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Insider's guide to Grassington

Julie Smith 13 July 2021

Located right in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park is the gorgeously cobbled town of Grassington. It may be small in size, but with a scenic spot in Upper Wharfedale and a bustling market square that’s filled with wonderful stone cottages, characterful pubs and quirky family-run shops, there’s a lot to love about this classic countryside town.

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Grassington things to do

Grassington events

Grassington walks

Grassington pubs

Grassington cafes and restaurants

Grassington shops


Grassington things to do

Grassington - Things to do

The relaxed pace of life in Grassington makes it feel much more like a village than the small town it is, but there’s still plenty to see and do during your visit. Here are some of our favourite attractions and activities in and around Grassington:  

Grassington Folk Museum

Located in a couple of stone miner’s cottages from the 18th century, the Grassington Folk Museum tells the story of Upper Wharfedale and the important role of Grassington in the Industrial Revolution. There are a variety of interesting local exhibits to browse and friendly local volunteers to help you learn more about life in the Yorkshire Dales.  

Parcevall Hall Gardens

Grassington things to so - Parcevall Gardens

Just outside of Grassington are the beautiful Parcevall Hall Gardens, which cover 24 acres of Wharfedale countryside, with a variety of formal and woodland sections for visitors to enjoy. The gardens are nestled along a peaceful valley and hillside with spectacular views of the surrounding Yorkshire Dales countryside. Highlights of Parcevall Hall Gardens include woodland walks, a pretty rose garden and a limestone rock garden.

Stump Cross Caverns

This network of natural limestone caves and tunnels lies deep beneath the Yorkshire Dales National Park, with specially lit walkways to help you explore the various underground passageways. The natural rock formations are decorated with beautiful stalagmites and stalactites and there’s even a special fairy door trail for children to follow, which all adds to the magical feel of Stump Cross Caverns. Boots or wellies should be worn to walk the underground passageways and hard hats will be provided for your visit. 

Horse riding

Grassington countryside

The dramatic landscape of the Yorkshire Dales National Park surrounding Grassington makes this area a perfect destination for outdoor adventures, and one of the best ways to explore is on horseback. The Kilnsey Trekking and Riding Centre is based in the Wharfedale Valley on the northern edge of Grassington and offers a range of horse riding lessons and pony trekking sessions for all ages and abilities. Popular beginner-level pony treks include riding along the path of the River Wharfe, while more advanced riders can tackle climbing up the natural limestone pavements that this part of the Yorkshire Dales is known for.

Cycling

The annual Tour de Yorkshire race has highlighted some of the fabulous cycling routes that the region has to offer. Many holiday cottages in the Yorkshire Dales come with cycle storage so that you can bring along your own equipment, and electric bike hire is also available from Grassington E-Bikes. A popular cycling route is the path of the Lower Wharfedale valley to either Burnsall, Barden or Bolton Abbey. Alternatively, you can cycle around Upper Wharfedale to villages such as Kilnsey or Kettlewell.

Fishing

Grassington - Kilnsey Park Estate fishing

Grassington’s scenic spot on the River Wharfe means that it’s a popular option for fly fishing. Day fishing permits can be purchased from Grassington Post Office if you fancy settling down to try and catch a brown trout during your short break or holiday. 

You can also go fly fishing on a couple of acre-large, spring-fed lakes that are part of the nearby Kilnsey Park Estate and are stocked with a selection of blue, brown, golden and rainbow trout. A variety of courses and events are offered throughout the year here for anyone who is looking to improve their fishing skills.

Kilnsey Park Estate

Fly fishing lakes are just one part of Kilnsey Park, and a visit to this sprawling Yorkshire Dales estate is one of the best things to do around Grassington. A series of nature trails will take you around its beautiful wildflower meadows and woodland hills. 

You can wander around a butterfly garden, watch crystal-clear spring waters thunder down the hillside, get up close to native red squirrels and seek out the UK’s rarest orchid. Little ones can meet a range of friendly, on-site farm animals including alpacas, mini sheep and rare-breed pigs, and there’s also a children’s play area at Kilnsey Park Estate to keep them entertained.

