Yorkshire Dales Driving Tours

The Most Scenic Drives in Yorkshire

Since its creation in 1954, the Yorkshire Dales National Park has become one of the best-rated natural attractions in the UK. Nearly 10 million people visit the park every year and marvel at the area's scenic beauty and awe-inspiring landscapes. The Yorkshire Dales comprises more than 656 square miles of spectacular scenery that includes moorlands, lush valleys, waterfalls, impressive limestone cave systems, and 37 different conservation areas, so considering the park's size, it makes sense to explore it by car. A well-maintained road network criss-crosses the park and can take you from the most popular tourist spots to remote locations. We have listed the most scenic and rewarding drives at this spectacular national park. Don't forget to have a look at what else there is to see and do in Yorkshire and the surrounding area.

Reeth Loop Drive

This 28-mile drive makes for an excellent introduction to the Yorkshire Dales. The route affords exceptional views over picturesque villages, remote moorlands, and some of the highest mountain passes in the park. Start the trip in Reeth, a small village flanked by the impressive dales of Arkengarthdale and Swaledale. Follow the B6270 road, which runs along the River Swale and takes you through remote settlements like Feetham and Crackpot. Continue driving west and uphill for panoramic views over valleys, rivers, and crags.

The B6270 will take you to Muker, a small village that makes for a great lunch spot and that offers plenty of opportunities to stretch your legs with its art galleries, artisan workshops, and narrow cobbled alleys. Past the village of Thwaite the road starts going uphill again, this time over the Buttertubs Pass. The single lane road will keep climbing, taking your through areas of wilderness and windswept moorlands where you will most likely be the only one around. The road then follows the boundary of the national park and enters Cumbria near the village of Kaber. Ask around for Tann Hill Inn, which stands at 1,700 feet high and is known as the highest pub in the country. Follow Long Causeway Road back into Yorkshire for more scenic views of the moorlands, driving past Whaw, Arkengarthdale valley, and Arkle Town, before reaching the starting point in Reeth.

The Three Peaks Route

The Three Peaks Route is inspired by a classic walking trail that is popular among hikers. The drive covers 43 miles of breathtaking mountain scenery and takes you through some of the most isolated areas of the park, as well as getting you up close to the park's most impressive mountains: Whernside (which rises 2,415 feet above sea level), Ingleborough (2,372 feet), and Pen-y-Ghent (2,272 feet).

The most popular starting point is the charming village of Settle, located on the southwestern end of the Dales, right between the park's boundary and the Forest of Bowland. Heading north on the A65 will take you through villages and hamlets surrounded by imposing limestone crags, such as Austwick and Clapham. Further north is Ingleton, from where you can reach the base of Ingleborough peak via a secondary road. Follow the B6255 towards Dent for some amazing views of Whernside, and then veer east towards Cowgill and Horton for some remote rural scenery topped with uninterrupted views of Pen-y-Ghent. Driving along the B6479 will take you back to Settle.

Buckden to Hawes

The drive between Buckden and Hawes packs an incredible amount of spectacular views in just under 20 miles. This scenic route takes you to the heart of the Yorkshire Dales and is ideal for those in need of peace and quiet, making for an ideal weekend getaway in rural Yorkshire.

The drive starts in Buckden, a tiny village that lies at the foothills of the impressive Buckden Pike, a 2,300-feet high fell. Buckden and the surrounding areas are considered one of the finest spots for trekking and hiking, but this doesn't mean that the area is off limits to drivers. Once in Buckden, you have two ways of getting to Hawes, on the northern end of the Dales. You can drive along the B6160, which winds its way around uninhabited lands and offers some fine views at Kidstone Pass. Eventually, the road will lead you to Aysgarth, a lively village that serves as the northern gateway to the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Aysgarth is well worth a visit, not only because of its excellent pubs and restaurants, but also due to its splendid natural heritage, which includes the famous Aysgarth Falls. Follow the A684 road as you leave Aysgarth. The road runs parallel to the River Ure and travels across seemingly endless meadows and rolling hills until it reaches Hawes, a bustling market town where you can put the perfect end to a perfect day at one of the local pubs.

Alternatively, you can drive between Buckden and Hawes by taking Beggarmans Road instead of the B6160. Expect to find narrow country lanes, vast areas of wilderness, and mile after mile of the most absolute peace and quiet.