Top 25 Yorkshire Dales

Some of our favourite places to visit in the Yorkshire Dales – what are yours?

Sunrise Ingleborough by David Evans

Photo: Ingleborough sunrise by David Evans 

  1. Aysgarth Falls: Three beautiful waterfalls at Aysgarth in Wensleydale that carry the River Ure on its way to becoming the River Ouse that passes through York and beyond. Head to the Aysgarth Falls National Park Centre, which is well signposted from the village of Aysgarth.

  2. Bolton Abbey: Set in 30,000 acres of stunning countryside, eyes are drawn to the twelfth century priory, the remains of which overlook the River Wharfe.

  3. Bolton Castle: One of the best-preserved examples of a castle in the British Isles, stunning and imposing from every angle. Building began in 1379 after Richard le Scrope, Lord Chancellor of England to Richard II, was given licence to create a fortress.

  4. Buttertubs Pass: The highlight of the 2014 Tour de France route through Yorkshire! Buttertubs Pass winds its way from just outside Hawes towards Muker past fluted potholes which give it its name; the potholes are 15 to 20 metres deep, fluted by water flowing down the walls, and it is thought farmers would lower butter into the holes to keep it cool when they travelled to market on a hot day. Buttertubs Pass is on the road from Hawes to Thwaite and Muker.

  5. Cautley Spout: England’s highest cascading waterfall above ground, as Cautley Holme Beck travels some 200 metres down the fells to create a view more than worth the effort it takes to walk to its base. Best enjoyed from Sedbergh – a walk that is roughly 10 miles circular, but well worth it.

  6. Clapham: Home to the YDMT offices! Built around Clapham Beck, the village is a bustling epicentre for people exploring the Dales but never gets away from the fact that it is home to local people and some amazing local businesses. The perfect base to climb Ingleborough. Accessible from the A65, around 6 miles from Settle and 3 from Ingleton.

  7. Dent: Chocolate-box picture-perfect village with narrow cobbled streets, river, gorge climb and two magnificent pubs. Visited via Sedbergh as well as the signposted route off the B6255 from Ingleton and Hawes.

  8. Gaping Gill: Impressive above and below ground, in the shadow of Ingleborough, Fell Beck meanders along the hillside until it plunges 365 feet into an open chasm. Best visited via Clapham. Walk up through the nature trail and past Ingleborough Cave.

  9. Gordale Scar & Malham Cove: Spectacular scenery in the heart of the Dales! A large canyon followed by 80 metres of sheer limestone cliff. Park at the national park car park in Malham, BD23 4DA, and follow the route through Janet’s Foss.

  10. Gunnerside: Take a walk around Gunnerside – particularly Gunnerside Gill – and the history of smelt mining is there for all to see. Set in Swaledale, it was the site of a major lead-mining industry that covered a lot of this now picturesque dale. Gunnerside is on the B6270.

  11. Hardraw Force: Water flows over Hardrow Scaur limestone and falls some 100 feet, unbroken, into an amphitheatre of noise. As with most waterfalls, it is best viewed after heavy rain, and it is possible to walk behind it on dry days. Take the turnstile entrance next to the Green Dragon in Hardraw.

  12. Hoffmann Kiln: Built in 1873 the Hoffman Kiln at Langcliffe was constructed for the Craven Lime Company, and, whereas most kilns have been demolished, washed away as times progress, this one is in great condition and gives you the scale of the lime extraction here. North of Langcliffe on the B6479. Go under the small railway bridge, follow the road round, and turn right at the junction into a car park.

  13. Ingleborough: There probably isn’t a more iconic summit in the whole of the Yorkshire Dales than Ingleborough, and it can be enjoyed in a number of ways … above and below ground. Its horizontal plateau and layered look are revered all over the world. At 2,372 feet high, it is capped by millstone grit that is probably more than 320 million years old. The route from Clapham is our favourite but please note the summit is often covered in mist so please take a map and compass and know how to use them.

  14. Ingleborough Nature Trail & Cave: The best (and probably only) way to visit Ingleborough Cave is from Clapham. Walk through the Ingleborough nature trail and you will find the cave is on the left as you come out of Clapdale Wood – you won’t be disappointed. 

