Ten wonderful things to do in Swaledale holiday cottages

Ten wonderful things to do in Swaledale

Kate W 16 January 2018

There are plenty of wonderful activities and places to visit throughout Swaledale, take a look through our list of things to do to get a few ideas of how to make the most of your holiday to Yorkshire.

Where is Swaledale?

Right at the top of the Yorkshire Dales is the lovely region of Swaledale. It’s home to the market town of Richmond along with a selection of pretty villages, all of which make Swaledale a great choice for a short break or holiday. You’ll find plenty of walks and cycle rides to try, not to mention country pubs, museums and even alpaca trekking! 

The top ten things to do in Swaledale

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1. Explore Richmond Castle

Richard Castle

Explore this magnificent castle during your holiday to Swaledale and take in ancient architecture and fantastic views.

This Norman castle is located high on a hill above Richmond, so it’s a great spot to drink in some stunning views of the Yorkshire Dales. We recommend a stroll through the pretty cockpit garden just outside the castle walls, before heading to one of the picnic benches for some refreshments.

If you want to learn more about the castle’s fascinating history, there’s an interactive exhibition in the visitor’s centre.

Richmond holiday cottages

2. Walk along the River Swale to Easby Abbey

Easby Abbey

One of the nicest things about Richmond is its proximity to the River Swale which passes alongside the castle and even boasts its own River Swale Waterfalls for you to discover.

If you enjoy taking in the great outdoors, why not go for a pleasant riverside walk from the town along to Easby Abbey? The abbey is just over a mile from Richmond, making it a fairly quick and easy walk to fit in during your holiday, and it's free to explore the well-preserved 12th-century remains.

When you're done wandering the ruins, you can then enjoy a stroll back to Richmond and perhaps refuel in one of the many delightful restaurants or pubs. 

Discover more fantastic walking routes in our guide to family-friendly walks in the Yorkshire Dales.

Yorkshire Dales cottages

3. Enjoy the view from Reeth village green


There are lots of things to love about the pretty Swaledale village of Reeth. You’ll find an array of tearooms, shops, pubs and a market selling local produce every Friday so you can be sure that you'll have plenty of amenities to enjoy while on holiday in Reeth. 

One of our favourite things to do is to get ice cream from the local parlour, sit on a bench and enjoy 360-degree views of the Dales. It's a great place to stop and unwind each afternoon if you are staying in this pretty Yorkshire village - it's also a great chance to take in the beautiful scenery that surrounds you. 

Enjoy a peaceful retreat to the charming Yorkshire village of Reeth: 

Reeth cottages

4. Treat yourself to lunch at dog-friendly pub, The Farmer's Arms in Muker

Farmer's ArmsPhoto credit: Instagram @yorkshiredalesbrewery

Another lovely Swaledale village, just along from Reeth, is Muker which is home to The Farmer's Arms, a great place for a pint and a pub lunch.

If you are holidaying with the dog in tow, then this is a fantastic opportunity to head out into the scenic countryside on a dog-friendly walk through Upper Swaledale before winding up at the pub to fill hungry bellies.

This well-loved pub offers up real local ales, Sunday roasts, and a warm and welcoming atmosphere complete with flagged stone floors and an open fire - and you can't beat the scenic village position. 

5. Go on an alpaca trek!

Alpaca trek

Make walking in Swaledale even more special by going on an alpaca trek with Reeth-based firm Alfresco Adventures.

You can get up close to these sweet creatures, leading them around with a special rein and explore Swaledale side-by-side. Be warned, these animals can spit so a member of your group may get unlucky and need a fresh shirt after your Yorkshire ramble! 

At the end of your trek, you'll get the chance to take a few selfies and reward the animals with a feed. The alpacas are called Larch, Aramis and Apollo and in the summer months, you can see them grazing in the fields around Low Row.

6. See a traditional blacksmith at work


Located in the village of Gunnerside is the Old Working Mill and Smithy, a smithy and museum showcasing lead mining in the area with items made by the working blacksmiths over the years, ever since it opened in 1795.

Amazingly, you’ll find a blacksmith at work there today and the smithy is still run by the same family too! Stephen Calvert is the sixth generation of blacksmiths in his family to work at the smithy and he crafts items for sale in the on-site shop.

Uncover a little local heritage when you visit the small museum and see the original ledgers (day books), cooking utensils and other items that have been crafted in this smithy. 

7. Enjoy a challenging bike ride


Swaledale is well-known for its cycling, having played host to the Tour de France in 2014. You’ll also find the Dales Bike Centre where you can hire a bike and get some refreshments.

There are lots of tough climbs to try and the annual Ard Rock bike challenge takes place in Swaledale each August. If you want something a little gentler, an easier cycle route opened April 2018 between Reeth and Keld.

Thinking of enjoying a cycling holiday to Yorkshire and discovering the fantastic landscape on two wheels? Take a look our recommendations for a few top cycling holidays in Yorkshire. 

Explore Yorkshire by bike

8. Visit a Georgian theatre and a Victorian station

The Georgian Theatre
Credit: Instagram @thegeorgiantheatreroyal


There’s plenty of historic buildings in the market town of Richmond and among our favourites to visit is the Georgian Theatre. Here you can watch a show or go on a tour where you can see The Woodland Scene, the oldest surviving stage scene in Britain.

It’s also well worth heading to The Station – a restored Victorian railway building that’s home to an art gallery, cinema and microbrewery amongst other things.

9. Warm up in a hand-crafted Swaledale woollen jumper


You’ll find the delightful store of Swaledale Woolens in the village of Muker - perfect if you want a little retail therapy during your trip!

This unusual shop was originally founded by locals in the 1970s to revive the traditional knitting industry so visit to pick out a meaningful and super cosy memento of your holiday to the Dales. The wool used comes from local Swaledale sheep and is handcrafted by over 30 people knitting in their homes making every item extra special. 

Stay in a holiday cottage in the delightful Yorkshire village of Muker:

10. Step back in time at the Swaledale Museum

Swaledale MuseumPhoto credit: Instagram @jane.sammells

Yorkshire has a complex and intriguing past and this charming museum in Reeth offers you the chance to explore it. Discover the  There are lots of old artefacts and information about Swaledale and neighbouring Arkengarthdale, from pre-historic fossils to lead mining, farming and local crafts.

It's interactive too, so you'll be able to listen to the voices of local people telling stories from their past, and there's a mystery objects challenge for adults and children to try and solve during your visit.

Plan your visit to Swaledale

Stay in a holiday cottage in Swaledale

Swaledale is a beautiful region of Yorkshire that’s filled with pretty meadows, dramatic hills and the ancient drystone barns that the Yorkshire Dales are famous for.  

There's so many things to do in this beautiful landscape that you and your travel companions will all have a wonderful time! Families can enjoy the great outdoors, couples can hide out in cosy pubs, pets will enjoy the excellent dog-walking all around and big groups can get involved in exciting activities. Where will you begin on your trip to scenic Swaledale? 

Whether you like walking, cycling or just relaxing and enjoying the scenery, Swaledale makes the perfect base for a Yorkshire holiday with a range of idyllic country cottages throughout Richmond, Reeth, Muker and Low Row.

Browse our full collection of holiday cottages in Swaledale and pick out your ideal Yorkshire retreat: 


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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