Experience a vast landscape of iconic hills, tumbling waterfalls, spectacular limestone geology and sensational Victorian architecture. Walks in the Yorkshire Dales rank amongst the best in the UK. They don’t call this region ‘God’s own country’ for nothing.
841 square miles (2,178 km2) of this wonderful countryside awaits exploration. There’s an abundant variety of landscape, from the beautiful walled fields, barns and meadows of Swaledale in the north to the glorious heights of Ribblesdale in the west. The national park even takes a delectable bite out of Cumbria in the form of the Howgill Fells, where verdant hills take on a little bit of the character of nearby Lakeland.There is every kind of walk, hike or ramble imaginable here. On a short walk you can access some truly stunning sights, such as the dramatic Malham Cove. For more strenuous excursions, there’s the 24-hour challenge of the Yorkshire Three Peaks. There’s no doubt about it, hikes in the Yorkshire Dales offer something for everyone.
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There is so much to experience on your walks in theYorkshire Dales. In spring, discover the bright wildflowers and riverside walks of Swaledale or head for the 30,000 acres (12,141 ha) of delightful countryside on the Bolton Abbey estate in Wharfedale. In the west, where the boundaries of the Dales and the Lakes meet, are the Howgill Fells. On a clear day, these rounded hills offer staggering views across the entire Lake District skyline and the vast sprawl of Yorkshire’s highest hills.
Meanwhile, Ribblesdale hosts the most spectacular section of the famous Carlisle to Settle railway line. You can add its most iconic moment, the scenic beauty of Ribblehead Viaduct’s 24 Victorian stone arches, to your itinerary. There are few sights in the British countryside more evocative.
Ribblesdale is also home to the Yorkshire Three Peaks: Ingleborough, Pen-y-ghent and county high point Whernside at 2,415 feet (736 m). For some of the most adventurous hikes in the Yorkshire Dales, this is the place to be.
Whale-backed Whernside may be the highest, but Ingleborough and Pen-y-ghent are the most adored by hikers. Ingleborough’s alternating layers of limestone, sandstone and shale create a distinctive wedge-shaped profile, whilst its summit was once the site of a Neolithic fortress. Not to be outdone, Pen-y-ghent takes on the visage of a giant, crouching lion surveying its kingdom.
The famous challenge of summiting all three peaks in 24 hours is deservedly popular. Part of the key to success is route planning, as there is no set way to complete the round. However you decided to tackle them, they are richly rewarding hikes with fantastic views.
Some of the best hiking trails in the Yorkshire Dales explore the many delights to be found around the village of Malham. Chief among them is Malham Cove, a gently curving 230-foot (70 m) white limestone cliff that is popular all year round. The limestone pavement that tops the cove is also a great place to explore.
Gordale Scar, a sensational hidden limestone gorge carved out by torrents of ancient glacial meltwater, is a magical place. As it narrows and steepens dramatically, two waterfalls crash down. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even ascend out of the gorge via a rock scramble by the cascading falls.
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