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Scenic Strolls: The 11 Best Walks in the Yorkshire Dales

The Yorkshire Dales is a paradise for walkers and hikers seeking breathtaking landscapes and rich history.  The incredible variety of landscapes, from majestic peaks to picturesque waterfalls, ensures there’s something for everyone and makes walking in the Yorkshire Dales an unforgettable experience. Whether you’re tackling challenging hikes or enjoying leisurely walks in the Dales, you’ll be treated to stunning scenery and breathtaking views at every turn. 

In this guide, we’ll explore some of the best walks in the Yorkshire Dales, focusing on Yorkshire’s three peaks, its enchanting waterfalls and waterways, and its charming historic villages. So, lace up your walking boots and get ready to discover the beauty and diversity of Yorkshire Dales walks.

Yorkshire Dales Walks: Majestic Peaks 

When it comes to experiencing the best walks in the Yorkshire Dales, nothing beats the thrill of hiking up Yorkshire’s three peaks. From awe-inspiring landscapes to fascinating natural features, these peaks offer stunning views, challenging climbs, and unforgettable experiences for all who tackle them.

Ingleborough 

Starting with Ingleborough, this iconic peak is a must-visit for anyone interested in walking in the Yorkshire Dales. It offers a blend of challenging terrain and rewarding views, making it one of the most popular walks in the Dales. 

The route to the summit typically begins in the charming village of Clapham, winding through scenic woodlands and past the mysterious Ingleborough Cave. As you ascend, the landscape opens up, providing breathtaking views of the surrounding Dales.

One of the highlights of this Yorkshire Dales hike is Gaping Gill, a spectacular natural cave that’s one of the largest underground chambers in Britain. On certain days, you can even take a guided tour down into the depths of the cave. 

The climb to the top is moderately challenging, making it suitable for seasoned walkers. The entire walk takes about 5-6 hours, depending on your pace and how often you stop to soak in the views. At the peak, you’re greeted with panoramic views that stretch across the Dales, making every step worth the effort.

Whernside 

Whernside, the highest of the Yorkshire Dales peaks, offers a walking experience rich in both history and natural beauty. Starting from Ribblehead, the route takes you past the iconic Ribblehead Viaduct, an engineering marvel of the Settle-Carlisle Railway. This area is steeped in history, and the viaduct itself is a spectacular sight, especially on a misty morning when it looms out of the fog like a scene from Harry Potter.

The hike up Whernside is considered moderately difficult, with a steady ascent that rewards you with breathtaking panoramic views at the summit. On a clear day, you can see as far as the Lake District and Morecambe Bay. The entire walk takes around 4-5 hours, so be sure to pack plenty of water and snacks.

It’s worth noting that the descent can be tricky, especially in wet conditions, so good walking boots are essential when embarking on one of the most challenging yet rewarding walks in the Yorkshire Dales.

Pen-y-Ghent 

Pen-y-Ghent is another jewel in the crown of Yorkshire Dales walks. This peak offers a slightly shorter but no less spectacular route, making it perfect for those looking for a fulfilling and less time-consuming adventure. The walk typically begins in Horton-in-Ribblesdale, a charming village that’s the starting point for many Yorkshire Dales hikes.

The path to Pen-y-Ghent is well-trodden and easy to follow, with a mix of gentle slopes and steep climbs. Along the way, you’ll encounter landmarks such as Hull Pot, one of the largest natural potholes in England. 

The final ascent to the summit involves a bit of scrambling, adding a touch of excitement to the hike. Once at the top, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views over the Dales, making the climb truly worthwhile. The entire walk takes roughly 3 hours, making it a great option for a half-day adventure.

Yorkshire Dales Walks: Waterfalls and Waterways 

The Yorkshire Dales isn’t just about towering peaks; it’s also home to some of the most beautiful waterfalls and serene waterways in England. If you’re looking for some of the most scenic walks in the Yorkshire Dales, these water trails will not disappoint. 

Aysgarth Falls 

Aysgarth Falls is a series of stunning waterfalls on the River Ure, and it’s a highlight for anyone interested in walking in the Yorkshire Dales. Located near the village of Aysgarth and only a 10-minute walk away from our award-winning Aysgarth Lodges, these falls are split into three sections: Upper, Middle, and Lower Falls, each offering unique and picturesque views. The surrounding area is full of rich greenery, providing a perfect backdrop for a leisurely stroll or a more challenging hike.

The walking route around Aysgarth Falls is relatively easy and suitable for all ages. It typically starts from the Aysgarth Falls National Park Centre, where you can get maps and information. The well-maintained paths and viewing platforms make it easy to get close to the falls and capture fantastic photos. For the best experience, visit after a period of rain when the falls are at their most powerful and dramatic.

Ingleton Waterfalls Trail 

For a more extensive adventure, the Ingleton Waterfalls Trail is one of the prettiest walks in the Yorkshire Dales. This 4.3-mile circular trail takes you through ancient woodlands and along the River Twiss and River Doe, offering numerous waterfalls and scenic spots along the way. The trail is well-marked, so you can ditch the devices, soak up the scenery, and still easily navigate through the trail.

Highlights of the trail include Pecca Falls, with its series of five picturesque drops, and Thornton Force, a stunning 14-metre-high waterfall – perfect for a photo opportunity. The landscape along the trail is incredibly varied, with rocky gorges, verdant forests, and open moorland. If you look closely, you’ll be able to spot the wild garlic, blackthorn blossom, celandine flowers, and beautiful bluebells that adorn the different landscapes. 

Altogether, the route takes roughly 2-4 hours to complete, so bring sturdy walking boots, pack a picnic and plenty of water, and get ready to immerse yourself in the unspoilt surroundings of one of the most beautiful walks in the Dales.

