The Yorkshire Dales are a haven for walkers, especially when you consider the beautiful rolling countryside and miles and miles of hiking trails. Dramatic moorland, picturesque valleys and incredible limestone formations serve as the backdrop for some of the best walking in the country, with an excellent variety of terrain to suit every taste and ability. You really are spoilt for choice when it comes to Yorkshire Dales walks.
We got together with Bridgedale, the market leaders in technical socks for walking, to find the top five walks in the area. Bridgedale offers a comprehensive range of technical socks for outdoor pursuits such as walking and hiking. It’s fair to say the weather doesn’t always play ball in the Dales, so we like to have a pair of their waterproof socks handy, to keep our feet cosy and dry on these Yorkshire Dales walks.
Keld to Tan Hill Inn
Distance: 9 miles
Check out Britain’s highest public house with a walk from the charming little hamlet of Keld at the head of Swaledale. Admire the cascades of East Gill Force before beginning the walk from the footpath signposted Murker. You’ll soon reach the famous Pennine Way, following the acorn signs directing you across the blustery moor to Tan Hill Inn.
Indulge in a winter warmer beside the open fire before turning right out of the pub to continue the walk past the crumbling stones of the Nine Standards Rigg, which is thought to have been created by the Romans to look like troops on the hill. Drop back down past the river and back into Keld.
Distance: 7 miles
This is a fantastic, if challenging, circular route to the top of Buckden Pike, traversing the ridge and polish war memorial before heading back down and along the River Wharfe. Begin at the Buckden car park and follow the path uphill, enjoying excellent views of Langstrothdale.
From the 702m summit, continue along the moorland ridge crossing a stile to reach the war memorial. Follow the path downhill to Starbotton and continue back along the riverside to Buckden.
Distance: 8.4 miles
Conquer one of the highest points in the Dales with a ramble up to the summit of Whernside, and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. You can begin your walk at the Ribblehead Viaduct, and wonder at the impressive 24-arch railway bridge before continuing up the Three Peaks Path to reach the Whernside summit.
Drop back down into Bruntscar and eventually turn left, passing Winterscales to emerge at the railway where you began. You can then follow the short path back to your starting point.
Photo: Dave Thistleton Images
Distance: 7 miles
Perfect as a winter’s day route, this walk begins in the delightful village of Stainforth, where you can bookend your walk with a drink at the welcoming village pub. Here, you’ll also find the Stainforth Force, a procession of tumbling falls where in autumn you can spot migrating salmon leaping from the turbulent waters.
You begin the walk from the national car park, following a bridleway towards Stainforth bridge, where you take a left and follow the riverbank until a left turn up to secluded Stackhouse. As the imposing Ingleborough comes into view, continue on through Wharfe Woods to reach the little hamlet of Feizor. From here you can circle back round or retrace your steps to Stainforth.
Ilkley Moor and the Twelve Apostles
Distance: 4.5 miles
Intriguing historic features and swathes of open moorland make up the basis for this fantastic walk, which offers unbeatable views of the Yorkshire Dales. Begin at the Cow and Calf Hotel on the grassy path which leads to a quick scramble up to Pancake Stone. Bear right along the path onto the open moor before reaching the Bradford-Ilkley Dales Way link path, where you’ll take a left. Soon you’ll reach the ring of Bronze Age standing stones known as the Twelve Apostles. They’re thought to mark the meeting of two ancient routes across the moor.
Retrace your steps from the Twelve Apostles, taking a left at Backstone Beck to continue along a ridge with sensational views of the open countryside. Head downhill and bear right at White Wells, continuing past the tarn to eventually reach Cow and Calf rocks, which is a popular spot for climbers.
Janet’s Foss, Gordale Scar and Malham Cove
Distance: 7.5 miles
No list of Yorkshire Dales walks could be complete without a mention of Malham Cove, the huge limestone formation created thousands of years ago by a waterfall carrying glacial meltwater from the Ice Age. This walk also gets you to the Gordale Scar ravine and the pretty falls of Janet’s Foss. Begin the walk in the charming village of Malham, following the path south, heading through the quaint Webdale Woods alongside the trickling Gordale Beck. You’ll soon reach the picturesque falls of Janet’s Foss. Continue north along the path, first reaching Gordale Bridge and afterwards the famous waterfall at Gordale Scar gorge.
This is where things get really interesting. To reach the next section of the walk, you’ll need to scramble up the waterfall, ascending to the steep climb onto the limestone cliffs beyond. Continue along Watlowes to enjoy stunning views from the top of Malham Cove after an exhilarating scramble up the falls. Descend the cove to the west to emerge at water level and drink in the views from the bottom, before heading back along the path to Malham.
The Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge
For those adventurers wishing to challenge themselves further in the Yorkshire Dales, look no further than the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge.
Covering 24 miles, the challenge is to take on the three peaks of Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough, scaling them all in just 12 hours. It’s a serious test of endurance, with few rest stops in-between compared to the UK’s Three peaks Challenge. It may represent a tougher challenge than some of the walks listed above, but if lockdown has given you an opportunity to train up for some hiking it would certainly make for a memorable day.
Essential kit for Yorkshire Dales walks
Thinking of heading out on one of these Yorkshire Dales Walks? Autumn can bring blustery weather and a chance of rain, so it helps to be prepared with the right kit to keep you warm and dry as you explore the moors. We recommend ensuring you have some decent waterproofs, with good quality mid layers to keep you cosy.
Many people neglect their feet when planning for wet or cold weather, and pick any old pair of hiking socks, but you’ll be surprised how quickly wet socks can cause your toes to go numb. Investing in a decent pair of waterproof socks, such as the excellent range offered by Bridgedale, will ensure that even if the weather turns, you won’t have to put up with soggy socks and cold feet for the remainder of your walk.
This article was updated on 15 June, 2020, to include the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge.