The Yorkshire Dales offer ample opportunities for hiking, whether you’re a seasoned pro seeking a challenge or a first-time walker looking for an easy route. Mountains, hills, limestone pavements, rivers, waterfalls and gorges are all in abundance, offering a variety of landscapes to admire along the way. There’s no end to the possible routes across fields, up steep hills and beside rivers, but here are five of the very best hiking routes in the area.
Gordale Scar and Malham Tarn Circuit
If you’re blessed with good weather, this iconic route could be a great option for an introduction to the dramatic landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales. The entire route clocks in at around nine miles and involves several uphill climbs, but the views you are rewarded with, particularly from Gordale Scar, provide excellent rewards. It’s possible to shorten the walk just to include a circular route around Malham, but ensure that you climb to the top of Malham Cove to marvel in the impressive limestone pavement that decorates its summit.
Ingleton waterfalls trail
Passing the most impressive collection of waterfalls in the whole of the United Kingdom, the circular route around Ingleton waterfalls is one of the most popular walks in the Dales. Leaving the carpark, the walk first takes you through beautiful woodland before climbing suddenly upwards past a seemingly never-ending collection of cascades. After admiring the dramatic Thornton Force, the route flattens out to expansive fields with views of the surrounding countryside before descending steeply past another series of waterfalls.
If you’re looking for a relatively easygoing walk that takes in plenty of views, the Settle Round is a great option. The highlight of this 10-mile circuit has to be the visit to Victoria Cave, a limestone cavern that has unearthed several Prehistoric finds. Walking back toward Settle after leaving the cave, the route passes by impressive limestone structures and a scenic nature reserve, leaving the dramatic views of Warrendale Knotts for the end of the walk.
Aysgarth woods and waterfalls
This short 1.5-mile walk is ideal for those who want to admire the scenery of the Dales without committing to a longer hike. Leaving from the Aysgarth carpark, the easy-to-follow route takes you through St Joseph’s Woods before emerging at an area that offers views of the surrounding countryside and Castle Bolton in the distance. On the return journey, the walk passes the series of three waterfalls where hikers can stop to admire the falls or climb down to get a closer view.
Three Peaks challenge
If you’re after more of a challenge, why not prepare yourself for the most iconic walk in the Yorkshire Dales? The Three Peaks challenge takes in the three highest mountains in the vicinity: Ingleborough, Pen Y Ghent and Whernside. While the 25 miles may not sound that far, be prepared for the hike to take around 14 hours due to the steep climbs involved and the distances between the peaks.