Catrigg Force 

Catrigg Force is a hidden gem tucked away in a secluded wooded gorge near the village of Stainforth. This waterfall is a great swim spot but is a bit off the beaten path – much quieter than its neighbour, Stainforth Force. It’s a great choice for those seeking quieter walks in the Yorkshire Dales. 

The circular route to Catrigg Force is around 4.5 miles and starts from Stainforth, passing through beautiful countryside and offering plenty of scenic points along the way. The waterfall itself plunges into a deep pool surrounded by high cliffs, creating a dramatic and peaceful setting. Historically, this area has been admired by artists and poets for its natural beauty. 

The walk is relatively easy, with well-defined paths, making it suitable for families and casual walkers. There’s also a pub in the centre of Stainforth which you can visit on your way back. After a dip in the water and a leisurely walk through the stunning Yorkshire scenery, nothing beats a good bit of pub grub, washed down with a refreshing pint! 

Yorkshire Dales Walks: Scenic Towns and Villages 

The Yorkshire Dales is rich in history and culture, and there’s no better way to experience this than walking through its charming villages and towns. From ancient landmarks to picturesque streets, when walking in the Yorkshire Dales, you’re guaranteed to experience a delightful mix of the past and present. 

Grassington 

Grassington is one of the most enchanting villages in the Yorkshire Dales, and walking through its streets feels like stepping back in time. The village is famous for its well-preserved limestone buildings and bustling market square, which hosts a variety of events throughout the year. A stroll through Grassington takes you past quaint shops, traditional pubs, and cosy cafes, offering plenty of opportunities to pause and soak in the atmosphere.

Beyond the village, the surrounding countryside allows for some of the best walks in the Yorkshire Dales. One popular route is the Grassington to Hebden circular walk, which is about 4 miles long. This path takes you along the River Wharfe, through wild meadows and wooded areas, and offers stunning views of the Dales. 

Points of interest along the walk which will compel you to take out your camera include the Grassington Moor lead mine remains, the Scale Haw Force waterfall, and the Hebden Suspension Bridge.

Malham

Malham is a quintessential Yorkshire Dales village, renowned for its breathtaking natural scenery and iconic landmarks. Walking in the Yorkshire Dales isn’t complete without a visit to Malham Cove, a massive limestone formation that offers spectacular views from the top. The village itself is charming, with traditional stone buildings and a tranquil atmosphere.

The Malham Landscape Trail, which is about 4.5 miles long, takes you through some of the most impressive landscapes in the Dales. Starting from the village, you’ll head to Malham Cove, then on to Gordale Scar, a dramatic limestone ravine, and Janet’s Foss, a picturesque waterfall hidden in the woods. This walk is moderately challenging, with a few steep sections, but it’s incredibly rewarding with its varied scenery and historical sites.

Settle and Nearby Villages 

Settle itself is a gem and one of the best places to go walking in the Yorkshire Dales, but the surrounding villages also boast rich histories and scenic walking paths. For instance, a walk through Giggleswick village, just a stone’s throw from Settle, reveals charming streets and the renowned Giggleswick School, which dates back to the 16th century. 

Many walks in the Dales go between Settle, Giggleswick, and Stainforth, so it’s hard to narrow it down to a particular route. Whichever trail you decide to take, you’ll be surrounded by beautiful countryside. It’s worth knowing there are some fantastic cultural landmarks nearby such as the Stainforth Force waterfall and the Hoffman Kiln in Langcliffe, so you may want to plan your walks around these.

Another picturesque village is Austwick, located a few miles north of Settle and known for its traditional stone cottages. It’s also a gateway to the famous Norber Erratics which are essentially large sandstone boulders made from glaciers during the last Ice Age.  

A rewarding walk is the Settle to Austwick circular route, which is approximately 8 miles long. This path takes you through diverse landscapes, including woodlands, open fields, and charming rural scenery. It should take you roughly 4 hours, but if you stop to see the ancient Austwick Hall and its beautiful gardens, as well as the mediaeval church of St. Oswald’s, you may be longer. 

Middleham to Masham

The route from Middleham to Masham is not just a beautiful walk but a journey through history. Middleham is known for its impressive castle, once the home of Richard III. Walking in the Yorkshire Dales along this route, you’ll make your way across rolling hills and scenic dales, experiencing the tranquil beauty of the countryside.

The walk is approximately 10 miles, making it a good choice for a full-day adventure. Highlights along the way include the historic Jervaulx Abbey ruins, which are perfect for a peaceful picnic stop or a visit to their tearooms. 

Masham itself is famous for its breweries, and a visit to either the Black Sheep Brewery or Theakston Brewery is a great way to end the hike. The town also boasts a charming market square and beautiful Georgian architecture.

Summary 

The Yorkshire Dales offers a huge variety of walking experiences,  from challenging hikes to leisurely strolls, each more enchanting than the last. Whether you’re scaling the towering three peaks, exploring picturesque waterfalls, or wandering through historic villages, the beauty and variety of walks in the Dales are truly unparalleled. 

Walking in the Yorkshire Dales is more than just an activity, it’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in centuries of history and one of England’s most beautiful corners. So, pack your outdoor gear and set out on your very own Yorkshire adventure. Whether you go solo or with the whole family, it’ll be a day out to remember.

Looking for the perfect place to stay during your retreat to the Yorkshire Dales? Leisure Resorts has a fantastic selection of luxury holiday homes at our award-winning Aysgarth Lodge Park, located in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales. All of our lodges come with your own private deck and hot tub, making it the ultimate destination to unwind and relax after a long day of exploring. 

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