10 Amazing Car-free Hikes in the Yorkshire Dales!

ribblehead viaduct

Did you know that the Yorkshire Dales national park is easy to get to by public transport? The Settle-Carlisle railway is one of the most scenic train journeys in the UK. It also means you can go on many amazing car-free hikes in the Yorkshire Dales! Jump on the train and hop off at one of the many train stations in the Yorkshire Dales. Here is a list of 10 of the best car-free hikes in the Yorkshire Dales. From the famous Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge and epic station-to-station hikes to family-friendly car-free hikes and waterfall walks – there is a car-free hike in Yorkshire for everyone!

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Where is the Yorkshire Dales National park?

The Yorkshire Dales national park is an 841 square mile national park in the north of England. The park lies to the North-East of Manchester, North of Leeds, West of Kendal and the Lake District National park. The park is mostly in Yorkshire, but also covers parts of Lancashire and Cumbria.

Getting to the Yorkshire Dales National park by public transport

It is easy to get to the Yorkshire Dales national park by public transport! There are plenty of trains and buses that will take you on your car-free hike in the Yorkshire Dales!

The Settle-Carlisle line runs through the Yorkshire Dales for example. This is a historic line built in the 1870s which is now part of the main national rail network in the UK. It is a very scenic route which will take you to the start of all of these car-free hikes in the Yorkshire Dales. You will go over viaducts, through tunnels and past some epic scenery. What a way to start a hike!

There are also several bus services in the Yorkshire Dales including small volunteer-run services.

Whilst it can be difficult to access some very rural parts of the Yorkshire Dales, you can reach the start some of these car-free hikes in just under an hour from Leeds city centre!

List of 10 amazing car-free Hikes in the Yorkshire Dales National Park

Whilst there are far more than 10 car-free hikes in the Yorkshire Dales, here are some of the best car-free hikes for you to try! All of these hikes require the use of the Settle-Carlisle railway and a few take you on the Western Dales bus. Some of these car-free hikes are circular and others are linear which allow you to get off at one train station and hop back on at another. I have used a 4 point ranking system for the difficulty of the hikes with ‘easy’ being the least blister-inducing to very strenuous for the hard-core hikers! Please note that easy still means there are uphills and requires the use of hiking boots. Most of these hikes are moderate or strenuous to ensure epic views and a fantastic day of hiking in the fells!

Car-free Hike Number 1: Pen-y-Ghent

Start and End Train Station: Horton-in-Ribbleshead
Type of Walk: Circular
Length: 9 Miles
Difficulty: Moderate

pen y ghent girl hiking

Pen-Y-Ghent is one of the most popular hills in the Yorkshire Dales. It is easy to see why. Pen-Y-Ghent’s unique shape, it’s easier than some of it’s neighbouring peaks and you can be done within 3 or 4 hours.

Hop off at Horton-in-Ribbleshead train station. from there you will be able to see the iconic peak. The train station even has a drawing of the mountain on the platform! Head down the road and cross the river. You will soon see the sign after the now closed Pen-Y-Ghent café. Follow the path and turn right when you reach the fork. You will want to head up the steepest part of Pen-Y-Ghent as there is a small scramble.

You wonder over lovely fields, always going upwards and looking at Pen-Y-Ghent. When you reach the base, you scramble up the ridge before reaching the summit. From the top you will be able to see the other two famous Yorkshire peaks – Whernside and Ingleborough.

On your way down you will have the option to take a slight detour to Hull Pot. Hull Pot is a seasonal waterfall. It may be dry during your visit, but if you are lucky enough to visit on a day after heavy rain you will see a spectacular waterfall! Hull Pot falls into ‘England’s largest hole’ making for a tremendous site. Just be careful to not stand too close to the edge as it is crumbly!

After Hull Pot, continue downwards back to the train station. You can stop off at a little café or pop into the pub for refreshment before jumping on the train at Horton-in-Ribbleshead station.

Car-free Hike Number 2: Dent to Arten Gill & Knoutberry Hill

Start and End Train Station: Dent
Type of Walk: Linear
Length: 6.5 Miles
Difficulty: Moderate

Arten Gill Viaduct

The walk from Dent village through Arten Gill viaduct and onto Knoutberry Hill is a wonderful linear Yorkshire Dales hike!

You will need to time this hike carefully in order to catch the little volunteer bus. See if you can arrive at Dent train station on a Saturday just before 11am. The Western Dales bus leaves Dent station at 10:53. A short 15-minute bus journey will take you into the very quaint village of Dent. White-washed cottages, cobbled streets and pretty gardens will melt your heart. After exploring some of the lovely spots of Dent find the River Dee. The first part of this walk is a wonderful flat stroll along the Dales Way. Follow the little arrows along the river all the way to the village of Cowgill. If you like your walks with the sound of trickling water, this is an excellent riverside walk!

