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Must-Visit Towns in the Yorkshire Dales

Author: Kathryn Bennett
More by Kathryn

Delightful Days in the Yorkshire Dales

Picture rolling green hills, dry stone walls, grassy tracks, quaint farmhouses, and a tractor or two rumbling through a patchwork of meadows and fields. These scenes aren’t some fantasy drawn up for the side of a box of famous Yorkshire Tea. The picturesque panorama you envision is very much real and can be found across the Yorkshire Dales in England.

The splendid Dales lacks the mountainous grandeur of the neighbouring Lake District. Yet it makes up for it in spades with a unique character and charm. And what better place to experience this charm than in a quintessential Yorkshire town? Amongst the tumbling hills and dales, Yorkshire’s towns and villages offer the perfect respite at the start or end of your adventures. The region is home to traditional pubs and tearooms, cosy cafes, and famously friendly locals. Here are a few we think you can’t miss.

Take Me Straight To:

In the Footprint of Geology Giants

Photo looking towards Gordale Scar, an impressive geological feature in Yorkshire, on a sunny day

Gordale Scar, Yorkshire

Starting with the small but mighty Malham, there’s no better place to experience both Yorkshire’s endearing quaintness and inspiring grandeur than this tiny village. Malham lies tucked away in the southern Dales, consisting of not much more than a few rustic inns, pubs, hostels, and cafes. Whilst the village itself is delightful, its fame comes from the incredible rock formations surrounding it.

Walkers, climbers, and geologists come from afar to marvel at the dramatic limestone amphitheatre of Malham Cove. A very rare feature in the UK, there is also a hidden glacial gorge and waterfall of Gordale Scar. The epic flat clifftop might feel familiar, as it was used as a filming location for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. 

After you tire yourself out exploring, we recommend stopping in the Town End Farm Shop for a top-up. Their tearoom and shop boasts one of the best selections of local produce around, which will have you well supplied for the rest of your trip, too. In the evenings, pop into The Lister Arms, an ivy-covered stone pub with plenty of regional ale on offer.

Alternatively, Beck Hall Hotel sits on the northern edge of Malham, a short hop from Malham Cove. Built over 300 years ago, today, the modern hotel boasts cosy rooms, warm hospitality, and more. Self-proclaimed as England’s first entirely plant-based hotel, there is no shortage of delicious cuisine to enjoy as you rest your head after a day of adventure.

On the Cobbles

Known as the ‘heart of the Yorkshire Dales,’ we’d be inclined to agree that this beautiful must-visit town embodies all that is wonderful about Yorkshire. A traditional market town, Grassington’s cobbled square fosters a bustling community that served as a meeting place for local farmers and merchants until the late 19th century. Despite only having a population of 2000, Grassington is the largest town in Wharfdale. It is home to a community cinema and a busy town hall with an active calendar of music and events.

Photo looking at the quiet, cobble streets of Grassington on a sunny day

Grassington, Yorkshire

As you explore its twisting lanes and cobbled streets, stop in at The Stripey Badger. The excellent bookshop and cafe offers classic favourites such as a Ploughman’s lunch or pork pie and peas. Don’t miss Dales Toffee Shop – this traditional sweet shop and newsagent provides some of the best ice cream around. In the evenings, you’ll be spoilt for choice with rustic pubs such as The Devonshire or the Gamekeepers Inn to choose from for your evening.

Grassington also has many fantastic events you could visit if you time your visit right. One highlight is the 1940s weekend that happens every September when the town comes together to take you back in time. You’ll find everyone dressed in classic outfits, live jazz bands, dances, and vintage cars, with stalls to shop from if you want to join in the fun.

Along the River Wharfe

Nowadays, Kettlewell is a popular destination for both walkers and cyclists. The village is a good rest point on the Dales Way, a long distance footpath. Road cyclists undertaking Park Rash, one of Yorkshire’s iconic hill climbs, often start here. There are plenty of shorter and more accessible options to explore, too – for example, trails along the picturesque River Wharfe link to neighbouring villages.

