Guide to the Northern Dales

The main Northern dales are Wensleydale and Swaledale, with a clutch of small Dales leading one off the other. Sheep-filled meadows are defined by drystone walls, hidden waterfalls cascade into deep wooded glens, while small villages clutch to the hillsides and bustling market towns provide a focal point for trade and activity. For walkers, the Coast to Coast walk proceeds down Swaledale and a section of the Pennine Way.

Towns and villages

The main towns of the northern Dales are Richmond in Swaledale, famous for its castle overlooking the River Swale, Hawes in Wensleydale, noted for its traditional cheese factory (of Wallace and Grommit fame), and the market town of Leyburn with its unusual teapottery. Larger villages include Reeth, the 'capital' of Swaledale, and Askrigg in Wensleydale. Joining Wensleydale and Swaledale, the Buttertubs Pass was a notable climb in the 2014 Tour de France first stage in Yorkshire.

Popular sights

In the village of Castle Bolton, Bolton Castle is the classic example of a solid castle, with links back to Mary Queen of Scots. Aysgarth Falls are a superb sight following rain, with water cascading over rocks and through ravines. At the top of Arkengarthdale, the inn at Tan Hill is the highest in the UK. Throughout the northern Dales there are interesting shops, galleries, and craft workshops to visit.

Inspired by the northern Dales

Famous artist J.M.W. Turner made painting expeditions to capture the waterfalls, riverside details and the many castle and abbey ruins. Travelling on horseback from valley to valley Turner made hundreds of sketches before creating his vibrant watercolours. Practising as a vet from nearby Thirsk, Alf Wight was inspired to write his All Creatures Great and Small stories about the now famous vet, James Herriot. The films and the television series were set locally.

Local traditions and events

Dramatic events take place throughout the year and for two weeks each year from the Spring Bank Holiday the Swaledale Festival offers a varied programme of exhibitions, music, performing arts, craft and local events. Agricultural shows and sheep fairs, which are an essential part of the farming year, see locals competing for awards which reflect the quality. There may also be games of quoits, brass band concerts, fell races, or sheepdog trials.

Richmond Castle Buttertubs joining Wensleydale and Swaledale Bolton Castle, Wensleydale James Herriot's famous watersplash in Swaledale
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