The Yorkshire Dales are famous as some of the most beautiful countryside in the United Kingdom, but they’re also home to many gorgeous villages. Exploring these pretty villages in the Yorkshire Dales is an a great way to take in the beauty of the area, and experience some wonderful Yorkshire hospitality!
People from Yorkshire are a patriotic bunch – I don’t think I’ve ever made my beloved in-laws happier than when I discovered a link to Yorkshire in the family tree. A link to “God’s Country” was music to their ears, and music to mine, since it’s just so gorgeous.
I love visiting Yorkshire, so I’m always the first to put my hand up for a family trip up north. This time round, I asked for some recommendations for the most beautiful villages in the Yorkshire Dales. The following route and villages are the result of many, many decades of combined Yorkshire knowledge – and I reckon they did pretty well!
The Yorkshire Dales
Having married into a Yorkshire family, I’d heard a thing or two about “the Dales” in my time. Even still, I wasn’t quite prepared when we went for a drive through them for the first time. They’re absolutely gorgeous, and unlike anything I’ve seen elsewhere.
For those without Yorkshire in-laws to give them a very thorough rundown, here are some key facts about the Yorkshire Dales.
The Yorkshire Dales is a large area in north Yorkshire. A ‘dale’ is basically a hill and river pattern, which is replicated over and over in the Yorkshire Dales. The result is a stunning landscape that looks almost plaited together.
As well as being absolutely freaking stunning, the Yorkshire Dales is also home to some of England’s finest farmland. For centuries, agriculture has been the major industry in the area, and there are hundreds of gorgeous farmhouses dotted all over the landscape.
10 beautiful villages in the Yorkshire Dales
Some of these farmhouses are clustered around so-cute-I-could-cry villages – and driving between them gives you an amazing view of the Dales themselves. Here are ten beautiful villages in the Yorkshire Dales.
The little village of Appletreewick – or ‘Aptrick’ to locals – is located right down south of the Yorkshire Dales. It’s a bit of a “blink and you’ll miss it” kind of place, so be prepared to stop quickly and get out to have a look around!
This Yorkshire Dales village is totally charming. Set around one long street with a beautiful view of the rolling hills in the background, it’s a real stunner. While most of the homes on the main street are from the 17th and 18th centuries, the village itself goes all the way back to the 12th century.
Back centuries ago, Appletreewick – kind of ironically given its name – was best known for its onion fair. There’s still a little laneway known as ‘Onion Lane’, although sadly the fair is no longer on the annual calendar.
Today, it’s more famous for the many hikes that set off from Appletreewick. In summer, you’re likely to meet plenty of “ramblers” (just like I did!).
Burnsall is a larger village in the Yorkshire Dales, and with several cafes it is a great place to stop for lunch. It’s also popular with cyclists, hikers and even swimmers who don’t mind taking a dip in the Wharfe River that runs through the village.
The village itself is very pretty, with the most unique feature on show as you enter the village. It’s the five-arch bridge and the views of and over the bridge are really beautiful.
The village looks historic and it certainly is – it was an Anglo-Viking settlement back in the day. You can still catch a glimpse of this past at the parish church, which features carved Viking and Anglo-Saxon stones.
Burnsall also features many stories of more questionable origin. It’s located close to Troller’s Gill, allegedly home to (you guessed it) some trolls. Walking to Troller’s Gill is one of the popular routes that set off from Burnsall.
- Red Lion Hotel Burnsall – stay in a charming and historic old pub right in the heart of Burnsall. The accommodation is simple but cozy, and the Dales location is unbeatable!
Another blink-and-you-miss-it village, Airton was an accidental find as we snaked our way from Burnsall to Malham. While it may be small, the views as you come into the village are absolutely gorgeous. I loved seeing the bridge and stone houses peeking through the trees.
While Airton is not a very well-known North Yorkshire village, it does have a very interesting history. It was recorded in the Domesday Book, making it at least 950 years old. In the 16th Century, it became home to many Quakers, who still have meetings there today.
