A Drive in the Yorkshire Dales

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Winter in England usually consists of wet, murky days with very little daylight hours. In other words, not conducive to visitors wanting to wander around the English countryside especially if they are not prepared with appropriate clothing and hiking gear. However, I have a little something just for you that will hopefully reinvigorate your desires to head to the northern part of England if you venture here during those dreary Winter months.

First thing that you will need is a rental car. Ok, don’t be scared, driving in England really isn’t all that bad! So, you think you have that down well head on over to the Yorkshire Dales for your very own roller coaster ride but without the theme park. You may have read some of our other Yorkshire based posts including the market town of Skipton and idyllic village of Haworth. Well, this scenic drive in the Yorkshire Dales starts out at Skipton and can take anywhere from 3 hours to a full day, dependent on what you want to see and do in between, and ends at the same place you started!

The Route

Yorkshire Dales Drive

Start: Skipton, North Yorkshire

What better way to start this drive around the Yorkshire Dales than a quick visit to the local daily market in Skipton.

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Skipton to Grassington

Distance: 10 miles (20 minutes)

Venturing north from Skipton, you will immediately head into beautiful countryside, surrounded by miles and miles of farmland. Be prepared to slow down as you drive around these country roads as sharp bends are always round the corner!

Grassington is only about 20 minutes from Skipton though despite being a similar civil market town, it lacks the attractions on offer to realistically make this a hot tourist location in Yorkshire. However, it does provide a great hub for hikers to park up and then head out into the Yorkshire Moors exploring the miles and miles of wilderness out there.

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Grassington to Pateley Bridge

Distance: 11 miles (22 minutes)Β 

After a quick pit stop in Grassington, head East on the B6265 towards Pateley Bridge. Here is where you will really begin to see some changes in elevation as you climb through the Nidderdale Valley. This part of Yorkshire is gorgeous and on a nice day you can see the Yorkshire Dales for miles around.

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Pateley Bridge to Ripon

Distance: 11 miles (20 minutes)

Driving from Pateley Bridge to Ripon, you can take in the beautiful Brimham Rocks which is an amazing collection of weird and wonderful natural rock formations in North Yorkshire, managed by the National Trust.Β The main attraction in Ripon has to be the historic Cathedral that has been around for many centuries. An architectural masterpiece, Ripon Cathedral offers North Yorkshire a vibrant hub for the local community and surrounding region to explore their Christian faith.

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Ripon to Knaresborough

Distance: 11 miles (22 minutes)

As you move away from the rural communities of the North Yorkshire Moors, you head south to the town of Knaresborough which is infamously known in the area as being home of Mother Shipton’s Cave. What is this famous for? Well, legend has it that the prophetess ‘Mother Shipton’ was actually born in this cave, how much truth there is to this I don’t really know but the overall experience is really cool. Added to this is a petrifying well which has been host to tourists for many centuries given its relationship with Shipton.

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Knaresborough to Harrogate

Distance: 4 miles (10 minutes)

The drive over to Harrogate is short and sweet and you will immediately realize you are back in a more urban setting. However, Harrogate is still a high profile Yorkshire tourist destination as it is home to beautiful botanical gardens and historical buildings that attract tourists on a regular basis.

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Beautiful Botanical Gardens

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Harrogate to Skipon

Distance: 21 miles (33 minutes)

The drive back from Harrogate to Skipton was unfortunately in the dark but it primarily consists of heading back across the Yorkshire Moors with potentially beautiful scenery if you are there during the daytime.

Overall Summary

This is a really interesting drive and certainly a great way to spend an afternoon especially in Winter if the weather is not good enough to be walking around. Dependent on your interests, you could spend more time at each of the locations but it is all down to personal preference. Driving around the Yorkshire Dales is gorgeous, the sense of relaxation is there immediately as you enter into the rural countryside. The archaic stone walls that line the farmland is just a stereotypical British design that sets the scene perfectly.

What better way to spend an afternoon that by meandering around the British countryside in the heart of Yorkshire?

29 COMMENTS

  1. Another part of England I’ve yet to explore. It looks wonderful though and hopefully I get to see it for myself sometime. I bet there’s some lovely country walks in the area (between traditional pubs and quaint tea shops, with a bit of luck!)

  2. And this year there wasn’t even snow – even easier to drive! The warning signs for junctions are so much earlier than both in the states and on the continent. But automatic cars are less common here, so make sure you book one to avoid the stick shift being on the wrong side!!! Then enjoy the beautiful dales – haven’t been for years!!!

