An eight-day, self-guided holiday cycling in the Yorkshire Dales, staying in small locally-owned accommodation and having your luggage transferred for you. That way you have the freedom to enjoy the spectacular landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales Cycleway at your own pace, following mostly quiet lanes through the third largest national park in the UK. This is a wild landscape of craggy limestone cliffs, vast stretches of moorland and enveloping valleys peppered with traditional villages, and just made for cycling.
- A classic circular bike ride of Yorkshire Dales
- Cycling in Wharfedale, Coverdale and Wensleydale
- Challenging climbs and extraordinary views
- Beautiful villages with lots of history, small stone-built towns, great pubs
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Day 1: Arrival Skipton
Make your own way to Skipton. Picture perfect and without a stone out of place, the literal meaning of the name is sheep-town.
- Accommodation: Herriots Hotel or similar in Skipton Situated just a 5mins stroll along the canal path to the centre of Skipton).
Day 2: Skipton to Malham | 38km
Introducing the moors, hills, rivers and dales of Yorkshire, your cycle ride gets underway from Skipton. You pass charming Appletreewick, essentially a medieval village with gorgeous stone cottages reflecting the limestone nature of the surrounding geology. Indeed some of the buildings seem to have grown out of the ground having been there since the 12th century. Take a pause at the ivy-covered Craven Arms pub. Then, continue cycling along the river as it flows through Burnsall, a dramatic village with an imposing stone bridge, as well as a school dating back to 1601. Have a riverside break here before heading up Elberton Hill, your last major climb of the day before a gentle downhill to join the River Aire, and continue up through Kirkby Malham to reach the popular village of Malham.
- Cycling for the day: 38km, 3.5h ↑ 533m↓ 457m
- Accommodation: Beck Hall or similar in Malham (Your small hotel is set in a quiet spot in the village. Parts of the building dates back to the 1660s).
Day 3: Malham to Settle | 26km
A cycle ride deep into the Yorkshire Dales is scheduled for today. Prepare for about 15km of wild and remote riding before you reach the first village. Steeply ascend Malham Rakes to the rippling waters of Malham Tarn. You now have some quiet hilly moorland riding before descending into Stainforth – the ancient Stony Ford once a colliery town on the River Ribble. Following the river, pass the old milling village of Langcliffe before you arrive in Settle.
- Cycling for the day: 26km, 2.5h ↑ 457m↓ 495m
- Accommodation: King William GH or similar in Settle (The guesthouse has six delightfully individual en-suite rooms, which blend period features with contemporary design).
Day 4: Settle to Dent | 42km
A day of riding, passing limestone caves and waterfalls and a leg-testing amount of elevation gain. The cycle route follows gentle hills through peaceful countryside to the village of Clapham. You may be ready for a coffee before you continue riding into Ingleton, a pretty village with a beautiful gorge and waterfall walk. From here, the route heads up into the glacially formed Kingsdale Valley. On your right, you have Yorkshire’s highest peak of Whernside, and there are expansive views to take in on your long ascents. At last, you roll down into Dentdale and Dent village, hidden between the Howgill Fells and Pennines.
- Cycling for the day: 42km, 4h ↑ 746m↓ 746m
- Accommodation: Dent Stores B&B or similar in Dent (Snug rooms above the village shop. All rooms are finished to a high standard with new fixtures and fittings).
Day 5: Dent to Aysgarth | 40km
The day starts with a steep climb following the River Dee. Enjoy great views from your saddle over rolling fells. You reach the high point of the day at 435m from where the route becomes much easier as you roll into Hawes. Cycle to Gayle and visit Wensleydale Creamery. They have been making this kind of cheese since around 1150, involving traditional recipes following those first created by French monks. After this break, cross over the River Ure and follow a quiet road which runs parallel to it. A final relaxing stretch takes you through the pretty village of Bainbridge to Askrigg, a Viking settlement named ‘The ridge where ash trees grow.’ After Askrigg, it’s onwards to Aysgarth and your accommodation for the next two nights.
- Cycling for the day: 40km, 4h ↑ 487m↓ 411m
- Accommodation: Cornlee Bed & Breakfast or similar in Aysgarth
Day 6: Aysgarth Loop via Grinton and Redmire | 48km
Today there are two big hills to take on. The first one is from Askrigg to Cross Top (495m) with up to a 15% gradient at times. Once you’ve conquered this, there is a gorgeous descent down into the valley of the River Swale. The old lead mining village of Gunnerside is a potential stop for a coffee and cake, although it is slightly off the route. Continue cycling along the river until you arrive into Grinton, with a popular pub and historic church known as the Cathedral of the Dales. A worthwhile short detour is the interesting village of Reeth, with its large green, shops and nearby Dales Bike Centre – with tasty food and drinks as well as equipment if you need stocking up. Then comes your next steep climb back up to 450m to cross Grinton Moor. Finally, it’s a cycle down into Redmire. From Redmire the route passes along Wensleydale and back to your accommodation in Asygarth.
