore the Dales' natural limestone formations all without breaking a sweat. You can find inspiration and maps at Drive the Dales.

All Aboard the Wensleydale Railway

The Wensleydale Railway runs through Bedale, Finghall Lane, Leyburn and Redmire, making it easy for you to relax and do nothing but enjoy the beauty of the landscape. The route takes in a variety of scenery from flat to mountainous, stopping at pretty towns and villages en-route. The trains are predominantly heritage diesel engines, but steam trains do run on some summer weekends so check their schedule of events.

Tuck into a Picnic

Janet's Foss Waterfall
Janet's Foss Waterfall

There are many picturesque picnic spots in the Yorkshire Dales. Gordale Foss is a great example. It has a meadow above the falls that is filled with flowers in spring and summer. It involves a bit of a climb so, if you're embracing the spirit of sloth completely, wander downstream to Janet's Foss and picnic by the pool, watching the sunlight make rainbows with the spray of the waterfall whilst keeping an eye out for the Peregrine Falcons.

Find a Cosy Pub or Cafe

The best pubs and cafes have a fantastic selection of drinks, incredible Yorkshire food, superb service, and an atmosphere that is as comfortable as home. It seems like a lot to ask, but thankfully for your loafing pleasure, there are quite a few around here. Favourites include:

  • The Golden Lion in Settle (BD24 9DU) which is a great example of how an old coaching inn can be transformed into a modern eatery serving proper Yorkshire food. Popular with walkers who come to refuel on the delights from the grill, platters of meat and fish or local specialties like steaming hot suet pudding, The Golden Lion is dog-friendly and a lovely place to while away a few hours with a courtyard for alfresco dining.
  • If you want a proper cosy Dales pub then head to the market town of Leyburn and visit the Sandpiper Inn (DL8 5AT), another dog-friendly pub. Let the chalk-board tempt you with the richest of local pickings (and a few from the coast) from venison with duck fat potatoes to vintage cheddar soufflé with roasted beetroot. You can also get a pint of local ale to wash it down with.
  • If you have chosen to spend a day in Malham, then make sure you pay The Lister Arms (BD23 4DB) a visit. Sitting alongside the green, the setting is lovely with plenty of space to sit outside and enjoy it. The welcome at The Lister Arms is warm (to four legged guests too in the bar area) and the food is just what you would expect from a proper Yorkshire pub with log fires, flagstone floors and some pretty tasty Thwaites ale (and trendy gins!).
  • If you are out on a 'Driving Day' then put Linton-in-Craven into the satnav and make sure you stop there. The Fountaine Inn (BD23 5HJ) is a super place to stop for lunch, not just for the picturesque village setting but also for the food, whether you want a quick sandwich before you set off again, or a more relaxed meal in the restaurant. Dogs are welcome in the bar and the pub is open all day, every day.
  • The Blue Lion (DL8 4SN) at East Witton is the last of our favourites. Surrounded by the glory of Wensleydale, this ancient inn provides the perfect place to cosy up by the fire and enjoy a long lazy lunch. The chalk-board showcases the finest of local Yorkshire produce with a strong emphasis on 'seasonal' so whether you just want to relax in the bar (dogs welcome) or enjoy the more formal (yet cosy) setting of the restaurant, the food, fine wines and proper ales are sure to please.

Immerse Yourself in Yorkshire

Sometimes it isn't enough to see a place once - you want to return time and again. Make your holiday memories of the Yorkshire Dales last forever by spending a lazy day reading a fantastic book set in the area. Books like Barbara Taylor Bradford's A Woman of Substance. The gripping tale of love and tragedy is set over several decades both in a small Yorkshire village and the bustling city of Leeds. It has sold 30 million copies since 1979, so you know it's a great read! All Creatures Great and Small, the James Herriot book, perfectly depicts rural Yorkshire communities and the link between the land and their livelihood, while those whose reading taste is dark and dramatic should pack a copy of A Share in Death by Deborah Crombie, which takes place in a luxurious Yorkshire holiday cottage.

If you want to tick a few books off your reading bucket list, then these classics are all set in and around the Yorkshire Dales and draw on the same scenery you can see from your window. Wuthering Heights, by Charlotte Bronte, and Jane Eyre by her sister, Emily, are books you can get your teeth into, where the moors are as mysterious and changeable as the characters themselves. The Secret Garden was published in 1911 and still appeals to childrens' desire for magic and hidden treasures, with the setting being a lonely house on the nearby Yorkshire Moors that hides a beautiful yet painful secret. Finally, God's Own Country is set to be a modern classic, and you will find yourself reading Ross Raisin's words out loud to make the local dialect used by the protagonist even more enjoyable.

Weekenders' Guide

Essential Guide to the Yorkshire Dales
A whirlwind tour!

There are some opportunities you should grab with both hands when you visit the Yorkshire Dales even if your time here is limited to a weekend.

Gaping Gill Winch Meet

For one week in spring and one week in summer, it's possible for the general public to be winched down into Gaping Gill and marvel at the spectacle of the enormous cavern. You can find this year's dates and times here, or by contacting either the Bradford Pothole Club (dates in May) or Craven Pothole Club (dates in August).

Elaine's Tea Rooms

There are some things a British holiday simply isn't complete without, one of which is a quiet cuppa with a wedge of freshly baked cake or a scone. Elaine's Tea Rooms are in the tiny village of Feizor. The unassuming exterior belies a hungry person's heaven full of delicious cakes and light meals. There are lots of cafes and restaurants in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, but the regular queues of both visitors and locals prove that Elaine's is one of the best.

Have a Sunset Picnic at Tor Dyke

Pack a picnic and climb Tor Dyke for sublime sunset views. The Dyke runs nearly two kilometres from Coverdale to Wharfdale. It was built as the boundary of an ancient kingdom but is now a popular walking path - though not so popular that you'll ever see more than a handful of other people.

Go Wild Swimming in Grassington

Whether you're Olympic standard or haven't swum since you were at school, a wild swim somewhere in Britain should be on your bucket list. Splashing in an overly chlorinated pool simply can't compare to the blissful way wild swimming connects you directly with the landscape. The weir at Grassington is a great spot for a swim, especially on a scorching summer's day.

Find the Forbidden Corner

Children will adore discovering the secrets of The Forbidden Corner at Tupgill Park near Middleham. It was built as a folly in the 1990s but attracted so much interested the owner opened it to the public, and it is now one of the Yorkshire Dales' most popular family attractions..

Last Minute Offers in The Yorkshire Dales

Thinking of a break in The Yorkshire Dales? Let us tempt you with a selection of our best last minute offers. Remember, we don't charge a booking fee, so the price you see is the price you pay.

Did you know?

...The Green Dragon Inn and Hardraw Falls were sold by their owner, Lord Wharncliffe, in 1913 as part of the Simonstone Estate. He wanted the money to pay for his son's 21st birthday party.

...The Terrible Knitters of Dent were so skilled that they could knit with one hand, leaving the other free to get on with another chore. Knitting was a common way for families - men, women, and children - to earn extra income in the 1700s and 1800s. You can learn more at the Dent Heritage Centre.

...Archaeologists believe Victoria Cave was once a den for a pack of hyenas. They have found bones from hippos, elephants, and rhinoceros that are 130,000 years old.

...The Tan Hill Inn in Swaledale is Britain's highest pub at 528 metres (1,732 feet) above sea level.