Activities available in Swaledale and the Yorkshire Dales

WalkingBikingChildrenFishingCavingBird watchingPhotographyBotanyShoppingEntertainmentStar Gazing
The Yorkshire Dales is a beautiful National Park, offering some of the best walking in the United Kingdom. Swaledale is a fabulous place to go walking whether you are looking for a gentle stroll beside a river or stream, though flower meadows in June, or you are looking for a hike on open heather moorland.

The Coast to Coast Walk

c2c_book150A Coast to Coast Walk was devised by Wainwright himself, and set out in his 1973 guidebook to the route. The route is a 192-mile (although according to a recent re-measuring the real distance is almost 220 miles) long distance footpath in Northern England. It passes through three contrasting national parks: the Lake District National Park, the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and the North York Moors National Park. The trail that Wainwright devised has become one of the most walked routes in the United Kingdom, if not in the World. In 2004 the walk was named as the second best walk in the world according to a survey of experts.

Of all the 18 major Dales (Did you know that there also 33 lesser Dales as well?!), Swaledale was Wainwright’s favourite- it is ours too! For more info – How many Dales are there PDF

There are many walks straight from the door at Laykin and, being walkers ourselves, we have copious books and maps featuring walks in the area and beyond, which you can browse when you arrive. We have also produced some easy to follow routes for you to follow from Laykin, which are available at the cottage.

Our favourite walks in the area are:

Gunnerside Gill circuit
Fascinating remains of lead mining abound. Following the river up the gill. No road access.

Old Gang Gill circuit
Historic lead mining buildings and easy level road to walk on.

Fremington Edge
Steep… but lovely views of Swaledale and Arkengarthdale from the top! Mixture of road and good tracks,moorland and pasture. Once past the white house and onto the top, you can walk to the left into Langthwaite or to the right and into Marrick or Grinton.


Riverside Walk by the banks of the Swale
A nice low level walk which can be started at Grinton or Reeth and up towards Healaugh or Low Row depending on what distance you want to cover. Nice to walk up one side and back the other.

Kisdon Island Walk – Keld, Muker and Thwaite
A circular walk starting from either of these little villages, and visiting each one, whilst walking round Kisdon Fell. We call this the “Island walk”. There is also a nice waterfall called Kisdon Force. The Ramblers Association recently voted this walk in their top 50 best walks.

Keld to Tan Hill Pub and back
To the highest Inn in the country 1732 feet or 528 m. The walk is a little dull but the pub is a nice goal!


The Yorkshire 3 Peaks- not for the faint hearted- each one is worthwhile and all 3 in one day a real achievement! 25 miles. The usual start is Horton in Ribblesdale. About an hour from Laykin.

Night Hikes,
Experience the excitement and solitude of a mountain summit at night – savour the thrill of reaching Pen-y-Ghent or Whernside in the inky darkness under a starlit sky.

Let Mark Reid take you on a journey of discovery and excitement by walking up two of Yorkshire’s most iconic ‘Three Peaks’ mountains – Pen-y-Ghent or Whernside – at night.

This is a guided walk with a difference, as we leave the village at dusk then head up the mountain as the sun is setting to reach the summit in darkness, then make our way down (with head-torches) for a well-earned drink back at a local pub.
This is a fully guided walk, so you don’t have to worry about route finding – giving you more time to experience this nocturnal night hike!

01423 871750

For more ideas see:

Swaledale walks

There are some lovely ideas and lots of photos.

The Countryside Code PDF

Walking on Open Access Land PDF

Can’t navigate using a map? Always getting lost?
Consider a navigation course!

For more information visit:

navigation-skills-yorkshireGuidance and tuition with Swaledale expert Richard Tarran, qualified Mountain Leader.
Choose a course to suit your ability and aspirations, including 1-day Map reading courses, navigation skills weekends (NNAS), mountain skills and navigation courses, ‘The Inn Way’ guided walks, and night hikes!


Mountain Biking

Tour de France

Swaledale offers plenty of choice and a perfect mixture of tracks and trails for all abilities. There are mining tracks, which are wide and easier to navigate as well as single track trails which can be extreme and tricky for confident riders.

