The Yorkshire Dales was established as a national park in 1954 and today receives more than three million day visitors every year. There are 2,628kms of footpaths and 618kms of bridleways, offering visitors the chance to spot the park’s 1,000 species of moths, its 100 species of nesting birds, and more than 30 species of mammals.
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.
Yorkshire Dales in winter ©Getty
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Smardale Beck, yorkshire Dales ©Getty
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.