Bolton Abbey

Grassington things to do - Bolton Abbey

Bolton Abbey lies around 9 miles south of Grassington and is one of the most perennially popular places to visit in the Yorkshire Dales. The abbey ruins are famously reached via 60 stepping stones that cross the River Wharfe and are surrounded by ancient woodland that’s a haven for local wildlife and filled with an array of beautiful flora and fauna.

Strid Wood in particular is renowned for its carpets of bluebells and wild garlic during late spring and early summer, and carefully placed seats along the various nature trails allow you to sit and make the most of the view. Keep your eyes peeled for the roe deer, otters and kingfishers that live here before seeking out the woodland's famous waterfall, The Strid.


Grassington Events

Grassington Events - Dickensian Festival

Along with farmer’s markets on the fourth Sunday of every month and regular craft fairs, there are a number of annual events and festivals that take place in and around Grassington.

Grassington Festival

Grassington comes alive with colour and creativity during the last two weeks of June, with a wide range of musical and theatre performances taking place around the town. A packed programme of Grassington Festival events is designed to entertain and inspire visitors with everything from live comedy shows to creative workshops and art exhibitions. 

Grassington 1940s weekend

Walking around the cobbled streets of Grassington can feel like stepping back in time, so it’s the perfect location for a 1940s weekend complete with outfits, hairdos, music and transport from the era. Live musical performances take place around the town and the event also features vintage markets and live re-enactments.  

Yorkshire Dales Food and Drink Festival

Skipton is around 8 miles from Grassington and plays host to the annual Yorkshire Dales Food and Drink Festival where you can sample tasty treats from a number of local suppliers, tuck into a global selection of street food and watch expert demonstrations from James Martin and the Hairy Bikers. The festival also features live music, a vintage fun fair and cocktail, gin and rum bars where you can enjoy a tipple or two.

Grassington Dickensian Festival

One of the best Christmas events in Yorkshire, the Grassington Dickensian Festival features an array of festive shopping stalls, which you can browse with a mulled wine in hand, along with a magical Santa's grotto for little ones. Highlights of the event include carol singing, wonderful Victorian costumes and a torchlight procession through the town.    

Grassington walks

Grassington walks - Linton Falls

There are plenty of scenic countryside walks around Grassington, whether you fancy a gentle stroll or something a little more strenuous. Here are some of our favourite routes:

Linton Falls

Linton Falls near Grassington is a popular choice for picnics and wild swimming and makes a great choice for a scenic stroll. The 3-mile walk starts at the Grassington National Park Centre and follows the Dales Way along the path of the River Wharfe to the lovely waterfall. It’s worth visiting the pretty Linton Church which is located on the other side of the river and can be accessed via a series of stepping stones. 

Grimwith Reservoir

Nestled between Grassington and Pateley Bridge, close to Stump Cross Caverns, is the peaceful Grimwith Reservoir which was originally built in the 1850s to supply fresh water to the local area. Well-surfaced, accessible pathways will take you on a circuit of 4 miles around the water, which is home to a collection of ducks, geese and migrating waders.

Malham Cove and Janet’s Foss

Grassington walks - Malham Cove

The dramatic Malham Cove was formed more than 12,000 years ago from an ice age waterfall and today it’s one of the most popular beauty spots in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. We recommend combining a walk around Malham Cove with visiting the pretty Janet’s Foss waterfall. It’s around 5 miles in total and is rated moderately difficult because of some fairly steep rocky climbs. 

Grass Wood

Grass Wood is a Yorkshire Wildlife Trust-managed site that’s a Site of Special Scientific Interest and one of the largest areas of broadleaved woodland in the Yorkshire Dales. You can follow the Dales Way along limestone pavements to reach Grass Wood from Grassington, then explore the nature-rich woodlands via a network of walking trails. It’s then up to you whether you walk back the way you came or head along Grass Wood Lane, which follows the path of the River Wharfe to take you back to Grassington. 

