The Yorkshire Dales National Park is set over miles and miles of valleys, moors, hills and pretty villages and towns in northern England. It is located in the county of Yorkshire and sits central on the Pennines in North Yorkshire and Cumbria and also includes a small part of Lancashire. Unlike some overseas National Parks the Yorkshire Dales isn’t a wilderness area, it’s full of lots of wildlife but also home to many people who farm the land and live and work in the area.
This national park has so many recreational activities to offer its visitors from hiking, walking trails, waterfalls, lakes, cave systems, ravines and limestone formations. The Dales is famous for the Three Peaks which are Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen-y-Ghent mountains, the peaks form part of the Pennine range.
If your looking for some adventure and love the outdoors then the Yorkshire Dales are for you, they offer a good balance of stunning outdoor sights and you can stop, refresh, shop, eat and drink in its quintessential English villages and towns. You could spend weeks in the Dales and explore so much and not get bored once. We spent a long weekend up in the Dales and had 4 days to go sightseeing, however there was still plenty more we could have seen. We chose to visit some of the top sites in the area. So if your short on time here are the absolute bucket list must dos when in the Dales!
What To See & Do
Entrance Fee: £10 per car for parking
Bolton Abbey is one of the Dales top attractions it’s an area of stunning natural beauty sitting on the River Wharfe, and just a stone’s throw from the town of Skipton. The area has plenty to do with lots of walkways and countryside to explore and ancient priory ruins from the 12th century. You could easily spend a full day venturing around this area, it’s popular with families especially in the summer who come to have picnics and BBQs. There are also several cafes and places to get food and drink from at Bolton Abbey too. We visited in the morning and parked at the Bolton Abbey car park so we could easily explore the priory church, ruins and stepping stones, we spent about an hour or so there which was just enough time, however I would love to go back and spend a full day exploring the area. So if you have the time I would recommend spending a full day at Bolton Abbey.
Burnsall, Grassington & Linton Falls
Burnsall, Grassington and Linton Falls are all closeby to Bolton Abbey and are all situated really close to one another and are easily accessible and easy to visit all of them in one morning or afternoon. Burnsall is a tiny village but draws many visitors because of its picture postcard setting. It’s surrounded by beautiful green hills and sits on the River Wharfe. There’s an arched bridge in the centre of the village which is a perfect spot for a picnic. There are several hiking trails which lead off from Burnsall as well. It’s a nice spot to stop off at to admire the views or to just grab a drink or something to eat as there are a handful of pubs and cafes and a village shop.
Grassington is only a few miles away from Burnsall and is another picturesque Dales market town, it has a cobbled square in the centre which is surrounded with lots of independent boutiques and craft shops, cafes and pubs and has quite a lively buzz to the area. Surrounded by the Dales it’s a great place to base yourself too as there is lots to see and do in and around this area, and with plenty of amenities close by.
A mile up the road from Grassington centre are Linton Falls which are some waterfalls situated on the River Wharfe, they aren’t very tall however they are the largest falls on the river and are very dramatic and powerful. There is a bridge over the top of the falls where you can witness their full force crashing through the jagged limestone rocks. A little upstream of the Falls there is a restored hydro-electric plant which has been restored and reopened and is supplying electricity through water power once again.
Haworth is an absolute must when in the Dales, this pretty village has a vintage feel and feels like you step back in time with its cobbled street overlooking the moorlands. This village is most known for the Brontë sisters who wrote the famous book Wuthering Heights, which draws many literacy enthusiasts. As well as the village being steeped in history and heritage it has lots of independent businesses from specialist shops selling crafts, homemade produce, homewares, gifts, art galleries, cafes, tearooms and more for such a small village there is a lot to see and do.
We booked an afternoon tea at Forteas Tearoom which is a 1940s tea room and is another great experience to have while in the village, it’s a unique and quirky tearoom, service and the food is excellent and it’s such good value and you won’t leave hungry! If afternoon tea isn’t your thing then pop in for lunch or drink and a slice of cake. Haworth is my absolute favourite village in the Dales, and I can’t wait to go back. If you only have time to stop at just one of the Dales villages or towns then make sure it’s Haworth!