- Cycling for the day: 48km, 5h ↑ 905m↓ 905m
- Accommodation: Cornlee Bed & Breakfast or similar in Aysgarth
Day 7: Aysgarth to Kettlewell | 30km
Another hilly bike ride through picture postcard landscapes and villages. The first place you cycle to is an historic village called Wensley, the place name for the Dale. Wensley comes from the Norse god Woden. This was a plague village in the 1560s, and took a long time to recover. After a look around, cross over the River Ure and climb along Gale Bank, which has beautiful woodlands and dry-stone lined roads. You cycle through glorious Coverdale, following the River Cover as it carves through the landscape threading its way through tiny villages. Finally, you take on the Park Rash climb, which averages 11% and climbs 230m. Be careful on the descent into Kettlewell, a gorgeous village by the river Wharfe with quaint tea shops and limestone terraces.
- Cycling for the day: 30km, 3h ↑ 548m↓ 495m
- Accommodation: The Racehorse or similar in Kettlewell (A traditional pub with newly renovated and individually styled rooms).
Day 8: Kettlewell to Skipton | 33km
The last stage of your Yorkshire Dales cycling holiday, despite a bit of climbing, is a much easier day. You continue with the river along Wharfedale. Cycle via Conistone to Grassington, passing by Grass Wood Nature Reserve brimming with limestone scars and thick woodland. The Old Hall here is reputedly the oldest house in Yorkshire, and the village is an excellent place to stop for lunch with a range of tea rooms and cafes. Next, cross over the river and wind your way cycling through the countryside, passing more villages and perhaps a final fantastic rest spot at Bolton Abbey. There is a final hill to Halton East before you reach Embsay and then cycle back to the starting point in Skipton.
- Cycling for the day: 33km, 3h ↑ 327m↓ 373m
- Accommodation: Herriots Hotel or similar in Skipton (As per your arrival day).
Day 9: Departure
The trip ends after breakfast when you depart the accommodation.
What to expect
There are various accommodations along the Yorkshire Dales route ranging from bed and breakfasts, lodges, pubs and small hotels. They are run by cycling-friendly hosts and have been carefully selected based on a variety of criteria including their location, warm hospitality, fine local food or commitment to responsible tourism. All rooms have en-suite or private bathrooms. Further facilities such as washing and drying and packed lunches are available in some accommodations, details will be given in your pre-departure info pack.
Click to view default hotels
- Herriots Hotel (Skipton)
- Beck Hall (Malham)
- King William GH (Settle)
- Dent Stores B&B (Dent)
- Thornsgill House (Askrigg)
- Bolton Arms (Redmire)
- The Racehorse (Kettlewell)
*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.
Breakfast is included on all days. When no restaurant location is available on the route, lunches and snacks should either be bought from local shops, or packed lunch can be pre-ordered from your hotel the night before. You can have dinner at the guesthouse you are staying at or at the village pubs and restaurants.
Difficulty and terrain
The Yorkshire Dales Cycleway follows a circuit of normally quiet lanes that are ideal for cycling. Each stage is suitable for most levels of riders, however riding in Yorkshire is hilly, and there are some long steep ascents where you may want to walk your bike. You will climb approx 4,000m in total, with up to 800m elevation gain in one day (read more about difficulty grades). We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.
When to go
This trip is available from late March until mid-October.
The flexibility of self-guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates, and you can start your trip on any date during the season.
Click to view travel options
By train or bus
- Arrival: The nearest Airport is Leeds/Bradford, approximately 30km away. It is possible to get to Skipton by bus or taxi from here.
- Manchester Airport is approx. 2h 30mins away by train to/from Skipton.
- From London King’s Cross, there are up to two trains an hour to Skipton with a change at Leeds. It takes 3-3h 45mins.
- From Manchester Airport, there are also up to two trains an hour to Skipton, changing at Leeds. It takes around 2h 30 mins.
- Trains also run from Scotland, Glasgow and Edinburgh via Carlisle and sometimes Leeds taking 3h 15mins-5h 45 mins.
- See nationalrail.co.uk for timetables and planning, or check the Omnio planner above. We advise booking tickets and reserving a seat (and a bike) in advance.
- Ferry: Hull is only 100km away, and it takes approximately 90mins for a taxi to drive to/from Skipton. Daily services run between Hull – Rotterdam (NL) and Hull – Zeebrugge (BE). Liverpool has ferry connections with Belfast (NI) and Dublin (IE), and it takes approximately 2h for a taxi to drive to/from Skipton.
- 8 nights of accommodation (hotels, inns, B&Bs and guesthouses)
- 8 breakfasts
- Detailed route descriptions and maps
- GPS tracks available on request
- Luggage transfer from hotel to hotel on all cycling days (one bag per person, up to 20kg)
- 24/7 phone assistance by our local representative
- Airfare and connecting land transfers
- Lunches, dinners, drinks and snacks
- Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
- Personal expenses
- Local tourist taxes and entry fees (payable on-site)
- Any items not explicitly listed as included
Options, extras and supplements
- If you’re travelling in a group, a supplement applies to group members who would like to have a single room.
- This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
- Bike rental
- E-bike rental
- Hybrid bike – 24 gears women’s or men’s lightweight day bikes, perfect for exploring the area.
- E-bike – comfort e-bike that exudes elegance, has sufficient power, is easy to operate and at the same time ensures a relaxed riding experience.