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Exploring Yorkshire Dales via public transport?

Approximately May 16-23, I would like to explore the Yorkshire Dales and points north and east, puttering around villages, scenic roads, walks of 2-3 hours if weather permits.

I would really like to do this by public transport (solo with a 30L backpack, about 7 kg). But I am having difficulty even beginning to sort through the bus and train options. I have a PDF Dales Bus map and am a bit baffled: for example, it looks like I could take a bus from Skipton to Grassington and on to Kettlewell, but I'd have to backtrack to Skipton to get elsewhere (many "limited service" dashed lines). Skipton to Harrogate through the wonderfully name "Blubberhouses" is a limited services bus; otherwise its the long way around through Ilkley and Otley..

And several lines are labeled "YorBus" which I assume is a different company than Dales Bus?

1) can someone please point me to websites to help with the planning (either bus/train websites, or blogs describing how to plan). An interactive bus planner would be fabulous!
2) I've also struck out on information about regional passes -- Rover passes -- for the bus. Where should I look?
3) if you were interested in scenery, pubs and walking, which towns would you suggest staying in?
4) should I give up and rent a car? That sees so un-green, especially for one person.

Posted by
24894 posts

You may well have already uncovered this website. If not, check it out. It has some useful-looking links.

I haven't been to that part of Yorkshire, so I am not in a position to evaluate the information on the DalesBus website.

Posted by
470 posts

A quick Google of YorBus will bear fruit
Also see the Dales Rambler Day Ranger Ticket

Posted by
9 posts

Thank you -- I will dig further into these sites.

Is there perhaps a comprehensive planning site? Or is it really a matter of piecing together the sites of the regional providers?

Posted by
2561 posts

I did this about five years ago. Plot your town to town route on Rome2Rio. It will provide train and/or bus routes you can take, as well as the name of the bus company. Then go to the websites of the various bus companies to get the schedules and prices. It’s a bit of a pain to plan, but not hard to execute. We enjoyed the bus rides, and we’ve always loved trains.

Posted by
1174 posts

Hi BarbWire -

The Dalesbus services are to get kids to school, people from the remoter villages to towns with facilities (banks, shops, etc.) and yes, walkers to their start point for a walk and later, get everybody back again. So thus, they tend not to be over frequent and go largely from A to B. If you also want to go to C, that would, as you’ve correctly worked out, be a separate journey. Of course running alongside the bus service is the Dalesrail service and if memory serves, that timetable is included in the Dalesbus timetable booklet (incidentally there should be a summer version of this released any day now).

What I’d do as an itinerary is something like this. Travel to Gargrave by train from Leeds/Bradford/Skipton. Gargrave isn’t huge but it does boast a Premier Inn next to the Anchor pub. Overnight. Following day, walk up the Pennine Way to Malham (six miles tops. Maybe a tad more if you divert a little off route to the pub at Kirkby Malham). Overnight in Malham. See the Buck Inn, the Listers Arms and if you want to push the boat out, Beck Hall for accommodation. Also there will be some bed and breakfasts I think but nothing springs immediately to mind. Visit Janet’s Foss, Gordale Scar and maybe Malham Cove. Stay overnight again in Malham. Next day climb the over four hundred steps up to the top of Malham Cove and head up Watlowes dry valley to Langscar and head via Nappa Cross over to Settle. Stay in Settle overnight. Take the train next day to Horton in Ribblesdale to explore Penyghent if feeling confident or Hull Pot if climbing is not your thing!. Return by train to Settle by rail (or bus if timetable fits). Alternatively from Malham you can walk the eight or nine miles from Malham to up near Malham Tarn and then take Mastiles Lane (allegedly an old monks route) to Kilnsey in Wharfedale (Tennants Arms). From there you can take the Dales Way up to Kettlewell and Starbotton and beyond if you like, bearing in mind you probably have to walk back!). Overnight in the Kilnsey or Conistone area again and take the Dales Way to Grassington. Lots of accommodation in Grassington. Bus to Bolton Abbey and walk the Strid Woods and explore the Priory.

All just as suggestions cutting your reliance on infrequent transport a little. There are as many itineraries as you care to dream up. From Settle the railway heads back to Leeds/Bradford area (Leeds probably has better links to all points). From Grassington or Bolton Abbey you are not far from Ilkley (bus, taxi) which also has frequent trains to Leeds and Bradford.

One final thing. In addition to the relevant OS map(s) try and get a copy of Alfred Wainwright’s ‘Walks In Limestone Country’ a book that has given me a thousand golden hours in the area we are discussing! It might even give you some alternate ideas - basing in Ingleton or Dent for instance. Try and get the relatively recently revised edition (by Chris Jesty) as the original was written a long, long time ago and things will have changed here and there, even in the Dales. That the original is still the ‘go to’ bible for the area, speaks volumes of its genius!

PM me if you want to discuss/expand/need info on elsewhere, etc.

Oh yes finally - sensible footwear and head to toe waterproofs, just in case! I’m sure you’ll be able to cobble something wonderful together!


Posted by
9 posts

Thanks so very much, Ian, for taking the time and effort to write this reply! It is incredibly useful, and gives me a very sound starting point for planning -- much better than my wild flailing and thrashing at the keyboard!

"Sensible" footwear = my trusty Oboz Gortex hiking shoes. Upper waterproof = my Gortex jacket. Lower waterproof = UK souvenir!

Posted by
1174 posts

Well Barb, seems you’re all set! My wife carries a cheap collapsible umbrella - never uses it in bad weather (as much use as a chocolate teapot in that) - but on (very) rare occasions when it’s hot and sunny she uses it as a parasol!

You didn’t say where your “points north and east” were, but if you have specific requirements in that regard and you think I might be able to help, don’t hesitate to ask!