In Lea Yeat you will leave the little riverside footpath and follow a quiet tarmac road into Stone House. From here, you hike really begins! Be ready to start heading upwards as you spot the beautiful Arten Gill viaduct. Arten Gill viaduct is not as long as the famous Ribbleshead viaduct yet its setting with a waterfall flowing through the centre arch is just as dramatic.

Walk up and under the wonderful viaduct until you pass the Pennine Bridal path. Shortly after the turning onto the Pennine Bridal path is a small footpath leading to the summit of Knoutberry Hill. The ground will probably be a bit boggy but the views at the summit are worth the climb!

Knoutberry Hill stands at 672m. From the top of Knoutberry Hill which is also known as Widdale Fell, you can see all of the Yorkshire three peaks as well as across to the Howgills. It is a magnificent view and you almost forget how out of breath you got on your way to the top!

After Knoutberry Hill you will be heading back down to Dent train station. You should be able to catch the 4pm train.

This is a great Yorkshire Dales hike which takes you through one of the lesser-known villages, along the River Dee, under a spectacular viaduct and ends with an epic view! Dent to Knoutberry Hill is one of the best hikes in the Yorkshire Dales!

Car-free Hike Number 3: Ingleborough and Gaping Gill

Start Train Station: Ribbleshead
End Train Station: Horton-in-Ribblesdale
Type of Walk: Linear
Length: 9.7 Miles
Difficulty: Strenuous

Ingleborough Girl Hike

Ingleborough is the second-highest peak in the Yorkshire Dales. This is a classic car-free hike in the Yorkshire Dales national park and takes you past another popular spot, Gaping Gill.

Starting at Ribbleshead train station, you will be able to see your destination. The distinctive shape of Ingleborough has captivated hillwalkers for centuries. You can choose to follow the road or go over the rolling hills of Simon Fell. See if you can swing by Great Douk Cave which is a pretty little waterfall coming out of a cave. It is possible to walk through this cave and emerge elsewhere on the moorland!

Once you reach the plateaux of Ingleborough, hold onto your hat as it can get quite windy near the summit! From the top of Ingleborough, you will be treated to an incredible view of the Yorkshire Dales national park.

After pausing for lunch on the shelter begin your descent. This time, head towards a very famous hole: Gaping Gill. Gaping Gill is a sinkhole with Britain’s highest single-drop waterfall. Twice a year, you can descend into its depth.

After Gaping Gill, head towards Horton-in-Ribblesdale train station where you can get the train home.

Ingleborough is one of the most spectacular places in the Yorkshire Dales and makes for an epic car-free hike!

Car-free Hike Number 4: Garsdale to Kirkby Stephen via waterfalls, viaducts and castles

Start Train Station: Garsdale
End Train Station: Kirkby Stephen
Type of Walk: Linear
Length: 12 Miles
Difficulty: Moderate

The walk from Garsdale train station to Kirkby Stephen train station is a great walk in the Yorkshire Dales national park!

This is a long walk but a thoroughly enjoyable one. It is also mostly downhill and goes past two castles! Whilst most of this walk is in Cumbria, it still forms part of the Yorkshire Dales national park.

Once you exit Garsdale train station you must find the Pennine Bridal path. You will be following this well-defined path for much of the walk. Already you will be treated to a spectacular Yorkshire viaduct. The 12 arches of Dandry Mire viaduct (also known as Moorcock viaduct) stand proudly on the moorland. Originally there was not going to be a viaduct at this spot. Yet during construction, when workers moved around 750,000 cubic feet of earth to the spot, the embankment sunk into the mire! Therefore, the decision to build a viaduct on this spot was made.

After the viaduct, you will reach the crossroads where the Moorcock Inn is. This is the last place to stop for a beverage before embarking on the walk.

Pass two little waterfalls and follow the path upwards. Once you reach the top of this hill the rest of the walk is downhill!

Jump over little streams and over windy moorland. Either side of the valley are picturesque hills. You will even go past a sculpture as you enter the Eden valley. Continue downwards on the Pennine Bridal way until you reach the road. From there you will follow the little public footpath northwards along the river Eden.

Stop off at Pendragon Castle to admire this ancient ruin for a while. Said to have been built by Uther Pendragon, King Arthur’s father, a terrible murder is said to have occurred at this site as the mill was poisoned killing all its inhabitants. The castle had been repaired over the centuries but it has finally fallen into the romantic ruins it is today. Whilst it is on private land you can visit for free but please don’t climb the castle walls.

