Yorkshire Dales

The Yorkshire Dales? Many in Middle Europe do not associate much with it, but for English people the Yorkshire Dales are probably as well known as the Black Forest in my area. That’s where I live, but since I like northern landscapes I set out to explore the Yorkshire Dales.

The Yorkshire Dales are a National Park since 1954. With an area corresponding to 10% of Saxony, the park should be quickly to explored. However, there are so many interesting places, that my 10 day tour was not overdone.

The Yorkshire Dales are thinly populated. Arriving from the north, a lonelsome highland moor is crossed for many miles. I was surprised to see that such a landscape can still be found in England.

My travel starts in the north east, leading in a big bend to the south, then with another bend to the north west. Since the area is fairly small, many places can be visited by car in a short time.


Richmond is a small city in the north east of the Yorkshire Dales. Visiting the center is worthwhile, and even more so a hike along the river Swale. The Richmond Castle which is passed dominates the valley. Like anywhere here, the rivers are still rivers, not channels as I see them mostly at home. Even near the city center, nature with a waterfall can be photographed.

The path led along the river to the Easby Abbey. Though not as famous as some other abbey ruins, William Turner painted this ruin. Few tourists were there, so there was little to disurb the particular atmosphere of this place.

The way back along the north shore of the river Swale was also worthwhile.

Through West Burton and Aysgarth to Bainsbridge

The first tour led first to West Burtun, a small village with a nice village green – a grass area in the middle of the village. The marvellous Cauldron falls can be reached from there with just a few steps.

The nearby Aysgarth has even several waterfalls. The remarkeabls High Force can be easily viewed already from the main bridge, but it is also worthwhile to walk along the river towards the Middle and Lower falls.

Arriving at Bainsbridge in the late afternoon, there was still time to visit the Gill Mills Force. It is smaller and different, but also worth a visit.

Circle tour Gunnerside and Muker

Gunnerside in the Swaledale is predominantly known for its picturesque meadows and brick barns. However, it was not alway so pretty. The Gunnerside Hill side valley and the area above the meadows served as a  mining area for lead until the end of the 19. century.

The river Swale which was already shown on the pictures from Richmond runs along Muker, shaping the Wain Wath Force and the Kisdon Fall. Walking up to Crackpot Hall provides a nice view across the valleys.

Through Hawes to Grassington

I intended to visit the Cotter Force near Hawes, but it can be reached only through an inn which had closed the access because a TV team was working at the waterfall. A short walk to the Hardraw Force more than compensated for this. It is a marvellous waterfall which obviously found no other interest during my visit.

A splendid view across the landscape can be had above Buckden. The Cray Gill waterfalls are located a little further below.

Near Arncliffe a path leads through the meadows up the hill, providing a nice view across the wide landscape.

Walking up the hill is particularyl worthwhile at Conistone. Once on top, it is not only the splendid view but also the particularly nice Limestone Pavement which is located there. This is a “pavement” which was formed in the originally flat limestone surface by erosion. At Conistone, many trees are growing in the cracks, leaving an unusual impression on the otherwise bare rocks.

Circle tour Embsay and Bolton Abbey

In Northern England, it has to be taken into account that the weather is not always inviting for a walk. I skipped the intended visit of the Embsay Crags therefore, and with this weather, the Embsey Reservoir was not overly inviting either.

When arriving at the Bolton Abbey, the weather was better so that I could walk along the river Wharfe. Like on many places in the Yorkshire Dales, William Turner made some paintings here – besides the Bolton Abbey also a view along the river (Distant View of Barden Tower on the River Wharfe). The Barden Tower is only faintly visibly on my picture taken from this viewpoint.

Through Fountains Abbey and Knaresborough to Harrogate

The Brimham Rocks are an area with remarkeable rock formations. While well frequented, it is much more quiet a few steps aside. On the circle tour I found the most remarkeable rock I have seen so far. It is a gigantic rock balancing on a very small base.

A visit of Fountains Abbey and the Studley Royal Water Garden was a highlight of my travel.

Before arriving at the spa city Harrogate, I stopped in Knaresborough, where an impressive bridge crosses the river Nidd.

Through Malham to Settle

From Harrogate in the south I started my way back to the north on the west side of the Yorkshire Dales.

