48 hours in the Yorkshire Dales – what to do on a weekend in the Yorkshire Dales
If you are looking for a romantic getaway with your other half, a few nights away from the kids or somewhere to take the parents, then a weekend in the Yorkshire Dales is perfect. Basing yourself around the historic market town of Skipton, the ‘Gateway to the Dales’ you will have everything easily accessible. Voted the ‘The Best National Park in Europe 2021’ the Yorkshire Dales National Park is nothing short of impressive. With its lush green rolling hills, wonderful waterfalls and epic views to the cosy country pubs, the independent shops and it’s exquisite restaurants there really is something for everyone. For nature lovers, walking enthusiasts, craft beer samplers, history nerds, pampered princesses or adventure junkies, you will all be happy on a weekend in the Yorkshire Dales.
Weekend in the Yorkshire Dales - arriving in Skipton
Arriving in Skipton midday is an ideal time to experience the hustle and bustle of this thriving market town which still has its famous open-air market on the High Street 4 days a week.
For lunch head to Bizzie Lizzie’s for their award-winning fish and chips. You can eat in, but we always favour takeaway so that we can eat them sat on the canal basin benches watching the canal barges and swans. If fish and chips aren’t your thing then try Elsworth’s Kitchen just around the corner on Coach Street for a spectacular lunch.
After lunch take a stroll along the Leeds Liverpool Canal. The canal plays an important part in the town’s history and this section was the first to open in 1773. The canal runs through the heart of the town and is strewn with historical features. Once you reach the arched Mill Bridge you can continue following the path behind Skipton Castle and up into Skipton Woods if you aren’t drawn in by the smell of the famous Stanforth’s pork pies first (grab one for your pack up tomorrow!) There are various routes through the wood so check out the handy links section for details of the walk. Skipton Woods is a lovely short accessible walk that can be made longer at various points. You could also visit the Castle itself. Skipton Castle is over 900 years old and one of the best-preserved castles in England. After a taste of history walk through the church yard of Holy Trinity taking in the view down the High Street then immerse yourself in the market and browse the independent shops in Craven Court, around the Canal quarter and down the High Street.
Weekend in the Yorkshire Dales - evening entertainment
After freshening up at your accommodation you will be ready for your next feed. But first why not sample some of the local craft beers. There are quite a few micro pubs in the town now all open early doors and dotted around the High Street; Beer Engine off Court Lane, Early Doors Micro Pub and Sound Bar are all worth visiting. If cocktails is more your tipple then head to Alexander’s at the top of town for a signature cocktail or glass of fizz.
For your evening meal then every taste bud can be met. Here are a few of our favourite restaurants for you to try;
La Casita – Spanish tapas
Le Bistro – French cuisine
The Wooly Sheep – proper pub grub
Craven Kitchen – the best curry in town
Elsworths kitchen – authentic seasonal dishes
Efendy – turkish cuisine
After your meal head for a couple of drinks at the quirky Two Sisters, or the traditional Wooly Sheep pub before a night cap at the Cock and Bottle which usually has live music on.
Weekend in the Yorkshire Dales - morning strolls in Malham
After a hearty breakfast pack your pork pie snack and drive up the windy country roads towards Malham into the Yorkshire Dales National Park which is about 20 minutes drive. No weekend in the Yorkshire Dales is complete without a trip up here. Malham is incredibly popular and its no surprise why. With its magnificent limestone cove, dramatic gorges and wonderful waterfalls this place is like something out of a film (and it actually is, do you recognise it from Harry Potter?)
The curving amphitheatre of Malham Cove, the ravine at Gordale Scar and Janet’s Foss waterfall make for a spectacular walk. This 8km walk will take you a couple of hours to complete. The scenery is unbelievable – these limestone features are not to be missed. Be warned as sections of this route can be tricky especially the top of the cove if you haven’t the best head for heights. Once you are safely down the 400 steps then you should celebrate with a pub lunch. The Listers Arms in the heart of the village is the best one to sample.
Weekend in the Yorkshire Dales - afternoon touring around Settle
After your walk head on a scenic drive over the tops past Malham Tarn towards Settle, spotting the Yorkshire 3 Peaks in the distance. Settle is another historic market town in the Yorkshire Dales which offers even more waterfalls, limestone scenery as well as quaint shops and cafes.
On the drive over the moors you should take a quick stop off at Scaleber Force. This superb waterfall is one of many in the area but it is the one with the shortest walk. Less than 5 minutes from parking the car at the road side you will be at the bottom of the waterfall. This waterfall in particular is very reactive to the rainfall so if you visit after a rainfall event expect to hear it roar.
