Yorkshire Dales guide to Upper Wharfedale

Upper Wharfedale area of the Yorkshire Dales


Upper Wharfedale’s scenery is dominated by the Great Scar Limestone of the Craven Pennines, and throughout the valley white scars of rock mark the hillsides, sometimes forming spectacular outcrops such as Kilnsey Crag. Never far from the river, the B6160 road gives dramatic views of Wharfedale from Bolton Abbey up to the River Wharfe’s source over twenty miles away on Cam Fell above Beckermonds.

Anglian pioneers moving up the valley from the east during the 6th and 7th centuries established today’s village settlements - Bolton Abbey, Appletreewick, Hebden, Burnsall, Thorpe, Linton, Threshfield, Grassington, Conistone and Kettlewell. Tenth-century Norse settlers created the farm-hamlets of the upper dale beyond Buckden, itself a village on the edge of a Norman hunting forest. In medieval times Fountains Abbey and Bolton Priory owned great estates in Wharfedale and their monks evolved the pattern of roads and green lanes on the surrounding limestone uplands, with drove roads such as Mastiles Lane above Kilnsey.

Above Burnsall, Wharfedale’s distinctive landscape shows how the Enclosure Acts, mainly between 1780 and 1820, divided the old common fields in the valley bottom and on the lower slopes of the hills into rectangular pastures enclosed by hundreds of miles of limestone walls.

The ruins of Barden Tower recall the great Cliffords, whilst following the Dissolution the area around Bolton Abbey became the property of the Dukes of Devonshire, who planted trees to develop a parkland character in this part of the valley. Bolton Abbey with its riverside setting, nature trails and the famous Strid is a popular picnic and recreation venue.

Every village has its own distinctive appeal, with Burnsall often thought of as the prettiest village in England, and Linton notable for its green with beck flowing down the centre. Grassington is the centre of the dale, with the charm of a village and the facilities of a town. June’s Grassington Festival is a major arts and music event, with renowned contributors, and its Dickensian Festival held on three Saturdays in December attracts visitors from miles around. Grassington has good car parking at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Centre.

Beyond Grassington, on the eastern side of the dale, Grass Wood is an important Nature Reserve, and at Kilnsey there is the famous crag. The Kilnsey Show is a leading northern agricultural show held on the Tuesday after the August Bank Holiday in the shadow of the crag. The Fell Race up and down the crag is a show highlight.

After Kilnsey, the Kettlewell road has a branch off to Littondale, with links to Malham and Ribblesdale. Kettlewell’s village Scarecrow Festival is a leading attraction in mid-August.

The next village up the dale is Kettlewell, where much of the 2003 film Calendar Girls was filmed. During one week in August, creative villagers put on the hugely popular Kettlewell Scarecrow Festival with a trail to follow around this idyllic Yorkshire village, riddles to solve and prizes to be won!

From Kettlewell a wild upland road crosses to Coverdale and Wensleydale, whilst Wharfedale continues via Starbotton to Buckden. Here the B6160 diverges through Bishopdale to Aysgarth in Wensleydale whilst Wharfedale itself narrows, changes its name to Langstrothdale, and passes Hubberholme’s ancient pub and church. The dale and road continue together, the river tumbling over limestone ledges, past Yockenthwaite to the Wharfe’s source above Beckermonds and Oughtershaw.

Bolton Abbey Yockenthwaite Kilnsey Show
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  • Wharfedale Cottages

    Cottages in 2 of the best loved villages of Wharfedale - Manna Cottage, sleeping 2, lies in the historic village of Grassington with The Sycamores, sleeping 6, in the quaint riverside village of Burnsall.

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  • Grange Farm Barn

    This former stables and coach house of the old Vicarage at Hubberholme near Buckden offers self-catering bunkhouse accommodation for 18 people in four bedrooms. Central heating with radiators, and open all year.

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  • Craiglands Guest House

    A short walk from picturesque Grassington, this elegant Edwardian house offers all the modern conveniences of a 4 star B&B, as well as off-road parking, secure cycle storage and free Wi-Fi internet access in all the rooms. Free guest tickets are available for local trout fishing on a private stretch of the river Wharfe.

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  • Wood Nook Caravan Park

    A small secluded caravan park in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales just two miles from the picturesque village of Grassington. An ideal base for walking and touring the dales.

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  • Barden Bunk Barn

    A superior quality bunk barn sleeping up to 24. Nestled in the shadow of the 12th century ruin of Barden Tower this grade 1 listed barn is ideally located to explore the Dales and is just a stroll along the river to Bolton Abbey.