Kettlewell is also home to one of northern England’s most famous scarecrow festivals. In the summer, you might come across a trail of increasingly elaborate straw characters peeking over stone walls and peering around doorways. This charming community fundraising event now attracts thousands of visitors yearly to the Kettlewell Scarecrow Festival.

The Waterfall Trail

Ingleborough is Yorkshire’s highest hill. Seated on the slopes below is Ingleton, another beautiful town in the Dales that hosts a hive of adventure activities. The lovely village centre has cafes and restaurants tucked away amongst winding streets. The offer continues to grow as outdoor recreation only becomes more popular in the area. There’s even a small bar now!

Photo of the rushing waterfalls and lush foliage of the Ingleton Waterfalls Trail

Ingleton Waterfalls Trail

Beyond the village itself, one of the most popular things to do is to walk from the centre on a stunning circuit of cascading waterfalls. The route is short and sweet at 7 km/4.5 miles, and this is just the tip of the iceberg of geological wonders. This is one of the country’s most popular areas for caving. Yet you don’t need to be an expert to go on a walking tour of White Scar Cave, an epic underground wonder and the longest show cave in Britain.

Above ground, walking up Ingleborough is a fantastic challenge with good paths all the family can take on together. And if you’re up for even more of a challenge, there’s the famous Three Peaks walk. The 42 km/26 mile route involves all of Yorkshire’s three highest peaks, which hikers and fundraisers attempt to complete in under 12 hours.

That's It! Cheese!

Yorkshire Dales Wensleydale cheese

The Wensleydale Creamery

The perfect stop off in the northern Dales, Hawes is famous for its long history of dairying. In fact, it’s where Wallace and Gromit’s favourite cheese, Wensleydale, is made. You can visit the Wensleydale Creamery itself. The wonderful shop offers an array of tastings, as well as cheese-making demonstrations.

You can learn more about the area’s history at the nearby Dales Countryside Museum. The museum will help you discover the people who’ve shaped Hawes and these stunning landscapes.

It’s also easy to get outside around Hawes, with plenty of easy walks and rides through the gently rolling hills surrounding it. We recommend the Hardraw Force circular, a lovely 10 km/6 mile circuit that takes you to the largest single drop waterfall in England.

After your walk, the town has an excellent scene of independent shops and eateries, where you can pick up outdoor gear, shop for a locally-made gift, or simply relax and know that whatever you’re being served is some of Yorkshire’s finest produce.

Visit Yorkshire

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15th Jun - 27th Jun 2025

10 place(s) leftAvailable 4,495Book Now
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29th Jun - 6th Jul 2025

12 place(s) leftAvailable 2,975Book Now
Wilderness Walking – Northumberland and the Lake District

12th Jul - 18th Jul 2025

8 place(s) leftAvailable 2,395Book Now
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13th Jul - 25th Jul 2025

10 place(s) leftAvailable 4,495Book Now
Road Cycling – Coast to Coast

27th Jul - 3rd Aug 2025

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5th Aug - 14th Aug 2025

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10th Aug - 22nd Aug 2025

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6th Sep - 12th Sep 2025

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7th Sep - 19th Sep 2025

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Wilderness Walking – National Parks of England and Wales

9th Sep - 18th Sep 2025

8 place(s) leftAvailable 2,895Book Now
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20th Sep - 26th Sep 2025

8 place(s) leftAvailable 2,395Book Now
Road Cycling – Coast to Coast

21st Sep - 28th Sep 2025

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30th Sep - 9th Oct 2025

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14th Oct - 23rd Oct 2025

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Meet the Author: Kathryn Bennett

I grew up on the edge of the Dales in Yorkshire, fed by small but beautiful walking and cycling days out and holidays in the UK, where I discovered it’s more than possible to love being outside no matter the weather. Many soggy sandwiches eaten in the rain later, and this joyous determination to experience the outdoors only grew, pushing me to learn and do more than I ever imagined I would.

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