Settle is a wonderful example of a Yorkshire market town with quirky independent shops and cafes located in historic stone buildings and a bustling market that takes place every Tuesday in the cobbled market square.
Settle is located at the western edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and surrounded by dramatic peaks like Pen-y-Ghent and waterfalls such as Stainforth Force making the town a perfect base for an outdoor adventure and exploring this beautiful part of the world.
We’ve put together our top five reasons to visit Settle and if you’re planning to stay for a short break or longer holiday, you’ll find lots of luxury Yorkshire Dales holiday cottages to stay in during your gorgeous getaway.
⭐ Exploring historic Settle
⭐ Discovering nearby villages
⭐ The surrounding Yorkshire Dales countryside
⭐ Eating, drinking and shopping in Settle
⭐ Enjoy some outdoor adventures
1. Exploring historic Settle
Settle is full of historical buildings dating all the way back to the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries with many of them Grade II listed. Buildings to look out for while exploring the town include Settle Victoria Hall, a Victorian music hall that houses various concerts throughout the year, and The Shambles with its six distinctive arches which is home to a variety of local shops.
You’ll find the Settle Tourist Information Centre in the town’s market square and this makes a great first stop for any visit to Settle as you’ll find leaflets on local walks and things to do during a getaway to this part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
The Folly is a Grade I listed 17th century building in Settle which is now home to the Museum of North Craven Life with a range of objects and exhibitions telling the story of the Yorkshire Dales. There are interesting trails for children to follow and lots of interactive displays to keep them interested during your visit.
One of the highlights of the year is the Settle Flowerpot Festival which transforms the town into a riot of colour every July and August with quirky characters and pretty flowers. Other events include the Settle Folk Gathering in September and the Settle Stories Festival in April.
2. Discovering nearby villages
Catch a Settle to Carlisle Railway train to the nearby village of Horton-in-Ribblesdale which is a popular starting point for the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge and home to the 24 arches of the iconic Ribbledale Viaduct which was constructed in the 1870s and is still considered to be a masterpiece of Victorian engineering.
Settle is just a short drive or scenic walk from the pretty village of Malham which is mentioned in the Domesday Book and is home to Janet’s Foss Waterfall which is a popular spot for wild swimming and Malham Cove, a natural amphitheatre of limestone pavement which featured in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
A couple of other Yorkshire filming locations that are within easy driving distance of Settle are Kettlewell and Grassington. Kettlewell was used as the fictional village of Knapley in the popular film Calendar Girls and Grassington became Darrowby in the recent Channel 5 version of All Creatures Great and Small.
3. Stunning Settle countryside
One of the big draws of Settle for many visitors is its location within the Yorkshire Dales National Park with spectacular scenery in all directions including towering peaks, dramatic waterfalls and limestone pavements.
Settle is an ideal base for tackling the three peaks of Penyghent, Whernside and Ingleborough which are all located close to the town or seeking out some of the best waterfalls in the Yorkshire Dales such as Janet’s Foss, Scaleber Force and Stainforth Force.
You can follow the path of the River Ribble to Stainforth Force, which is just north of Settle and watch the water tumbling prettily over a series of falls. Look closely and you may even spot some salmon jumping through the water on their journey up the river.
Janet’s Foss is a magical waterfall that’s surrounded by beautiful woodland and got its name from a fairy that’s said to have lived in a cave behind the water. It’s just a short walk from here to Gordale Scar, a towering 330-foot limestone ravine with two natural waterfalls.
Other highlights include beautiful wildflower meadows at the Winskill Nature Reserve and Castleberg Crag, a limestone cliff that towers over Settle and one of the best spots for a panoramic view out over the town.
4. Eating, drinking and shopping in Settle
The charming stone buildings around Settle’s market square are full of independent shops to browse including The House that Jack Built which sells a range of traditional children’s toys and Car & Kitchen an independent department store which stocks everything from homeware and gifts to ladies clothing and accessories.
There has been a charter for a market in Settle since 1249 and every Tuesday you can browse an assortment of stalls in the cobbled market square. Items available for sale at Settle Market range from fresh local ingredients to kitchenware and homemade crafts.
You’ll also be spoilt for choice of places to eat and drink in Settle and one of the most popular (and intriguingly named) establishments is Ye Olde Naked Man Café, which was originally built as an inn in 1663 and now serves a selection of homemade bread, cakes and meals to their customers. Tales about the name include a legend that a naked man was buried underneath the building and that it was once home to an undertaker.
Ye Olde Naked Man Cafe credit: Instagram @photo_man_sam
The Golden Lion pub is housed within another historic building (dating from 1640) and features of the building include an inglenook fireplace and historical pictures of the town. Other pubs include The Royal Oak which has been recently refurbished and The Talbot Arms which has a large beer garden for those sunny summer days and a wood-burning fire for when it is chillier. All three pubs offer a great selection of real ales, home-cooked meals and lots of character!
5. Outdoor adventures in the Yorkshire Dales
From walking and cycling to horse riding and caving, you’ll find lots of outdoor activities to try in the Yorkshire Dales National Park that surrounds Settle.
Settle walking routes
There's plenty of permissive footpaths and bridleways to help you explore the area on foot. Yorkshire Dales walks to try around Settle include:
- The Malham Circular which is a fairly undemanding 5-mile route that takes in Malham Cove, Janet’s Foss and Gordale Scar.
- A 3-mile walk to the nearby village of Stainforth which includes a pretty packhorse bridge and the cascading Stainforth Force waterfall.
- A 4-mile National Trust walk which starts at the Malham Tarn Estate Office near Settle and follows the Pennine Way towards Great Hill Scar before heading over the open fellside of Malham Moor.
Cycling around Settle
If you fancy trying some cycling in Yorkshire, bike hire is available from 3 Peaks Cycles who are based on the market square in Settle. Settle cycle routes to tackle include:
- The Settle to Clapham circular - a 16-mile ride through Ribbledale that takes you through both the Yorkshire Dales National Park and Forest of Bowland AONB.
- The Airton circular - a 9.5 mile route which includes the grounds of Eshton Hall and follows a series of peaceful country lanes through pretty meadows.
- The Settle to Gigglesworth circular - a 10 mile route with some gradual climbs and steeper descents which has views out to Pen-y-Ghent and Ingleborough.
Yorkshire Dales caves
The landscape around Settle is home to a number of natural caves which can be explored if you fancy heading deep below the surface for an underground adventure.
- Ingleborough Cave is a Yorkshire Dales showcave that’s reached by a picturesque woodland walk. A path will lead you through the floodlit passageways which are naturally decorated with breathtaking stalagmites and stalactites.
- Langdale Scar is a limestone cliff in Ribblesdale that’s home to a series of prehistoric caves including Victoria Cave where a number of archaeological remains have been found.
- White Scar Cave is the longest show cave in Britain and just a short drive from Settle in the village of Ingleton. As you walk through the underground caverns you’ll see waterfalls, orange stalactites and an unusual rock formation that resemble witch’s fingers.
Plan your getaway to Settle
If you have been inspired to visit Settle and spend time with family and friends in the Yorkshire Dales National Park you’ll find a selection of North Yorkshire cottages in and around the market town, including lots of dog-friendly options. For more inspiration read our ultimate guide to Yorkshire and start planning your next gorgeous Yorkshire short break or holiday.
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.