Top 10 things to see and do in the Yorkshire Dales National Park

Did you know we are the BBC Countryfile Magazine National Park of the Year? Read on, it will give you lots of reasons why.

There is SO much to do in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and it’s all at your fingertips. Where to begin…

Barn outside Hawes - Wensleydale
Barn outside Hawes – Wensleydale

We are going to paint a picture for you – stunning valleys, moorland and meadows, rivers and streams, miles of drystone walls, field barns dotted across the landscape and outstanding limestone formations which include magnificent caves, caverns and waterfalls …yes, all of these can be found in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and there are so many ways to access it all!

 

Family walking through Goredale Scar, Malhamdale, Yorkshire Dales National Park
Family walking through Goredale Scar

1. SHORT WALKS

One of the best ways in which you can enjoy the Dales is by walking; there are many varied short walks you can take to enjoy the wonderful scenery.

We have a range of short walks starting from 0-2 miles, through to 3-5 miles and 6-10 miles – 17 of which have ‘miles without stiles’ status.

 

Booted up for a long walk
Booted up

2. LONG WALKS

If you fancy more of a challenge, we have some longer distance options, some of which include the Pennine WayCoast to Coast,  Pennine Bridleway, Pennine Journey (100-270 miles), Lady Anne’s Way,  Dales High WayDales Way (80-100 miles) and the Herriot Way,  Ribble WayDales Inn Way (52-76 miles).

There is also the Three Peaks challenge where the aim is to walk 24 miles, covering all three summits, Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough, in 12 hours!

We also have a range of guided walks which you can come along to; you can find more details about these on our website.

 

Cycling up the steep climb at Buttertubs
Cycling at Buttertubs

3. BIKING

Other ways to access the Dales are cycling and mountain biking – a great way to take in the landscape and observe the wildlife. We have a network of 900km of bridleways, by-ways and green lanes available for you to use.

As you are passing through some of our quaint little towns and villages why not stop off at some of the lovely pubs and cafes to refresh yourself.

 

Flying Scotsman crosses Ribblehead Viaduct
Flying Scotsman crosses Ribblehead Viaduct

4. TRAVEL ON A HERITAGE RAILWAY

Take a journey on a steam locomotive whilst admiring the scenery as you travel through the Dales.

There are a number of heritage railway lines to choose from in the Yorkshire Dales – including the Wensleydale Railway, the Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Railway and the Stainmore Railway.

Ribblehead Viaduct on the Settle-Carlisle line is a stunning piece of Victorian engineering in an iconic location in the middle of the Three Peaks.

 

Children stood in a stream examining a net
Wild Wednesday at Malham

5. FAMILY DAYS OUT

If you are looking for a family day out in and around the Yorkshire Dales National Park we have some great ideas!

  • Dales Countryside Museum – with fun and interesting things for visitors of all ages where you can discover more about the past of the Yorkshire Dales
  • Wild Wednesdays – a family drop-in in the summer holidays where the children get to take part in different activities such as stream dipping and making crafts, these largely take place in the Malham, Aysgarth and Kirkby Stephen areas
  • Open farms – close up interactive activities for the kids with the cute and furry animals of the Dales; Hesketh Farm Park and Holme Open Farm
  • Wensleydale Creamery – home of the famous Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese and a popular Visitor Centre

Other attractions include:

 

A turret at the corner of a castle
Pendragon Castle near Outhgill

 6. HISTORICAL SITES

There are many historic castles and abbey ruins in and around the Yorkshire Dales National Park to explore, such as:

  • Bolton Castle – a 14th-century castle located in Wensleydale
  • Ripley Castle – a Grade I listed 14th-century country house in Ripley
  • Fountains Abbey – one of the largest and best preserved ruined Cistercian monasteries in England
  • Middleham Castle – was built in 1190 by Robert Fitzrandolph, 3rd Lord of Middleham and Spennithorne
  • Richmond Castle – the castle was constructed from 1071 onwards following the Norman Conquest of England
  • Pendragon Castle – a ruin located in Mallerstang dale, Cumbria, south of Kirkby Stephen,
  • Skipton Castle – a medieval castle built in 1090 by Robert de Romille located in Skipton, North Yorkshire

 

Two children hold GPS receivers on a geocaching search
Geocaching with GPS receivers

7. GEOCACHING

Geocaching is great fun – it is basically a big treasure hunt where you can find co-ordinates, look for clues and hunt for the nearest caches – you can also hide your own!

 

Aysgarth Falls in Summer
The lower falls at Aysgarth

8. LIMESTONE FEATURES

There is an array of limestone features; the most iconic and popular sites to visit are Malham Cove, Malham Tarn, Asygarth Falls, Ingleton Waterfalls and White Scar Cove; however we boast many more caves, caverns and waterfalls throughout the Park.

If you are wanting to release the dare devil in you, get an adrenaline rush by hiring an instructor to go caving, rock climbing or abseiling. You’ll see some of the sites from a different perspective that you might not get by walking or cycling.

Some examples of some fantastic waterfalls, caves and caverns:

 

Starry night sky at Grimwith
Starry night sky at Grimwith

 9. STARGAZING

If you are fascinated by the night-time sky, enjoy a spot of stargazing or just a night-time walk. We have some of the darkest skies in the country, which means you get to witness some beautiful starry nights.

As well as the moon and the stars, it is possible to see the Milky Way, planets, meteors and if you pick your time right you can even see the Northern Lights! How cool is that?

 

On a guided walk through Threshfield Quarry
Dales Volunteers lead the way on our guided walks programme

10. VOLUNTEERING

If you are interested in helping to conserve the beauty of the Park, or just to meet new people, you could volunteer with us and get involved in some of our current projects.

We have opportunities a plenty. From the hands-on practical work of maintaining our rights of way or drystone walls, to research projects, to helping other people to get enjoyment from the area in our guided walks programme.

 


 

Still want more?

Well… you could just put your feet up, take a picnic to a nice secluded spot under a tree, relax, enjoy the peace and quiet and gaze in wonder at the special landscape.

Beautiful scenery in Swaledale with stone barns dotted across the landscape
Beautiful Swaledale scenery

 

Last but not least, we have so many events going on throughout the year. You can see our events listing on here or in our official Yorkshire Dales National Park magazine ‘The Visitor’ which can also provide you which lots of suggestions for things to get up to in the Dales!

The Visitor 2017 cover
The Visitor

Don’t forget to stop off at any of our five visitor centres on your way round; these have our very own cafés and shops (we also have an online shop too!)

Grassington National Park Centre
Grassington National Park Centre

Please explore our website for more information on all of these activities and attractions. We can also offer you some great places to stay whilst you are enjoying your visit to the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Just see www.yorkshiredales.org.uk

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