Road Biking

The roads in Swaledale are not crowded with traffic, so it is safe even for children to ride on the roads. The exception is perhaps haymaking time when there might be more farm machinery on the roads. There are plenty of hills! The circuit to Tan Hill is popular and Buttertubs Pass is a classic not to be missed.

The Dales Bike Centre in Fremington, just outside Reeth is a mountain/road bike specialist offering bike hire or purchase, servicing, courses (either one to one or groups), guided days out and a lovely café.

Do contact them for advice and route ideas, they are happy to help out. The main consideration for your enjoyment is choice of route and the weather conditions and wind direction on the day. They also have a choice of maps!

Telephone 01748 884 908
The Tour de France

Tour de France

Who can have failed to notice that Bradley Wiggins won the Tour de France in 2012 and Chris Froome in 2013? What an amazing achievement.  The Tour de France came through Swaledale in July 2014!   They  passed through Swaledale over the Buttertubs pass and right past Laykin.

Trike Tours

For something a little different, you may fancy a Trike Tour for 2 on a large 1400cc motor Trike.

Enjoy being chauffeur driven in the spectacular scenery of your choice.  Take a trip up to the Tan Hill Inn, Britain’s highest pub, or over the Buttertubs Pass and over to the Ribblehead viaduct.  There are many tours to choose from and all the equipment for your trip is provided.  Your chauffeur will also act as your guide and be a font of all local knowledge.

This could be the experience of a lifetime!  Suitable for any age over 10 years.

Pick up points nearest to Laykin are Richmond, Tan Hill or Northallerton, depending on which tour you fancy!  Bespoke tours are also available and you will be picked up from the cottage or nearby.

trike tour

Top things to do with children when staying at Laykin

Visit Berry’s Farm Shop, Wensleydale- feed a lamb, see rare breeds, walk by the river and spot a red squirrel (all depending on the time of year) The cafe/restaurant has delicious food and drink and a great shop and delicatessen.

See Reeth Museum- learn about mining in the Dale, why lead was mined here and what they did with it, find the glasses hidden in the museum, play the harmonium, dress up like old fashioned people.

Choose a flavour of ice cream you like in the Ice Cream parlour in Reeth- and play board games inside if it’s raining. Their hot chocolate is amazing too!

Picnic at Surrender Bridge and try to dam the river.  We keep trying but haven’t succeeded yet!

Visit Bolton Castle and try archery and see falcons swoop, feed the wild boar, and get lost in the maze.

Visit the Forbidden Corner- the strangest place in the world! NOT TO BE MISSED!

Play on our swings in the bottom field near the garage.

Watch Wensleydale Cheese being made in Hawes.

Go underground in a cave at White Scar or Ingleborough.

Hire a bike and go for a ride.

Find a fossil. Look in the limestone edges.

Go sledging if there is snow, or if not, get muddy and jump in puddles.

Swim at Semerwater in Wensleydale or by the waterfalls in Keld.

Count the rabbits in the fields at Laykin and spot the black rabbit.

Look out for hedgehogs on the track at Laykin, listen for owls and watch for the elusive roe deer.

Listen to the calls of grouse, lapwings and curlew.

Visit the sweetshop in Hawes or Leyburn

Go for a swim at Richmond Swimming Pool


The Yorkshire Dales can proudly boast some of the UK’s finest waters to fish with all styles of angling widely available. Including well stocked coarse lakes where you can laze in the sun waiting for your float to disappear, fabulous fly fishing lakes, and reservoirs, and also venues which offer tuition for all age groups. Below are a few examples of fine fishing to be found when visiting the Yorkshire Dales.

Don’t forget to buy a Rod licence. You can do this at the post office or online.

You may also need a local permit. Reeth Angling society sell permits from the Black Bull.

Helwith Bridge Fly Fishery is located in the Yorkshire Dales close to Ingleton and Settle. This fly fishery is in a stunning location with excellent views of Pen-y-Ghent and the surrounding Yorkshire Dales. The lake is 30ft deep, covers 4.5 acres and is spring fed, the water is crystal clear and is set in quiet, tranquil surroundings. The lake is well stocked with blue trout, golden trout, brown trout and rainbow trout.

