The 20 Best Walks in the Yorkshire Dales

April 22, 2020

I have listed the best walks in the Yorkshire Dales. If you complete all these walks you will, without doubt, have a full and proper knowledge of the Yorkshire Dales (or Dales, a couple sneak in to the Cumbrian Dales).

Completing these 20 will make you want to try more, there is another 150 detailed elsewhere on this website.

The list of the best walks in the Dales is only my opinion but I have counted down from number 20 to my personal favourite. The list includes walks over mountains, shorter walks and those off the beaten track.

20. Great Knoutberry Hill in Upper Dentdale

6.5 miles

A pretty mountain accessed via the dramatic viaduct at Artengill. The contrasting descent passes through some rough moorland before hitting a remote road.

Arten Gill Viaduct
Arten Gill Viaduct

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19. Historic Villages near Settle

7 miles

I probably know this walk better than any! Pretty Yorkshire villages along the Ribble combine with a higher walk through dramatic limestone scenery.

Attermire Scar near Settle
Attermire Scar near Settle

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18. High Moors over Masham

10.5 miles

A long walk that takes in some classical moorland walking and great views down Nidderdale. Return to the pretty market town of Masham.

The Shooting Lodge above the Nidd
The Shooting Lodge above the Nidd

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17. Ribblehead on the Settle to Carlisle Railway

5 miles

Visit the spectacular viaduct at Ribblehead and continue on to Blea Head Tunnel following the lower slopes of Whernside, the highest mountain in Yorkshire.

Ribblehead
Ribblehead

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16. Thruscross Reservoir

4.5 miles

The highest and most remote of the 4 Washburn reservoirs this walk makes for an enjoyable circuit experiencing the desolation which a reservoir can bring. Evening views across the water are spectacular.

Over Thruscross Reservoir
Over Thruscross Reservoir

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15. Pen-y-Ghent from Horton

7 1/2 miles

A popular climb with a rocky spur adding to the ‘mountain’ feel. The walk is much enhanced by following the ridge over Plovers before dropping north on to the Pennine Bridleway.

Pen-y-Ghent on the climb
Pen-y-Ghent on the climb

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14. The Gallops of Middleham

5 miles

A walk with a difference with the main danger being trampled by the sleek racehorses of Middleham stables. The castle and cobbled streets make up this best of all Dales villages.

Middleham Castle
Middleham Castle

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13. Fountains Abbey

3 miles

A short walk to the best preserved abbey in the Yorkshire Dales. The grounds of the abbey offer a pleasant stroll which can be increased in length by exploring Studley Deer Park.

Fountains Abbey cloisters
Fountains Abbey cloisters

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12. Highlights of Wensleydale

11.5 miles

A walk through excellent limestone scenery between Aysgarth Falls and Askrigg, returning via the River Ure.

Dry stone walls near Askrigg
Dry stone walls near Askrigg

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11. Limestone & the Norber Erratics

7 miles

The Western Dales is famous for its limestone scenery and glacial remains and this walk offers examples of pavements, scars and gritstone erratics.

Moughton Scar, Crummackdale
Moughton Scar, Crummackdale

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10. Embsay Reservoir and Embsay Crag

3.5 miles

Anyone staying in or near Skipton should complete this short walk to the fine viewpoint of Embsay Crag, lording it above the popular reservoir of that name.

Embsay Crag
Embsay Crag

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9. Middleham to Masham, One Way

11 miles

A walk between 2 fine Dales settlements alongside the River Ure. The use of the bus in this case improves the walk considerably, avoiding any repetition of scenery.

River Ure near Jervaulx Abbey
River Ure near Jervaulx Abbey

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8. Gordale Scar & Malham Tarn

7.5 miles

Ever popular Malham provides the base for one of the best walks in the Yorkshire Dales and including ‘stops’ at Gordale Scar, Malham Tarn, Janet’s Foss and Malham Cove.

Approaching Malham Cove
Approaching Malham Cove

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7. Ancient Castles of Mallerstang

7.5 miles

The source of the River Eden in Mallerstang provides the backdrop for an interesting walk amongst ruined castles and isolated farms. If you have not visited Mallerstang, do.

Lammerside Castle
Lammerside Castle

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6. Buckden Pike

5.5 miles

One of the ‘Dales 30‘ mountains and my own personal favourite. The summit area is full of interest and the villages and pubs in Upper Wharfedale very good!

Summit of Buckden Pike
Summit of Buckden Pike

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5. History in Gunnerside Gill

8 miles

To understand the industrial history of the Dales take this walk up Gunnerside Gill through the remains of the lead mines. returning via the high plateau above.

Near Surrender Bridge
Near Surrender Bridge

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4. Lonely Howgills:

10.5 miles

I always enjoying striding out on high ridges which provides easy walking on soft turf; there is nowhere better than taking to the Howgills above Sedbergh.

On the Howgills
On the Howgills

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3. Kisdon Hill & the River Swale:

7.5 miles

Upper Swaledale is a lovely place for a walk, picture perfect villages surround the steep sided (but not high) Kisdon Hill. The return is via the embryonic River Swale.

Keld
Keld

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2. Ingleborough via Gaping Gill

9 miles

My favourite route up any mountain in the Dales. It is unusual in that for 1/2 the walk there is no sense of climbing the mountain, there is so much else to enjoy.

Ingleborough from Little Ingleborough
Ingleborough from Little Ingleborough

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1. Hidden Valleys of Wharfedale

11 miles

I love this walk and I have repeated it many times. Combining lovely Littondale with good tracks over the intervening grassy ridge to Langstrothdale offers the best of the Dales.

Above Litton
Above Litton

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Enjoy the Best Walks in the Yorkshire Dales!

Jonathan

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