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  • Wharfedale Lodge

    Sleeping up to 20 people in 10 twin bedrooms with 2 lounges, games room, individual bathrooms, fully equipped kitchen and extensive grounds. Located in the heart of the Dales between the pretty villages of Grassington and Kettlewell

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  • Cosy Cottages - Sunnyside

    Sunnyside Cottage is a beautiful barn conversion with enclosed garden. Quiet location with lovely south facing garden yet only a minutes walk from Grassington village in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, close to Le Tour de France Route. Suitable for couples and can sleep 5/6 when required. Dogs are welcome.

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  • Redmire Farm

    Find stylish farmhouse rooms and full english breakfast at Redmire Farm, a family run traditional working hill farm set in 1,600 acres of stunning countryside. Comfortable en-suite accommodation with glorious walking straight from the door. Idyllic secluded position, yet just 5 minutes away from picturesque Buckden.

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  • Bridge End Farm

    Bridge End Farm offers delightful B&B accommodation at a traditional riverside cottage just below the bridge by the popular Dales village of Grassington. Cosy lounge with log fire. Guests can enjoy private trout fishing with boating for children.

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  • Oak Cottage

    A few minutes walk from the main street and market square of the picturesque Dales town of Grassington, the cottage sleeps 3 and is ideal for couples holidays. It has a beamed sitting room with wood burning stove and views across Wharfedale. Free Wi-fi

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  • Nethergill Farm

    Situated near the Dales Way, Nethergill Farm offers luxurious barn conversion self-catering cottages, each sleeping between 4 and 6 people. Nethergill is a 388-acre hill farm working in partnership with the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and also practical countryside workshops.

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  • Dale House

    With spectacular view of Upper Wharfedale, Dale House offers good value, large cottage, self catering accommodation for group activity holidays, friends and family reunions and corporate teambuilding breaks throughout the year. 8 parking permits are included and catering can be provided.

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  • Dalesman Guest House

    A warm welcome awaits you at The Dalesman Guest House situated in Embsay on the outskirts of Skipton within the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Embsay is known for its steam railway, reservoir with sailing club and beautiful walks. Skipton is known for its medieval castle, bustling market and colourful canal basin.

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  • Wharfeside House

    Wharfeside House provides self-catering accommodation in picturesque Wharfedale for groups of 15 to 30 with exclusive use for your group. Wharfeside offers fully equipped kitchen with aga. There is a drying area and large indoor bike storage. Live in Warden for daily support.

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  • Grassington Bunk Barn

    Ideally situated for exploring Grassington and the Yorkshire Dales and with spectacular panoramic views of the Wharfedale, Grassington Bunk Barn is a splendid spot offering comfortable budget accommodation for groups of up to 34 people.

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  • Lavender & Dales Cottage

    Lavender Cottage is a cosy woodbeamed cottage just 10 minutes walk from the popular Dales village of Grassington. There is a wood burner with logs freely supplied. An outside seating area overlooks the village green and an outhouse provides secure bike storage. Short breaks available. Lavender Cottage sleeps 3 in Threshfield and Dales Cottage sleeps 6/7 in Linton Falls. There is under a mile between them.

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  • North Barn Hebden

    North Barn B&B is located in the village Hebden, a centre for walking and cycling in Upper Wharfedale. The Dales Way passes Hebden along the banks of the River Wharfe offering you a chance to visit some of the beautiful Dales villages like Appletreewick, Burnsall, Thorpe, Linton and Grassington which are all within walking distance.

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    Activities and Adventure

  • Kilnsey Park

    Kilnsey Park offers fly fishing in spectacular surroundings near Grassington in Wharfedale. 2 lakes are well stocked with hard fighting Rainbow, Blue, Brown and Golden trout from 2lb to 20lb+. There is also a Farm Shop, a Nature Trail, Fun for the Kids and Red Squirrel enclosures.

    Kilnsey Park Website Map Where to Stay

    Agricultural Shows

  • Arthington Agricultural Show

    Arthington Agricultural Show in the showfield by the Bridge in Pool-Wharfedale. Come for a fabulous family day out and see show jumping, sheep and cattle showing, country crafts and plenty more! Held annually in July.

    Arthington Agricultural Show Website Map Where to Stay
  • Kilnsey Show

    Held under the famous Kilnsey Crag, Kilnsey agricultural show offers dry stone walling, produce, handicrafts, horticulture, equestrian events, fell races and harness racing. Kilnsey is close to Grassington in Upper Wharfedale and the agricultural show is held every year at the end of August.

    Kilnsey Show Website Map Where to Stay

    Castles, Gardens and Stately Homes

  • Bolton Abbey

    Bolton Abbey is on the banks of the River Wharfe in acres of beautiful countryside. Explore the ruins of the Priory, wander along the woodland nature trails, stroll beside the river, visit the tea rooms and cafes, look around the village shops, or just relax in this romantic location.

    Bolton Abbey Website Map Where to Stay
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