If you want to teach your children to fish then look no further than KILNSEY TROUT FARM, not only is there a children’s lake but tutors are also available for one to one coaching. This fishery is situated in spectacular surroundings beside Kilnsey Crag, consisting of two lakes of approximately 1 acre each, and is open all year round. The record fish caught there weighed 17.5 lbs, and can be seen mounted in the Farm shop. There are also lots more activities for all the family at Kilnsey trout farm.

RAYGILL FISHING LAKES near Skipton, offers a superb variety of fly and coarse fishing on four quite individual lakes, Two Fly and two Coarse, as a Troutmaster’s Water, they offer some of the best quality fly fishing for brown, blue, rainbow & golden trout on two well stocked lakes. Two picturesque coarse lakes are stocked with roach, bream, carp, tench, chub, orfe, perch, crucian carp, rudd and gudgeon.

Swinton Park

A wide range of fishing is available on the Swinton Estate which stretches from the river valley in Wensleydale up onto the moorland Dales.

A two mile stretch on the River Ure can be fished for wild brown trout and grayling (and recently salmon have also returned to the river), and Leighton Reservoir is stocked with rainbow trout. The River Ure is a typical “freestone” Dales river and the fish can be caught on wide variety of fly-fishing styles. The most famous fly-fishing style in these parts is the use of traditional Yorkshire Spiders. However, other methods such as dry fly, wet fly, upstream nymph and Czech nymphing can all be used to great effect. On the reservoir, again you can use traditional wet fly techniques but don’t neglect the dry fly which can also be very effective.

The five lakes in the parkland at Swinton Park are home to pike, tench and perch.

You can buy a ticket at the reservoir. For more information call 01765 689224.

Tanfield Lodge Lake- West Tanfield, Nr Ripon

Four thousand brown and rainbow trout are stocked in an eleven and a half acre lake. Disabled access is also available.

01677 470385

Thornton Steward Reservoir, close to Leyburn

The reservoir is open daily for fishing from 8 am. until Dusk between 1st. March and 30th. November. (Both dates inclusive)

Day tickets may be purchased from the following three outlets, Gilsan Sports, 2 High Street, Leyburn, Monday to Saturday and from Tom and Barbara Knowles through Constable Burton Caravan Park, open 7 days a week from 17th March. We are now able to offer day tickets from a further outlet as of 10 June through Mr. Jobson at Crakehall Filling Station open Monday to Saturday who also have a shop on site for most goods. Day tickets may be purchased in advance.

Evening Tickets will be available from 1st. May to 31st August inclusive – fishing from 4pm. By popular request Evening Tickets will be available from 3pm. during the month of September.

Local rivers include:

The Swale – trout.

The Arkle Beck in Arkengarthdale – trout.

The Ure in Wensleydale – trout and salmon.

Fishing Tuition

Contact Stuart Minnikin a local expert. 0776 176 2660

Cost: Hourly fly fishing instruction – £30 per hour (minimum 2 hours)


What better place to explore than underground on a wet and miserable day! There are plenty of wonderful caves nearby to entertain young and old. They are often more spectacular on a really soaking day. Caves are a constant temperature- around 7 or 8 degrees, so you won’t be cold. You shouldn’t get wet. Wear sensible shoes! Helmets are provided.

Show caves in the Yorkshire Dales National Park

Ingleborough Cave – Clapham  33 Miles (One hour and a half)

There are concrete paths and no steps, so this is buggy friendly. Dogs are also welcome on a lead and there are nice walks nearby, the incredible Gaping Gill pothole and a nature trail as well.

The cave is open every day from the beginning of the February half-term to the end of October. Tours commence on the hour, every hour (during the peak season tours may also depart half hourly) beginning at 10:00 am with the last tour leaving at 4:00 pm.

During holiday periods the last tour is at 5.00 pm, and during the winter months the last tour is 3pm. It is advised that you check the sign at the start of the Nature Trail on the day. In the winter, group visits may be made mid-week by appointment. The tour takes about 45-50 minutes.

