Looking for inspiration for your next hike in the Yorkshire Dales? There are so many fantastic natural spots to discover in the Yorkshire Dales National Park! Whether you are looking for your next peak to climb, a cave to crawl into or a beautiful view point – allow this Yorkshire Dales natural bucket list to encourage you to put your hiking boots on!
The Ultimate Yorkshire Dales Bucket List
- Arten Gill
- Cautley Spout
- The Calf
- Gordale Scar
- Great Knoutberry Hill
- River Wharfe
- Conistone Dib
- Grassington Bridge
- Bolton Abbey
- The Strid
- Malham Tarn
- Malham Cove
- Janet’s Foss
- Aysgarth Waterfall
- Cauldron Waterfall
- Ingleton Waterfall Trail
- Wet Cave
- Victoria Cave
- Jubilee Cave
- View from Flinter’s Gill
- Horse Shoe Cave
- Gaping Gill
- Catrigg Force
- Troller’s Gill
- Skyreholme Beck
- Limestone Walk
- Great Douk Cave
- Hull Pot
A list of the most spectacular spots in the Yorkshire Dales would not be complete without mentioning the icon of the nation park.
Ingleborough is the second highest peak in the Yorkshire Dales national park. Yet whilst this hill may not be the tallest it is the most recognised peak in the Dales. The various layers of different rock can clearly be seen and the huge plateau on the summit offers incredible views of the Dales.
Ingleborough is one of the Yorkshire 3 Peaks and is usually the last summit for hikers undertaking the challenge to complete. Yet even if you do not have the time (or fitness levels!) for the Yorkshire 3 Peak Challenge, walkers can still enjoy a day on Ingleborough. You can even leave the car at home as the peak is within easy reach of both Horton-in-Ribblesdale and Ribblehead train stations.
The view from the top of the Ingleborough is one of Yorkshire Dales most incredible natural spots!
Pen-Y-Ghent is another one of the Yorkshire Dales famous 3 peaks. Whilst it may be the smallest of the 3 peaks, this could be described as the most technical as there are a few scrambles for hikers near the summit. At 694m this is a wonderful hill with lovely views across the Yorkshire dales national park. To really appreciate Pen-Y-Ghent’s beauty walk up its southern flank and walk down its northern side.
It takes around 3 hours to walk to the summit and back into Horton-in-Ribbledale making this a lovely stroll for those of all fitness levels. Furthermore, the allure of a pint at the Crown Pub or a cup of tea at the local café is good motivation!
Pen-Y-Ghent is one of the Yorkshire Dales most spectacular natural spots.
The highest peak in the Yorkshire Dales is Whernside. Whernside stands proudly at 736m. From the summit you can see the beautiful Ribblehead Viaduct, the Lake District, Morecambe bay, Ingleborough, Pen-Y-Ghent and the Howgills.
A particularly nice way to walk to Whernside is by starting in the pretty village of Dent. No Yorkshire Dales bucket list would be complete without including the mighty Whernside!
Arten Gill Viaduct
Along the Settle to Carlisle Railway line there are 22 viaducts, of which the mighty Ribbleshead is the largest with 24 arches. Yet Ribbleshead can feel very touristy as campervans pull up, wonder on the concrete path, take a pic and leave. If you would like to discover and equally as spectacular viaduct but with none of the tourists consider heading slightly further north to Arten Gill.
Arten Gill viaduct may only be half the size of the Ribblehead viaduct with 11 arches but it’s pretty setting, with a small waterfall flowing through the middle arch, is quite breath-taking. In fact, you may recognise the sight as the viaduct was featured in the film Miss Potter with Renee Zellweger.
To reach Arten Gill viaduct, you can catch a train to Dent or drive to the village of Stone House. There are numerous spectacular walks including Knoutberry Hill from which you can see all of the Yorkshire three peaks! Once you are in Stone House, you will see the epic viaduct looming above the village. Wonder up to the railway line and enjoy this wonderful place all to yourself!
Cautley Spout is one of the lesser known Yorkshire Dales spots.
Cautley Spout is England’s tallest waterfall! Located in the Howgills, in the North Western part of the Yorkshire Dales national park, this spectacular cascade of falls tumbles almost 200m (650 feet) down the hillside.
