A couple of weeks ago I went camping for a long weekend in the Yorkshire Dales for the first time and it was absolutely wonderful!! I honestly can’t believe it’s taken me so long to get there (especially as for the past 6 months I have been living less than an hour away) but now that I’ve been I will be making sure to visit again very soon… in fact, at the time of writing this post I will be going for a walk around Kirkby Lonsdale tomorrow!
The other week we were incredibly lucky to have great weather; the sun was shining and it was still pretty warm, despite the occasional drizzle or gust of wind, which I don’t mind in the slightest. We stayed at Holme Farm Campsite in Horton-in-Ribblesdale which was in a great location (read: two pubs within 200 yards), didn’t dent the wallet, had average facilities (if you’re OK paying £1 for a questionably dingy shower and generally roughing it up for a few nights) and bloody gorgeous views.
It helps if you have a car to get around, as there are some great places to visit within a 10/20 minute drive from Horton. Just make sure to get up and out fairly early during peak times (summer/weekends etc.) as the car parks get quite full! Without further ado, here’s a rough itinerary for what I think you should consider doing on your trip to the Dales…
DAY 1: Kirkby Lonsdale and the Devil’s Bridge
Kirkby Lonsdale was our first stop in the Dales and what a lovely little town it is! Park up near the centre and wander around the antiques shops and boutiques, stop for afternoon tea if you feel so inclined, and walk up past the church to Ruskin’s View, a lovely viewpoint overlooking the Lune Valley below.
The main sight to see in Kirkby Lonsdale, however, is Devil’s Bridge. Notoriously, people (illegally) jump off this in summer, which seems pretty daft as the water doesn’t appear to be that deep and there’s some lovely jagged rocks at the bottom… Instead, be sensible and walk over the bridge and alongside the river, where there are plenty of places to stop for a picnic. There’s also some great footpaths around here so take yourself off for a wander and end up back in town.
There’s also White Scar Caves about 15 minutes’ drive from Kirkby Lonsdale, which are apparently good fun to visit (especially with kids); they showcase the UK’s longest cave system at over 6km! I hope to visit next year when it’s warmer and not so busy. More information about tickets and current opening times are on their website.
DAY 2: Ingleton Waterfall Trail and Ribblehead Viaduct
One day of your 3 day itinerary HAS to be spent walking the Ingleton Waterfall Trail. Get here early because it’s pretty busy (they are currently working on a one way system so that the paths don’t get blocked) and be prepared to pay a little more than you’d expect just for a walk, but trust me it’s worth it. Beginning with a short walk to Pecca Falls, the trail takes you through lush woodland and is, in places, built into the side of the rockfaces lining the valley.
The trail is an 8km long (4.5 miles) loop so can easily be done in a couple of hours, but you will want to stop for refreshments and for photos along the way as it is one of the most scenic walks I have ever done in the UK! The ‘end’ of the loop is Ingleton Falls, a spectacular waterfall to say the least, and curves back around the take you through Baxenghyll Gorge, another prime photo spot!
Once you’ve completed the waterfall trail, drive 10 minutes away to Ribblehead Viaduct for yet another jaw-dropping sight! This 32-metre-high railway bridge looks like a miniature of Glenfinnan Viaduct (where Harry Potter was filmed in Scotland) and is super impressive to look at. Park up on the side of the road and walk across the fields to marvel at it up close, and explore some of the nearby footpaths if you’re up for another walk in the beautiful Dales.
DAY 3: More waterfalls & Malham Cove
Probably my favourite day of the weekend was our final day, a slightly longer walk from Janet’s Foss to Gordale Scar, up to the hilltop overlooking the valley and around to Malham Tarn and Malham Cove.
We drove to Malham and walked to Janet’s Foss, another wonderful waterfall in the area. From there we ventured over to Gordale Scar; this was a pleasant surprise as the path leading up to it looks like it’s just going to a dead end at a cliff face… but how wrong was I! Gordale Scar is another small waterfall cascading down the cliffs and pooling in a little cove. It was beautiful enough but then we hiked up a steep path to the top of the ridge and were greeted with an incredible view of the Scar and the winding valley below.
From Gordale Scar we hiked a few miles to Malham Tarn. While there’s not much to write home about here (it’s a nice enough lake with a stately home over the other side), Malham Cove is really where it’s at. The Cove was a slight scramble down from the height we had been hiking at, and again didn’t look like much on the approach, until we reached the edge of the cliff and saw the magnificent view of the valley stretching for miles! Malham Cove is also where Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I was filmed, so it’s a popular tourist spot.
After scrambling down more steps to the valley below, look back at the Cove and the tremendous cliff face above you – and try to spot the climbers making their way up!
I hope this is a useful guide if you’re planning on visiting the Yorkshire Dales – or maybe some inspiration if it’s never been on your radar before!