From here head up to view the magnificent Ribblehead Viaduct with Whernside in the background. This impressive feat of engineering with its 24 arches standing at 32m tall is best viewed from below so make sure you get out and have a walk up to it. Its size cannot be comprehended until you are up close and personal.
Drive back through Selside, Horton in Ribblesdale and Settle to absorb more of this wondrous landscape on your way back to Skipton.
Weekend in the Yorkshire Dales - specialty cuisine
Tonight your evening meal is the main event. There are a number of unbelievable award winning fine dining restaurants in the area. Make sure you book way in advance to guarantee a spot. These are our top picks to choose from;
The Angel at Hetton – Michelin Star (2022) gastronomical delight
Le Caveau – a hidden gem offering seasonal dishes
Grassington House – a dining experience (and then some)
Weekend in the Yorkshire Dales - Sunday Roast walks
After another hearty Yorkshire breakfast and checking out, head down to Bolton Abbey for a walk. There are numerous routes to take around the estate from easily accessible routes to longer hill climbs. Whichever route you choose the Priory is a must see. This Augustine church from the 11th century stands proud above the River Wharfe. It’s ruins are well preserved and the main body of the church still stands and is in use today. Take a peek inside and spot the stained glass windows, breathtaking.
From Bolton Abbey drive up through Burnsall to Linton following the river. Linton Falls is a cascade which is incredibly dangerous. Even being on the footbridge above is enough to give you the heebyjeebies. There is a lovely walk from the car park down through the church and over the stepping stones before following the Dales Way back up the river to the Falls. Or you could head upstream to Ghaistrills Strid, another impressive limestone cascade. In fact, the whole section of river from Bolton Abbey up to Grassington is a beautiful walk so whichever section you choose you will not be disappointed.
No trip to the Yorkshire Dales would be complete without a traditional Sunday Roast with extra Yorkshire puddings and lashings of gravy! Try the Red Lion at Burnsall, the Gamekeeper’s Inn at Threshfield or the Fountaine Inn at Linton.
After your weekend in the Yorkshire Dales experiencing some of what Skipton and the surrounding area has to offer, I know you will be back!
Weekend in the Yorkshire Dales - where to stay
With so many choices of where to stay it can be pretty overwhelming finding the right spot to cater for your needs. So here are my recommendations;
If you are on a romantic getaway celebrating something special like an anniversary, a proposal maybe or a big birthday then you have got to go with the Devonshire Arms at Bolton Abbey. A traditional country hotel, with sumptuous bedrooms, elegant dining rooms, relaxing and tranquil lounge areas, it’s own spa and 3 AA Rosettes winning restaurant. Even if you aren’t staying here then I would recommend visiting for a spa session (check out my review of the Secret Spa with your very own bell tent in the handy links section).
If you are wanting somewhere to act as a base as you will be out and about most of the time then there are a couple of hotels in the centre of Skipton which offer friendly service, comfortable and clean rooms as well as food and drink options.
The Railway Pub (handily located opposite Tesco) is a fabulous pub with 6 en-suite rooms. They are all sound proofed so you won’t be disturbed if you get an early night, although I can guarantee you will be joining them at the bar. Offering bed & breakfast as well as lunch and evening menus the food is proper pub grub.
Another hotel to consider is Herriots Hotel, opposite the train station which is another great location to stay. With en-suite rooms that are spacious and stylish the room rate includes a hearty Yorkshire breakfast. Ask for a room over looking the canal so you have a lovely morning view with your coffee. If you need to bring the pooch too then there are some rooms that are dog friendly.
For a touch of luxury, your own private hot tub, a stunning view and seclusion then a stay in the gorgeous Little Yorkshire Shepherds Hut is a must. Situated on the edge of Elslack reservoir just out of town, this cosy, idyllic hut offers a peaceful comfortable sleep. Attention to detail is impeccable and the owners have done an amazing job of offering everything you would need for a stress free retreat.
If you fancy a little more freedom then why not hire a camper van or motorhome for the weekend? Oak Valley Campers situated in Skipton have a variety of vans to suit all needs. Sleeping from 2 up to 7, the vans come with toilets, cooking facilities, comfy beds and a quick tour of how it all works. There are lots of spots to park up around the Yorkshire Dales including pub car parks and campsites. A van gives you that added bonus too of reducing travel time (and costs) so you can fit more into your weekend.