At Christmas, they make a Santa’s grotto.

White Scar Caves – Ingleton  30 Miles (One hour and 25 mins)

This is the longest show cave in England filled with exciting features such as an underground waterfall, a natural formation in the shape of carrots, the devil’s tongue, witch’s fingers and a judge’s head. There are 97 steps so it is not suitable for everyone!

All visits into the cave are with a guide. The tour takes about 80 minutes. The caves are open at weekends in November, December and January, and every day from 10 the rest of the year.

The first tour is at 10.20am. There are then tours at frequent intervals. Last tour 4pm.

Stump Cross Caverns – Near Pately Bridge, Nidderdale  52 Miles (One hour and a half)

Only part of the 6km caverns are accessible to the public. The deeper caverns are only accessible by experienced cavers.

The caves are open every day from 10am – 6pm (last admission into the caves is 4.45pm), from 13th February to 1st December.

In the winter months (December to February), viewing is at weekends only and also during the school holidays at Christmas and February half term.

Wander un-guided, and enjoy exploring on your own. You will walk half a mile underground. There are 65 steps down, but no sudden drops. You may have to stoop in places. You could be lucky and have the cave to yourself. Appeals to all ages- children enjoy the freedom of not being in a guided tour, and 90 year olds have visited with no problem. There is a lecture theatre with a 20 minute video which runs throughout the day.

For experienced cavers only!

Famous potholes in the Yorkshire Dales National Park include:

Gaping Gill, Ingleborough and Alun Pot, Selside, near Horton in Ribblesdale.

Swaledale and surrounding Dales have many limestone caves, and potholes waiting to be explored by experienced cavers, the nearest cave is at Crackpot. There is potholing all around the area. Buttertubs Pass offers some interesting adventures. All of the show caves also offer guided trips to their more difficult or underground passages.

If you aspire to learning to cave or pothole, contact

Mine exploration in Swaledale and Arkengarthdale

There are numerous lead mining levels and shafts which can be explored. The moors are literally riddled like a honeycomb underground. We can put you in touch with people who can guide you and provide equipment for your adventure if you let us know in advance. We don’t advise you to wander about into disused mine shafts unless accompanied! If lead mining is your interest, don’t miss a visit to the Reeth Museum!

Read Martin Roe’s History of Mining in the Dales to which we have also added information from this website

Bird watching

We never tire of the birds in the Dales from the housemartins that visit us every year to the rare visitors.  Grouse are simply the most incredible birds and plentiful in the area.  Whether they cruise past you or stand their ground being territorial, they are the most incredible sight.  Black grouse can also be seen occasionally, more often in Arkengarthdale and towards Teesdale.

The best time to see birds is May and June, when many wading birds come to breed in the Dales.  You can see curlew, green and golden plover, snipe, kestrel,  rare merlins, ring ouzel and dippers.  We see sandpipers by the river by Isles Bridge and also oystercatchers in the breeding season and short eared owls hunting by day. You can hear skylarks in the meadows, cuckoos in springand tawny owls calling at night.   There are also the migratory species berry eaters such as fieldfares and waxwings.  Woodcock migrate

from the colder countries to winter in the Dales.

There is also a small population of the endangered grey or English partridge.

You may also be lucky enough to see a kingfisher by the river,  or just a flash of blue!

Peregrines nest at Malham cove.  RSPB Information Officers and a team of enthusiastic volunteers will be on hand with high-powered telescopes and binoculars to give visitors a close-up view of the stunning peregrine falcons nesting there in spring.

Read about The Role of the Gamekeeper  which includes information about grouse shooting in the Dale.

For more information on Heather Moorland and Gamekeeping have a look at the Moorland Association website

Listen to the wonderful Radio 4 series “A Guide to Mountain and Moorland Birds” on iPlayer.

Falconry and courses at Thorpe Perrow, Bedale may interest you.

Andy and Rod are available to provide guided bird watching walks to our holiday cottage guests which will be personally tailored to meet your exact requirements. They can arrange anything across the whole of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

To book your guide or if you have any query please telephone Andy or Rod at Yorkshire Dales Bird Guides they will be very pleased to help you.

