Natural Wonders: The Yorkshire Dales

In the final part of our series on national parks, Rhiannon Batten explores the valleys of the North

Billowing from Skipton to just south of Kirkby Stephen and from Settle to Richmond, the Yorkshire Dales National Park is classic late summer and early autumn territory. It was established in 1954, as a patch of territory about the size of Greater London.

Today, the National Park is home to pretty tearooms, quaint museums, cosy pubs and crumbling abbeys. But the real attraction is the countryside that surrounds it all: a sprawling but scenic mass of rolling fields and valleys, dry-stone walls and ancient barns. The most popular way to see this – and the best way to escape the crowds that many of the picture-perfect villagesattract – is on foot.

Classic Dales walksinclude a ramble along the River Swale, a hike around Malham Cove and Malham Tarn and the 8km stroll along the Ingleton Waterfalls Trail (01524 241930; ingletonwaterfallstrail.co.uk). Access to the latter costs £5 (£2 for children). For maps, guides and more generalinformation on these and other day walks, there are National Park Centres at Aysgarth, Grassington, Hawes, Malham and Reeth (01969 666210; yorkshiredales.org.uk).

For more strenuous leg stretching there areRibblesdale and the Dales' Three Peaks – Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen-y-ghent. Each year, thousands of walkers take up the challenge of topping all three in 12 hours or less. For more information on this or to become a Friend of the Three Peaks and help protect the area around them, see www.ind.pn/qguLFu.

Or combine walking boots and books at Richmond Walking and Book Festival, which runs from 23 September to 2 October this year (01748 824243; booksandboots.org). The festival kicks off with a talk by Mike Parker and Colin Speakman (£8); the latter is Chairman of the Yorkshire Dales Society and a real authority on walking in the area. Be inspired by thisintroduction and then set off on one of the festival's many guided walks.

Running with the theme, this year is also the 10thanniversary of the Black Sheep Brewery's Boots & Beer Festival, 9-11 September. The participation fee of £27.50 includes access to 14 self-guided walks designed by local walking expert, Mark Reid (01765 689227; www.ind.pn/oDA8nI). The beer part comes in on the Saturday evening, at various festival social events that incur an additional fee.

You don't have to be a walker to enjoy the Dales, though. Thanks to the Augustinians and Cistercians, the National Park and its surroundings are home to some of the country's most impressive abbeys (though thanks to Henry VIII all now lie, albeit photogenically, in ruins). These include 12th-century Bolton Abbey in Wharfedale, which offers restaurants, cafés, shops and family activities as well as ancient architecture (01756 718009; boltonabbey.com; admission £6 per vehicle).

Castles are another quintessential element of the Dales. Medieval Bolton Castle (01969 623981; boltoncastle.co.uk) in Wensleydale was built by Richard Le Scrope, Lord Chancellor to Richard II. Mary Queen of Scots was infamously imprisoned in it from 1568 to 1569. It is now owned by Lord Bolton, adirect descendant of Le Scrope. The castle has been transformed into a contemporary tourist attraction over recent years; admission £8.50 for adults and £7 for children. Attractionsinclude falconry displays, wild boar feeding and archery demonstrations on offer alongside conventional tours of the castle and gardens. New this year is an exhibition on beekeeping through the ages.

The Dales Countryside Museum, in Hawes, offers a more modest approach to the area's history. The museum (01969 666210; www.ind.pn/qQLlZ4; adults £3.50; children free) is managed by the National Park Authority. The displays provide a primer on Dales life through the ages, with exhibits on school days, home life, leisure, religion, transport, tourism, farming and local crafts and industries.

If you're a fan of Wensleydale cheese, stop off at the nearby Wensleydale Creamery which was saved from closure by Dalesman Kit Calvert in the 1930s. It boasts a newly renovated visitor centre (01969 667664; wensleydale.co.uk). Admission to the museum and viewing gallery costs £2.50 for adults, £1.50 for children but many visitors skip the tour and head straight to the cheese shop or restaurant.

If you want more than dairy-based sustenance, the Artbar Gallery in Appersett, just outside Hawes, has been recently revamped and now runs acoffee shop on weekends serving homemade cakes and scones (01969 667782; moirametcalfe.co.uk).

For something even more substantial, try the Farmers Arms, in Muker (01748 886297; farmersarmsmuker.co.uk). It changed hands late last year and is now independently run by an enthusiastic local couple.

The menu includes homemade beef casserole (£7.95) and Swaledale sausage-topped giant Yorkshire puddings (£6.95). Or take a pew on one of the benches in front of the pub to toast your tour of the Dales with a pint of local Muker Silver ale.

For more information on the area see yorkshire.com and yorkshiredales.org.uk.

Three places to stay: Yorkshire Dales

THE LION AT SETTLE

This 17th-century coaching inn lies just inside the south-west boundary of the National Park. Original features such as an Inglenook fireplace and candle nooks in the walls have been preserved in a recent revamp; but it now also offers 14 smart bedrooms and food made with good local ingredients, such as haddock in Thwaites beer batter. Doubles start at £85, including breakfast. Duke Street, Settle, BD24 9DU (01729 822203; thelionsettle.co.uk).

SHEPHERD'S HUT

Amanda Owen was the envy of many a small business owner when her Shepherd's Hut featured on ITV's recent series "The Dales". The publicity means there are few available nights left this year at the hut in question – painted green, and looking rather like a railway wagon. The location is a working farm called Ravenseat at the head of the River Swale, west of Keld. It may be the halfway point on the Coast-to-Coast footpath but it's an off-the-beaten-track location. Doubles start at £60, including breakfast. Ravenseat Farm, Keld, Richmond, DL11 6LP (01748 886387; ravenseat.com).

YOREBRIDGE HOUSE HOTEL

This boutique bolthole just outside the village of Bainbridge is one of the region's most stylish hotels. It was voted the most romantic hotel in the UK earlier this year. A former school – and, latterly, the headquarters of the National Park Authority – it reopened as a hotel three years ago and now boasts 11 chic rooms (four with private outdoor hot tubs), a bar and restaurant. Doubles rooms start at £180, including breakfast. Bainbridge, North Yorkshire, DL8 3EE (01969 652060; yorebridgehouse.co.uk).

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Arts and Entertainment
On set of the Secret Cinema's Back to the Future event
filmBut why were Back to the Future screenings cancelled?
News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Lewis Hamilton walks back to the pit lane with his Mercedes burning in the background
Formula 1
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con
comic-con 2014
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
News
i100
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
i100
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Day In a Page

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
    Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

    Edinburgh Fringe 2014

    The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
    Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

    The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

    What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
    Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

    Finding the names for America’s shame

    The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
    Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

    Inside a church for Born Again Christians

    As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
    Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
    Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

    Incredible survival story of David Tovey

    Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride