Tourism and Tours

Yorkshire Dales National Park | A land of beauty and tranquility.

The Yorkshire Dales is home to outstanding scenery, great castles, abbeys and a breathtakingly peaceful atmosphere. At its heart are two very special protected areas – Yorkshire Dales National Park and Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) – as well as it having the Forest of Bowland AONB and North Pennines AONB as its close neighbours. These protected areas are truly not to be missed.

Discover The Yorkshire Dales – Peaceful, tranquil, beautiful

Each of the Yorkshire Dales has a different character. The Southern Dales are less remote, yet still wildly beautiful. The Northern Dales provide wild heather moorland and valleys full of hay meadows, dry stone walls and barns. And in the West, the pretty villages and small towns each have their own charm.

The Dales are worth a visit at any time of year – whether it’s to visit a snug country pub with an open fire in the winter months, or stay in a rambling riverside cottage for a summer break. The possibilities are endless!

Best for

train rides

The Yorkshire Dales attract hikers, mountain bikers and other folk who wish to test their mettle against its rugged contours. That said, it’s also suited to lazy souls who would like to see its magnificence unfurl from a train window. The much-loved Settle-Carlisle line sees ordinary service trains traversing the park from north to south. The scenic high point comes when trains chunter along the Ribblehead Viaduct – a masterpiece of Victorian engineering, whose 24 arches frame the Yorkshire fells.

Where to stay

Yorebridge House has 11 rooms in an old schoolhouse amidst the rushing rivers of the dales.

Yorkshire Dales National Park Essentials

Escape the hustle and bustle

With 840 square miles of outstanding scenery, protected wildlife and rich heritage, the rolling Dales have an unrivalled sense of tranquility. Stroll beside its rivers, hike over its moorlands, cycle its bridleways and climb its limestone pavements. Or follow in the wheels of the Tour de France and explore the area by bike along meandering valley roads or take on the stunning climbs between the dales. However you discover the area, you’ll feel the rest of the world just melt away.

Secrets of the past

Don’t let the uninterrupted views fool you. Yorkshire Dales National Park is a living, working landscape inhabited by charming market towns and picture postcard villages, each with their own unique character and charm. Steeped in heritage, the region boasts historic castles, country houses and old mills all whispering stories about people past who have helped shape the National Park you see today.

Something for everyone

You won’t be short of things to do as you journey across the Dales. Steam trains beckon, traditional food and ales tempt and lively festivals invite each and every visitor to sample the different sights and sounds that make this area so unique.

Dales past, present and future

The chances are your Dales accommodation is an attraction in itself – waking up in a stone cottage or converted stable is a wonderful way to get into the mood for a day’s exploring. A great place to start is with a visit to the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes which tells the story of the people who have lived there before. This converted railway station also has a tourist information centre; historic and informative all at the same time!

Natural attractions at Yorkshire Dales National Park

The Dales offer a great opportunity to get back to nature. They also hold some unique geological spectacles. Discover the huge, curved limestone cliff at Malham Cove and enjoy the natural playground of weird and wonderful rock formations at Brimham Rocks. And what a refreshing sight to see Britain’s highest unbroken waterfall, Hardraw Force.

Halls that steal your heart

As well as being an attractive market town, Leyburn is also a wonderful base for exploring historic countryside halls and gardens. Constable Burton Hall has romantic gardens filled with roses, tulips and reflection ponds, whilst you’ll fall in love with the carved staircases in Braithwaite Hall’s 17th Century interior.

Which is the prettiest of the Yorkshire Dales?

Malhamdale has been suggested as one of the most spectacular dales, boasting dramatic limestone scenery just a stone’s throw from the village of Malham. The area featured in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Which is the best part of Yorkshire Dales?

Visitors will find welcoming attractions and accommodation in Wensleydale, Swaledale, Ribblesdale, Malhamdale and Wharfedale. The Dales is a popular destination for families, nature lovers, hikers and cyclists plus day trippers from nearby Yorkshire cities like York and Leeds.

What is the Yorkshire Dales known for?

The Yorkshire Dales has some of the most spectacular peaks in England, and the famous Yorkshire Three Peaks of Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen-y-Ghent are amongst the highest in the county, providing an inspiring challenge to walkers from around the world.

Yorkshire Dales Fact Pack

  • The Yorkshire Dales is a National Park located in North Yorkshire, England.
  • It covers an area of over 2,000 square kilometers.
  • The park was designated in 1954.
  • The area has been inhabited for thousands of years, with evidence of human activity dating back to the Neolithic period.
  • The Dales is known for its rolling hills, valleys, limestone cliffs, and stunning scenery.
  • The park is home to a range of wildlife, including red squirrels, otters, badgers, and several bird species.
  • The area is popular with hikers, cyclists, and outdoor enthusiasts.
  • The park has several walking routes, including the Pennine Way, the Dales Way, and the Yorkshire Three Peaks.
  • The Dales is home to several picturesque villages and towns, including Hawes, Grassington, and Malham.
  • The park is home to several historic landmarks, including Bolton Castle and Fountains Abbey.
  • The Dales is known for its traditional farming practices, including sheep farming and dairy farming.
  • The park has several local breweries, producing a range of craft beers and ales.
  • The area is home to several museums, including the Dales Countryside Museum and the Wensleydale Creamery.
  • The park is also home to several outdoor attractions, including Aysgarth Falls and Malham Cove.
  • The Dales is a popular filming location, with several movies and TV shows having been filmed in the area, including All Creatures Great and Small and Calendar Girls.
  • The park has several camping and caravan sites, as well as a range of accommodation options, including hotels and bed and breakfasts.
  • The Dales has several historic churches and cathedrals, including St Michael’s Church in Kirkby Malham and Ripon Cathedral.
  • The park is home to several traditional pubs, serving local ales and traditional British cuisine.
  • The area has several annual events and festivals, including the Yorkshire Dales Food and Drink Festival and the Grassington Festival.
  • The park has several picturesque waterfalls, including Hardraw Force and Aysgarth Falls.
  • The Dales is known for its stunning wildflower meadows, including the wildflower meadow at Grass Wood.
  • The park has several geological features, including limestone pavements and sinkholes.
  • The Dales is home to several ancient monuments, including the Druid’s Temple and the Nine Standards Rigg.
  • The park is a popular location for stargazing, with several dark sky areas located within the park.
  • The Dales is a beautiful and tranquil area, with a rich history and stunning scenery.
  • The region is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in outdoor activities, local culture, and British history.