Entrance Fee: £7 per person
Ingleton Waterfalls is a nature lovers dream, and one of the best nature walks in the UK in my opinion. This waterfall and woodland walk takes approximately two and a half hours and is just over 4 miles in a loop. It’s a pretty easy and accessible walk, which trails through woodland and moorland and along the way you will pass Pecca Falls, Hollybush Spout, Thornton Force, Beezley Falls, Rival Falls, Baxenghyll Gorge and Snow Falls. This was one of the highlights of our trip the scenery is truly stunning. We went late morning and it was busier than we would have liked but we still enjoyed it, I would recommend getting there for when it opens as I imagine it wouldn’t be as busy at that time.
Lund’s Tower & Wainman’s Pinnacle
Lund’s Tower and Wainman’s Pinnacle are located in Sutton-In-Craven set on top of a hill overlooking the Dales. The views up there are unreal! Both are stone-built towers also known as follies. Lund’s Tower and Wainman’s Pinnacle are also referred to as the salt and pepper pots by locals. We visited in the morning and pulled up on the side of the road as close as we could to them and walked up to them which was an easy walk up and we had the area to ourselves. The views were some of the best we saw in the Dales and we walked up the steps in Lund’s Tower for even better views across the moors. We spent less than an hour walking up to it and around so it’s the perfect place to start your day before venturing off to explore more.
Malham Cove, Gordale Scar & Janet’s Foss
Malham Cove is a huge 230ft curved limestone cliff formation, it attracts walkers and rock climbers from all over. It doesn’t feel like something you would normally see in the UK, the sheer scale of the rock makes you feel so small. While visiting Malham Cove also check out Gordale Scar and Janet’s Foss as they are all within walking distance of one another.
Gordale Scar is a huge limestone ravine with overhanging cliffs and waterfalls, the landscape of Gordale Scar is just epic and looks like a scene from a film. I couldn’t believe the amounts of times I’ve visited Yorkshire and not been to the area of Malham which holds so much dramatic and stunning scenery!
Janet’s Foss is a waterfall and pool in a woodland area and feels like a scene from a fairytale as you walk through trees, ferns and pass moss-covered rocks. Along the footpath are several trees which have had lucky pennies pushed into the bark where people make wishes to the queen of the fairies, so it’s a great place to come with children as the whole place has a magical feel to it.
Ribblehead Viaduct is just over the border from Cumbria into North Yorkshire, this viaduct is a huge structure on the Settle-Carlisle Railway. It was constructed back in the 1870s. The construction cost a lot of the railway builders their lives and many died due to accidents while constructing the viaduct. This huge structure is built 32 meters above the moor and made up of 24 arches, not only is the viaduct an impressive, but it has spectacular views stretching across the moorland and the three peaks of Pen-y-Ghent, Ingleborough and Whernside. This is also the starting point to where many people start their journey on the three peak challenge. You can spend time hiking around there or there is plenty of places to pull over and just admire the view.
Skipton & Ilkley
Where To Stay
If you love the outdoors then why not camp or glamp in the Dales?! There are so many amazing places to stay from cottages, hotels, guesthouse and campsites the Dales isn’t short on accommodation options. We opted to glamp and came across Catgill Farm when we were searching for quirky places to stay. We booked one of their timber pods which had an en-suite, firepit, hot tub and views over the Wharfe Valley. It was honestly a perfect set up, the glamping pods aren’t the cheapest, it cost us £430 in total but between 4 adults wasn’t too bad for 2 nights. On our first night in the Dales, we stayed at the premier inn as nearer the time to our trip we all realised we had the day off so decided last minute to head up a day earlier.
Catgill Farm also has bell tents available to book as well as a campsite. We loved the timber pod as it was great for self-catering in the evenings and we cooked pizzas in the outdoor pizza oven and both nights spent the evening in the hot tub which was absolute bliss after lots of walking during the day. The glamping options are great for families too as while the kids are in bed the parents can enjoy the hot tub, firepit and views. The location is also a great place to base yourself as it’s set in Bolton abbey and a few minutes drive to the Bolton Abbey car park, and all other areas of the Dales are within easy reach.
Transport & Getting Around
The best way to get around the Yorkshire Dales is to drive, by driving you have all the freedom to make quick stops at places of natural beauty and stunning viewpoints and get directly to where you want to go. It’s the easiest way I personally think to really get the most out of your trip. However if you don’t drive there are plenty of bus and train services available and taxis in Yorkshire are much cheaper than down in the south of England.
4 Day Itinerary
Pack for all types of weather and take walking boots as some of the walking trails can be especially muddy.