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.
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.
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.
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 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.