  15. Ingleton Waterfall Walk: Thornton Force is the jewel in the crown of the Ingleton Waterfall Trail as the River Twiss continues its route from the North Craven Fault to the South Craven Fault. Four-mile circular from Ingleton.

  16. Pen-y-Ghent:  From the Cumbrian ‘Hill on the Border’ or the Welsh ‘Head of the Winds’, the 2,273-foot hill is an impressive sight from Horton. The traditional route to Pen-y-ghent is from Horton to Brackenbottom and up to the base of the hill. During winter, this is followed by a difficult scramble up its side. Other routes include a fine yomp from Foxup, which takes in Plover Hill. If parking in Horton, please use the national park car park

  17. Ribblehead Viaduct: One of the most mystical places in the Yorkshire Dales is Ribblehead Viaduct, and every time you visit you get a different view of its twenty-four arches that support the weight of the historic Settle–Carlisle Railway. The line’s roots hark back to the 1860s when the East and West Coast Main Lines linked England and Scotland. Ribblehead Viaduct is unmissable as you travel on the B6255 from Ingleton to Hawes. It is easily accessible and has a parking lay-by. Trains stop at Ribblehead Station and the Station Inn is a cracker of a pub.

  18. Sedbergh: Near the wonderful Howgills, The Calf and Cautley Spout … full of great cafés and bookshops that cater for all genres and tastes … Sedbergh has it all. This ancient market town has a church that dates from the twelfth century, the remains of a castle believed to be from Saxon times, several old houses, and buildings – one dating from the fourteenth century. Sedbergh is on the A684, from Junction 37 of the M6.

  19. Semerwater: The second largest natural lake in Yorkshire after Malham Tarn and is around half a mile long. Fed by water from Cradle and the beck around Raydale, its name derives from the Old English meaning lake, mere and water. It was formed, or dammed, when moraine was deposited as a glacier retreated. Semerwater can be found if you approach Bainbridge on the A684. Before the village you can turn left and follow the road to Semerwater, which should be around 3 miles. If approaching from Hawes, then you go through Burtersett and Raydale.

  20. Skipton Castle: One of the most complete and well-preserved castles open to the public. Sitting at the top of the main street, it dominates a town that is a gem in itself. Behind its twin towers lies a fantastic building whose origins are more than 900 years old.

  21. St Leonard’s Church: More than 200 people who helped build Ribblehead Viaduct are laid here. Sited on an old Roman route across the moors it’s not hard to imagine that wayfarers used this beautiful Dale spot to muse upon life and catch their breath before their journey continued. Today, it may be a site of worship, but it is still used in the same way. Take the B6255 from Ingleton and Chapel-le-Dale is signposted around 2 miles after White Scar Caves. If you are travelling from Hawes, then the church is a mile from the Hill Inn. Cars can park at the church’s car park, but you must leave space for locals and make a decent donation in the church itself.

  22. Stump Cross Caverns:  Near the border of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, underneath Greenhow Hill, lie Stump Cross Caverns and their amazing formations. Discovered in 1860 by lead miners Mark and William Newbould, they opened the caves for the public three years later after realising their commercial potential – for the princely entrance fee of 1 shilling!

  23. Wensleydale Creamery: Wensleydale Cheese was first made in the twelfth century by a group of Cistercian monks who settled in the area. It remained a cottage industry, a local secret, until large-scale production began in Hawes. You can taste cheese here and see it made!

  24. Whernside: A complex hill. Walk along its ridge and if you stay to the left of the wall – approaching from Blea Moor – you are in Yorkshire. Touch the trig point, which is about 2 metres from that wall, and you are in Cumbria! At 2,415 feet, Whernside is part of the Three Peaks and its ridge walk is as good as any in the country. Ribblehead Station is the perfect starting point if arriving by train. Parking is available at Ribblehead too.

  25. White Scar Show Cave: Set in the shadow of Ingleborough, White Scar Cave is a true gem in an area of outstanding natural beauty! It was discovered in August 1923 and the battlefield cavern is worth the admission fee alone.


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