The Yorkshire Dales is a wonderful national park full of green rolling hills, pretty stone walls, charming country villages, fluffy friendly sheep and giant railway viaducts. There is so much to see and many things to do in the Yorkshire Dales it can be hard to choose how to spend just one day in the Yorkshire Dales. How do you choose which spectacular spot to visit in the Yorkshire Dales? If it is your first time visiting the dales then check out this one day in the Yorkshire Dales itinerary. You don’t have to like hiking to enjoy the dales but if you do then you will be in heaven! This one-day Yorkshire Dales itinerary will take you to some of the most iconic sites in the Dales. If you like a walk but the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge does not sound like your Yorkshire cup of tea, then this is the perfect Yorkshire Dales day itinerary for non-hikers!
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- Getting to the Yorkshire Dales
- Do I need a car to visit the Yorkshire Dales?
- One day in the Yorkshire Dales itinerary:
- Best time of year for one day in Yorkshire Dales Itinerary
- Budget for one day in the Yorkshire Dales
- Best places to stay in the Yorkshire Dales
Getting to the Yorkshire Dales
The Yorkshire Dales is a national park in the north of England. Located to the north of Leeds and just below the Lake District you can reach the dales by car or train.
Do I need a car to visit the Yorkshire Dales?
You don’t need a car to visit the Yorkshire Dales. The Settle to Carlisle railway goes through the Western Dales letting you hop out into the hills. There are plenty of epic car-free hikes in the Yorkshire Dales! There are a few buses too. However, if you are looking to stop off at lots of places during your trip to the Yorkshire Dales, having a car gives you much more flexibility
One day in the Yorkshire Dales itinerary
My parents were coming up for the weekend and I was desperate to show them the Yorkshire Dales. There are so many spectacular spots in the Yorkshire Dales, it was hard to narrow down what to squeeze into a one day Yorkshire Dales itinerary! After much debate I finally decided on a route to tick off some of the classic sites in the Yorkshire Dales. This is a great one-day Yorkshire Dales road trip for non-hikers who just want to see some lovely sites without getting sweaty!
The first stop on our one day in the Yorkshire Dales itinerary is Bolton Abbey. Bolton Abbey is a wonderful romantic ruin on the banks of the River Wharfe. This is a favourite spot for families to picnic, balance on the stepping stones or wonder through surrounding woodland whilst enjoying the gothic abbey ruins. Bolton Abbey village is very quaint and has a few nice tea rooms too. Yet as we are on a full packed day itinerary we will only be stopping here briefly. Furthermore, parking at Bolton Abbey will set you back a whopping 10 pounds!
To admire the abbey from above drive past the priory on the B6160 and admire the ruins from the car. Alternatively, if you drive up to the Cavendish memorial and keep going until the double yellows stop you can park next to the road and walk back down to the Cavendish memorial. From there you will see an epic view of Bolton Abbey. What a way to start our day in the Yorkshire Dales!
After taking a few pictures of Bolton Abbey hop back in the car then we can go and get an early lunch in Skipton!
It is just a short 6-mile drive from Bolton Abbey to Skipton. Skipton is a lovely market town and calls itself the gateway to the dales. We will stop here for lunch, a quick walk along the cobbled market street up the castle and along the Leeds-Liverpool canal. This might be an early lunch but it will be good to fuel up for our afternoon explorations.
There are plenty of places to eat in Skipton. There are also lots of great vegan options such as my favourite café in Skipton, Steep & Filter. Pop in wherever takes you fancy and grab a bite to eat. All the fresh Yorkshire air will make you hungry!
After lunch wonder down the cobbled high street and the wonderfully named Sheep Street. Skipton actually means “sheep town” as Skip was an old word for sheep. You will be able to get a glimpse of Skipton castle from the top of the high street too. Then hop in the car as we head to one of the Yorkshire Dales most famous sites, Malham Cove!
Malham Cove is an awesome natural wonder that never ceases to impress. This ancient limestone formation was created by a giant waterfall at the end of the last ice age. Malham Cove has to be on your Yorkshire Bucket list! If it is your first time to Yorkshire Dales, a walk to the base or even the top of Malham Cove is a great way to be introduced to the dales.
It is a 23-minute drive from Skipton to Malham car park. After parking up wonder through the very pretty town of Malham where the calming trickling of Malham beck accompanies you. Follow the beck northwards and soon you will see the giant cove ahead. There is a well-kept path which leads to the base of the grey cliffs. For those who don’t fancy climbing up the steps the view from below is still fantastic. You may even be able to spot rock climbers on the face of Malham cove. It will take around 20 minutes from the car-park to reach the base.