The Almscliffe Rag is a smaller rock formation which appears to be less interesting when seen from the road. Still, walking up the short path is worthwhile to see the rocks and to have a view across the landsape.

Malham has impressive rock formations. A circle hiking tour leads first to the Malham Cove, which is a huge limesone formation.  After walking up the stairs, a limestone pavement is reached with a wide view across the landscape. Caution is required, though: a visitor fell on the slippery rocks and had to be rescued with a helicopter.

The walk leads to the Gordale Scar, a huge notch in the rocks with a small waterfall at the end.

The way back leads through beautiful woodland, passing Janet’s foss.

After this wonderful walk I drove up to Malham Tarn. At dawn with a tendency for drizzle, this had an enchanted atmosphere. Hardly any other tourist disturbed this particular impression.

In the evening I arrived a the Lion’s inn, halfway inn, halfway sitting room. Since I am not particularly keen on Ale, I enjoyed even more a fruity Aspall cider which could be had there besides the ubiquitios Strongbow.

Circle tour Settle

I asked the innkeeper whether he knows how to reach the Scaleber Force. He did not know it, despite that it is only little more than a mile away. But others knew it; several cars were parking near the access point. I went down the fairly steep path, and to my surprise a small band with keyboard was playing on the ground of the river bed. They made a video of the singer, and his song was as earthy as the waterfall behind him. They soon finished and were sitting later with their instruments in the meadows.

A circle tour from Settle led first to the limestone works near Stainforth. This is an abandoned limestone kiln. It is quite big and has a circular hallway in the basement which was also for interest to a school class visiting this place.

The river Ribble has a cataract, the Stainforth Force.

From Stainforth, a farm track leads up the hill in about a 3/4 mile to the Catrigg Force. The Catrigg Beck is first seen as a small creek running across the meadows, and it is quite surprising to see the size of the waterfall that it forms a few steps away. The way back provides a nice view across the landscape.

From Stainforth, it is not far to the Winskill stones, a small limestone pavement. It is remarkeable due to the lonely tree that grows on it.

Back in the Lion’s Inn I enjoyed another Aspall Cider :-).

Circle tour Ingleton

Ingleton was my last station in the Yorkshire Dales. Along the wide valley towards Hawes there are several scars and limestone pavements which are worth a visit. Among these are the Southerscales Pavement and the Twistleton Scar.

The local railway from Carlisle leads through the Yorkshire Dales with several viaducts. The Dent Hill viaduct at the end of the valley is quite impressive.

Ingleton is also well known for its waterfalls which can be explored in a circular hiking tour. The guardian at the entrance asked with some concern whether I know how late it is. She did not like to see people on tour at late hours. However, June has long daylight in Northern England, so there was no issue to make the tour while it was not yet dark.


At the end I visited the beautiful city York, south of the Yorkshire Dales.

The city can be easily explored on a tour along the defence wall which almost completely preserved. A visit of the the city center with its impressive minster is also of interest as a history refresher: Konstantin was proclamaimed here 306 as emporer. Remnants of roman ruins can be found in the basement of the minster.


Those who prefer to spend their vacation at the beach will not be happy in the Yorkshire Dales. Not only because there is no beach, also because temperatures and wheather would not be particularly suited. For nature lovers it is a marvellous area though, with many waterfalls, remarkeable rocks and historic buildings. For good reason, the well known Pennine Way passes the Yorkshire Dales. It is not necessary, though, to walk this demanding long distance trail. Those liking beautiful landscapes and nice walks will also be happy with small tours in the Yorksire Dales.

For technical interest

As usual, I took most pictures with the Hipstamatic App and and iPhone (4s). Usually I do not need more than that; it does perfectly what I want to capture. I had also a Hasselblad with me, along with a Planar 2,8/80, Distagon 4/50 FLE und Tessar 4,5/160 CB. As the picture below shows, it may also be used to take pictures, but not as easy. Quite often, it is surprisingly difficult to get the character which I got with the iPhone. If you still prefer to use a Hasselblad: do not forget the mirror pre-release with longer exposure times. Otherwise even the technical quality may not match an older iPhone.


A marvellous landscape in Northern England