Regular visitors will know that there’s a wealth of great places to visit in Yorkshire and many activities and sports on offer. If you’re booking a Yorkshire holiday and looking for a few ideas, here are our top 10 things to do in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales National Park.

1) Walk in the woods

Hackfall Woods is a beautiful, peaceful patch of woodland near Masham. While it appears to be natural, it was actually landscaped in the 19th century by John and William Aislabie. There are surprises at every turn - hidden grottoes, stunning waterfalls, delightful follies, an impressive fountain and even a sandy beach! Along the paths are sturdy benches inviting you to sit and enjoy the spectacular views. Autumn colours are particularly magnificent but equally beautiful are the lovely summer flowers.

2) Fly fishing

Book a beginner’s or improver’s lesson with one of the professional game angling instructors and head off to Kilnsey Park Fly Fishery. There’s two spring-fed lakes of around an acre in size that stay open all year round and are kept well stocked by the onsite trout farm. Kilnsey Park Fly Fishery is situated in spectacular surroundings so enjoy a wander around, visit the farm and the shop, or have something to eat in the restaurant.

3) Fell walking

One of the most popular things to do in the Yorkshire Dales is, of course, walking. Buckden Pike is the second highest peak and, while it may prove a challenge to climb to the grassy summit plateau, the views from the top are stunning. Find out the story behind the Polish War Memorial and take a torch to explore the remains of the disused lead mine, Buckden Gavel Mine. Make sure you have time for a pint in the village’s Buck Inn, a great Dales pub.

4) Caving

Brace yourself for underground discovery! Visitors come for miles to visit the Yorkshire Dales and, for many, what’s to be seen below ground is just as exciting as the views above. The region has an astonishing 2,500 known caves and hundreds of miles of tunnels to explore. From the intricate passageways of Long Churn Cave to the exciting chambers of Goyden Pot, there’s a range of routes with varying difficulty. If you’re not comfortable with squeezing through small spaces and scrambling up underground waterfalls, you can simply visit the larger caverns and enjoy their fascinating formations.

5) Cheese making

So how is cheese made? If you’ve ever wondered what the process is, then visit the Wensleydale Creamery, near Hawes, for a tour of their facility. Master cheese-makers will explain in detail while handcrafting a Yorkshire Wensleydale from eight pints of milk in just 40 minutes! This is a fascinating insight into the thousand-year history of Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese, from its beginnings as a simple recipe created by monks, right up to the processes of a modern creamery employing over 200 staff and contributing substantially to the region’s economy.

6) Bird spotting

If you are looking for the best places to go in the Dales for birdlife, Nosterfield Nature Reserve, just west of Masham, should come high on the list. Bird spotters will love the luxurious hides, equipped with easy-to-use windows and shutters as well as sheepskin upholstered benches! Visit here to view a variety of waterfowl including cranes, ospreys, red necked grebes, and bitterns. In winter, the reserve attracts large numbers of geese, and the sight of these is something special. It’s also home to many birds of prey and you may well spot sparrow hawks, buzzards, and kestrels.

7) Wild swimming

On warm summer days, the region offers some great wild swimming - whether you’re happy to relax in clear pools or prefer the challenge of sliding down rapids. The picturesque village of Grassington is one of the best places for watery fun. The river meadows to the south of this pretty village are a brilliant base for a whole range of water activities. Wade out to the little island, test out the rope swing and watch young children having fun in their little inflatable dinghies. The more adventurous can climb up to the larger clear pool, from where they can ride tubes down the weir.

8) Rock climbing

Plenty of serious climbers use Brimham Rocks to practise their skills, but there are also opportunities for the less experienced. The huge rock formations at Brimham, which carry evocative names like the Dancing Bear, the Gorilla and the Eagle, form a natural obstacle course, but there are well-worn climbs too and it’s the ideal setting to don a hard hat and develop your skills. When you’ve achieved your climb, you can stand tall on the top and enjoy spectacular views over to Nidderdale.

9) Canopy walking in the forest

For those looking for a bit of excitement, there’s challenging activities at Aerial Extreme, Bedale, just to the east side of the Yorkshire Dales. Here, you may well take one of the most adrenaline-filled walks of your life as you haul yourself up a climbing wall and clamber onto a canopy walkway. Then take the MegaZip to slide back down to base at hair raising speeds. There’s a good couple of hours of entertainment here as you take on each challenge of this amazing experience. No need to worry - you’ll be attached to a safety line!

10) Cycling

Cycling is a popular way to explore the Yorkshire Dales. There’s some great rides for families and, while it’s impossible to avoid hills completely, seeing the stunning countryside will more than make up for the odd uphill pedal. The Gargrave circular is a lovely 8-mile round trip and will take you through a few delightful small villages in the southern area of the Dales.

Our list of the top 10 things to do on holiday in Yorkshire gives you a great overview of just some of the available excursions, but this national park is full of many incredible places we haven't even mentioned, too, and makes a wonderful active holiday destination.


Jennie Maddon is a freelance writer