12 beautiful walks in the Yorkshire Dales

Walking, The Great British Outdoors

Posted by Ed Roberts on 23rd July 2021

12 beautiful walks in the Yorkshire Dales

The Yorkshire Dales is an unbeatable holiday location for anybody that loves a good walk. Being outdoors in the British wilderness is good for the body and soul, and can be a lot of fun too. Are you planning a trip packed with short walks in the Yorkshire Dales, or a holiday full of hikes? Perhaps you are preparing to explore some of the Yorkshire Dales' miles-without-stiles routes, a river walk, or a mountain ascent.

Whichever way you choose to discover the Yorkshire Dales, whether it’s on foot, an enhanced mobility scooter or with your dog, our guide will introduce you to ten unforgettable Yorkshire Dales walks.

Read on to discover the best walks in the Yorkshire Dales or click the button below to see our full range of self-catering holiday cottages in the Yorkshire Dales.

Yorkshire Dales cottages


The Three Peaks Challenge

The Three Peaks Challenge consists of three summits, Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside, and Ingleborough. It takes an athlete to complete all three climbs in under 12 hours, but if you plan to tackle this trio at a more considered pace, then we’d recommend it. There are ample opportunities to rest awhile and take in the gorgeous views. Combined together the hike is 24 miles, and all in all, provides a popular yet strenuous challenge for all comers.

Whernside

Whernside

The highest of the Yorkshire Dales’ Three Peaks at 736 metres, lying 2 miles from the iconic Ribblehead Viaduct. Whernside is a ridge with steep sides; wayfarers usually approach the hill from Ribblehead and sights to take in along the way include Knoutberry Haw, Combe Scar, and West Fell.

Alfred Wainwright famously wrote about his ascent of Whernside in his book Walks in Limestone Country (1970).

Distance: 8 miles

Difficulty: Strenuous

Stay nearby: Dugdales Barn | Sleeps: 4 guests


Ingleborough

Ingleborough

The Yorkshire Dales’ Ingleborough; is the second-highest of the Three Peaks (723 metres). This mountain is punctuated with strange sinkholes, potholes, and maze-like limestone paving. Needless to say, the views from the summit across to Pen-y-Ghent are fantastic and its many natural beauty spots like Gaping Gill are memorable.

Distance: 8 miles

Difficulty: Strenuous

Stay nearby: Plum Tree | Sleeps: 4 guests + 2 dogs 


Pen-y-Ghent

Pen-y-Ghent

Pen-y-Ghent is the third-tallest out of the three, standing at a lofty 694 metres. It’s located under 2 miles from Horton-in-Ribblesdale and is home to interesting potholes like Hull Pot and Hunt Pot, and extensive cave systems. Two rivers, one running to the west coast, the other to the east coast, originate on the hill. The Pennine Way also crosses Pen-y-Ghent as it ambles in the north/south direction.

Distance: 8 miles

Difficulty: Strenuous

Stay nearby: Elbeck Barn | Sleeps: 4 guests


River Wharfe: Bolton Abbey circular

River Wharfe: Bolton Abbey circular

This trail takes in beautiful sites such as the ruins of the priory and The Strid. The circular walk from Bolton Abbey, near Skipton, originates close to the priory. The path also winds past a couple of cafes where you can enjoy a refuel.

As there are quite a few bridges crossing the River Wharfe, the walk can be shortened if the weather takes a turn for the worse. The path is waymarked with diversions into Strid Wood which is fantastic for a nature walk. The circular crosses the river at Barden Bridge where you then return to Bolton Abbey along the opposite bank.

Distance: 7 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: The Halcyon | Sleeps: 4 guests 


River Wharfe: Buckden to Starbotton

River Wharfe: Buckden to Starbotton

This trail is an alternative Wharfedale walk that stretches from Buckden to Starbotton via Firth Fell, a picturesque ridge that divides Wharfedale and Littondale. The whole walk has great views over and along both valleys and of nearby Buckden Pike.

This route is not waymarked throughout. The section across the ridge is not marked on the OS map but there are stone walls to provide you with easy navigation.

Distance: 8 miles

Difficulty: Challenging

Stay nearby: West Calf Barn | Sleeps: 4 guests 


River Ure: Aysgarth Falls

River Ure: Aysgarth Falls

This route is one of the best accessible, short walks in the Yorkshire Dales. Often described as England’s largest section of river rapids, Aysgarth Falls is a magnet for visitors to this wonderful area of the Yorkshire Dales.

