If you are not familiar with the Yorkshire Dales it can be very difficult to work out where to go to avoid the crowds. I have chosen 10 excellent walks which are from, or very close, to the most popular centres. However the walks themselves defy the ‘always busy’ tag and lead to hidden gems in rarely discovered countryside.
If you read most guide books, social media and other information pieces you would imagine that the Dales begins and ends at Ingleton, Malham, Aysgarth and a few other places. The Dales though is vast and even if you go to these centres there is always the choice of a quiet walk, a walk you can explore yourself and not be surrounded by others.
There are 10 walks I have described below across the Yorkshire Dales but there are many more. Check my full list of Yorkshire Dales walks and discover them yourselves. Not only are the walks described in details on the links, with many photos, but so are the best places to park and drink afterwards.
A 6.5 mile circular walk up moorland to Weets Hill with its excellent views across to Malham Cove and Gordale Scar.
Park in Malham and visit either the Buck Inn or Listers Arms afterwards. Excellent pubs.
Full Walk Details and Photos
A 7.5 mile walk in to open countryside and through the spoil heaps, old buildings and mines of the lead mining industry.
Park in Pateley Bridge with a stop for a pint at Wath Bridge a good option.
Take the train from Settle and start the walk in Horton. The walk is mainly along the River Ribble but through villages, hamlets with an always tranquil feel.
Best done this way as the choice of pubs (I like the Talbot!) in Settle is better.
A 11 mile walk through typical Dales countryside, dry stone walls, barns, sheep and lovely villages. If you want to only walk one way take the uphill path, it is an absolute delight.
Start at Askrigg but think of a stop at the pub in Carperby.
A 10 mile circuit over two of the lesser visited ‘Dales 30‘ summits. The walk avoids the busy routes along the river that head for Hardraw Force and pretty Appersett.
You can park in the village of Gayle to give a head start, there is a good choice of pubs in Hawes
Full Walk Photos and Details
The circuit of Malham Tarn is not the best walk. However if you include Great Close Hill with its views and a walk through the limestone scenery to the north and it is!
There is nearly always parking at the south end of the tarn, and it is free. If you can’t face parking in Malham to visit the pubs and cafes there travel to the pubs in Austwick, Stainforth or even Settle.
The village of Dent is busy and the roads narrow but the easy climb to Aye Gill Pike is a breath of fresh air. Even the paths are barely visible.
Park in the village next to the campsite and return for a pint in the George and Dragon.
A five mile walk from Keld follows the embryonic Swale and takes to the moors nearby for the best views. Keld is often crammed with long distance walkers on the Coast to Coast or Pennine Way but avoid these main arteries and it is gloriously peaceful.
There is parking in Keld but you may want to start further up dale and return to the Keld Lodge for a pint or food.
A 7 mile walk on good tracks. The lead mines above Grassington have an informal ‘tour’ before heading off to the coves at Mossdale. A fair bit further is the remotest spot in England.
Park up the road at Yarlside to save the trawl up an albeit quiet road. The pubs in Grassington are all good with Grassington House offering a luxurious dinner.
Each of the famous Yorkshire 3 Peaks are often very busy but the land between them is not. This long 14 mile walk is not difficult and offers a different perspective to the popular climbs.
I am not a great fan of the pubs in Horton (and the 3 Peaks cafe appears permanently closed), so take the short ride to the Station Inn at Ribblehead or head south to the pretty villages of Austwick, Stainforth and Clapham.
These are walks near or from the most popular places in the Dales. I will add a 2nd blog with the best walks that are away from the popular centres, in areas infrequently visited by those whao do not know.
Enjoy your walking
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