If you don’t might a short steep climb head up to the top of Malham Cove where there are some incredible limestone pavements to see. You may recognise this spot from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows! The views from the top are not bad either. From here you can go on hikes to Malham Tarn, head to Gordale Scar or over to Settle. Alas we don’t have time for that today and must descend and head back to our car. You will probably still be full from lunch but there are lots of lovely cafes and pubs in Malham if you do need some refreshment.
After following Malham Beck you will probably be in the mood to see a pretty Yorkshire waterfall! We could head to Janet’s foss which is closeby but let’s leave the crowds of Malham behind and head to a more secret waterfall – Scaleber Force!
There are many wonderful waterfalls in Yorkshire. One of my favourite waterfalls in Yorkshire is Scaleber Force. It may not be as big as Cautley Spout or as famous as Hadraw Force but it is wonderful. You drive across fields and moorlands and suddenly a little patch of trees appears from nowhere. Hidden within this leafy oasis lies the pretty Scaleber Force.
From Malham Car Park it will take about 10 mins to drive the 5 miles to Scaleber Force. Park up and you will hear the roar of the water. Enter the woodland, which is particularly spectacular in autumn and you can admire the Yorkshire waterfall from above. If your legs are still up for it you can walk down to the bottom but be careful as the path is a dirt track and quite narrow at times. Otherwise sit on the bench and look down at the fall.
We could not do a one day in the Yorkshire Dales itinerary and not include a trip to a waterfall! This waterfall is also very accessible making it a perfect addition to any Yorkshire Dales road trip itinerary! Just please don’t tell too many people and let’s keep the waterfall a secret!
We are nearing the end of our one-day Yorkshire Dales road trip! The final stretch is the longest one but it is a very enjoyable one. We will end our day in the Yorkshire Dales itinerary by catching the sunset at Ribbleshead viaduct!
Whilst the sunset is not guaranteed, it is certain that you will gasp at the engineering feet of Ribbleshead. Furthermore, you will be in the shadow of the mighty Yorkshire 3 peaks themselves.
Our final stop of the one day in the Yorkshire Dales will be the Ribblehead Viaduct Car park. From here you can walk up to the Ribblehead viaduct and go under one of its mighty arches. To your right is the highest peak in the Dales, Whernside. To your left is another iconic peak, Ingleborough. What a way to end our one-day Yorkshire Dales itinerary!
You will probably be pretty hungry again by this point so pop into the station inn for a well-deserved meal and drink. There are lots of vegan and gluten-free options at the Station Inn too.
Smile and enjoy your food whilst looking back at your epic day in the Yorkshire Dales!
Best time of year to visit the Yorkshire Dales
The Yorkshire Dales is open year-round and different times of year bring different delights! In summer, longer days and better weather await you. In autumn colourful foliage make for magical photos. In spring the blossom delights visitors. Winter can bring a blanket of snow and some wonderful waterfalls!
Yes, it rains a lot. It can get quite windy too. Just bring your waterproofs, be prepared to experience several different seasons in one day and you will have a great time!
Best places to stay in the Yorkshire Dales
Fancy spending more than one day in the Yorkshire Dales? There are plenty of places to stay in the Yorkshire Dales! You can camp, stay in a hotel, book a night in a cottage, discover a quaint guesthouse or even stay in a 100% vegan B&B! There is plenty of choice in the Dales. Just make sure you book in advance for popular bank holidays or summer holidays.
Have a look on the booking.com tool below to find somewhere to stay!
Alternatively, you could stay in the nearby city of Leeds or use Ilkley as a nice base. This itinerary allows you to see the best of the Yorkshire Dales in a day!
Budget for one day in the Yorkshire Dales itinerary
In terms of what to budget for one day in the Yorkshire Dales, you biggest costs will be parking, fuel and food. It is free to enter the national park itself!
Expect to pay between £5 to £8 for lunch plus around £2 to £3 for a drink.
For dinner, food at the Station Inn will set you back around £10 plus £2 to 3 for a drink. You can see the full menu here.
You will have to pay to park in Malham and maybe in Skipton. Malham car park costs £2.70 for up to two hours as of May 2020. In Skipton you may be able to find free road parking or it will cost £1.20 for 1 hour or £2.30 for up to £2 hours.
Have you been inspired to try this one day in the Yorkshire Dales itinerary?
Have you been inspired to try this one day in the Yorkshire Dales itinerary? Or have we missed one of your favourite spots in the Yorkshire Dales which you would say you must visit on a one-day trip to the Yorkshire Dales? Let us know in the comments below!
We hope you enjoyed our day in the Yorkshire Dales road trip itinerary!