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A weekend guide to the Yorkshire Dales National Park, England

The Yorkshire Dales National Park is one of the best places in England to spend a weekend. From walking trails to hiking challenges, cheese tasting to chasing waterfalls, this UK travel guide will take you through all the best things to do in the Yorkshire Dales.

I’ve been guilty in the past of neglecting the UK. It’s easy to do, with so many exotic, far-flung destinations being easy to get to. But there are so many places in the UK that have absolutely blown me away. I’ve been lucky enough to explore Cornwall in a VW campervan, see the beautiful Lake District and Peak District, hike Mount Snowdon and explore the city of Glasgow, as well as many, many other UK adventures. The Yorkshire Dales National Park was no exception to the beauty that exists in the UK.

Known also as God’s own county, the Yorkshire Dales National Park is an area of lush greenery, countryside and farmland spanning 2,178 square kilometres. The Yorkshire Dales and the endless masses of lush greenery and lavender it boasts, really are the the perfect means for a stunning road trip filled with as much adventure as you can handle.

Of course, there’s the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge: the 26 mile walk, over the biggest 3 peaks, all completed in under 12 hours. See my guide to the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge hereBut there are so many things to do in the Yorkshire Dales, that if that’s not what you fancy, you definitely won’t get bored!

A weekend guide to Yorkshire Dales National Park

Getting to the Yorkshire Dales National Park…

By car:

The Yorkshire Dales National Park is easily accessible by car. It’s bordered by the M6 to the west, the A66 to the north, the A1 to the east and the A65 and A59 to the south. Pop the postcode of the exact point you want to get to in your sat nav and away you go!

A 3-day microgap adventure in Leeds, UK

See all the essential vehicle checks you must do before heading out on your UK road trip here.

Public transport:

The Yorkshire Dales National Park is really accessible by public transport, if you don’t want to or can’t drive. Nearby cities include York, Harrogate, Bradford, Leeds, Lancaster, Preston, Carlisle, Darlington and Middlesbrough, and they’re all well-linked for national and international travel (bus, train and plane).

By train:

The two main train lines covering the Yorkshire Dales area are the Leeds-Morecambe line and the Leeds-Settle-Carlisle line. This second line is one of the most beautiful train journeys in England. After Settle, which is beautiful in itseld, the train stops in the Yorkshire Dales National Park at Horton-in-Ribblesdale (perfect if you want to take on the Yorkshire Three Peaks), Ribblehead (to see the viaduct), and more! If you’re coming from further afield in England, get a train to Leeds and then one of these connecting trains to the Yorkshire Dales.

To plan your journey, check train times and prices on thetrainline.com or the Trainline app!

By bus or coach:

The Yorkshire Dales National Park is also well linked by bus and coach, with nearby towns and cities such as Lancaster, Penrith, Skipton, Leeds, Harrogate, York, Ripon, Northallerton and Darlington connected to the Dales by National Express or Megabus, and a range of local bus services.

All the main towns, villages, and popular attractions within the Yorkshire Dales National Park are connected with bus services all year round. For bus schedules and routes that run in the Yorkshire Dales, check the Dales Bus website here.

Coming from outside of England? The Yorkshire Dales National Park is well connected by train and coach from Leeds Bradford International Airport, Manchester Airport and Newcastle International Airport. Check out the flight deals on Skyscanner here.

Where to stay in the Yorkshire Dales National Park…

There are lots of cute, quaint villages to stay in in the Yorkshire Dales, it can be hard to choose! But I think you’ll have a great time, wherever you choose.

When I visited, our base for the weekend was Riverside Lodge in Ingleton. It was the perfect base for a weekend full of adventure!

The Yorkshire Dales official website has lots of guidance on where to stay, including local accommodation providers. Check it out here.

The best things to do in the Yorkshire Dales National Park…

1. Try the Wensleydale Cheese.

If you love Wallace and Gromit, you’ll be familiar with Wensleydale Cheese. The Wensleydale Creamery which makes that very cheese is here in the Yorkshire Dales. On site here at the creamery you can attend a cheese making demonstration, indulge in a menu filled with cheesey goodness and Yorkshire teas at the Wensleydale cafe, go for cheese tasting, and visit the gift shop, where you can pick up a block of your favourite flavour to take home amongst other Yorkshire goodies.

Address: Wensleydale Creamery, Gayle Lane, DL8 3RN. Check out the website for more information here.

2. Go stargazing, and try your luck at seeing the Northern Lights.

The Yorkshire Dales are home to four dark sky discovery sites: Hawes and Malham National Park Centres, Buckden National Park Car Park and Tan Hill Inn. Having said that, anywhere in the Dales away from street lights will be amazing for stargazing! On a clear night you might see up to 2,000 stars.

