Cool Places - The best places to stay in the UK

The Best Places to Stay in the UK

Things to do

What have you to come to the Dales for exactly? It's a fair question, because it's not the slam-dunk for hiking, biking and outdoor adventure that you might imagine. Yes, it's beautiful – heart-breakingly so at times – and the hills and dales are fantastic for hardcore walkers and Sunday strollers alike, whether it's an ascent of Pen-y-ghent (one of the celebrated Three Peaks) or a family ramble in the Bolton Abbey estate. There are stupendous geological features – Malham Cove perhaps the most famous – as well as any number of tumbling waterfalls, underground caves and hidden gorges that could keep active weekenders happy for years. But there's a history and culture in the Dales that surprises many, notably a ring of mighty medieval castles and a reminder in local museums and heritage centres of the trades that used to (and still do) dominate here, from cheese-making and brewing to farming and lead-mining. Meanwhile, modern life continues in a collection of market towns and old villages that positively beg to be called picturesque – from arty Grassington and rugged Malham to off-the-beaten-track gems like Reeth in Swaledale or Middleham in Wensleydale. Richmond is the single biggest town in the Dales and anchors the north; Skipton, its mighty castle and age-old market does the same for the south.

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