My Favourite 6 Yorkshire Dales Villages

September 14, 2023

One of the great attractions of a visit to the Yorkshire Dales are the picturesque villages. Only on a few occasions do they let let you down (I’m not naming them). However I do believe some are better than others and here are my Favourite 6 villages in the Yorkshire Dales.

The criteria I have used for my favourite villages fall in to three areas.

  • Picture Postcard. Yorkshire Stone buildings combined with a lovely setting.
  • Great Walks. All of these villages have superb and varied walks on their doorstep, many including the ‘Dales 30’ mountains (clearly important!!).
  • A Good pub. There is such a thing as a ‘Dales’ pub, many try but only a few achieve.

Other more factual matters also effect the decision such as too busy, too large etc. However I have been able to limit the list to six with some honourable additional candidates added at the foot of the page.

In the description of each village I have included a link to the two best walks you can directly take.


In addition to the lovely buildings, excellent walks and character pub Austwick has a thriving local community and some enterprising (and very good) cottage industries. I particularly like the jams and chutneys sold outside the school!

The Game Cock, Austwick
The Game Cock, Austwick

The Best Walks from Austwick

Exploring Crummackdale 8 Miles

Bluebells of Oxenber Wood 2.5 miles


It was a challenge to separate Keld from its (almost) equal neighbours, Muker and Thwaite in Upper Swaledale. In the end though the pure beauty of its situation on the hillside and proximity to the Swale won out.

Keld from Kisdon Hill
Keld from Kisdon Hill

The Best Walks from Keld

A Walk round Upper Swaledale 5.5 miles

Kisdon Hill & the 3 Villages 7.5 miles


Starbotton is the forgotten village of Upper Wharfedale, sandwiched between the better known Kettlewell and Buckden. However the buildings are more attractive and the access to the ‘Dales 30’ mountains which circle it make Starbotton a personal favourite.

Starbotton village
Starbotton village

The Best Walks from Starbotton

Birks Fell from Starbotton 10 miles

Low Level walk in Upper Wharfedale 11 miles


With its own private dale, Dent is definitely the lord of the manor. It helps that the dale is difficult to get at and is less popular than others. It also help that the cobbled streets adds much to its character. There are 2 pubs, a cute village store and a magnificent church (tick, tick, tick).

St Andrews Church, Dent
St Andrews Church, Dent

The Best Walks from Dent

Whernside from Dent 10 miles

A Walk through Dentdale 7 miles


TV companies choose Arncliffe to provide an authentic Yorkshire Dales feel. Both the recent James Herriot series and, further back, Emmerdale Farm were chosen for its authenticity and tranquility. Littondale, where Arncliffe sits, is a favourite dale of mine, as is the village green and church. Even the pub has its own unique character.

Arncliffe, Littondale
Arncliffe, Littondale

The Best Walks from Arncliffe

Littondale to Kettlewell 8 miles

Walk through Littondale 4.5 miles

West Burton

West Burton has a lovely village green and pub. In addition it is pleasantly unspoilt, lying off the popular Wensleydale valley with its own river and waterfall. There is an added benefit: many of Wensleydales’ most impressive sites (Aysgarth Falls, Bolton Castle) are only a short walk away.

West Burton village green
West Burton village green

The Best Walks from West Burton

The quiet side of West Burton 5 miles

Aysgarth Falls 4 miles

An honourable mention should go to the following villages. However in each case something stopped me from putting them in my favourite six. Carperby, Gunnerside and Long Preston are lovely but a busy road goes through them, Clapham a little too posh, Malham and Askrigg are too busy and Buckden is trumped by Starbotton!

Enjoy your walking and visit these special villages.


  • Stephen Whittaker says:

    I cannot recall who it was, but someone referred to Dent as “a Cornish village in the Yorkshire Dales”.

  • Ann Miller says:

    What about Masham

    • Jonathan says:

      Lovely square but probably more of a town than a village. However well up there for my favourite towns (and in the Top 5), but possibly pipped by Reeth and even Sedbergh.

  • Dent is in Cumbria not the Yorkshire Dales

    • Jonathan says:

      Dent village is part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and therefore in the Yorkshire Dales. The national park is an amalgamation of areas in Yorkshire, Cumbria and even a bit of Lancashire!

  • Catherine Monaghan says:

    Why the picture of Langcliffe to advertise this item

  • Paul Evans says:

    We vist the dales every year in early November, never get tied of it .stay in Hawes where they make the cheese

  • KMVPS says:

    Exiled Yorkshireman writes: Dent also has advantage of its own railway station, on the wonderful Settle – Carlisle railway; but, be warned, it’s long, long walk from village.

    And, Dent now comes under administrative county of Cumbria, but wouldn’t most Yorkshire folk say it’s still in old West Riding of Yorkshire (cf. Sedbergh)?

  • Gillian Martin says:

    Thank you, Jonathan. I live in Colorado but like to visit Yorkshire often when I come home to cheshire for a visit. Two years ago, I drove my mother through the heart of the Dales, from the Lancashire side on a diagonal up to the North Eastern side on our way to Durham. The scenery is nothing short of breathtaking – I was oohing and arrhing the whole journey, around each different bend. I will save this email for when I next visit as I love to hike. Thank you for your recommendations.

  • Gill says:

    Thank you Jonathan for your recommendations. I agree with them wholeheartedly! Returning to your beautiful home county is on my list not least to tick off more of the ‘Dales 30’. Best wishes to you

  • Kathleen Curtiss says:

    I am going to look at this later…its been some time since I was into Yorkshire. Thank you.

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