You will probably be quite tired by this point. Kirkby Stephen is not too far now. You can stop off in the quaint market town before getting the train back or make your way straight to the train station which is a little way out of the town.

This is a long but great walk with many wonderful things to see on the way! Make sure you add this walk to your best hikes in the Yorkshire dales list!

Car-free Hike Number 5: Dent to Whernside

Start Train Station: Dent
End Train Station: Ribbleshead
Type of Walk: Linear
Difficulty: Strenuous
Length: 13 miles

Whernside is a mighty peak in the Yorkshire Dales. Yet most people ascend and descend this peak via its long southern or northern flank. Few attempt to climb it from the West. If you would like a less busy route up to the summit of Whernside consider hiking from Dent. You will also see wonderful views of the Howgills and Great Knoutberry Hill from Great Coum on your way!

Start in the beautiful village of Dent. After admiring the pretty cottages and cobbled street head to Flinter’s Gill. Follow the stream and after a while, you will be treated to your first view with a poem!

Carry on upwards until you reach the summit of Great Coum. You may even be able to see the sea! What a great spot to stop for lunch.

After Great Coum you will be heading downwards and you will have your first view of Whernside. It looks mighty and you groan slightly that you have to go down before heading up again. The path goes steeply downwards until you reach the old drover road “Occupation Road”. Follow the muddy path until you reach the base of Whernside. You won’t be taking the slowly sloping flanks; you will be going straight upwards! Your calves will groan. It will be worth it!

After a steep climb, you will be standing at the tallest point in the Yorkshire Dales national park! Whernside is the tallest peak in Yorkshire at 736m. Enjoy a well-earned rest at the top before heading down. Again, you could follow the well-trodden paths or head straight down to Ribblehead train station. You can see the mighty Ribbleshead viaduct in the distance and need to head towards that.

Follow little public footpaths downwards until you reach a farm and then walk under the viaduct itself. What a spectacular sight to end your Yorkshire Dales hike! There is a lovely pub called the Station Inn where you can enjoy a tasty pint before catching a train home. There is an extensive gluten-free and vegan menu making this a great place for all! What a great way to finish this epic hike in the Yorkshire Dales national park.

Car-free Hike Number 6: Settle Cave Walk

Start/End Train Station: Settle
Type of Walk: Circular
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 4.6 miles

Jubilee Cave

This car-free hike is an incredibly enjoyable walk which is not too strenuous. This would also be a great car-free hike to take kids on as there is plenty to see on this walk to keep them entertained! This is a walk for cave lovers!

Get the train to Settle where you can also grab a bite to eat before starting this Yorkshire car-free walk. After leaving the lovely market target, head upwards towards your first cave: Jubilee Cave!

Kids and grown-ups will love Jubilee Cave. It is a small man-made cave, but you can enter through one entrance and climb out of another! It is a tight squeeze and you will probably need a torch (or enough battery on your phone to use the light) but it so much fun!

After the excitement of Jubilee Cave, carry on to your next cave: Wet cave. Wet Cave is fairly small but still picturesque. It also does not really matter as the next cave is simply huge!

The main cave you see on this walk is Victoria Cave. Victoria Cave was discovered by an adventurous dog in 1837.

Admire Victoria cave then move on to see your final epic cave of this car-free walk. Horseshoe Cave is an ominous-looking hole at the base of the Warrendale Knotts. Enter if you dare.

Walk back into Settle and enjoy some refreshment before hopping on the train home.

Car-free Hike Number 7: Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge

Start/End Train Station: Horton-in-Ribblesdale
Type of Walk: Circular
Difficulty: Very strenuous!
Length: 24 miles

Did you know that the famous Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge can be done without a car? The Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge stops and starts in Horton-in-Ribblesdale. You should probably get there the night before so you can start bright and early as this is a very long and strenuous car-free hike!

The Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge requires hikers to tackle hiking up Pen-Y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough in one day! This is a tough hike. All of these peaks are epic walks by themselves, but together makes for a day of testing your fitness as well as your mental strength. Yet if you succeed, how great will you will afterwards :D?

Car-free Hike Number 8: Kirkby Stephen to Garsdale via Wild Boar Fell

Location: Mallerstang, Cumbria
Type of Walk: Linear
Difficulty: Strenuous
Length: 12 miles

Wearing my vegan insulated jacket

This epic car-free hike in the Yorkshire Dales is one of the most strenuous hikes on this list. Hikers will need a full day to complete this wonderful linear hike which takes you onto the 5th highest peak in the Yorkshire Dales national park, Wild Boar Fell. You also tick off another one of the Yorkshire 30 on your descent, Swarth Fell. If you are up for a challenge, grab the earliest train to Kirkby Stephen and get ready for an amazing hike!