  3. I love drives and seeing so many different areas either small towns, countryside or cities…having a car gives you so much flexibilty in deciding if you want to stay longer or jet when you’ve seen it all based on your preferences…lovely trip!

  4. I have yet to head as far north as Yorkshire (my desire to do is pretty low when I can go abroad for cheaper, what with the cost of petrol or a train ticket these days)! That said I do really want to venture up north at some point. It looks like a lovely drive around! If the country roads are anything like they are here in Dorset you’ll meet all sorts, not just other drivers on the roads (horses, badgers, pheasants, dog walkers).

  5. I love this itinterary, it is a mixture of visiting the countryside, but cultural experience is also included. I love the soft colors of Yorkshire, I really would love to visit that part of England once!

  6. I love the Yorkshire dales! And I’d forgotten how beautiful it is, so thanks for reminding me :)! Cheers Manouk (Bunch of Backpackers)

  7. Hi guys, looks like a nice drive, Yorkshire does have some really beautiful scenery!, as much as I hate to admit it being a proud Lancastrian!.

    Aaron

  8. I love Yorkshire. We only had part of a day to explore, but it was beautiful. We got lost … well, caught in traffic from a wreck. We were driving south from Scotland to Haworth on our way to York. That bad traffic caused us to take a detour without GPS, but I managed to find our way through those beautiful small country lanes and back to the main road. We unfortunately were unable to make it to Haworth. But it was such a beautiful region to drive through. And driving in England really isn’t a big deal. Fear of driving on the left side of the road should not keep people from exploring the beautiful British countryside.

  9. Hi Chris… good to see another location that’s only a short drive from me (I’m hoping for a Lake District post next…? πŸ˜‰ ). I go to Skipton quite often and saw the Olympic torch relay there in 2012 (lovely sunny day). When you’re next there, I’d highly recommend the Woolly Sheep for lunch – great little place.

  10. When I think of the beautiful English countryside, this is the exact thing that comes to mind. These pictures are so beautiful. Hiring a car and just going for a drive can be so much fun. We hope to make it over one day. Is that The World’s End pub from the Simon Pegg movie?

  11. I love the pictures. They just make me even more excited about my goal of showing people more of the beautiful around the UK other than just London. Will be posting about the beautiful Norfolk beaches soon.

  12. What a lovely drive! It must be so nice to drive around from little town to the next all afternoon, and all of them are so unique and quaint. Thank you for sharing!

  13. I lived in York during my uni days and this brings back great memories of little day trips we did. Harrogate is lovely. Great photos of the countryside here, great post

  14. Thanks for the great information about this drive. I look forward to doing something like that soon. I just hope I won’t have too much trouble driving on the “wrong” side of the road.

  15. I have always been a fan of road trips, but not so confident in my skills to drive on the other side of the road haha! This post makes me think it would be worth it for me to take the risk of renting a car in England. This itinerary is absolutely beautiful. On my first trip to England I made the mistake of sticking mostly to London. Next trip across the pond will definitely include some more places like this!

    • A stunning part of England for sure! Often underrated actually but there is so much to see and do there that I would highly recommend anyone visiting England to take time to explore the Yorkshire Dales.

  16. This looks like a lovely drive! I’ve been in Yorkshire since January meeting my boyfriend’s family, but I have yet to get behind the wheel. I’m not so worried about the actual driving as figuring out all of those roundabouts! πŸ™‚ But seriously, I do find myself getting a bit carsick with all the hills and curvy roads, but it’s drop-dead gorgeous countryside. I haven’t been to any of these places yet, except for passing Skipton on the way to Bolton Abbey… now that the sun has decided to stick around for a bit, I’ll have to check out this drive! Cheers!

  17. What a great circuit to share with others, love the photos – especially the picture of The World’s End Pub – sometimes there are places in the UK that do feel like you have turned up in the middle of no where, at the end of the world πŸ™‚

  18. I have spent so many hours driving through the yorkshire dales and also the peak district – I love the scenery and amazing views, but I also love the open country roads and having the chance to put my foot down and give the car a good thrash! Great article and photos!

  19. Thanks for your tips!
    We’ve been living in England (North Yorkshire) since December, and now, when the sun is back, we are ready to explore the beauty around πŸ™‚

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