The Yorkshire Dales is one of the best locations for a weekend away in England. With its beautiful hiking trails, quaint villages, rolling hills, stunning waterfalls and a famous railway viaduct…this is yet another place to visit in England that really has it all. This UK travel guide will take you through the ULTIMATE itinerary for a weekend in the Yorkshire Dales.
Prior to this year’s change surrounding the ability to travel, I was definitely guilty of neglecting the UK, instead exploring many international destinations. However, I’ve been lucky enough to explore quite a few places in the UK including the breathtaking Peak District and Lake District, cities such as Chester and Liverpool, and your seaside resorts like Blackpool and Whitley Bay. The Yorkshire Dales can now also be added to my list, and is a place that really made me appreciate how beautiful the UK is.
Known as God’s own county, the Yorkshire Dales National Park is an area of stunning countryside and farmland spanning 2,178 square kilometres. Such a huge area of the UK can only mean a fun-filled road trip filled with lots of adventure and panoramic views too.
Getting to the Yorkshire Dales National Park:
The Yorkshire Dales are easily accessible by car. The national park is bordered by the A66 to the North, A1 to the East, A65 and A59 down to the south and the M6 over to the West. Once you arrive into the Yorkshire Dales, the scenery is beautiful with stone walls, and panoramic views of valleys and rivers. I am lucky enough to have a car, and the dales just makes the perfect road-trip.
By Public Transport:
Again, the dales are really accessible by public transport, with great connections to nearby cities like York, Leeds, Harrogate, Lancaster, Carlisle, Darlington and Middlesborough. There are also two National Rail services that cover the area: the Leeds-Morecambe line and the famous Leeds-Settle-Carlisle line. You can sit back and take in the scenic views from your carriage.
The Yorkshire Dales National Park is also well linked by bus and coach to the nearby cities mentioned. All the main towns, villages, and popular attractions within the Yorkshire Dales National Park are connected with bus services all year round. So, even if you haven’t got access to a car, the Yorkshire Dales can still be explored through its vast public transport network. For bus schedules and routes that run in the Yorkshire Dales, check the Dales Bus website here.
Where to Stay in the Yorkshire Dales:
You can stay in many quaint villages and towns in the Yorkshire Dales, there’s too much choice! From hotels, to B&Bs, and campsites too, so there’s something for everyone.
When I visited, we stayed for one night in East House in West Witton. It was a lovely, quirky place and the perfect base for our one night stay during our weekend road trip.
The Yorkshire Dales official website has lots of guidance on where to stay, including local accommodation providers and you can check out their website by clicking here.
Planning your Weekend Itinerary:
When planning your itinerary and road trip, there are a few things to account for. We firstly wrote a huge list of potential places we wanted to visit and things we wanted to see. We then checked our route, then planned out the things in order to do according to our route.
Heading into the Yorkshire Dales from York, we took the A59 out of York, joined the A1 and then exited at Catterick and followed the signs to Leyburn. Whilst in this area we visited Bolton Castle, Wensleydale Creamery, had an ice-cream stop and walk around Hawes, Aysgarth Falls and had a stroll around West Witton.
This evening I booked us in for dinner at the Wensleydale Heifer, unaware of how popular and well rated the place was. The food was incredible!
The next day we knew we wanted to head to Malham Cove, so checked the route to see what else would be on route. So, leaving West Witton we headed along the B6255 then A684 to the Ribblehead Viaduct, then Stainforth Force, before heading down towards Malham to explore Gordale Scar and Janet’s Foss too, before heading back to York.
We fit so much into a weekend, but we will be definitely heading up to the dales again to explore some more as there are lots of places we didn’t quite have the time to visit. So, here are the BEST things to do during your weekend in the Yorkshire Dales…
The Best Things to do in a Weekend in the Yorkshire Dales:
Complete the Yorkshire Three Peaks
Climb three of the best known hills in the Yorkshire Dales National Park: Pen-y-ghent, Whernside, and Ingleborough. All encircle the head of the valley of the River Ribble. The Yorkshire Three Peaks is 24 miles (38.6km) in total, with 1585 (5200ft) of ascent. This challenge is usually completed in under 12 hours, but you could walk them individually if that’s more suitable for you. The Yorkshire three peaks has spectacular scenery, and has fantastic walking routes.