The Howgills are one of the quietest areas of the Yorkshire Dales making this a great place to escape the crowds!
You must add Cautley Spout to your ultimate Yorkshire Dales national park bucket list!
The Calf is the highest point in the Howgill Fells. From the summit you can see the beautiful rolling hills, surprisingly empty of dry-stone walling so common in this national park.
A great way to climb up the Calf is by walking next to the spectacular Cautley Spout waterfall. You can follow the stream one you reach the top of the waterfall. Alternatively, you can walk up from the lovely town of Sedbergh.
Another particular dramatic spot in the Yorkshire Dales national park is Gordale Scar.
Gordale Scar is a theatrical limestone ravine in a narrow valley with 2 waterfalls flowing over the cliffs. It is possible to climb up the scar yet after heavy rains it is not advised. However if you do visit after rain, you are treated to one of the best sites in the Yorkshire dales as the waterfalls show off their majestic power.
Wordsworth was very impressed by Gordale Scar. He wrote a small sonnet about this popular site in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
“Let thy feet repair to Gordale chasm, terrific as the lair where the young lions couch”. William Wordsworth.
Painters such as James Ward and Turner were equally captivated by the beauty of Gordale Scar. They both painted at this spot during their trips to the Yorkshire Dales.
Great Knoutberry Hill
Great Knoutberry Hill is a very underated hill. It has spectacular views from the top from which you can see the 3 peaks, the Howgills, the lakes and the coast!
You can reach the summit of Knoutberry Hill by walking from Dent train station. a more spectacular way is to approach via the Dales way and head up through Arten Gill viaduct.
Great Knoutberry Hill is also known as Widdale Fell and is the 16th highest fell in the Yorkshire dales at 672m.
It is super easy to reach Knoutberry Hill by getting the train to Dent, which is the highest mainline train station in England! This also makes hiking up Knoutberry Hill one of the best car-free hikes in the Yorkshire Dales.
The River Wharf in Appletreewick
Appletreewick is a small village in the Yorkshire Dales national park. The picturesque houses of which some date from the 12th century are next to a very scenic part of the river Wharf.
In summertime, the banks of the river in Appletreewick are full of families all enjoying the scenery. The water is shallow enough for children (and those who are young at heart) to paddle in. There is a rock pool within an island in the river which you can wade out to.
In springtime many birds nest along the river and the blossom trees are stunning!
There are many easy walks nearby which do not command steep ascents as they follow the river wharfe. After your paddling and walking you can enjoy a well-earned drink in the friendly New Inn.
Whilst the Ribblehead viaduct is a man-made structure, its setting in the valley means it is including in our spectacular spots in the Yorkshire Dales list.
The Ribbleshead viaduct was built to carry the Settle-Carlisle railway across the Batty Moss in the Ribble valley. The viaduct is not the tallest structure on the line but it is the longest with 24 arches! Over 2000 men worked on the construction and more than 100 of them died whilst building this magnificent piece of engineering.
Nowadays walkers can admire the viaduct from the summit of both Ingleborough and Whernside. You can also walk through the arches and admire the viaduct from below.
You may recognise the viaduct from the Indie film Sightseers. It is not, as many (including myself) the railway bridge seen in the Harry Potter film. That rail bridge lies further north in Scotland!
Gurling Trough in Conistone Dib
Conistone Dib is an atmospheric limestone gorge in the Yorkshire Dales national park. The entrance to the gorge is over an ancient waterfall and through a narrow valley known as Gurling Trough.
Gurling Trough is one of the Yorkshire Dales most spectacular natural spots. A gravel path is walled either side by stony cliffs. Gurling Trough then becomes even narrower as the trail is only wide enough for one person to pass through. This part is a little slippery and hikers are advised to walk up Gurling Trough rather than down the slippy gorge!
Conistone Dib is part of one of the most crowd-free hikes in the Yorkshire Dales.
There are some wonderful stone bridges in the Yorkshire Dales and Grassington Bridge must be one of the prettiest. Whilst this is not a natural site, the location of Grassington Bridge above the beautiful river wharfe, means that this spot made it onto the list of most spectacular natural spots in the Yorkshire Dales.