Grassington to Kettlewell

Grassington to Kettlewell walk

You can take a 6-mile hike from Grassington to the pretty village of Kettlewell. It’s a moderately difficult walk but as the route primarily follows the Inn Way, there are plenty of good country pubs to call at along the way. After you have explored Kettlewell and had some refreshments at The King’s Head dining pub, you can catch one of the regular buses back to Grassington. 




Grassington pubs

Grassington pubs - Fountaine InnThe Fountain Inn Linton - Image credit: Facebook @fountaineinnlinton

 

You’ll never have to wander too far in this part of the Yorkshire Dales before reaching a charming country inn, many of which are dog friendly too. Here are some of our favourite Grassington pubs to visit:

The Devonshire

Famously featured as The Drover’s Arms in the latest series of All Creatures Great and Small, The Devonshire is a pretty stone inn that looks out over the cobbled market square. The pub is very dog friendly and serves Timothy Taylor cask ales, traditional home-cooked food and more than 50 varieties of gin.

The Foresters Arms

Located on the main market square, The Foresters Arms is a popular pub with Grassington locals and serves hand-pulled Yorkshire ales, such as Tetley, Black Sheep and Timothy Taylor, in a cosy bar area. Food on the menu includes fish and chips and pizzas, which can be eaten in or served as a takeaway. 

Fountaine Inn

Located just a short walk from Grassington, in the peaceful village of Linton is a dog-friendly country pub called The Fountaine Inn. Its wonderfully picturesque setting on the banks on the River Wharfe makes it a popular choice with walkers, and food on offer ranges from a quick lunchtime sandwich to a set three-course dinner menu with cask ales and fine wines to wash it all down.

Craven Arms

One of the best-loved pubs in the Yorkshire Dales National Park is the Craven Arms, which is housed in a characterful 16th-century building with a separate thatched cruck barn that’s used for dining and special events. After enjoying a drink in the pub’s taproom or cosy snug, visitors to the Craven Arms are welcome to look around the cruck barn, which features a 7-metre-high oak truss roof.




Grassington cafes and restaurants

Places to eat in Grassington

Whether you’re looking for a light bite or a gourmet meal, you’ll find an assortment of lovely eateries to visit during your Grassington getaway.

Retreat Tearoom & Bistro

Serving a selection of speciality teas and locally roasted coffees, this Grassington cafe is a perfect choice for breakfast or lunch. Tempting homemade cakes are available daily, with traditional afternoon teas served each Friday and Saturday if you fancy a special treat. The Retreat Tearoom & Bistro is licensed so you can enjoy a wine, beer, gin, or glass of Pimms with your lunch or afternoon tea.  

The Devonshire Arms

Located on the Bolton Abbey Estate, The Devonshire Arms features a tranquil adults-only spa and a choice of restaurants to dine in:

  • The Burlington holds three AA Rosettes and uses ingredients from the site’s kitchen garden in their innovative tasting menu dishes 
  • The Brasserie serves a more casual menu in either a colourful bar area or a sun-trap outdoor terrace
  • The seasonal Laurent-Perrier Champagne and Seafood Terrace serves freshly caught shellfish and oysters each summer in a special canvas erected on the lawn.

Grassington House

This award-winning restaurant is housed in a handsome, honey-hued, Georgian stone building in Grassington's market square. Seasonally inspired dishes are made with fresh local produce and served in either a light and airy high-ceilinged conservatory, by the fire in the cosy bar, or on an alfresco terrace where you can watch the world go by as you dine.   

The Sunday lunch at Grassington House is particularly good and features 14-hour slow-cooked Yorkshire beef. Other menu highlights at this two-AA-Rosette restaurant are the Yorkshire cheese board and a lobster and tiger prawn thermidor. 

The Old School Tea Room

This charming cafe and craft shop is located just outside of Grassington in the tranquil village of Hebden. As the name suggests, it was once the local school room and there’s lots of original character inside this 19th-century building. 

