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10 Yorkshire Dales Walks You Absolutely Have to Do

· Joseph Sheerin · Culture

It’s time to explore the Yorkshire Dales.

Whernside & Ribblehead Valley

The Dales are one of the reasons why Yorkshire is known as God’s Own County, so check out these 10 walks…

Rolling green hills, breathtaking vistas and jaw-dropping scenery – the Yorkshire Dales are a walking paradise. You have 2,179 square kilometres to explore and the best way to do it is by foot, so get your walking boots on and prepare to see the Yorkshire Dales in all its glory. From waterside walks along the River Wharfe to leisurely valley rambles, picturesque waterfall wanders and challenging mountain treks, you can do it all.

Ilkley Moor Circular

Ilkley Moor is home to one of the best walks in the Yorkshire Dales. At its southern tip, you can go on a 6.3-mile circular route that starts in the town centre at West View Park. From here, you’ll join the Dales Way Link to reach the top of the moor, where you can soak up the incredible views across the rolling moorlands, before you continue on to a host of must-see landmarks. From the Twelve Apostles to The Tarn, Ilkley Crags and the Cow and Calf, this is the best way to explore Ilkley Moor.

Start the Ilkley Moor Circular at West View Park, 3 College Drive, Ilkley, West Yorkshire, LS29 9TY.

Ingleton Waterfalls Trail

Ingleton Waterfalls Trail

Straddling the border between Cumbria and the Yorkshire Dales, the Ingleton Waterfalls Trail is just 4.3-miles long, but it will take you to six falls, a gorge and a glen. Start at Swilla Glen where you’ll follow the River Twiss down through an ancient woodland of ash, oak and birch. From there, you can enjoy Pecca Falls and Hollybush Spout before you stop at the mid-route refreshment cabin. Get a picnic and take it to the beautiful Thornton Force before you make your way to Beezley Falls, Rival Falls and Baxenghyll Gorge.

Start the Ingleton Waterfalls Trail at Broadwood Entrance, Ingleton, North Yorkshire, LA6 3ET.

Ribblehead Viaduct Circular

Ribblehead Viaduct

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If you’re up for a challenge, this 9-mile circular route around Whernside is one of the best walks you can do in the Yorkshire Dales. It will take you up the highest of Yorkshire’s Three Peaks. Start at Dent Station, pass the village of Cowgill and soak up the incredible views across Dentdale as you walk along the Dales Way. Next, you’ll join Hagg Worm Haw, which will take you right to the top of Whernside, where you’ll want to pause to take it all in. The best is yet to come, because you still have the breathtaking Ribblehead Viaduct to look forward to before you finish at The Station Inn after a memorable 6-hour trek.

Start the Ribblehead Viaduct Circular at Dent Station, Sedbergh, Cumbria, LA10 5RF.

Catrigg Force Circular

Catrigg Force

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If it’s an easy and family-friendly walk through the Yorkshire Dales you’re looking for, head to the Catrigg Force Circular at Stainforth. It’s only 2.4-miles long and it’s easy terrain with plenty to keep the kids entertained. You’ll start at the Craven Heifer pub before you hop over the ancient stepping stones across Stainforth Beck. They’ll take you to a path that leads up to Catrigg Force, a beautiful waterfall hidden in a wooded gorge with a 20-foot drop into a step pool. Once you can drag yourself away from this enchanting spot, walk back along Winskill Stones to enjoy jaw-dropping views across Pen-y-ghent.

Start the Catrigg Force Circular at the Craven Heifer, Main Road, Stainforth, Settle, North Yorkshire, BD24 9PB.

Hubberholme Circular

Longstrothdale, Hubberholme

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You can explore 9.6-miles of open moorland hiking and valley trail walking through the heart of the Yorkshire Dales on the Hubberholme Circular. Start at Birk’s Fell at the top of the moors to enjoy the 360° views of Birk’s Tarn, Moss Top, Sugar Load and the Horse Head. On a clear day from the Trig Point, you can see Plover Hill and Pen-y-ghent in the distance. The pretty valley of Longstrothdale will come into view as you make your way back into Hubberholme on the paths that line the River Wharfe.

Start the Hubberholme Circular at The George Inn, Dubb’s Lane, Hubberholme, Skipton, North Yorkshire, BD23 5JE.

The Malham Circular

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This 7.5-mile trek around Malham is one of the most popular walking routes in the Yorkshire Dales. You’ll pass through Wedber Wood as you walk along Gordale Beck on your way to the picturesque Janet’s Foss waterfall. Next up, you’ll head to the imposing sight of Gordale Scar before you reach Malham Tarn and head on to the majestic Malham Cove. Walk up to the top of the limestone pavement, where you can sit and absorb the breathtaking views around you, before you wander back to the village.

Start the Malham Circular at Malham, Skipton, North Yorkshire, BD23 4AW.

The Howgill Fells Walk

The Lonely Howgills

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It’s just over the border in Cumbria, but The Howgill Fells are the perfect place to go hiking in the Yorkshire Dales. It’s a testing 7.5-miles route – you’ll start at Low Haygarth, where you’ll take on a very steep ascent to get to the fells. Almost out of nowhere, Cautley Spout will appear from the sheer cliff face in front of you – Red Gill Beck flows down 650-feet from The Calf plateau to form England’s highest above-ground waterfall. You’ll head to the top to enjoy the vista across Bowerdale, before you make your way back to the start.

Start the Howgill Fells Walk at Low Haygarth, Sedbergh, Yorkshire Dales National Park, LA10 5NE.

The Valley of Desolation Walk

Simon's Seat

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Don’t let the name put you off, The Valley of Desolation is an incredible walk. You’ll start at the historic ruins of Bolton Abbey before you take on a calf-stretching climb of 350-metres and head through the valley on your way to Posforth Gill Waterfall and Barden Fell. From here, go on to Simon’s Seat, where you can enjoy breathtaking views in every direction and visit the unusual rock formations at the top. Then it’s downhill to Parceval Hall, Troller’s Gill and the village of Appletreewick. You’ll walk back to the start along the banks of the River Wharfe before you weave your way through the famous Strid Wood.

Start the Valley of Desolation Walk at Bolton Abbey, Skipton, North Yorkshire, BD23 6AL.

Beamsley Beacon Circular

Beamsley Beacon

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The picturesque village of Beamsley is at the very edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and it’s here that you’ll start this easygoing 7-mile walk. You can enjoy the perfect mix of nature and history as you leave the village and make your way up to the Beacon. Appreciate the beautiful views across Wharfedale, then cross the water at Kex Beck and enjoy a gentle walk through Beamsley Moor. Before you get back to the start, you’ll pass Beamsley Hospital, a unique circular landmark that dates back to 1593.

Start the Beamsley Beacon Circular at Langbar Road, Ilkley, West Yorkshire, LS29 0EX.

The Three Peaks Walk


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The ultimate walk in the Yorkshire Dales National Park is the iconic Yorkshire Three Peaks. It’s a staggering 25-mile trek that will see you scale three of the highest mountains in Yorkshire. You’ll start at Pen-y-ghent, which reaches a height of 2,277-feet, before you weave your way across the Dales, past landmarks like Hull Pot and Ling Gill to reach Ingleborough. It’s the second-highest of the three at 2,372-feet, before you tackle the highest when you head over to Whernside, which stands at 2,415-feet. If you want to join the Three Peaks of Yorkshire Club, you have to do it in less than 12 hours.

Start the Three Peaks Walk at Horton-in-Ribblesdale, Settle, North Yorkshire, BD24 0HF.