Yorkshire Dales National Park

 Malham Cove, Yorkshire Dales National Park, North Yorkshire, England
Malham Cove, Yorkshire Dales National Park, North Yorkshire – by Priamo Melo © http://www.yorkshiredales.org.uk/

The Yorkshire Dales National Park is located in the counties of North Yorkshire and Cumbria in northern England. Designated a national park back in 1954, the Yorkshire Dales is a long established national park attracting many visitors each year. The park is known for its inspiring scenery, rich cultural heritage, meadows, waterfalls and range of wildlife habitats. The national park is managed by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and includes a number of charming small towns and villages within its borders, providing a place of tranquillity, peace and natural beauty in northern England.

Located mainly in the county of North Yorkshire, the largest ceremonial county in England, the national park along with the North York Moors account for approx 40% of the county. Part of the park is located in Cumbria, which along with the Lake District account for over one third of the county.

The area has a long history and includes over 200 scheduled ancient monuments, over 30 conservation areas and includes Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) noted for both their biological and geological importance and National Nature Reserves at Malham Tarn and Ling Gill.

The area is popular for day trippers and a firm favourite for outdoor pursuits including climbing, hill walking, horse riding, mountain biking, orienteering, pony trekking, Geocaching, air sports, water sports and walking and cycling with a number of routes to explore. Visitors can enjoy the renowned landscape, stunning natural scenery, varied wildlife and participate in a range of activities whilst enjoying the tranquilly and peace of the area.

Quick Facts

Yorkshire Dales National Park:

Year of Designation: 1954

Population: 20,000

Scheduled Ancient Monuments: 203

Conservation Areas: 37

Size in square kilometres: 1,769

Main Settlements: Grassington, Hawes, Sedbergh and Settle
Located in: North Yorkshire and Cumbria.
Highest Point: Whernside at 736 metres.


Yorkshire Dales National Park is located in the north of England; the majority of the park is located in North Yorkshire with a smaller part in the north west located in Cumbria. To the west of the Yorkshire Dales is the Lake District national park and to the east is the North York Moors national park; time permitting visitors to the Dales could combine a visit here to one or both of the other national parks in the region. The Dales are a place where visitors can enjoy the tranquillity and calm away from the traffic and congestion of large towns and cities, making it an ideal place to unwind and get closer to nature. Historically the Yorkshire Dales have been inhabited for many centuries, there have been archaeological finds dating back to the Mesolithic Age all the way up to more recent times.

Over the years the area has been used by the Romans, Danes and Angles whilst the middle ages brought the Normans. Through time farms, villages and hamlets were established, with agriculture an important part of the economy. Currently the economy is based on agriculture, farming and increasingly tourism. The park increases a number of records, it is home to the highest lake in England, Malham Tarn; the highest pub in the UK, Tan Hill Inn in Swaledale at 1,732 feet above sea level and is where visitors will find Hardraw Force, England’s largest single drop waterfall, at approx 100 feet, it is said to have inspired luminaries that included Turner and Wordsworth.

The location in the north of England within the counties of North Yorkshire and Cumbria means visitors to the Yorkshire Dales increase in the summer months with many visitors and holiday makers from across the UK and beyond visiting the region on holiday and short breaks. The Yorkshire Dales are located between 4 to 5 hours drive from London, 2 hours from Liverpool and Manchester and around 1 hour from York and Leeds, making it assessable from much of England. The park is also located between several other national parks in England, to the south there is the Peak District, to the north there is the Northumberland national park, to the east there is the North York Moors and to the west there is the Lake District. The Yorkshire Dales provides a convenient place from which to explore the parks.

The area is famous for its varied landscapes, scenic beauty, river valleys, hills, internationally important wildlife habitats and a number of charming local towns and villages that are full of character, history and tradition. In common with a number of national parks in the UK, the Yorkshire Dales does not include any major cities or towns within its borders, the main settlements include Grassington, Hawes and Settle with a number of smaller villages and hamlets.

There are a number of towns that are located close by just outside the official border of the park, these include Skipton, Ilkley, Gargrave and Kendal. The towns offer visitors convenient places from which to base themselves from when exploring the national park and the surrounding area with local facilities, amenities and accommodation. The cities of York and Leeds are located approx one hours drive from the park, Darlington and Middlesbrough to the east are also located around 1 hours drive away, they all have a choice of accommodation and local transport links to travel to and from the national park.