There are three waterfalls in short succession that make up the majority of Aysgarth Falls; they are called High Force, Middle Force, and Lower Force. Depending on the level of local rainfall, the flow attracts kayakers looking for a new challenge and you can also enjoy swimming in some of the pools along by the old mill.

Distance: 0.5 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Stay nearby: Springfield House | Sleeps: 4 guests + 2 dogs


Arkle Beck: Langthwaite circular

Arkle Beck: Langthwaite circular

Set deep in Arkengarthdale near Reeth, this 6-mile meander is a particularly pleasant holiday diversion. A moderate walk, this circular riverside path follows the banks of Arkle Beck through beautiful Swaledale views.

High points along this gorgeous Yorkshire Dales walk are Langthwaite locations that were used for TV’s All Creatures Great and Small, Scar House, and the picture-perfect hamlet of Whaw.

Distance: 6 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: Waterside Cottage | Sleeps: 4 guests + 1 dog 


Ribblehead Audio Trail

Ribblehead Audio Trail

For railway enthusiasts, the Ribblehead Audio Trail to one of the Yorkshire Dales most iconic viaducts is a must-include on your itinerary. The short walk begins at Ribblehead’s station and continues on through some dramatic Dales countryside. Highlights along the way include The Station Inn, Batty Green, and various lime kilns and old brickworks.

The audio trail is downloadable and features information about the viaduct’s construction and the structure’s engineering history as well as its impact on the surrounding area. The walk forms a lasso shape that diverges at the locomotive maintenance shed and takes you along the viaduct for impressive local views.

Distance: 1.5 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Stay nearby: Boo Barn | Sleeps: 6 guests + 2 dogs 


Devil’s Bridge wander

Devil’s Bridge wander  

This choice is simply stunning, a local’s favourite that winds along the River Lune and over Devil’s Bridge. Take in the majestic vistas of Ruskin’s View, some of the best-loved in the Yorkshire Dales, and the historic town of Kirkby Lonsdale.

The entire route is surfaced, with only one flight of steps known as Radical Steps; the trail also has handy facilities at Devil’s Bridge like the tea wagon and WCs. The path follows the course of the River Lune for half its length, with views to an island and the town further inland.

Distance: 1.5 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Stay nearby: Buttercup Cottage | Sleeps: 2 guests + 2 dogs 


Malham Cove

Malham Cove

This walk to Malham Cove is on the Miles Without Stiles list, which is a collection of trails that pose no obstacles for children, small dogs, those with some disabilities and access requirements, and the elderly.

Malham Cove is close to the National Park Centre at Malham and is a famous limestone cliff formation, 260 feet tall. The walk is along a sealed, level path that follows the course of Malham Beck. Don’t forget your camera, this is one of the most beautiful short walks in the North of England.

Distance: 1.75 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Stay nearby: Underbargh Cottage | Sleeps: 2 guests   


Gordale Scar

Gordale Scar

Less than 0.5 miles, the walk leading to Gordale Scar, which makes up a short section of the 22-mile-long Craven Fault, is suitable for all. Leave the Malham National Park Centre and follow the level sealed trail to Gordale Scar.

Popular with bird watchers, keep your eyes peeled for peregrines and dippers. Handy facilities include WCs, refreshments, parking, and an information centre.

Distance: 0.5 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Stay nearby: Dugdales Barn | Sleeps: 4 guests


Keld to Tan Hill Inn hike

Keld to Tan Hill Inn hike

At 528 metres above sea level stands England’s highest elevated pub, the Tan Hill Inn. This historic pub is a good place to enjoy a pint and some food on your 10-mile hike in the Yorkshire Dales. The trail takes you to the head of Arkengarthdale, and some fantastic Yorkshire Dales views.

The Tan Hill Inn itself is a curio with its warming fire, wood-beamed ceiling and stone floors. Its friendly atmosphere will make your mild hardships on the trail seem like a dream. Earn yourself bragging rights with a pint at England’s highest pub.

Distance: 10 miles

Difficulty: Challenging

Stay nearby: Blossom | Sleeps: 2 guests + 1 dog


Stay with us in the Yorkshire Dales

The Yorkshire Dales will entice you back time after time to visit the many natural delights. If our guide to walking in the Dales has inspired you, why not take a browse of our collection of self-catering holiday cottages? Begin to plan your Yorkshire Dales getaway today.

Yorkshire Dales cottages



Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.