Andy Asquith Tel: 07905 335978 & Rod Brown Tel: 07857499084


There are so many wonderful views in the Dales, we would be very surprised if you didn’t stop to photograph some of them!  Autumn light is very special as are the early morning and late afternoon.

For inspiration, do visit Scenic View Gallery in Reeth or attend one of their popular camera rambles on a Tuesday & Saturday.  Learn new skills with your camera be it a compact or SLR, digital or film.  There is also an extra ramble at Keld every Friday at 2pm during the Summer months.


June in Upper Swaledale is every botanist’s dream.  If you love wild flowers and have never visited, then make sure that you do.  It is like viewing a natural tapestry of flowers in every colour. It is jaw droppingly beautiful!

The Hay Meadows at Muker are probably the most dramatic example of flower rich fields in the country and are a bit of an unsung national treasure. Wild flowers in this concentration are a rarity in this country and are the result of years of management from the local Dales farmers who cut the fields back at the end of June (usually) to provide fodder for their livestock during the winter.

Encouraged by a number of local conservation groups such as the National Park and specifically the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust who work closely with the farmers involved, these fields are becoming more and more spectacular each year. The 12 fields at Muker offer a wide range of wild flowers, which include cat’s ear, wood crane’s bill, Lady’s mantle, pignut and the lovely melancholy thistle. Six of the fields have flagged paths; some are inaccessible but viewable whilst the first two are suitable for wheelchairs or pushchair visitors. From the fields I would suggest crossing the Upper Swale at the obvious footbridge, walking up the lovely valley before doubling back past the bridge for 1/2 a mile and then returning to Muker from the east.

A traditionally managed meadow can support up to 120 different species of wildflowers and other plants such as:

Plantains, docks, buttercups, vetches, clovers, dandelions, nettles, selfheal, lesser knapweed, thistles, hawkbits, ox-eye daisies, yellow-rattle, cowslips, sweet vernal-grass, downy oat grass, quaking grass, red fescue, pignut, red fescue, smooth meadow grass, cock’s foot, Yorkshire fog, common sorrel and lady’s mantle, lady’s smock, wood crane’s-bill, greater burnet, meadowsweet, devil’s bit scabious, eyebright, betony and bugle.

Also less common species are common spotted-orchid, bistort, melancholy thistle and globeflower.

For the Latin and common names, click here.

For more information about hay meadows,  and to see what is being done to protect and improve meadow land in the area, the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust’s Hay Time project.

There are of course many upland plants associated with moorland to be seen locally.  Heather or ling dominates, but you can also find bell heather, bilberry, cranberry, cloudberry and crowberry.  In boggy areas, rushes and sedges, mosses, including the dramatic sphagnum moss which turns a brilliant red in the autumn, hare’s tail cotton grass, bog asphodel, sundews, butterworts, which are carnivorous plants and many types of grasses including wavy hair grass.  You will notice that the heather has been burned in patches to promote fresh young growth, as it grows tall and woody and becomes less edible as it ages.

There are some specialist plants associated with mining spoil heaps such as the wild pansy and much rarer ones such as the tiny fern, moonwort and lichen communities of considerable ecological interest. This habitat (sometimes referred to as calaminarian grassland) has recently been made the subject of a new UK Biodiversity Action Plan. Spoil heaps remain bare or poorly vegetated due to a scarcity of nutrients, high levels of toxic heavy metals and, in some cases, more recent disturbance. Mining spoil supports a number of species that tolerate high levels of heavy metals known as metallophytes. The Dales has a number of these nationally and internationally rare or scarce plant species including spring sandwort, alpine pennycress and Pyrenean scurvygrass.

Marshy grassland plant communities are dominated by a combination of rushes (for example. soft rush), sedges (for example, carnation sedge), wetland herbs and purple moor-grass. Their distinguishing feature is their abundance of wetland herbs. These herbs may include, cuckooflower, white clover, marsh marigold, meadowsweet, common spotted-orchid, wild angelica, bog bean and grass-of-Parnassus.