There’s not a great deal to the village, with no pubs (sad face). However, there is a very lovely farm shop and tea room which boasts gorgeous views out over the Dales. It’s also a stop on the Pennine Way, which is a popular walking route through the Dales.
Gorgeous Malham is quite the outdoor enthusiast’s playground, and the village was filled with hikers during our summer visit. It’s no wonder – there are at least three beautiful natural attractions within walking distance of this picturesque town.
They are Gordale Scar, Janet’s Foss and Malham Cove. Each one is a very different natural featuring, showing the amazing diversity of the Yorkshire Dales. If you want to try the walks, then this website has a lot of great information and a map as well.
If you love Harry Potter, you might be interested to know that part of the Deathly Hallows was filmed around Malham Cove!
Then again, if you’d prefer not to go stomping over the dales, then there’s plenty to see within the pretty village. There are a few shops and a lovely looking pub, as well as a river that featured heavily in my photos. Gorgeous.
- The Lister Arms – this beautiful old pub is perfectly located if you want to take advantage of the walks in Malham. While the outside of the pub is charming and historic, the inside is modern and stylish.
Charming Arncliffe is nestled at the foot of Upper Wharfedale. It’s one of the smallest of the villages on this list, and in my “humble” opinion, one of the most charming. As a lesser-known village, it’s peaceful and quiet, without many tourists even in summer.
Despite its humble size and looks, Arncliffe has a big claim to fame! It was the original setting for the English TV soap Emmerdale, although it only lasted from ‘72 to ‘76. Nonetheless, it’s still being talked about decades later!
Another fact about this charming little village in Yorkshire is that its name is Norse for “Eagle Cliff”. Now that’s a pretty cool name for a very pretty village.
There’s a small and charming pub if you’re thirsty, or looking to fuel up before heading on some walks through the Dales. If you’re way braver than me, you can even walk from Arncliffe to Malham (or vice versa). Based on the drive, I’m sure it’s spectacular!
The drive between Arncliffe and Kettlewell is incredibly beautiful, so it makes sense that there would be a pretty Yorkshire village at the end of it. Kettlewell is a little bigger, with a population of 322 (phew, it’s practically a city!), but it still has buckets of charm.
The village itself is quite beautiful, but it’s really the setting that makes it so incredibly magical. I mean, just look above at it! I know I’m supposed to be a writer (or at least that’s what I tell myself), however, I’m not sure that I have any superlatives to describe it accurately.
In 1200, Kettlewell established itself as one of the Dales’ most important towns when it began holding a big market. Corn was the main ware on offer, and there are still several ruined mills in the town.
Today, the village is actually most famous for its annual scarecrow festival. Devastatingly, I did not get to experience said festival – but I hear it’s an absolute extravaganza! Sounds like a return to Kettlewell is definitely on the cards for this travel blogger.
- Sweetbriar Cottage B&B (Budget) – If you ask me, the perfect place to stay in the Dales is a simple, charming B&B with beautiful views. That’s what is on offer here (note the property is in Starbotton, the next village over from Kettlewell).
- Pennycroft Guest House (Mid-range) – A warm and cozy guest house with a beautiful setting, this is a charming place to stay in Kettlewell. If booking for the scarecrow festival, be sure to book early!
Another of the most charming villages in the Yorkshire Dales is West Burton… although the cars in the village were really doing their darndest to block my view! You’ll just have to trust me that the panoramic views around the village green are absolutely gorgeous.
As well as the village itself, the surroundings are totally gorgeous as well. As you can see, there’s the beautiful rolling hills behind. However, the real jewel in West Burton’s Dales crown is its waterfall. It was even drawn by the artist Turner during his tour of England!
The village is small but lively, with a pub and an antiques shop (two Yorkshire Dales staples). It’s believed to be built on an old Iron Age settlement, however most of what can be seen today date from the 17th century onwards.
Okay, it’s not technically a village but a town – but it’s a very small town with just 1,000 people. So I thought I’d bend the rules to include it here. It’s especially special since it’s home to the Wensleydale Creamery, of Wallace & Gromit fame. So that’s pretty cool.