The bridge was originally built in the 17th century and has been subsequently widened and renovated over the years.
Walk down to the river Wharfe and admire the lovely bridge from below.
The Stepping Stones at Bolton Abbey
The stepping stones at Bolton Abbey are one of the most iconic images of the Yorkshire dales. Have you even been to the dales if you have not crossed the river Wharfe on the stepping stones? Furthermore, the picturesque setting of the abbey ruins makes this a lovely place to spend the day.
The stepping stones are in the grounds of Bolton Abbey, one of Yorkshire’s beautiful abbeys. This scenic spot has captured the imagination of artists such as Turner and even the young author Charlotte Bronte. It is said that William Wordsworth’s poem The White Doe of Rylstone was inspired by a visit to Bolton Abbey in 1807. Whilst visiting the abbey must be on your Yorkshire Bucket list, you also need to cross the river Wharfe via the stepping stones.
Whilst this is a manmade site, the situation of the rocks in the river and the pretty abbey ruins means this is one of the loveliest spots in the Yorkshire Dales national park.
The Strid is a famous natural spot in the Yorkshire Dales on the River Wharfe. The Strid refers to a series of dramatic rapids and waterfalls. The wide river Wharfe is forced into a narrow passage causing an underwater channel to hide beneath the rocks. The Strid is so narrow, it is said one could just ‘stride’ across. Yet to do so would be foolish as many have lost their lives in this woodland spot. In fact, it is said to be one of Britain’s deadliest spots!
The Strid is a very scenic spot in the Dales. You walk through a lovely wood to reach the banks of the River Wharfe. Once you reach the Strid, see if you can spot why the area is so dangerous. It does look like you could just hop across yet both banks are undercut. If anyone falls into the stream, which is easy to do as the rocks are very slippy, they will be dragged downwards and trapped by the strong banks…
Stay well away from the banks and the Strid is a fairly spectacular place in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
Malham Tarn is one of the few natural bodies of water in the Yorkshire Dales which is not underground. Malham tarn is a glacial lake, lying on a bed of slate, which ensures it does not sink into the limestone which makes up most of the park’s geology. Malham tarn is near the village of Malham and just a kilometre or so further north from the famous Malham cove.
The lake is very picturesque. It is said that Malham tarn was the inspiration for Charles Kingsley’s novel, The Water Babies. It is easy to see why with the tarns beautifully clear water and numerous flora and fauna which is carefully conserved by the National Trust. There are 6 species of fish and dozens of molluscs. There are also many submerged aquatic plants in the Tarn as well. It is forbidden to swim or partake in water sports on Malham Tarn, making this one of the Yorkshire Dales’ best natural spots to admire.
Make sure you add Malham Tarn to your Yorkshire dales bucket list!
A list of the Yorkshire Dales best natural spots would not be complete without mentioning Malham Cove!
Malham Cove is a spectacular limestone formation just north of the village of Malham. These are the remains of an ancient waterfall. Above the cove you will find amazing limestone pavement making this place a geographer’s dream.
The cove was formed by an ice age river. The water dropped from 80m and created this curved formation. As the water in the centre was heavier, it eroded the middle more than the sides.
Today the water no longer flows over the cover but under it. The water from Malham Tarn follows a stream until it goes underground at the aptly named “Water Sinks”. The stream then reappears in a cave at the bottom of the cove. Although in 2015 after heavy rainfall, a waterfall did tumble over the cove temporarily.
You may recognise the cove as it has been used in several films such as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.
Malham Cove should be on your ultimate Yorkshire bucket list!
If you are looking for fairies in the Yorkshire dales, you may find them at Janet’s Foss. Janet’s Foss is one of the prettiest spots in the Yorkshire dales national park. Just a stone’s throw from the village of Malham, Janet’s Foss is a small waterfall which carries the Gordale Beck into a pool below.
Yet who was Janet?
Janet is said to be the fairy queen who lives in a cave at the rear of the waterfall. Foss is a Nordic word for waterfall or force.
The woodland setting is quite magical and it is very possible to imagine fairies living in this magical place.
