Weekend break in the Dales
If you are just visiting the Yorkshire Dales for a weekend or a short mid-week break you are going to need to plan your time. Spend a lifetime in the Park and you may not get bored with the delights it has to offer, or fail to find new corners to explore. It’s going to be an exhausting – but exhilarating – couple of days.
Malham Cove is a great place to start your Dales adventure. The limestone cliff is an unforgettable sight and if you’re visiting at the right time of year, you will be able to watch the peregrine falcons, which nest every season on the cliffs, fly back and forward finding food for their young.
Call into the National Park centre to find information on walks in the area, including the steps up the side of the cliff to the famous limestone pavement located above the Cove. The view from the top is stunning and photographers will be in their element.
From Malham, drive over the hills towards Settle and head north to the picturesque village of Clapham. Here you will find the Ingleborough Cave, which was first entered and made accessible to the public 1837. A trip down the show cave will reveal an awe-inspiring range of stunning formations, the imposing cave entrance and the large passages are full of artefacts dating back millions of years along with the evidence of the significant impact of the ice ages.
If you have the energy after the underground experience, head by car over the hill to Horton-in-Ribblesdale overlooked by Pen-y-ghent – one of the three peaks of Yorkshire. The summit is about two miles from the village but it is tough going and you will have earned your tea at the Pen-y-ghent Café when you get back down.
If there is still time left in the day, head up the dale to the Ribblehead Viaduct for more photo opportunities, particularly if you are lucky enough to see a steam train passing over.
The view from the top of Malham Cove is stunning and photographers will be in their element
Masham is one of several towns which describe themselves as a gateway to the Dales but few are as enjoyable to explore – especially if you like your real ale. The town boasts two award-winning breweries which both offer fascinating tours for visitors.
If beer isn’t your thing, there’s also a pretty Georgian market square with art galleries, cafes and a super little sweet shop. From Masham, head up the Dales towards Middleham. There is plenty to see in the historic horse racing town including a castle where Richard III spent his formative years.
However, don’t spend too long looking around – there are adventures to be had at nearby Forbidden Corner. The Coverdale attraction is an afternoon or morning out like no other – puzzles, traps, tunnels, mazes and plenty more besides. Allow plenty of time – you are likely to get lost and may not want to leave.
Afterwards you could follow the route of the Tour de France cyclists and head over the Buttertubs Pass towards Swaledale, stopping to throw a stone down the Buttertubs where it is thought farmers would store their butter on the way to market.
After a pint of Black Sheep at the Farmers Arms, in Muker, where Prince Charles has been known to call in for a game of dominoes with the locals, and perhaps some shopping at Swaledale Woollens, where you can buy jumpers knitted by hand in Dales kitchens, head down scenic Swaledale and back into Wensleydale for a visit to Aysgarth Falls, before gathering your strength and courage for a final challenge – rather special fish and chips at the Wensleydale Heifer, in West Witton.
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