Groceries can be ordered online and delivered to Laykin. Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury are the choices. Tesco have been a few times for guests and know the way. However, by shopping online you are not spending money in the Dale, and you are missing out on seeing the wonderful local shops.

Reeth – 4 Miles  (10 mins)

2 well stocked mini supermarkets- one next to the Post Office and the Bottom Shop. All the basics and fresh produce.

Garage and petrol station for logs.

The Fat Sheep gift shop.

The Outdoors Shop.

Furniture and cabinet maker shops and craft shops.



Newsagent and sweet shop.

Market on Friday morning.

Leyburn – 14 Miles  (30 mins) We do our weekly shop here!

Medium sized Co-op- Post office at the back!

Campbells- a wonderful supermarket/deli wine shop (our favourite!)

Pie shops and butcher and bakeries.


Fantastic choice of shops.

We like the Walking shop and Gilsan for outdoor clothing.

Victoria’s lingerie is amazing!

So is the old fashioned sweet shop Wobbly Dog.

The little chocolate shop/factory is just outside the town.

There are gift shops.

A florist.

Clothes shops.


Household shop.

Serendipity – a massive gift shop with stylish home furnishings.

Pet shop.

Toy shop.

Just outside the town is a candlemakers –

In short you could shop here all day, and if you do, have lunch in Penley’s cafe!

You may then need the bank- HSBC, Barclays and Nat West have branches…

Leyburn Market is every Friday in Leyburn Market Place

Farmers’ Market every 4th Thursday of the month in Leyburn Market Place

Richmond – 14 Miles (30 mins)

Co-op, large supermarket.

WHSmith and Boots.

Many other lovely shops including:

Bakeries and Butchers and Greengrocers.

Altberg boot makers.


Clothes shops.

Gift shops.

Yeomans outdoor leisure shop.

Bijou jewellery.

Pet shop.

Catterick Garrison – 17 Miles  (45 mins)

Massive Sainsburys.

Tesco megastore.


Lidl and Aldi.


Not terribly inspiring place to shop, but if you want cheap and cheerful,

this is where to visit.

Hawes – 14 Miles (45 mins)

A delightful bustling market town with shops on either side of the market place.

A massive delicatessan.

Sweet shop, with mesmerising shop window.

Outdoors shop.

Clothes shops.

Wensleydale cheese factory and shop/deli/gift shop.

Craft shops.

A row of antique shops.

Post Office.

Several Banks.


Market day is Tuesday indoor and outdoor market.

Barnard Castle – 14 Miles (45 mins)

Nice market town with Buttermarket at one end.

Large Morrisons.


Costa coffee.

Zara countrywear

Antiques near the Buttermarket.

DIY shops.






Holland and Barrett.

Boyes- we love this shop (like Woolworths) It’s a 3 storey Alladin’s cave!

M & Co.

Co-operative Food.

Heron Foods.

Edinburgh Woollen Mill.

Farmer’s market on the 1st Saturday of the month.



The Station Cinema, Richmond.

A delightful cinema in the converted station with café and restaurant and art gallery.

01748 823 062.


The Georgian Theatre, Richmond.  There is something for everyone: professional productions to suit every taste including music, comedy, drama, pantomime and dance.

01748 825 252

Other activities


Go to the gallops to see the racehorses in training.  Visit the Racing Yards.

Experience the excitement of horseracing.  There are races at:





The oldest sweetshop, Pateley Bridge.

Opened in 1827 and justifiably famous.  Don’t miss it if you are in the area.

Star Gazing
The dark skies of the Yorkshire Dales National Park are a stargazer’s paradise.  There is no light pollution so it is easy to see both stars and planets as well as the space station passing overhead.  The milky way is usually visible and at certain times of year you can see shooting stars and even the northern lights.

The moon is often so bright that it is almost like daylight.

We provide a star map and binoculars but you may wish to bring along your telescope turn off all the lights in the cottage and immerse yourself in the splendor of the night sky.

You are welcome to join the local astronomy group in Reeth

For more information

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