Best walks in the Yorkshire Dales National Park

The valleys, moors, hills and caverns of the Yorkshire Dales are etched with miles and miles of rolling footpaths – explore this atmospheric limestone landscape with our guide to the national park's best hiking trails.

Viaduct with moorland and mountain view

The Yorkshire Dales National Park may be land-bound, but what it lacks in coastal drama it makes up for in magnificent moorlands, village-filled valleys and striking limestone crags.

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One of the best ways to explore the Yorkshire Dales’ 841 square miles is on foot – here is our guide on a selection of the best walks to get you started.

Lake Buttermere Lake District National Park Cumbria England

Muker, Swaledale, North Yorkshire

Muker Meadows, North Yorkshire
Muker Meadows, North Yorkshire ©Dave Willis

In late spring, Swaledale’s hay meadows burst into life – a colour bonanza best absorbed after a cup of Yorkshire tea and a slice of cake. This splendid 7-mile circular route starts at Muker and follows the River Swale east to the village of Gunnerside.

The route

  • 11km/6.8miles
  • 4 hours
  • Moderate

Route and map

Muker map

Malham Tarn, North Yorkshire

Malham tarn is a natural lake on high ground in the Yorkshire Dales.
Skies darken over Malham Tarn in the Yorkshire Dales ©Getty

This short walk around Malham Tarn beneath the looming cliffs of Great Close Scar offers ramblers a chance to expereince a variety of habitats, from craggy limestone bluffs, to thick forest, peatland and a wildlife-rich upland lake.

The route

  • 5.8km/3.6 miles
  • 2 hours
  • Easy/moderate

Route and map

Malham Tarn map

Keld to Tan Hill Inn, North Yorkshire

East Gill Force, Keld, Yorkshire Dales
East Gill Force near Keld in the Yorkshire Dales ©Getty

Midway through this Yorkshire Dales walk, stop off at the Tan Hill Inn – the highest pub in Britain – before returning across the moors past Roman cairns and craggy tors.

The route

  • 16.5/10.2 miles
  • 6 hours
  • Moderate

Map and route

Keld map

Grassington, North Yorkshire

After a paddle in the river, grab a coffee in the village of Grassington, Yorkshire Dales
After a paddle in the river, grab a coffee in the village of Grassington, Yorkshire Dales ©Getty

Enjoy a refreshing riverside walk through stunning Upper Wharfedale in the south-east corner of the Yorkshire Dales, stopping to paddle, slide down rapids or leap into cool, clear plunge pools.

The route

  • 12.8km/8 miles
  • 4.5 hours
  • Moderate

Map and route

Grassington map

Crackpot Hall and Upper Swaledale, North Yorkshire

The ruin of Crackpot Hall near Keld, Swaledale
This building has stood on the Crackpot Hall site for 500 years © Getty

Yearning for wide open spaces? This wonderful high-level walk meanders past a storied ruin and ends at an attractive waterfall in a little-visited, yet glorious, pocket of the Yorkshire Dales.

The route

  • 9.6km/6 miles
  • 3.5 hours
  • Moderate

Map and route

Muker map

Ingleborough, North Yorkshire

Mind the gap: beneath the moorland of the Dales are hundreds of miles of limestone caves, some surfacing with vast sinkholes
Mind the gap: beneath the moorland of the Dales are hundreds of miles of limestone caves, some surfacing with vast sinkholes ©Alamy

Walk the second highest peak in the Yorkshire Dales, a mountain pockmarked with cavernous sinkholes, rumbling rivers and labyrinthine limestone paving.

The route

  • 6.4 km/4 miles
  • 2.5 hours
  • Moderate

Map and route

Ingleborough map

Howgill Fells, Cumbria

Sedbergh sits beneath the Howgill Fells in the Yorkshire Dales
Sedbergh sits beneath the Howgill Fells in the Yorkshire Dales ©Getty

This challenging walk in the north-western corner of the Yorkshire Dales begins in the village of Sedbergh and climbs into Howgill Fells – take a break on The Calf, with staggering views west over the Cumbria landscape and east over North Yorkshire.

The route

  • 15.5km/9.6 miles
  • 5-7 hours
  • Challenging

Map and route

Howgill Fells map

Upper Wharfedale, North Yorkshire

Upper Wharfedale is a charming little valley off the beaten track where the roads are too narrow for trucks and busses to navigate
Upper Wharfedale is a charming little valley off the beaten track where the roads are too narrow for trucks and busses to navigate ©Alamy

Head to the Yorkshire Dales in search of three of the national park’s finest attributes: limestone uplands, enchanting valleys and picturesque waterfalls.

The route

  • 11.2km/6.9 miles
  • 4 hours
  • Moderate

Map and route

Upper Wharfedale map

Smardale Beck and Gill, Cumbria

An old viaduct, built in 1861, rises almost 30m on 14 stone arches above Smardale Beck – it’s a fine vantage point for spotting all-year-round residents to the national nature reserve, such as sparrowhawks, buzzards and treecreepers
Smardale Beck, yorkshire Dales ©Getty
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An old viaduct, built in 1861, rises almost 30m on 14 stone arches above Smardale Beck – it’s a fine vantage point for spotting all-year-round residents to the national nature reserve, such as sparrowhawks, buzzards and treecreepers. Enjoy a spectacular 7-mile walk through a secluded gorge in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

The route

  • 11.3km/7 miles
  • 4 hours
  • Moderate

Map and route

Smardale Beck map