There’s plenty of outdoor space here where you can sit and enjoy your meal. There's a play park for children, and the gardens at The Old School Tea Room are home to a menagerie of animals including pygmy goats, chickens and guinea pigs. Traditional teas in vintage china cups are served daily and there’s a wide selection of homemade sandwiches and cakes on the menu. 


Shopping in Grassington

Shopping in Grassington

Grassington is a Yorkshire market town that was made for mooching, so it’s worth taking your time to explore it properly. Here are just some of the independent shops that are tucked around Grassington’s charming, cobbled streets:

Stripey Badger Bookshop

The characterful building of the Stripey Badger Bookshop is transformed into a grocery store for All Creatures Great and Small, but usually, you’ll find the shelves here filled with all sorts of interesting books. There’s an on-site cafe where you can catch up with your reading and an Armchair Travel Book Club, which will whisk you around the world with carefully chosen books and authors from a variety of different countries. 

The Rustic Rabbit

This quirky gift shop is spread across three old Grassington cottages with a warren-like selection of treasure-filled rooms to explore. Things available to buy in the shop range from classic children’s wooden toys to dog-themed gifts for animal lovers. There are also lots of Disney and Harry Potter-themed goodies, along with classic country homeware and stationery items.

The House of Smoke and Mirrors

Describing itself as a carefully curated lifestyle emporium, The House of Smoke and Mirrors is an elegant Grassington shop where you can pick up hand-poured candles, stylish homeware and locally produced artisan pieces. Everything at The House of Smoke and Mirrors is carefully handpicked by the owners, so you never know exactly what you’ll find inside this former Victorian coach house.   

Chocolace

Selling a huge range of traditional sweets along with gift boxes of fudge, hand-made Belgian chocolate and more than 80 varieties of liquorice, Chocolace in Grassington is the perfect place to go for anyone with a sweet tooth. 

Ragdoll Interiors

Selling a range of gorgeous fabrics, sumptuous soft furnishings and top-quality furniture pieces, Ragdoll Interiors is ideal if you’re looking to achieve a country cottage look for your home. The lovely home interiors shop also sells striking brass sculptures, hand-crafted wooden signs, decorative pieces and kitchenware.   

Other Grassington shops include:

  • Grassington Wine Shop
  • Helen Midgley Shoes
  • Robert Bunney Men’s and Ladieswear
  • Burnt Rock Gift Shop
  • Ashton House Crafts and Carvings

A film and TV tour of Grassington

Kettlewell was featured in Calendar Girls

Yorkshire has featured in various films and TV shows over the years including several that have been shot in and around Grassington. 

All Creatures Great and Small

The latest series of All Creatures Great and Small was filmed on location in Grassington, with vintage costumes and cars transforming the cobbled market square into the fictional town of Darrowby. The Devonshire pub in Grassington features as The Drovers Arms in the series, and The Rusty Rabbit gift shop was transformed into Darrowby Cycles.

Calendar Girls

Just a few miles from Grassington is the pretty village of Kettlewell which became Knapley in the 2003 film Calendar Girls. The film tells the true-life tale of a group of 12 ladies from a Yorkshire Women’s Institute who dared to bare all in a charity calendar. Places that were featured in Calendar Girls include the Village Hall, St Mary’s Church, the Bluebell Inn pub and the bridge that crosses over Kettlewell Beck. 

Harry Potter

Fans of Harry Potter will be able to spot the distinctive limestone pavements at the top of Malham Cove in the final instalment of the film franchise. This distinctive location is the spot where Harry and Hermione set up camp to prepare for the final battle with Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Another Harry Potter filming location that’s worth visiting in Yorkshire is the NYMR station in Goathland which featured as Hogsmeade in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone


Plan your Grassington getaway

Grassington getaway

If you have been inspired to get away to Grassington and explore the surrounding Yorkshire Dales National Park you’ll find a selection of lovely cottages in and around this popular market town, including lots of dog-friendly options.

As well as cottages in Grassington itself, there are also holiday homes in nearby villages such as Kettlewell and Malham. Browse our full range of Yorkshire Dales holiday cottages to find the perfect base for your next getaway.



 

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.

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