Best Walks in the Yorkshire Dales – Hidden Hiking Gems in Yorkshire

Best walking in the Yorkshire dales - howgill fell

The Best Walks in the Yorkshire Dales For Peace and Tranquility

Written by Cath Lee of Peak Walking Adventures

Not many people know that over a quarter of the Yorkshire Dales National Park actually falls within the beautiful walking county of Cumbria. This is following an extension to its boundaries in 2016.

Amazingly, that section of Cumbria is still largely undiscovered by tourists.  If you head off hiking onto certain areas of the beautiful Yorkshire Dales on a sunny weekend in mid-summer the chances are that you’ll only come across a few locals walking their dogs.

For me, one of the joys of hill walking is the peace and tranquillity that can be experienced up on the fells.  For that reason, to avoid the crowds, I often try to steer well clear of popular and busy mountains including those iconic hills in the nearby Lake District, or the tourist hotspots in the Yorkshire Dales.  The Cumbrian fells in the Yorkshire Dales National Park are for me just perfect! 

What are the Hidden Gems of the Yorkshire Dales?

Hiking The Howgills

Walking on the howgills - best walks in the Yorkshire Dales

The Cumbrian fells of the Yorkshire Dales include a range of hills called The Howgills.  If you’ve ever driven up the M6, between junctions 37 and 38, you’ll have seen the huge grassy slopes of The Howgills towering above you on your right hand side.  The famous hill walker, Alfred Wainwright described The Howgills as looking like a heard of sleeping elephants!

The Howgills walking - best walks in Yorkshire

There are some stunning walks to be enjoyed in these green hills, and you can almost see what Wainwright meant with their big, rounded bulky shapes, even down to the ‘wrinkly skin’ in the form of miniature valleys running down the main hillsides, eroded by centuries of rainwater.  Five of the summits in the range are over 2,000 feet in height, The Calf being the highest at 2,218 feet (676 metres). Others are Calders, Fell Head, Yarlside and Randygill Top. There are numerous walks that you can enjoy, each bringing in one or more of these summits, and starting from a variety of different locations around this group of mountains. Another ‘must see’ feature of The Howgills is Cautley Spout – England’s tallest waterfall.

Wild Boar Fell Walks

Wild boar fell walk - best walks in Yorkshire

Beautiful as The Howgills are, my personal favourite mountain in the part of Cumbria that falls within the Yorkshire Dales National Park is Wild Boar Fell. It has such as wild and remote feel to it, and stunning views from the top that reach over The Howgills as far as The Lakeland Fells. Looking north, you can see the Pennines, and to the East, the view is across the beautiful Mallerstang Valley to Mallerstang Edge which, by the way, is another great walk. 

Mallerstand edge walk - Yorkshire dales walks

Wild Boar Fell, standing at 2,323 feet (708 metres) in height is linked by a broad, grassy ridge to Swarth Fell, and it’s well worth incorporating both into a day’s hiking. The large row of cairns known as Nine Standards Rigg on nearby Hartley Fell will be well known to anyone who has walked the long distance Coast to Coast route. Not many people know that Wild Boar Fell has its own row of large cairns on the summit plateau. Very little is known about the history of these fascinating features.

Wild Boar fell cairns - best walks in Yorkshire

Further Beautiful Yorkshire Dales Walks to Explore

Other hills in the area that are worth exploring on foot include Baugh Fell, Ash Fell, Crosby Garrett Fell, Great Asby Scar, Middleton Fell, Barbon Fell and The Leck Fells, oh and you must find time for a visit to Smardale which is a lovely green valley and designated Nature Reserve. You could really spend weeks immersed in the panoramic landscapes of this area, and still have plenty of new walking routes to try.  

Towns & Villages to explore in the Yorkshire Dales

The main towns nearby are Sedbergh, Kirkby Stephen, and Kirkby Lonsdale, but also lots of delightful little villages. Of course the area also has its fair share of cosy country pubs, so you can relax and enjoy a well deserved drink after your days in the hills.

Best walks in Yorkshire - Howgills walk

Don’t leave it too long before you visit!  I’m sure that once word gets out about what a great part of England it is for hill walking, the area will be crawling with tourists and hikers. For now it can be our little secret!              

Cath Lee
Peak Walking Adventure


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