Yorkshire Dales

Things to do in the Yorkshire Dales

One of the UK’s rising staycation destinations, it’s the perfect place to pitch up at a luxury cottage and enjoy being a world away from daily routines.

Here are our top 10 things to do in the Dales – ideas that can help make your trip even more memorable…

Countryside views at Pennine Way

1. The Dales Way and the Pennine Way

Arguably one of the UK’s best walking locations, the Dales is blessed with beautiful scenery and brilliant trails to match. The most famous of these is the Pennine Way – a good section of which takes you through the Dales too.

The first National Trail in England, it begins in Derbyshire and leads eager trekkers all the way over to the Scottish border. For something a little more local, the Dales Way is a 78.5-mile footpath that stretches from Ilkley to Cumbria. But these are just the biggies – the Dales has many other great walks, short or long, to discover.

Ariel view of a small Yorkshire town and countryside

2. The Forbidden Corner

Middleham makes for a busy day out, as visitors can pair the famous castle, which was the childhood home of King Richard III, with something a little bit fun – The Forbidden Corner.

This unique family attraction is popular with kids both small and overgrown. Peppered with a labyrinth of tunnels, strange statues, hidden chambers and secret passages – it offers four-acres of fairytale-esque gardens to explore. The mystical spot also offers plenty of places to eat, drink and shop, too.

Rocky hills at Malham Cove

3. Malham Cove

It doesn’t get much more magnificent in the Dales than Malham Cove. Formed from a waterfall that existed some 12,000 years ago, the beauty spot is a cliff of curved limestone and an impressive 260 ft high.

You’ll enjoy jaw-dropping views along the accessible walk and Harry Potter fans may also recognise some of the cinematic scenery too. The Janet’s Foss waterfall, Malham Tarn and Gordale Scar waterfall are three lovely water features that are worth fitting in on your trip to the Malham area, too.

Aysgarths waterfall in Yorkshire

4. Aysgarth Falls

For the waterfall hunters among us, Aysgarth Falls is another fantastic pick for a day out. Actually a triple flight of falls in the River Are, they’re surrounded by picturesque woodland and countryside.

This means there are plenty of walks with which to combine your waterfall viewing, villages to wander, or places for peaceful picnics. As it’s not too far from Middleham, you can also pair this activity with the castle and Forbidden Corner.

Pathway leading up the mountain at Ingleborough

5. Ingleborough to Ingleton

Another walking trail that will bring you great reward is Ingleton to Ingleborough, the latter of which is home to one of Yorkshire’s famous three peaks. You’ll enjoy the best of both worlds with views of the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District, during and after the relatively short walk to the mountain.

While in and around the area, make sure to stop by the Inglebrough Cave and its fossil gallery, which is open to the public. Ingleton Falls is another spectacular walk in its own right, actually encompassing lots of different, smaller but still mesmerising falls, which you’ll view while traversing various bridges, paths and steps.

Gorgeous Golden Light As The Sun Sets Behind The Ribblehead Viad

6. Ribblehead Viaduct

It’s difficult to describe just why this landmark is unmissable, but the Ribblehead Viaduct – close to Skipton – is a Grade II listed structure for very good reason.

A sequence of giant stone arches supporting a railway line across the moorland – it really is a sight to behold, especially when a steam train chugs across it. A photo-worthy moment if ever there was one. Alternatively, you could even jump on the Dalesman to drink in the view from onboard yourself.

Sheep grazing in front of Bolton Abbey

7. Bolton Abbey

Located in Wharfedale, Bolton Abbey has been drawing visitors for decades. A 12th century monastery ruin set among gorgeous greenery such as the Strid Wood, this lovely site offers lots of space for walks and picnics. The River Wharf also runs alongside, with stepping stones to cross where ruins meet river, a ‘beach’ area and even spots for wild swimming.

Narrow pathway leading to Skipton Castle

8. Skipton Castle

Another historic site worth seeing while in the Yorkshire Dales, is the fantastically preserved Skipton Castle. At over 900 years-old, the building is considered one of the best preserved medieval castles in England.

Spend a day revelling in its history – from the former banqueting hall to the dungeon and the watch tower, and make sure to stop by the tearooms or picnic within the grounds.

Sheep grazing in front of Bolton Castle, Wensleydale

9. Wensleydale

Wensleydale is nestled within a lush green valley and offers an excellent all-round Yorkshire Dales experience. Full of charming villages and market towns, and surrounded by National Park-land, it’s home to the famous creamy that makes Wensleydale cheese, plus famous breweries such as Black Sheep and Theakstons, which also offer tours.

If you fancy more thrills after all that indulgence relaxation, you can always head to Lightwater Valley, all the way down in historic Ripon, for roller-coasters galore.

Sunrise over Ilkley Moor

10. Ilkley Moor

Running along Wharfedale’s River Wharfe is the popular spa town of Ilkley and its very walkable surrounding moorland. Must-sees include the town’s beloved Cow and Calf rocks formation, which offers a panoramic view, the haunting Twelve Apostles stone circle, and the scenic riverside itself.

There are great places to go for a dip, including the local lido and a popular wild swimming spot. A well-heeled destination on the edge of the Dales, Ilkley boasts many independent shops, bars and restaurants, a quirky cinema with sofas, and a Betty’s bakery and tearoom. When in Yorkshire…

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