If you are looking for a quiet, countryside destination for a UK holiday, there is no better location than the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Located in the north western section of England, it was actually listed as a National Park on my birthdate, but way back in 1954. It’s a huge area, covering over 841 square miles of mountains, rivers, caves, and waterfalls. Walking and hiking is one of the major things to do in the Yorkshire Dales, but there are a few walks which stand out from the rest. Here are some of my favourite attractions in the area.
Table of contents
The Malham Cove Walk
Malham, in the south western corner of the Dales, is one of the most fascinating spots in the whole of England. From the village, you can enjoy a relatively easy hike to the top of Malham Cove (a Harry Potter filming location) and across to two stunning waterfalls. If you visit in the spring, you might stumble across a few lambs on the walk route, and wild garlic near Janet’s Foss.
Waterfalls Trail in Ingleton
The Ingleton Waterfalls Trail is a 4.5 mile circular route which takes you past some of the most dramatic waterfalls in the entire park. It’s one of the more popular things to do in the Yorkshire Dales and is perfect way to spend a couple of hours, especially on a damp morning. The trail is easy to moderate difficulty, but unfortunately not suitable for prams or wheelchairs. Watch out for wild tree roots sticking up along the path!
Tackle the Yorkshire Three Peaks
The Yorkshire Three Peaks isn’t a hike for the faint hearted. To be completely honest, tackling the Yorkshire Three Peaks takes a bit of planning, and a fairly high level of fitness (since it can take around 24 hours to complete) but tackling one of the peaks is definitely manageable.
We climbed Ingleborough, the second highest of the peaks at 721m. It was a tricky hike for someone who doesn’t commit to leg day, but we managed the ascent and descent in around three hours from Ingleton. Check out my guide to hiking if you haven’t climbed a mountain before.
Learn about life in a museum
If you’re interested in local history, the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes is surely a spot to stop in. There are a range of exhibits, from donated historic farming tools to archaeological finds. Probably the most exciting part of the museum is the railway carriages – inside, you’ll find a collection of exhibits on the daily life in the Yorkshire Dales.
If you are spending some time in Grassington, there is also a small folk museum with similar exhibits, but on a much smaller, and freer scale. It’s a lovely little way to spend half an hour.
Explore some caves
The Yorkshire Dales is home to the longest show cave in England. White Scar Cave is located just outside Ingleton, not far from Ribblehead Viaduct. You will have to wear a safety helmet to enter, and there’s a good chance you’ll get wet, but it is an unusual attraction to visit. Aim to go after a bit of rain if you can, as a the underground rivers will be more powerful, and much more impressive.
Step back in time
There are also some great historical things to do in the Yorkshire Dales. You could visit the ruins of Bolton Abbey, near Skipton, or select one of the area’s castles instead. There are two castles in the Dales: Middleham Castle, and Bolton Castle, which confusingly enough is nowhere near Bolton Abbey.
My favourite was Bolton Castle – it’s less of a ruin than Middleham, and the staff run fun activities like archery and bird of prey displays. You’ll also find a family of wild boar living in an enclosure near the car park. Hopefully, the thieving pheasant still lives there and pinches the boars’ food.
Drink in a pub
Arguably the best thing to do in the Yorkshire Dales is frequent the public houses. Like it or not, the pub is a central aspect of British lifestyle, especially in more rural locations. Many of the Dales’ pubs are dog-friendly, and of course, if you have little ones with you, you’ll likely be able to park yourself at a table for a pub lunch, or carvery.
Village pubs are where we’ve been able to speak to locals and learn about life in the Dales. In one – The Board Inn in Hawes – we even played a game of chess, which quickly became a whole bar effort, and a local man taught us how to play Yorkshire Dominos. Apparently, we were the first to play the free board games in ages! You never know what you might find in one of the Yorkshire Dales’ villages.
Whether it’s hiking in the country, enjoying history, or just having a drink, there’s more to do in the Yorkshire Dales than you’d think! If you’ve got any other recommendations, leave me a comment below. Happy travelling!