Postcode: LA6 3AR
Visit the famous Ribblehead Viaduct
This is the Settle-Carlisle railway and Grade II listed structure, across batt Moss in the Ribble Valley at Ribblehead. It was built by Midland Railways between 1870 and 1875, and then full restored in three stages between 1988 and 1991. This line now carries passengers between Carlisle and Leeds.
Postcode: LA6 3AS
Try ALL the cheese at the Wensleydale Creamery
If you love Wallace and Gromit, like me, you’ll be very familiar with Wensleydale cheese. The Wensleydale Creamery, makes this exact cheese right here in the Yorkshire Dales. Here, you can watch a cheese making demonstration, an opportunity for cheese tasting, indulge at the cafe with a menu filled with many indulgent cheesy options, and visit the gift shop to pick up your own blocks and Yorkshire treats to enjoy at home. I LOVE cheese, so I was like a child in a sweet shop.
Postcode: DL8 3RN
DO go chasing waterfalls
The dales has some of the most dramatic waterfalls, and even more so after rainfall (which isn’t uncommon in England). Aysgarth Falls is probably the most famous waterfall in the area, Ingleton Waterfalls walking trail is also a popular tourist spot, and Stainforth Force is known for salmon jumping as the fish make their way up the falls to lay their eggs.
Postcodes: DL8 3TH (Aysgarth Fall), LA6 3ET (Ingleton Trail) and BD24 0DP (Stainforth Force)
Stroll around the a great Abbey
These atmospheric and charming monasteries are located in and around the Dales. Popular ones within the area include: Jervaulx Abbey, Bolton Abbey and Fountains Abbey.
Postcodes: Jervaulx Abbey (HG4 4PH), Bolton Abbey (BD23 6AL), and Fountains Abbey (HG4 3DY)
Walk the circular trail linking Malham Cove, Gordale Scar and Janet’s Foss
A very popular walking in the Yorkshire Dales. Starting from the car park and walking along the riverside, past Janet’s Foss then onto Gordale Scar. If the weather permits, you can climb up Gordale Scar and head towards Malham Tarn. If this isn’t appropriate you can follow the walking route across the valley to reach the top of Malham Cove.
The walk takes around 3 hours, so a medium length walk with some rugged and steep terrain. Gordale Scar was a highlight of our trip to the Yorkshire Dales. Although it couldn’t be climbed when we visited, the fast flowing water down the falls and through the valley, was incredible to see.
Postcode: BD23 4DA
Sunday Lunch at a Country Pub
The Dales is comprised from lots of little villages, all of which have lovely quaint little pubs, perfect for a pub lunch! Pub food is a firm favourite of mine, especially a Sunday lunch. Whilst on our little road trip we stopped at The Station Inn pub across from Ribblehead Viaduct. Not only was the food really good, but we had the loveliest view of the viaduct whilst we ate too.
Postcode (Station Inn): LA6 3AS
Explore White Scar Caves
The longest show caves in England, covering around a mile. The caves were first explored in 1923. Tours run throughout the year, and the caves take around 80 minutes to explore.
Postcode: LA6 3AW
Feel like Royalty as you wander around the Castles
The Dales has a vast collection of stunning castles and fortresses, all with rich and fascinating history and stories to tell. A few popular ones in the area include: Bolton Castle, Skipton Castle and Richmond Castle.
Postcodes: DL8 4ET (Bolton Castle), BD23 1AW (Skipton Castle), and DL10 4QW (Richmond Castle)
Take a Magical trip to the Forbidden Corner
If you’ve been following my blog for a long time, you’ll know I visited the Forbidden Corner back in 2017. It is described as ‘The Strangest Place in the World’, and it truly meets this description! I don’t want to say too much, because the place is full of surprises. If you want to know more you can check out my blog post here.
Postcode: DL8 4TJ
What are your favourite things to do in the Yorkshire Dales?
Have you read my last post? – 12+ Best Places to Visit and Walks to do in the Peak District
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