The Yorkshire Dales is one of the more beautiful parts of the UK. Easily accessed from the cities of Leeds and Bradford, you can stay in one of these cities and drive into the Dales, or stay in one of the smaller towns closer or in the Dales at one of the many Hotels, B&Bs or hostels.
It can also be reached from many locations in the North of England if you are making a trip to the North. Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, York, Durham are all within a 3 hour drive.
The Dales are located in the centre of the country in the Pennine hills between Kendal and Lancaster on the west and Harrogate and Darlington on the east to the west of the A1 road.
Some of the more well known places to visit are Burnsall, Grassington, Malham, Kettlewell, Aysgarth, Hawes, Garsdale, Dent, Ribblehead and Horton in Ribblesdale. All of these will have somewhere to stay, have a pint or pub lunch, or use as a walking base.
The Dales are a system of valleys usually with rivers having formed them, or some glacier formed in the ice ages, with Wharfedale, Nidderdale, Swaledale, Ribblesdale and Wensleydale being some of the better known.
The Dales are a great location for walking – either hill walking or river walks or a combination and have a number of long distance paths going through them such as the Dales Way, the Pennine Way and the Coast to Coast walk. There are also many shorter walks you can try. If you want a challenge there is the 3 Peaks Walk where you walk a circuit of the Ingleborough, Whernside and Pen-y-ghent 700 metre hills on a 24 mile walk. If you achieve the walk within 12 hours you will receive a certificate.
Some of the trails are suitable for mountain biking, there are green lanes for trail bike riding, and the smaller roads of the area are pleasant for road biking and motorcycling. There is also canoeing on some of the larger rivers.
The landscape is very green, with farm land at lower altitudes and then as you get higher moorland. Sheep farming is very common and the area is typified by dry stone walls surrounding fields of livestock.
There are some great campsites in the area – these can range from full facilities to more basic locations where you will be roughing it as you walk through.
The area has many limestone features, from the awesome Malham Cove to look over – don’t get too close to the edge! and the nearby Gordale Scar to climb up. There are limestone caves to explore, such as Gaping Gill pot where you are lowered into a cavern, Ingleborough Cave, Stump Cross Caverns and the White Scar Caves.
Moorland walks can be taken in company on the more well known paths or you can seek isolation by walking smaller tracks at less busy times. In good weather the moors are fabulous, in bad they can be quite grim, but an experience nevertheless. Bring your camera – there will be some great landscape photography opportunities.
The Settle Carlisle railway passes through the west side of the Dales and you can stop at a number of stations in the Dales, getting off to walk or visit a pub, or use to walk into a B&B to stay at if you have time. The route travels through some beautiful Dales scenery and the Ribblehead viaduct is a very impressive man made construction to see. It’s best to get off the train at Ribblehead and walk to the viaduct for the best views, and there is a pub close by for a pint and lunch before you get back on the train.
For the more adventurous, there are many climbing routes in the area, you can skydive, or take on high wire adventure courses in nearby Bedale.