Best walks in the Yorkshire Dales

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

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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 are eight great walks to get you started.

1

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 limesteone bluffs, to think forest, peatland and a wildlife-rich upland lake. Route and map.

2

Keld to Tan Hill Inn, North Yorkshire

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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. Map and route.

3

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. Map and route.

4

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. Map and route.

5

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. Map and route.

6

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. Map and route.

7

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. Map and route.

8

Smardale 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
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 ©Getty

Enjoy a spectacular 7-mile walk through a secluded gorge in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Map and route.

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Main image ©Getty