Seven of the best walks in the Yorkshire Dales

Have you tried any of these circular trails in the southern and western area of the Yorkshire Dales National Park? They are all between 9 and 11 miles long and will take 4-5 hours to complete. The walks include visits to some of the region’s most beautiful places such as Settle, Stainforth Force, Grassington, Kilnsey Crag, Ribblehead Viaduct, Whernside, Barden Moor, Dent Head Viaduct, Ingleborough National Nature Reserve and Catrigg Force.

The southern and western area of the Yorkshire Dales National Park

One Ordnance Survey map covers these brilliant Yorkshire Dales routes

The best map to use is the Ordnance Survey map of the Yorkshire Dales Southern & Western Area, reference OS Explorer OL2, scale 1:25,000. It clearly displays footpaths, rights of way, open access land and vegetation on the ground, making it ideal for walking, running and hiking. The map can be purchased from Amazon in either a standard, paper version or a weatherproof, laminated version, as shown below.

RECOMMENDED MAP
Standard Ordnance Survey map of the Yorkshire Dales Southern & Western Area, reference OS Explorer OL2, scale 1:25,000.
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RECOMMENDED MAP
Weatherproof Active Ordnance Survey map of the Yorkshire Dales Southern & Western Area, reference OS Explorer OL2, scale 1:25,000.
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Walk 1 – Settle and Stainforth Force

North-west out of Settle to Giggleswick, then north to Feizor Thwaite and Feizor. East along the Dales High Way to Stainforth Force, then south back to Settle following the course of the River Ribble. A 9-mile walk in the Yorkshire Dales.

The view over the Ribblesdale valley with Pen-y-ghent on the horizon left of centre
Stainforth Force
Weir on the River Ribble on the northern outskirts of Settle

Walk 2 – Grassington and Kilnsey Crag

North from Grassington along the Dales Way for about 2½ miles, then south-west into the village of Conistone. Across the River Wharfe to Kilnsey and south-west along Mastiles Lane to Howgill. South over moorland then east towards Threshfield Quarry followed by a walk around the quarry perimeter. Further south to Skirethorns before heading east via Threshfield and Linton Falls back to Grassington. A 10-mile walk in the Yorkshire Dales.

The route across Malham Moor towards Threshfield Quarry
The view over limestone pavement towards Buckden Pike
Threshfield Quarry lime kilns

Walk 3 – Ribblehead Viaduct and Whernside

North-west from the roadside car park on the B6255 to Ribblehead Viaduct, then north to the aqueduct near Smithy Hill. Further north-west via the Dales High Way and across Craven Wold to Boot of the Wold. South by way of A Pennine Journey all the way to the summit of Whernside before descending the mountain and rejoining the Dales High Way near Bruntscar. Finally north-east via The Scar to a point just before Winterscales Farm, then generally south-east back to the viaduct. A 10-mile walk in the Yorkshire Dales.

Ribblehead Viaduct with Whernside in the background
Blea Moor railway signal box

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Aquapac Kaituna waterproof map case, reference 808. Ideal for keeping Ordnance Survey maps clean, dry and always at hand.
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Whernside Tarns on the northern flanks of Knoutberry Hill

Walk 4 – Embsay and Barden Moor

North-east from Embsay to Eastby then generally north across moorland to Lower Barden Reservoir. North-west to Upper Barden Reservoir, crossing the dam and heading south-west to join the bridleway on Brown Bank. Finally south to Embsay Reservoir, around its banks and south-east back to Embsay. A 10-mile walk in the Yorkshire Dales.

Lower Barden Reservoir with Barden Fell in the background
Reservoir keeper’s house at Upper Barden Reservoir
Embsay Reservoir

Walk 5 – Dent Head Viaduct and Great Knoutberry Hill

North-west from Dent Head Viaduct along the minor road to Bridge End Cottage, then south via Dent Head Farm to the woodlands of Mossy Bottom. East towards Newby Head Gate and north by way of the Pennine Bridleway to the summit of Wold Fell. Further north all the way to the top of Great Knoutberry Hill, followed by a westerly descent to rejoin the Pennine Bridleway near Green Bank. Anti-clockwise around the southern flanks of Great Knoutberry Hill, west via Arten Gill to Stonehouse Farm, and finally south back to Dent Head Viaduct along the minor road. An 11-mile walk in the Yorkshire Dales.

A small cairn marks the summit of Wold Fell
Triangulation pillar on Great Knoutberry Hill summit
The Grade 2 listed Arten Gill Viaduct

Walk 6 – Gauber and Ingleborough National Nature Reserve

Briefly south-east along Gauber Road followed by a steep south-westerly ascent to reach the summit of Park Fell. Further south-west to Simon Fell and south to join the Dales High Way before heading east over to Sulber and the Ingleborough National Nature Reserve. North-east across the Ribblesdale valley to meet up with the Pennine Bridleway, crossing the B6479 and the River Ribble on the way, then north to High Birkwith. Finally north-west back to Gauber Road via Nether Lodge and Ingman Lodge, a route used by walkers of the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge. An 11-mile walk in the Yorkshire Dales.

The Settle to Carlisle Railway
The view of Ingleborough from the northern flanks of Simon Fell

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Nebo NE6822 Redline 6000 lumens flashlight. Perfect for walking in the dark. Waterproof, rechargeable and extremely bright.
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The distinctive junction at Sulber

Walk 7 – Langcliffe and Catrigg Force

North-east from Langcliffe to Catrigg Force, then generally south to meet the Pennine Bridleway near Jubilee Cave. East across Langcliffe Scar to Langscar followed by a south-west crossing over Grizedales, before heading west along the Pennine Bridleway / Dales High Way to Attermire Scar. North through the dry valley to Victoria Cave and finally west along a path and minor road back to the starting point. An 11-mile walk in the Yorkshire Dales.

Catrigg Force created by Stainforth Beck
Jubilee Cave on the north-west edge of Langcliffe Scar
Victoria Cave just north of Brent Scar and Attermire Scar

Look at these walking guides

Three very good paperbacks from the Amazon Cicerone store. There are many others to choose from. Although I make up my own walking routes, I regularly look at these guides for inspiration.

RECOMMENDED WALKING GUIDEBOOK
Walking in the Yorkshire Dales. North and East Walks. Howgills, Mallerstang, Swaledale, Wensleydale, Coverdale and Nidderdale.
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RECOMMENDED WALKING GUIDEBOOK
Walking in the Yorkshire Dales. South and West Walks. Wharfedale, Littondale, Malhamdale, Dentdale and Ribblesdale.
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RECOMMENDED WALKING GUIDEBOOK
The North York Moors. 50 walks in the North York Moors National Park. Includes the Lyke Wake Walk.
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