Activities in the Yorkshire Dales
Updated: Jan 11
As part of our Green Traveller's Guide to the Yorkshire Dales, Paul Bloomfield picks out a selection of walks, cycle rides, horse-riding and steam trains in this popular National Park in the north of England.
Being out and about in the natural landscape is what most visits to the Yorkshire Dales are really about. From the limestone scenery of the south with its crags and pavements, to the deep valleys of the north and the round hills of The Howgills to the west, it’s captivating in any season.
There’s a huge variety of flora and fauna. Each month brings a different view – from carpets of bluebells and lily of the valley in woodlands in May to the wildflowers in places such as Muker Meadows in Swaledale in June, the purple heather on the moors in September or the vivid colours of Strid Wood or Grass Wood in autumn. Wildlife lovers will have plenty to keep them happy – keep an eye out for red squirrels at Snaizeholme and there’s no end of birdlife, from Peregrine falcons to lapwings, curlew and black grouse. Explore the landscape on foot, by bike or on horseback, perhaps venture below ground on a caving trip or even jump on a steam train and watch the world go by.
Walking in the UK - A Yorkshire Gastronomic Celebration
Discover Yorkshire's iconic landscapes on a leisurely walk across the Howardian Hills, visiting artisan food producers and historic sites along the way, while staying in fine hotels serving delicious Yorkshire cuisine. inntravel.co.uk
Yorkshire Three Peaks
Taking in three of the highest summits, Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough, it’s a famous walk that many attempt in one day – it’s 24.5 miles and ascends to 5,000ft, though spending a on each is very rewarding. yorkshiredales.org.uk
Dales Bike Centre
Dales Bike Centre has the largest selection of mountain and road bikes in the area (from £17 a day for a hybrid bike). It also offers guided tours, whether it be for a day, a weekend or longer, and various skills courses. dalesbikecentre.co.uk
Off the rails in Settle
Offers bike hire (from £20 for a day) if you want to set off on your own to explore, and self-guided or guided tours. 3peakscycles.com
Arklemoor Riding Centre
A friendly family-run centre in the quiet dale of Arkengathdale in the north of the National, there’s riding for all ages and levels of experience, from one hour treks to several day holidays staying in B&Bs en route. arklemoor.co.uk
If you want to soak up your gorgeous surrounds in a relaxing way, a spot of fishing might suit. Kilnsey Park Fly Fishery offers two spring-fed lakes stocked with all kinds of trout. kilnseypark.co.uk
Rock Steady Adventure
From rock climbing and caving to coasteering and canoeing, Rock Steady Adventure offers a whole host of activities for you to try in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Level for all-comers. rocksteadyadventure.co.uk
Yorkshire Dales Guides
Having lived in the area for 35 years and with over 45 years' experience of outdoor activities, Dave Gallivan takes groups and individuals on caving, abseiling, climbing and walking expeditions in the National Park, as well as running team building and youth group events.
Harrogate Climbing Centre
This climbing centre offers lessons in climbing and bouldering (climbing without ropes over a crash mat) in the centre in Harrogate, but also run outdoor climbing courses on the edge of the National Park. harrogateclimbingcentre.com
Share the view with the birds in an afternoon of paragliding over the National Park. Whether you're a novice or have taken to the skies before, this is has to be one of the most exhilarating ways to experience the Yorkshire Dales. activeedge.co.uk
Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Railway
Travel back in time with a steam train ride, running through picturesque countryside. Trains run from Embsay station, built in 1888, to the new Bolton Abbey every Sunday and daily in high season. Look out for special days when historic Stately Trains run on the track. embsayboltonabbeyrailway.org.uk
An authentic heritage railway with 22 miles of preserved tracks on the line which formerly ran from Northallerton to Garsdale. Services run from Leeming Bar to Redmire, a trip which takes 50 minutes. Besides heritage diesel railcars and trains hauled by diesel locomotives, steam-hauled trains run on certain days too. wensleydale-railway.co.uk
The 72-mile journey from Settle to Carlisle cuts through the Yorkshire Dales, and crosses the spectacular 24-arched Ribblehead Viaduct before plunging into a tunnel at Blea Moor, emerging at Dentdale and leaving the Dales at Garsdale on its way to Carlisle.
For information on local food and drink, nearby visitor attractions and activities, see our