Hawes has also been called “the Village that Refused to Die”, which, frankly, is my favourite descriptor for a village ever. Like many towns in the Yorkshire Dales, Hawes saw many of its amenities closing. Through the sheer determination of its patriotic locals, they have fundraised and managed to keep it a thriving market town.
As a small market town, there are plenty of amenities in Hawes including cafes, pubs and inns. One thing you won’t find anymore is “the bookseller from hell” who fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it) moved out several years ago.
I definitely recommend a trip to this charming town, not just because it’s pretty, but because it’s got so much personality!
Places to stay in Hawes
- The Fountain Hotel (Budget) – If you are looking for an affordable place to stay in Hawes, then this is a great choice. It’s basic but comfortable, located centrally in Hawes.
- The Garsdale Bed & Breakfast (Mid-range) – an exceptionally rated B&B is the perfect place to enjoy the warm Dales hospitality. There’s only 3 rooms so everyone gets special attention!
- Stone House Hotel (Luxury) – If you’re looking for a peaceful and romantic stay in Hawes than the gorgeous Stone House is ideal. It’s a charming stone hotel surrounded by beautiful views.
Another pretty village in Yorkshire is Muker. Its unusual name is Norse, and stems from a ever-so-descriptive phrase meaning “the narrow, newly cultivated field.” I see where that good old Yorkshire practicality comes from!
Muker is a gorgeous example of a Yorkshire Dales village, with plenty of adorable stone cottages that date from around the 17th Century. However, the history of the village predates that – or at least, the Iron Age skeleton found on the common in the 90s would certainly suggest so!
Despite its tiny size, Muker is actually a pretty thriving little village. While mining and agriculture have traditionally been its main industries, today it is tourism that keeps the town alive. As a result, there are several craft shops as well as a great pub called the Farmer’s Arms.
Like many of the most beautiful villages in the Dales, it runs alongside a small river and you cross over a charming bridge to get in. It’s definitely a worthy stop!
Ultra-charming Reeth is easily one of the most beautiful villages in the Dales. It’s got everything you could want from your quintessential Dales village: stone walls leading you in, grumpy sheep watching your every move, and an abundance of cafes serving Yorkshire tea!
Reeth is located between two of the most photogenic dales in Yorkshire, which makes it a very popular stop for tourists. As such you’ll find plenty of amenities in the town; yet it’s still got that traditional Yorkshire charm.
Historically, Reeth has been famous for knitting. You can still pick up some souvenirs, like an itchy sweater just like your Grandma used to make you (oooh, I am itchy just thinking about it)! Lead mining was another major industry in Reeth – they really make ‘em tough in Yorkshire!
A fun (or not-so-fun, if you’re not morbid) fact about Reeth is it used to be along the “Corpse Way”, a winding medieval path where the dead would be carried along to be buried in the nearest church. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there are plenty of ghost stories set along the path.
What a fitting note to end the “most beautiful villages in the Yorkshire Dales” on! This is Journey with Georgie, afterall (if you’re new here, I kind of love all things spooky)!
- The Burgoyne Hotel (Luxury) – this stunning hotel is the perfect warm, luxurious retreat in the Yorkshire Dales. It’s a beautiful hotel in a beautiful location, with great food and staff. What more could you want?
Road trip to visit the prettiest Yorkshire Dales villages
While you could easily pick just a few of these villages to visit, it’s designed to be driven as a road trip! In total, it’s about 3 hours of driving time to make your way through all of the villages listed above.
As the driving route will take you from the top to the bottom of the Dales, it’s an amazing trip. In particular, the scenery between Arncliffe and Kettlewell is absolutely magical.
I’d recommend doing this road trip over a day, since you’ll almost certainly want to stop and explore a little. You can easily add in a walk or two in Malham, while this route also takes you past the famous Aysgarth Falls.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to be outdoorsy to enjoy this roadtrip! If you’d rather stay indoors, you can instead visit some of the museums, pubs and galleries in the villages. Plus have plenty of Yorkshire tea!