Starting at Kirkby Stephen, annoyingly, the first part of this hike is along a road. Yet you will not have to walk along the tarmac for long as you soon reach the bridal path. Once you are on this path, you head in a southerly direction onto Small Fell, Wild Boar Fell and Swarth Fell until you descend into Garsdale. The first part of the hike goes uphill in a fairly gentle gradient. The path is faint, but you can still make it out. At one point, shortly after crossing the Tommy Road, there is a small stream to jump over. Hiking poles come in very useful at this point!

Once you reach the ridge, the views just keeping getting better. To your right, you can see the beautiful Howgills and to your left you look into Mallerstang Dale.

On Wildboar Fell you can turn right to reach the summit cairn which has a nice shelter. This is a perfect place to stop for a spot of lunch. Alternatively, keep following the ridge to reach the cluster of ‘stone men’ cairns. These stone cairns stand proudly above the dale, protecting hikers from the steep cliff drop beneath. This is one of the most beautiful spots in the Yorkshire Dales national park.

After taking plenty of photos of the stone men on Wildboar Fell, continue onto your next peak, Swarth Fell. You will have to go down slightly, past an unnamed tarn before climbing onto your final peak of the day. Whilst you may have encountered a few other walkers on Wild Boar Fell, you may have Swarth Fell to yourself.

Check out the full description of the Wild Boar Fell car-free hike here!!

After Swarth Fell, it is all downhill! Yet do not be fooled as the challenge is not over yet! Whilst you may be going downhill, make sure you are wearing very good waterproof shoes! It can get very boggy! Hiking poles will also come in handy to test certain sections.

The path is well defined on the descent. You will have the option to turn left to stop off at the Moorcock Inn or continue straight to Garsdale train station. Turning left is the best option though as you deserve a drink and/or cake before hopping on the train home.

After a quick refreshment at the pub, make sure you leave about 25 minutes to half an hour to reach the train station. You will also go under a very pretty viaduct which you will want to stop and take pictures of!

Once you are on the train, enjoy putting your feet up! What an epic car-free hike!

Car-free Hike Number 9: Settle Waterfall Walk

Start and End Train Station: Settle
Type of Walk: Circular
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 10 miles

Catrigg Force Settle Yorkshire

Do you like waterfalls? Then forget the Ingleton waterfall and go on the Settle waterfall walk! This car-free walk in the Yorkshire Dales will take you to two breath-taking waterfalls.

Starting and ending in the charming town of Settle, you can grab a coffee or baked good before setting off on your waterfall walk. Leave the town of Settle behind you as you head up onto the fells towards Catrigg Force waterfall. This is a lovely, fairly flat walk to the first waterfall.

Catrigg Force is a beautiful waterfall set in a secluded woodland area. Spend a little time here admiring the dramatic setting before continuing on your waterfall walk.

After Catrigg Force, you pass several caves on the way to your second waterfall, Scaleber Force. Feel free to stop and explore Jubilee Cave, Victoria Cave and Wet Cave. If you are feeling tired at this point, there is the option to go straight back into Settle and leave the second waterfall for another day. Yet if you still have energy, you will be treated to one of the most spectacular secret waterfalls in the Yorkshire Dales.

Scaleber Force is a gorgeous waterfall. You can admire the falls from a viewing point at the top or walk down a muddy path to reach the base of the waterfall. Scaleber Force is particularly beautiful in autumn.

After Scaleber Force, walk back into Settle for a nice bite to eat before catching the train home.

Car-free Hike Number 10: Dent to Ribbleshead via the Pennine Bridle Way

Start Train Station: Dent
End Train Station: Ribbleshead
Type of Walk: Linear
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 10 miles

Misty day in the Dales

Fancy a longish walk with minimal navigation requirements? The Pennine Bridle Way is a wonderful path which has been made with horses and bikes in mind. Therefore, this path is well-defined and easy to follow! An epic car-free hike in the Yorkshire Dales is following the Pennine Bridle Way from Dent train station down to Cam Fell before getting the train back from Ribbleshead.

Hop on the train to Dent, Britain’s highest mainline train station. You can even stay the night in this train station if you like!

From Dent, head up the old Coal Road to reach the Pennine Bridle Way. There is the option to extend your walk by hiking up Great Knoutberry Hill, which has some of the most spectacular views in the whole of the Yorkshire Dales. Otherwise, continue along the Pennine Bridle Way. Walking around the base of Great Knoutberry Hill is fairly flat meaning you can cover a lot of ground in a short space of time. After that, you cross onto Arten Gill Moss onto Wold Fell. The path is very well-defined meaning you won’t spend all day glancing at maps.

