Yorkshire Dales

Yorkshire Dales

Length 83 miles / 134 kms

In ‘God’s own country’ of Yorkshire, the roads ribbon between glacial valleys, patchwork fields, flat-topped hills and rocky outcrops, punctuated by pretty villages with quaint pubs, and windswept hiking trails. There’s history aplenty too, in this land that was once host to the War of the Roses, the bloody struggle between the royal houses of Lancaster and York.

Be aware that the Yorkshire Dales National Park is a mecca for tour buses which cause major headaches both on the roads and in car-parks at the most popular spots. Avoid the summer months if you possibly can.

Highlights

Malham

Start in the well-heeled and elegant Georgian town of Harrogate, known then as ‘The English Spa’. On the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, this is a great starting point for your Yorkshire road trip.

Malhamdale is in the Pennines, at the southern end of the Yorkshire Dales. Malham itself is a pretty village, surrounded by the limestone buildings and the dry-stone walls so common in the Dales, with a stream bubbling through the centre of the village.

Malham is best known though for the glacial lake, Malham Tarn, and the majestic Malham Cove, a vast curving amphitheatre shaped cliff formation of limestone rock. The vertical cliff face is about 80 metres high. If you’re lucky, you may see Malham Cove waterfall, which appears in the centre of the cliff face in spring and after heavy rain.

Wensleydale

The lush sweeping valley of Wensleydale is distinct for its wooded hillocks and rushing waterfalls, the most famous being the triple flight Aysgarth Falls and Hardraw Force, Englands largest single drop waterfall.

The capital of Upper Wensleydale, Hawes, is a lively market town with many hotels and tearooms. Local craft and artisan industries thrive making pottery, wooden toys and the famous Wensleydale cheese, Wallace and Gromit’s favourite. The Dales Countryside Museum is an essential visit for anyone interested in traditional countryside life in Yorkshire.

Swaledale

One of the northernmost dales in the national park is Swaledale, a deep and winding valley that is home to the pretty cobbled market town of Richmond, which boasts a rich and vivid history.

Sitting high above the town, Richmond Castle dominates the skyline, and views from the top of the massive keep are far reaching between the hills of Swaledale to the west, and the Vale of York to the east and south.

Famous for its hardy breed of horned sheep, Swaledale also puts on a spectacular wildflower display in its meadows, which are a riot of wildlife and colour in June and early July. Spring comes late to this part of England, but you’ll find it an excellent time of year to hike the trails criss-crossing the rugged countryside.

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