The Special qualities relating to the areas landscape, environment, history, cultural heritage, wildlife, natural beauty, geology and archaeology ensure Yorkshire Dales is a special place. The qualities include its scenic moors, Dales villages, famous dales, valleys, open fells, limestone scenery and waterfalls; that is rare to find all these qualities in an area. The wealth of history, way of life, traditions and strong local communities in the local towns, villages and hamlets mark the area out as special. The archaeology, cultural heritage, nature conservation, diverse landscape with internationally important wildlife habitats, makes the Yorkshire Dales a special place.

Local accommodation includes a choice of hotels ranging from budget, mid range to luxurious hotels, B & B’s, Guest Houses, Self Catering houses, cottages, camping facilities and pub stays; there is accommodation available in Skipton, Malham, Settle, Grassington, Aysgarth, Sedbergh and more that are all conveniently located for further exploring the Yorkshire Dales. The cities of York and Leeds; both offer a choice of accommodation, facilities, amenities and transport links offering a convenient choice for visitors to base themselves from when exploring Yorkshire Dales and the surrounding local area.

Visitor Centres & Information Points are located at various locations in the Yorkshire Dales. Visitor centres are located at Aysgarth Falls, Grassington, Hawes, Malham and Reeth each has knowledgeable staff with local knowledge on local attractions, things to see and do, local tips and advice. The centres include books, maps, gifts, stationary, leaflets, brochures and more. A visit to the visitor centres provide a good first port of call for visitors and can help to better plan, organise and enjoy your trip.

Yorkshire Dales Towns & Villages include Grassington located 10 miles north of Skipton in Wharfedale. The market town includes stone cottages, a square and a grand town hall. Grassington is a local centre for visitors to the Dales and visitors can find a good selection of shops, accommodation facilities including cosy B & Bs and country hotels along with a choice of pubs, cafes, restaurants and local amenities. Local attractions include a number of scenic walks form the town including the Dales Way walk along the River Wharfe y south of the Yorkshire Dales.

The town includes the Grassington National Park Centre, tourist information centre. The Grassington Festival is a live music and visual arts festival that has been established for over 30 years. The town also hosts the Dickensian Festival each year in the winter, travelling back in time that town is transformed in to a scene from yesteryear with locals in Victorian costumes, local markets, Christmas lights, street entertainers, musicians, dancers and exhibitions of country crafts.

The town of Sedburgh is a compact town located within the park’s boundaries in Cumbria in the north west of the national park. The scenic town is located next to the Howgill Fells, an area of rolling hills and open land making it a firm favourite among walkers. The town is well known for its public school and includes a Norman church that dates back to the 12th century and Castlehaw, a historic site that looks over the town. Historically the economy was based on farming and wool today the schools, retail and tourism industry are prominent.

Located to the east of Sedburgh is an Arts and Heritage Centre located at the former Farfield Mill; there are craft studios, demonstrations and exhibitions of cloth weaving and a shop and tearoom serving a choice of snacks and refreshments. The town includes a number of shops, cafes accommodation facilities and local amenities.

Skipton is a market town located close to the southern border with the national park. The town provides a convenient southern gateway to the Dales, once a thriving trading centre for wool and sheep, the town has a rich history, it has retained its Norman layout with cobbled streets and a market place adding to the charm of the town. Local attractions include Skipton Castle established in the latter part of the 11th century, there are over 900 years of history here and it is one of the best preserved castles in England. From the castle visitors can see fine views over the town and the surrounding woods.

Craven Museum & Gallery is located in the town hall; here visitors can learn more about archaeology, art and social history. There is a changing exhibition programme covering the arts and heritage with a number of varied collections to explore. Skipton includes a number of accommodation options along with a choice of shops, cafes, restaurants and local amenities.

The Dales Countryside Museum is located in the market town of Hawes, famous for being the home of Wensleydale cheese located in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales. The museum showcases the history of the landscape and people of the Dales through history, from prehistoric times up to the present day. The museum includes a number of displays, exhibitions and artefacts in themed areas covering, home life, religion, leisure time, tourism and farming. There are a number of interactive and hands on exhibits where visitors can learn more.

The museum is housed inside a historic building, formerly Hawes railway station and includes Hawes National Park Centre, tourist information centre. The museum provides free entry for children and a number of educational activities. The museum hosts a number of demonstrations, workshops and events throughout the course of the year.