After Wold Fell, you go down for a long time. Once you reach the road, there is the option to walk straight to Ribbleshead where the mighty Ribbleshead viaduct and the Railway Inn awaits you. Or you can carry on the Pennine Bridal Way up onto Cam Cob. After Cam Cob, it is a long walk down and you will even be able to see your end destination in the far distance.

You will eventually leave the Pennine Bridal Path to get to the Station Inn. Once you are at the Station Inn, enjoy a well-deserved drink before getting the train from Ribblehead train station.  

Safety Tips for Car-free hikes in the Yorkshire Dales

yorkshire-dales car free hike

There are a few safety tips to consider when you are off on your epic car-free hike in the Yorkshire Dales!

Firstly, make sure you know when the last train is! Trains are fairly frequent in the morning but there can be a large gap in the afternoon. Make sure you know when the last train is so you can get out of the Dales! You can check the current time tables on nationalrail.

Secondly, bring plenty of food and water. Many of these car-free hikes start and end at very rural stations. This means there may be nowhere to grab snacks on the way. You may be able to buy food on the train but make yourself a packed lunch to enjoy on your hike to be sure.

Thirdly, bring waterproofs. If the heavens open you may not have the option to get home as quickly as you can in a car. Trains run infrequently and it will not be fun if you have to sit soaking wet at a train station for a few hours.

Finally, try to keep an eye on the time when you are hiking. It can be difficult to predict exactly how long a hike will take. I have been guilty in the past of finding a beautiful spot and taking far too many pictures. Only then would I realise that the train I meant to catch was leaving in half an hour. I would then take up fell running which can be a stressful end to a hike! Ideally, it is great if your hike ends at a pub so if you miss a train you have somewhere to eat and warm up in.

Otherwise, heed general safety advice regarding navigation, telling people where you are going etc. Be sensible and have an epic day in the dales!

Where to stay in the Yorkshire Dales national park

If you don’t fancy just getting the train in for the day or are worried about timing your hike to fit the train schedule, consider staying in the Yorkshire Dales! There are plenty of places to stay in the Yorkshire Dales national park. Use this booking.com tool to have a look at current availability.

Booking.com

Which car-free hike in the Yorkshire Dales would you like to try?!

best waterfalls in yorkshire

Have you been inspired to put your walking boots on and hop on the train? Hopefully, this list of epic car-free hikes in the Yorkshire Dales national parks will encourage you to leave the car and home on your next hike! Let us know in the comments below which one of these car-free walks you would like to try! Also, please comment if we have not included your favourite Yorkshire Dales car-free walk!

Car-free hikes in the Yorkshire Dales, UK! Looking to reduce your carbon footprint on your next hike? Then consider catching the train to your next Yorkshire Dales hike in England! The Carlisle-Settle railway is one of the most scenic train journeys in England! It is a great way to get in and out of the dales enabling you to go on a car-free hike! Click here to see where you can walk in the Yorkshire Dales by train! #yorkshire #yorkshiredales #yorkshirehikeCar-free hikes in the Yorkshire Dales, UK! Looking to reduce your carbon footprint on your next hike? Then consider catching the train to your next Yorkshire Dales hike in England! The Carlisle-Settle railway is one of the most scenic train journeys in England! It is a great way to get in and out of the dales enabling you to go on a car-free hike! Click here to see where you can walk in the Yorkshire Dales by train! #yorkshire #yorkshiredales #yorkshirehikeCar-free hikes in the Yorkshire Dales, UK! Looking to reduce your carbon footprint on your next hike? Then consider catching the train to your next Yorkshire Dales hike in England! The Carlisle-Settle railway is one of the most scenic train journeys in England! It is a great way to get in and out of the dales enabling you to go on a car-free hike! Click here to see where you can walk in the Yorkshire Dales by train! #yorkshire #yorkshiredales #yorkshirehikeCar-free hikes in the Yorkshire Dales, UK! Looking to reduce your carbon footprint on your next hike? Then consider catching the train to your next Yorkshire Dales hike in England! The Carlisle-Settle railway is one of the most scenic train journeys in England! It is a great way to get in and out of the dales enabling you to go on a car-free hike! Click here to see where you can walk in the Yorkshire Dales by train! #yorkshire #yorkshiredales #yorkshirehike

One Reply to “10 Amazing Car-free Hikes in the Yorkshire Dales!”

  1. Thaks for this – these hikes look amazing! Although I did have a moment when I read your tip about checking the time of the last train. The film American Werewolf in London flashed into my mind – remember that?