The three stepped waterfalls at Aysgarth have been a tourist attraction for over 200 years. Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy visited while they waited for their coach horses to be changed and Turner sketched them on his tour in the north of England. More recently Aysgarth Falls provided a dramatic setting for a scene for the Hollywood movie Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.
Aysgarth Waterfall is a great natural spot to visit year-round. A pleasant stroll in the Freeholders wood lead to the various section of the falls. Aysgarth Falls are particularly dramatic after recent heavy rain.
There are many wonderful waterfalls in the Yorkshire Dales and Aysgarth Falls are some of the best!
Also known as West Burton Falls it is one of the more accessible waterfalls in the Dales with a lovely beckside path leading from West Burton to a great viewing spot for the main drop.
Cauldron Waterfall is located in Wensleydale in the small village of West Burton. You pass the remains of the old town mill and see the scenic spot. Said to have been named Cauldron Falls due to the beautifully round plunge pool into which the water falls.
As no long walk is required to reach this natural spot in the Yorkshire Dales, this has to be included on your bucket list!
Ingleton Waterfall Trail
The Yorkshire Dales national park has many wonderful waterfalls to admire. Yet if you are looking to tick off several waterfalls in one day, check out the Ingleton Waterfall trail. There are several waterfalls on the 6km trail perfect for keeping children entertained on a woodland walk!
The trail follows the River Twiss and goes past Pecca Falls, Pecca Twin Falls, Holly Bush Spout, Thornton Force, Beezly Falls, Rival Falls, Baxenghyll Gorge and Snow Falls. The Ingleton waterfall walk goes past several of the Yorkshire Dales most beautiful spots.
See if you can plan your visit a day or two after prolonged rainfall. Spring is particularly nice due to the spring flowers in the ancient oak woodland. Autumn is another nice time to visit with the autumn foliage.
Ingleton Waterfall trail allows you to tick off several of the Yorkshire dales spectacular natural spots!
Wet cave is a small cave next to the more famous Victoria Cave. It is just a small opening in the hillside. Yet if you like dramatic silhouette photos, there is a handy rock in the centre of the cave allowing you to take some atmospheric shots.
View from the top of Flinter’s Gill
Dent village is one of the Yorkshire Dales best kept secrets. The quaint village is full of white washed cottages covered in ivy and rose bushes. The cobbled high street is a photographer’s delight. You will probably be the only one with a camera as tourists do not tend to find Dent. You can reach the village of Dent by car or by catching the train to Dent in Cowgill. From Dent train station a volunteer-run bus will ferry you into Dent itself.
As this list is only for natural spots in the Yorkshire Dales we must leave the village and head upwards to one of the nicest views of the Dales. This walk is just 15 minutes or so meaning that all fitness levels can enjoy the view from the topograph in Flinter’s Gill.
Once you leave the wonderful village of Dent and head up Flinter’s Gill you will enter a lovely wooded area. Continue upwards and immediately after the 3rd wooden gate, follow a small footpath on your right to an epic view. Situated on the open fell is an erected topography. This topograph highlights the different summits in and around Dentdale. There is also a beautiful poem which describes the act of hiking in the Dales perfectly.
Jubilee Cave is a small cave close to the village of Settle. It is possible to enter one entrance and leave from another!
The cave was of great archaeological importance as items from the Iron Age and Roman times have been found in Jubilee cave.
Jubilee cave is another great natural spot in the Yorkshire Dales national park.
Horse Shoe Cave
There are many cool caves near the Warrendale Knotts in Settle. One of the most atmospheric cave entrances is Horse Shoe Cave. Horse Shoe Cave can be admired from a distance. The tall fissure-like entrance leads into the cave. On a cloudy day Horse Shoe Cave looks very foreboding. Like a secret path in Tolkein’s Middle Earth which is only open at certain times of year then will close as soon as you enter…
Victoria Cave itself is the most famous of the caves on the Attermire Scar in the Yorkshire Dales. An abundance of exciting finds were discovered within its chambers. For example, Victoria cave preserved the bones of hippos, rhinos and elephants dating back over 100,000 years ago.
The Cave was given the name Victoria as its inner chamber was discovered in 1837, the year of Queen Victoria’s coronation.