Walks & Activities are available in the Yorkshire Dales, with a number of walks ranging from gentle strolls in scenic countryside or beside rivers to longer trails in moorland. short walks (under 3 miles to longer walks (3 to 7 miles and all day walks (over 7 miles). There are walks for everyone available including those with an interest in history, the countryside, family walks, nature walks, riverside walks and more. Longer distance walks include the Yorkshire Three Peaks, Dales Way, Pennine Way and more.

There are guided walks organised by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, many of the walks are free of charge whilst some may have a small fee, visitors can benefit from local knowledge and expertise. Many of the walks includes a nature conservation or cultural heritage theme.

Cycling is a popular activity in the park with country roads, byways, bridleways, green lanes with a number of climbs and technical descents offering plenty for cyclists. Cycling in the Dales offers a great way to get closer to nature, enjoy the scenery and see the countryside up close in an environmentally friendly way.

Other activities in the park include caving, rock climbing, geocaching, orienteering, horse riding, air sports including hand and paragliding, water sports including sailing, wind surfing and canoeing; offering visitors with a great way to further explore the national park and see the best in the varied wildlife and landscape of the park. There are a number of activity centres where visitors can try a number of the activities. The activities and walks cater for people of all abilities, with a number of things to see, so and experience, there is something for most tastes and interests.

For visitors the Yorkshire Dales have much to offer, it is a well known and popular destination for day trippers, weekend and short breaks and longer breaks. The park has good road and public transport links, making it assessable from much of England especially the Midlands and north of England. The range of landscapes and its famous Dales along with the historic villages and hamlets makes the Yorkshire Dales a great place to relax and enjoy the great outdoors with plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation away from the stresses of everyday life.

How to Get There

The Yorkshire Dales is accessible by both car and public transport.

By Car:

The Yorkshire Dales are located 250 miles from central London. From London, take the A5, then the M1 motorway up to junction 32. Then at junction 32 take the M18 until junction 2 and take the A1(M) towards Leeds. Continue along the A1(M) and A1 until the exit for Bowbridge Lane, then turn left towards Hollow Moor Lane, then turn on to Hallow Moor Lane, go to the end of the road and turn left then take the first right towards the A684. Take the right turning for the A684 and continue to follow the road as it leads to the national park. The approx journey time is 4 hours 30 minutes to 5 hours 30 minutes depending on traffic and time of day.

By Train:

The train station at Leeds has regular services from London Kings Cross station the journey time is approx 2 hours 15-20 minutes, depending on service and time of day. From Leeds there are services on the Leeds-Settle-Carlisle Line to stations located in the Yorkshire Dales including Ribblehead, Dent and Garside.

By Bus/Coach:

There are regular coaches available from London Victoria coach station to Skipton, located on the edge of the national park. The approx journey times are 5 hours 45 minutes to 6 hours 30 minutes depending on service, traffic and time of day. From Skipton, there are bus services available to the national park including the bus routes 72 and 72R. For public transport in the Yorkshire Dales please see: Dalebus. Coach services are provided by National Express

Contact Details

Yorkshire Dales Park Authority
North Yorkshire

Telephone: +44 (0)300 456 0030

Website: Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority


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For Local Search and Directions see: Yorkshire Dales National Park Map

Tips & Other Considerations

The weather and climate can be unpredictable, there can be elements of all four seasons in one day. Ensure you check the weather forecast before you travel and have the correct clothing and footwear including comfortable walking shoes, fleece, raincoat and umbrella.

Follow travel advice and remain alert, vigilant and aware of your belongings at all times especially your wallet/purse and valuables and ensure they are hidden away from public view. If you have a bag try to use a shoulder bag with a good quality, strong strap, that is put across your shoulder not on your shoulder making it more difficult for anyone to take your bag.

If you are travelling by car to the Yorkshire Dales ensure you are well prepared with maps and Sat Nav to aid your journey, particularly if you are not familiar with the local area and roads. Use the journey planner for door to door directions. Check traffic updates before you travel.

If you are looking for car parking in and around the national park, ensure you fully understand the rules, regulations & charges for car parks and street parking. The rules & regulations can be complex & confusing if you are unclear, it is wise not to park there.

If you are travelling by public transport, check for service updates prior to beginning your journey for any delays, disruption or cancellations to services that may impact on your journey. Ensure you have the service timetables for the trains, trams, buses and coaches. Remember when the last services are and ensure you make it to the train/bus/coach stops well in time to avoid missing the service.

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