Exploring the Yorkshire Dales

Yorkshire is known for its sweeping, dramatic landscapes and the Dales are a prime example of this. Lush green valleys and many a babbling brook that converges into a rushing river, history bequeaths every dale with a rich story of early occupation by Danes, Norseman and Romans. Interestingly, dale comes from dael the old English word meaning valley, derived from Nordic language.

Due to the high rainfall of the area, the land looks perpetually dressed in verdant greenery, punctuated in the spring to summer with a smattering of wildflowers in purples, yellows and whites. In the spring, scents of wild garlic fills the air as you wander, while seeing delicate wild orchids bravely opening themselves to the sun's rays is not at all uncommon. And while you certainly don't go to the Dales expecting temperate weather, the long summer days are perfect for a hilltop hike where you can't help but feel as though it is just you and the wildflowers - even as down below the roads are busy with your fellow tourists.

In winter, the snow cloaks the fields with unblemished and pristine consistency. Small towns can be found dotted around and throughout the National Park - towns with strong heritage as medieval trade ports or strategic strongholds in long ago skirmishes.

Charming Skipton

The market town of Skipton is a great place from which to explore the Dales, and also holds a few attractions itself. This charming town, 2014's best town to live, is home to the most complete and best preserved medieval castle in England that is open to the public. A castle was first built on this site in 1090 by Robert de Romille, a Norman Baron, but the timber ramparts did little to stop the invading Scots. This was quickly replaced with a stone fortress that was then fortified and considerably extended in the 12th century when King Edward II granted the lands to the Clifford family.

Visitors can explore the Banqueting Hall, the Kitchen, the Bedchamber and Privy and even climb from the depths of the Dungeon to the top storey of the Watch Tower.

Skipton rose to prominence as a market town with a strong trade in woollen goods and sheep as it was well connected to Leeds and Liverpool by a canal. Today, it's lovely to walk around the original market to pick yourself up something special and then find a quiet spot by the canal to watch the boats chug past.

Wander your way over hill and dale

Often known as the gateway to the Yorkshire Dales, Grassington National Park Centre near Skipton is the starting point of many scenic trails, varying in difficulty and length for people of all fitness and experience levels. Other scenic walks in the Dales include the lovely Malham village walk down to the cove on famous limestone pavement or the enchanting Asygarth waterfalls further north. Anywhere you go in this area though, you are bound to be struck by the beautiful scenes, whether it is a well frequented viewing spot or somewhere you simply stumble upon.

Grassington is also home to a two week summer arts and culture festival that showcases great music and art in the beautiful Dales setting. Skipton's premier festival is the Skipton Sheep Festival on the first Sunday in July where the heritage of the Dales and the market town are on show with demonstrations, stalls, entertainment and classic Yorkshire fare on offer.

Incorporate an exploration of the Yorkshire Dales into one of our Tempo Superbreaks. Our Northern Coast & Country Package out of York can be extended to further explore the county of Yorkshire or visit the Dales from Skipton on our Discover Yorkshire itinerary.