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The sheer size of the Yorkshire Dales means it’s impossible to experience all it has to offer on a short timescale. On your luxury cottage holiday to the Dales we recommend focusing your attention on one or two of the regions that really appeal…
Southwest (Ribblesdale & Malhamdale)
Starting at Skipton, the ‘Gateway to the Dales’, this beautiful region is home to some of the most popular sights across the Dales, including the stunning Ribblehead Viaduct. The Southwest Dales make up what most see as the real heart of the National Park renowned for its breathtaking scenery, challenging walking routes and the Three Peaks of Ingleborough, Pen-y-ghent and Whernside. If trekking for hours is your idea of hell, there are plenty of other less demanding attractions, as well as a myriad of picturesque towns and villages to potter around.
Just north of Leeds and Bradford, where industry gives way to the rural, some would argue this isn’t really the true Yorkshire Dales. That said, it’s certainly where they start and the moors around Haworth and Ilkley have an undeniable appeal. There are several noteworthy highlights, two of which include the Bronte Parsonage, where sisters Charlotte, Emily and Anne drew inspiration for their classic novels and the Victorian Spa town of Ilkley itself, where upmarket restaurants and shops enjoy the pretty backdrop of the River Wharfe.
South East (Nidderdale)
Known as the civilised corner of the Dales, the gentle south-east Dales around Harrogate and Ripon provide the perfect setting for a relaxed countryside jaunt, particularly if you want to keep one foot firmly on urban ground. Designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it’s make-up of broad green meadows and gently rolling hills are a serene introduction to the wilder, more remote Dales to the north. Nidderdale is also home to the exquisite Fountains Abbey, a World Heritage Site just outside Ripon. This is an addictive landscape: Janet Street-Porter declared it a drug, set up home here 25 years ago and hasn’t spent more than 4 weeks away from it since
Helped no end by the success of the Wallace and Gromit films and Wallace’s overt obsession with the region’s cheese, Wensleydale is perhaps the best known of all the Dales and its name is synonymous with Yorkshire and the North. Picking up where Nidderdale leaves off, the scene is one of lush valleys, mellow pastures and pretty villages, crisscrossed with acres of dry stone walls along its 40-mile length. Wensleydale is also famed for its waterfalls, the most notable being Aysgarth Falls and Hardraw Force. Coverdale and Bishopdale, both tributaries of Wensleydale, are the lesser known central Dales and provide a peaceful, less touristy experience.
North (Swaledale & Arkengarthdale)
The most remote and dramatic of all the Dales, the northern region has a rugged and sometimes bleak allure. Famed for its hardy breed of sheep and spectacular wildflower meadows, these are the least commercially developed of all the valleys, so if you want to get away from it all, this is the place. A land of mountains, fast-flowing rivers and folklore legend; the spirit of the Vikings who settled here over 1,000 years ago is kept alive with evocatively named valleys like Rogan’s Seat and Blea Barf. Rising steeply on narrow roads from the town of Reeth, Arkengarthdale’s secluded hills and valleys reach to the isolated, most northerly points. This is an ancient and historic land, scattered with ruined monastic buildings, ancient churches and solitary villages.