While you’re there, depending on the conditions, you may also see a meteor shower, the International Space Station, planets, or even the Northern Lights! Get more information on the Yorkshire Dales website here.

Top tip: There are several Yorkshire Dales apps to help you plan your adventure, featuring the best walking routes and things to do. Check out other useful travel apps in this blog post.

3. Enjoy Sunday lunch at a country pub.

For a list of pubs in the Yorkshire Dales to try, check out this website.

4. Take on the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge.

Get an early night beforehand, and try hiking the three highest peaks in the Dales in under 12 hours! We survived and completed the challenge, and had a lot of fun doing so.

For more on what the challenge entails and how to prepare, check out my guide to the Yorkshire three peaks challenge here.

6. Explore White Scar Caves, the longest show caves in England.

A guided walk in this underground treasure will take about 80 minutes. It’ll allow you to see underground streams and waterfalls, flowstone, prehistoric mud pools, Battlefield Cavern and thousands of stalactites.

Postcode: LA6 3AW. For more information, check out the website here.

5. Hire bikes and take in the views as you cycle.

Visiting the UK in the winter? Here are 12 tips for adding adventure into your UK winter trip.

See my top tips for planning and researching your next adventure here.

7. Attend Swaledale Festival, a fortnight of music, arts and walking in the Dales.

To check next year’s line up and get more information about this festival in one of the Dales’ most beautiful valleys, check the website here.

8. Visit the famous Ribblehead Viaduct.

Ribblehead Viaduct, built between 1870 and 1875, was fully restored in three stages between 1988 and 1991 and now carries passenger trains between Carlisle and Leeds every day. The setting of the viaduct is just stunning so you’ll want to remember your camera for this one.

Should you fancy some lunch, a cold pint or a hot chocolate with all the trimmings, head to the cosy Station Inn which sits beside the car park here.

Postcode: LA6 3AS.

9. Explore Settle.

Don’t miss the lively outdoor market if you get a chance to visit this country town, famous for its railway and Castleberg Crag.

10. Walk the trail that links Malham Cove, Gordale Scar and Janet’s Foss.

The cliff, gorge and waterfall are all linked together on one relatively easy walking trail.

See the best walks and hikes to go on in England here.

11. Treat yourself like royalty and visit a castle.

Bolton Castle, Skipton Castle and Pendragon Castle are the most popular castles to visit in the Yorkshire Dales.

12. Enjoy a day full of nature at Bolton Abbey.

Bolton Abbey is, funnily enough, nowhere near Bolton Castle. The River Wharfe runs alongside the abbey ruins, so grab lunch in a cafe before you go on a walk along the riverside, woodland and moorland trails. You could even take a picnic!

13. Don’t Go chasing waterfalls…

The Yorkshire Dales National Park is home to some of the UK’s most dramatic waterfalls, particularly after heavy rain, which we definitely aren’t short of in England! Aysgarth Falls are particularly famous, as is the Ingleton Waterfalls walking trail, which takes you up one river gorge and down another. Fresh, flowing, cold water is ready and waiting to wake up those who dared to swim!

14. Explore the Yorkshire Dales in a tuk-tuk.

You don’t need to go to Thailand to spend a day in a tuk-tuk! Andrew from Love TukTuks has created several tours around the Dales in his tuk-tuk, and you can even create your own bespoke day. It’s a great way to take things slowly and really enjoy the countryside landscape! Check out my experience as part of my weekend in Leeds here.

A 3-day microgap adventure in Leeds, UK
A 3-day microgap adventure in Leeds, UK

Want to check out more of the UK’s National Parks? Here’s my guide to the 15 UK National Parks, to help you decide which to visit next!

Watch my weekend in the Yorkshire Dales come to life here…

Click here for the ultimate guide to planning a full UK road trip ft. the best places to visit in England, NI, Scotland and Wales.

Extending your trip beyond Yorkshire Dales National Park…

If you have a little extra time after your weekend in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and fancy venturing out a little further, consider visiting…

  • York

  • Harrogate

  • Whitby

  • The Lake District

Check out my weekend itinerary for the Lake District here.

  • Leeds

Check out the best things to do in Leeds here.

Join 7,000+ other like-minded Global Travellers in the Facebook family here today!

Have you been to Yorkshire Dales National Park?

What were your favourite spots in the Yorkshire Dales? I’d love to know!

Love as always and happy adventuring,

Mollie.

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A weekend guide to the Yorkshire Dales National Park, England
A weekend guide to the Yorkshire Dales National Park, England
A weekend guide to the Yorkshire Dales National Park, England
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I’M MOLLIE AND I STARTED THIS BLOG BACK IN 2013 WHEN I HEADED OUT ON MY FIRST BACKPACKING ADVENTURE. I’D LOVE TO SHARE MY STORY WITH YOU…

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