Special qualities

Ancient dry-stone walls and field barns are defining features of the Dales landscape – shaped over thousands of years by people and nature. The iconic pattern of barns and walls in Upper Swaledale is recognised as being one of the most distinctive agricultural landscapes in Western Europe.

There are dozens of spectacular waterfalls such as Hardraw Force – the longest unbroken drop in England – Ingleton Falls, Janet’s Foss and the world famous Aysgarth Falls which featured alongside Hardraw Force in the hit movie ‘Robin Hood Prince of Thieves’.

The Yorkshire Dales has some of the most spectacular peaks in England, and the famous Yorkshire Three Peaks of Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen-y-Ghent are amongst the highest in the county, providing an inspiring challenge to walkers from around the world.

Yorkshire is the home of cycling thanks to the 2014 Tour de France ‘Grand Depart’ and Le Tour de Yorkshire. The Dales offers some of the best cycling the country – from gentle routes in the valleys to challenging climbs over the moorland that separates them; including the iconic Buttertubs pass.

Over a quarter of England’s flower-rich upland hay meadows and pastures are here – outstanding examples can be found in Swaledale and Langstrothdale – and keep an eye out for nationally important populations of birds like curlew, lapwing, and black grouse.

Some of the best examples of classic limestone scenery can be found the Yorkshire Dales. With its scars such as those at Gordale and Attermire and limestone pavements such as those at Great Asby Scar and Malham Cove, which featured in ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part two’.

The most extensive caving area in the UK is here, including the longest cave system – the Three Counties System – and one of the largest caverns and the highest unbroken underground waterfall at Gaping Gill.

The stunning dark sky of the Yorkshire Dales National Park is one of its very special qualities, and each year we support a special festival to celebrate it. The Dark Sky Festival is all about discovering, learning and enjoying the galaxies and stars you don’t normally get to see.

Around 42% of the area of the National Park is moorland, which is internationally important for wildlife, plant species and the carbon they store as peat.

Livestock farming – with distinct sheep breeds like Wensleydale and Swaledale and a strong tradition of upland cattle rearing, that is still deeply interwoven into local life and made famous through local cheese making. Livestock sales and agricultural shows play an important part in the lives of local people.

Did you know?

There are over 8,000km of dry-stone walls and 6,000 field barns in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and half the country’s limestone pavements.

Enjoying the Yorkshire Dales

There are many ways to enjoy the Yorkshire Dales! Whether you’re coming by car, train, bike or on foot, whether you’re coming for the day or staying for longer.

One of the best ways in which you can enjoy the Dales is by walking; there are over 60 varied short walks you can take to enjoy the wonderful scenery. If you fancy more of a challenge, there are longer distance options which include the Pennine Way, Coast to Coast,  Pennine Bridleway, and the famous Three Peaks, where the aim is to walk 24 miles, covering all three summits, Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough, in 12 hours!

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, or try some of the Tour de France and Tour de Yorkshire routes. There are plenty of picture postcard towns and villages to stop off for refreshments!

Take a heritage train journey on the iconic Settle – Carlisle line which cuts through the heart of the Dales, providing stunning views of the landscape and taking in famous features such as the Ribblehead viaduct and the Westmorland fells or take the Wensleydale Railway from Leaming to Redmire.

Stay a while, there are hundreds of cosy B&B’s and holiday cottages to suit everyone. Bring friends, bring families, and enjoy everything the Yorkshire Dales has to offer.

Getting around Yorkshire Dales National Park

The Yorkshire Dales National Park is very accessible by road, but there are lots of alternative, greener ways to get about including walking, cycling and taking the train or bus.

The excellent DalesBus network through the Yorkshire Dales National Park offers wonderful opportunities for sightseeing and walking. And in the north of the Park, the community run Little White bus links Garsdale station to Hawes, and there are services from Richmond, Leyburn and Reeth.

Getting to Yorkshire Dales National Park

If you’re coming by car, the M6 skirts the National Park to the west, the A66 to the north, the A1 to the east and the A65 and A59 to the south.

By train you can access the Dales from Northallerton, or Darlington on the East Coast mainline with bus connections into places like Leyburn, Hawes and Reeth. Or you can travel directly into the heart of the Dales on one of the scheduled services from Leeds to Carlisle using the iconic Settle – Carlisle line. Services stop in Settle, Horton in Ribblesdale, Ribblehead, Garsdale and Kirkby Stephen.

Taking the bus is an excellent way of enjoying the views without having to worry about keeping your eyes on the road. It helps reduce congestion and parking problems. Visit www.dalesbus.org or www.traveline.info