Gaping Gill is one of the Yorkshire Dales most famous features. The ominous entrance to the vast underground chamber could fit a cathedral in it. The beck falls 100m into the cavern before leaving at Ingleborough cave so make sure you are careful near the edge!
Gaping Gill cave system is one of the most complex cave systems in the UK. It was first entered by a man from settle in 1842 yet he only reached the ledge 58m down. It was not until 1895 that a Frenchman Martel made it all the way to the bottom using a rope ladder and a candle!
Nowadays a descent needs to be made with the Bradford Pothole Club or Craven pothole club. They set up a winch twice a year over the main shaft entrance. Numbers are limited so make sure to arrive early on the bank holiday.
It is free to go down but you need to pay to reach the surface again!
Catrigg Force is said to be one of the Yorkshire Dales’ best hidden gems. The waterfall is situated in Stainforth just north of Settle. To reach the waterfall you enter the secluded wooded gorge. It is said that the composer Edward Elgar enjoyed visiting Catrigg force in the Dales with his friends in Settle.
With a name like Troller’s Gill, this place had to be included in the most spectacular spots in the Yorkshire dales national park!
Troller’s gill is not actually where trolls can be found but an entirely different beast! It is said that the Bargueest frequents Troller’s Gill. The Bargueest is a giant wild dog with huge eyes. Some believe the creature of Troller’s Gill inspired Conan Doyle’s Hound of the Baskervilles.
Even if you do not spy the Bargueest, a walk up Troller’s Gill is an adventure! The narrow gorge is fun to walk up and there is even a small cave to venture inside.
Skyreholme is a small hamlet close to Appletreewick. Most vistors come to Skyreholme to visit the picturesque Parcevall Hall Gardens. Yet if you continue north following the little stream you will come to a wonderful view point.
Skyrehoome is an old Norse name which means bright water meadow. Sitting on the ledge overlooking the beck meandering through the valley you can see why this name was chosen. The scenic spot is full of wild flowers, a pretty river, rolling hills and the occasional pheasant. This is an easy spot to reach and those who need more of an adventure can continue northwards into the ominously named Troller’s Gill.
Otherwise stop for a picnic and enjoy the view of Skyreholme beck in the Yorkshire dales.
For those who wish to appreciate some of the Yorkshire 3 peaks but without climbing to their summits, the Limestone walk is a wonderful alternative.
The Limestone Walk is one of the trails in the Ingleborough National Nature Reserve. This is a relatively flat area around the base of Ingleborough. You can admire the wonderful limestone pavements of Southerscales and Scar Close. You can also gaze upwards to see the peaks of Ingleborough, Pen-Y-Ghent and Whernside. If you look down you can see primroses, juniper, dwarf shrubs and cottongrass. These are lovely moorlands to explore without needing to get too out of breath!
For eco conscious individuals, you can leave the car at home as the Limestone Walk is very close to both Horton-in-Ribblesdale train station and Ribbleshead train station.
Great Douk Cave
Greak Douk Cave is a very cool cave on the slopes of Ingelborough. To reach the entrance you must cross the moorland and find a wooded depression. Go into the woods and you will see a small waterfall emerging from the underground passage. This is the entrance of the cave!
If you dare to enter Great Douk Cave, you will probably get wet! It is possible to follow the cave underground until the Middle Washfold caves. This is sad to be a great cave for beginners as it contains a straight passage, a squeeze and a different exit. Would you dare to enter the cave?
Hull Pot Waterfall
Hull Pot Waterfall is one of the Yorkshire Dales best spots to visit after heavy rainfall!
Hull Pot is close to the famous Pen-Y-Ghent hill. The pot is a collapsed cavern. Whilst the hole itself is impressive, the site is even more incredible after heavy rains. In dry weather, Hull Pot Beck vanishes underground and reappears in the pot. In wet weather however, the steam tumbles over the cliff into the pot creating a very dramatic waterfall!
Which natural spots in the Yorkshire Dales would you most like to visit?
Hopefully this list of natural spots has given you plenty of inspiration for your next hike in the Yorkshire Dales. How many of these spots will you be able to tick off your Yorkshire dales bucket list? Have any of your favourite spots been missed? Let us know in the comments below!