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Yorkshire Dales

Travel Guide Europe United Kingdom England Yorkshire and the Humber North Yorkshire Yorkshire Dales

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Introduction

The Yorkshire Dales National Park was formed in 1954 and is in North Yorkshire.

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Geography

It would be nice to say that the National Park (called The Dales hereafter) is the area of hills and rivers west of the A1 - but there are two oddities. It includes Dentdale, which since 1974 has been in Cumbria and excludes Nidderdale.

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Towns and Villages

Main towns

  • Settle, Ribblesdale is a market town with shops, hotels, restaurants and a small museum.
  • Hawes, Wensleydale has a good Tuesday market, museum, old rope works, antique shops.
  • Richmond, Swaledale is an old town with a castle and a Georgian theatre, the latter still in use. The ruins of Easby Abbey are a short distance down the Swale.
  • Leyburn, Lower Wensleydale.

Small towns and villages

In Swaledale:

  • Keld
  • Gunnerside
  • Thwaite
  • Muker
  • Reeth

In Wensleydale:

  • Gayle
  • Bainbridge
  • Askrigg
  • Aysgarth
  • Wensley

In Wharfedale:

  • Hubberholme
  • Cray
  • Buckden
  • Starbotton
  • Kettlewell
  • Kilnsey
  • Conistone
  • Grassington
  • Linton
  • Burnsall
  • Appletreewick
  • Bolton Abbey

In Littondale:

  • Hawkswick
  • Arncliffe
  • Litton
  • Halton Gill
  • Foxup

In Ribblesdale:

  • Ribbleshead
  • Selside
  • Horton in Ribblesdale
  • Stainforth

In the Craven Dales (Westward limestone country):

  • Malham
  • Clapham
  • Austwick
  • Ingleton
  • Chapel-le-dale

The lovely village of Dent and the book town of Sedbergh are in the Dales but their county is Cumbria.

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Sights and Activities

Scenic highlights appear under their Dales or in the Craven District. Castles, historical buildings and other manmade sights are separate. There are other minor dales that are tributaries, some being very attractive.

Swaledale
This is the northernmost dale in the National Park, except for its tributary of Arkengarthdale. Many consider it one of the most beautiful and its barns have a very distinctive character. On both sides of the dale there are extensive remains of lead mining. The attractive waterfall of Kisdon Force can be seen at Keld.

Wensleydale
This dale, like Swaledale, flows from east to west and is the only major dale to be named after a village rather than its river, the Ure. It is wider and less wild than the average dale. Askrigg and bainbridge are well known from the TV programme, 'All Creatures Great and Small'. Aysgarth has three waterfalls and a National Park Information Centre.

Wharfedale
This is a wonderful dale going from north to south, its upper reaches being Langstrothdale. There is a particularly fine walk from Kettlewell to Buckden which can be done in one direction through millstone grit and in the reverse direction through limestone.
Hubberholme in Langstrothdale is an idyllic village and there is a very good easy triangular walk between there, Cray and Buckden. There are good pubs in all these and in Starbotton, Kettlewell and Grassington. The little village of Appletreewick is as delightful as its name and lies on Trollers' Ghyll a short but picturesque tributary dale. Grassington is a very pretty village and much visited by tourist buses. Grass Wood is a site of special scientific interest.
One short section of the river between Burnsall and Bolton Abbey is called 'The Strid': this is very narrow and very fast, dogs and children being in some danger unless under control.
Littondale (below) is also a tributary dale of Wharfedale but is worth a mention in its own right.
Kilnsey has a cgag with a dramatic overhang, permission being needed to climb on it.

Littondale
This is a splendid dale connected by good walks with Wharfedale. The road only goes as far as Halton Gill but it's worth taking the short walk to Foxup. For motorists the road goes to the left and ascends through dramatic scenery to a good starting point for Penygent before winding its way to Malham.

Ribblesdale
This is another good north-south dale. Ribbleshead is the site of one of the most scenic viaducts of the Settle-Carlisle railway and there are numerous potholes near it. Alum Pot, the largest in the country is close to Selside. Horton in Ribblesdale is the starting point for the 'Three Peaks' walk. There is a waterfall, Stainforth Force - not surprisingly at Stainforth.

Craven Dales
Malham is a delightful hamlet with three striking scenes nearby: Malham Cove and Arndale Scar both being limestone cliffs and Janet's Foss a waterfall. Malham Tarn can easily be reached from above the cove. Clapham is a popular Dales village with a Park Information Centre and a splendid start for a walk up Ingleborough via Ingleborough Cavern and Gaping Gill, a large pothole open to the public through descent by a boatswain's chair on summer bank holidays. Austwick is a lesser known village but some of the best and least visited limestone scenery is in its vicinity. Ingleton has a dramatic waterfalls walk (charge for entry). Chapel le Dale has a small church with a memorial of people killed in the making of the railway.

Hills
The best known are the Three Peaks of Whernside, Ingleborough and Penyghent. Sadly the famous walk has resulted in wide scars up the sides of all three. Apart from the walk, Whernside, htough the highest, is not particularly interesting but the circumnavigation gives a good and varied day out. Ingleborough is a beauty with an Iron Age Camo on top and the attractions mentioned under Clapham above. penyghent is a bit lower but interestingly shaped and it gives a fine view. Buckden Pike makes for a good walk.

Castles
Castle Bolton is between Swaledale and Wensleydale. Richmond has a castle and Middleham Castle, associated with characters such as Warwick the Kingmaker and King Richard III is not strictly in the National Park but is situated on a road through it.

Religious buildings
Confusingly Bolton Abbey is a place but it contains the remains of Bolton Priory. Since the nave was used as a parish church, it survived the dissolution of the monasteries under King Henry VIII but the rest was destroyed. It is set in a lovely location beside the Wharfe.
Jervaulx Abbey is in Wensleydale and is a complete ruin but it retains a spiritual atmosphere for some. Easby Abbey is close to Richmond.
Hubberholme Church has a rare rood loft and holds the ashes of JB Priestley, the Yorkshire writer.

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Events and Festivals

A number of towns and villages have annual festivals or shows and sheep dog trials are quite common.

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Weather

Like most hilly areas the dales do not go short on rain.

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Getting There

By Plane

Leeds Bradford International Aiport (LBA)is the nearest.

By Train

The Settle Carlisle Railway has successfully resisted a number of closure threats. Day Rover tickets can be used and are also valid for rail buses from Garsdale Head to Hawes.

By Bus

Dalesbus gives bus and rail timetables.

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Getting Around

By Train

Wensely Dale Railway and Embsay Bolton Abbey Railway give details of historic railways.

By Car

Roads are very busy on summer weekends and high speeds are rarely possible. It can be strongly advised not to attempt to cover too much in a single day.

By Bus

See above

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Drink

  • The Buck - Buckden.
  • The Buck - Malham.
  • The Queen's Arms - Litton.
  • The King's Head - Kettlewell.
  • The George - Hubberholme.
  • Fox and Hounds - Starbotton.
  • The Falcon - Arncliffe.

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Sleep

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Dalesbridge B&BDalesbridge Austwick Near Settleguesthouse96
Dalesbridge BunkhousesDalesbridge Austwick Near Settlehostel-
The BivouacBivouac at Druid’s Temple Masham, Ripon North YorkshireHostel-

Beck Hall - Malham.

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