10 Reasons to visit secret Littondale in the Yorkshire Dales

The Yorkshire Dales is a magical national park full of wonderful valleys, mystical waterfalls, rolling hills, pretty meadows and sleepy hamlets. Many visitors stick to the popular parts of the dales such as Wharfedale, Wensleydale, Ribblesdale and Swaledale. If you fancy escaping the crowds consider visiting Littondale. Littondale is almost a secret dale within the national park. You may never have heard of Littondale before so here are 10 reasons to visit Littondale in the Yorkshire Dales!

Where is Littondale?

Littondale is located in the Southern Dales in the Yorkshire Dales national park. This is a beautiful valley which has the River Skirfare running through it. The river and valley joins Wharfedale near Kilnsey.

Getting to Littondale

Littondale has far less traffic than some of the other valleys in the Yorkshire Dales national park. Many visitors zoom past without ever realising what lies on the other side of the hill. Also, many of those who attempt the 3 peaks challenge see Littondale from the top of Pen-Y-Ghent but barely have a chance to look before they head onto Whernside.

You can get to Littondale from Wharfedale. Follow the River Wharfe until you pass the impressive Kilnsey Crag. After the crag, turn right towards Hawkswick rather than continuing on the B6160. Another way you can approach Littondale is from the Western Dales from Settle. As you head into Stainforth turn right onto Goat Lane and you can get to Littondale that way too.

10 reasons to visit Littondale

1. Wildflower Meadows in Littondale

One of the best reasons to visit Littondale are the wild flower fields!

Many visitors to the Yorkshire Dales head to Swaledale or Wensleydale for iconic pictures of barns surrounded by bright yellow buttercups. Yet did you know that Littondale has equally beautiful wild flower fields?

The Yorkshire Dales has about a sixth of the UK’s remaining upland hay meadows. These wild flower meadows https://www.ydmt.org/yorkshire-dales-wildflower-meadows can contain up to 120 species of wildflowers! The wildflower meadows are incredibly important for conversation as they support a variety of wildlife and plant species.

You can see beautiful wildflower meadows in Littondale in May and June. This is one of the most spectacular sites in the Yorkshire Dales national park.

2. Prettiest winding stream in the Dales

Everyone loves a babbling brook.

One of the prettiest streams in the Yorkshire Dales must be Cowside Beck which tumbles down the hillside into Littondale. Best seen from Old Cote Moor on the otherside of the valley on a sunny afternoon when the sun makes the waters shimmer.

3. Hollywood in Littondale

Daniel Radcliff in Littondale ©Craven Herald

Well, maybe not Hollywood famous but you may recognise the pretty village of Hatton Gill from the film Woman in Black. Daniel Radcliff’s character moves to a village in the film which was mostly filmed in this part of Littondale. Jamie Oliver also visited to film a Sainsbury’s advert one Christmas.

Hatton Gill is a very pretty village so it is understandable that film crews have been attracted to this part of the Yorkshire Dales.

4. Beautiful village of Arncliffe in Littondale

An Arncliffe back garden on the River Skirfare

Another wonderful Yorkshire Dales village is the hamlet of Arncliffe. Seen locally as the capital of this dale, the village name is a derivation of the phrase “eagle cliff” suggesting that eagles used to live on the limestone cliffs by the village. Littondale used to be called Amerdale which explains how Emmerdale got its name as it was originally set in this dale!

Arncliffe has a pretty village green which is rare in the Yorkshire Dales. There are many lovely stone buildings and old bridges making this a very picturesque village to stroll through or to take photos of.

5. Admire Wharfedale from above

Looking down into Wharfedale

Wharfedale is one of the most popular parts of the Yorkshire Dales national park due to its proximity to the cities of Leeds and Bradford. Yet if you don’t fancy battling the crowds in Wharfedale you can admire the dale from above! Hike up onto Ackerley Moor till you reach a long ridge. From here you can look down into Wharfedale. From this ridge you’ll be able to spot the villages of Buckden and Starbotton as well as across to Buckden Pike, one of the tallest peaks in the Yorkshire Dales.

6. An amazing view of Pen-Y-Ghent in Littondale

littondale
Looking back at Pen-Y-Ghent and Plover Hill

Pen-Y-Ghent is a wonderful hill in Ribbleshead. Many people love hiking up Pen-Y-Ghent and going back via Hull Pot which is a beautiful Yorkshire waterfall. A few climb Pen-Y-Ghent as part of the 3 peaks challenge. Yet few approach Pen-Y-Ghent from Littondale or see the peak from this side. There is an amazing view of Pen-Y-Ghent and nearby Plover Hill from Littondale.

From Litton, follow a path up the hillside on your way to Birk’s Fell. Just before the path begins to follow a dry-stone wall, look behind you to see one of the best views in the Yorkshire Dales. Surely this view alone is worth visiting Littondale for.

7. Beautiful riverside walks in Littondale

Not all of us are hikers. Some of us just like a good riverside stroll. There is a wondeful riverside walk in Littondale. From Arncliffe you can walk to Litton along the River Skirfare. This is a wonderful flat route over wildflower meadows and past old stone buildings. All the time you can hear the gurgling waters next to you, perfect on a warm summer’s day!

If you are looking for an easy walk in the Yorkshire Dales, the riverside walk from Arncliffe to Litton is delightful.

8. Lovely Hikes in Littondale

Hiking in Littondale

Hill walkers love visiting the Yorkshire Dales. There are a few great hikes in Littondale to satisfy the fell walkers! One of the best walks in the Yorkshire Dales is the Arncliffe to Birk’s Fell circular.

Starting in Arncliffe, cross beautiful wildflower meadows before joining a path which follows the River Skirfare into Litton. Cross a little bridge into the village before climbing onto Ackerley Moor. Keep going upwards and towards the summit of Birk’s Fell which is one of the Yorkshire 30. After reaching the summit, retrace your steps and head southwards back towards Arncliffe along the ridge. You can admire the wonderful views into Wharfedale from up here. You can see across to Buckden Pike and down onto the villages of Buckden and Starbotton.

You will need to turn right and start your descent into Arncliffe. From here you will be treated to another spectacular view of Cowside Beck. There are also lots of viewpoints to see the village from above. You will pass limestone features, abandoned barns and more moorland before going back into the village.

What a wonderful walk in the Yorkshire Dales!

9. Picturesque village of Litton

The Yorkshire Dales is full of lovely little villages and Littondale has a few very pretty ones. One of the prettiest villages is Litton.

Litotn has many old 17th and 18th century walled houses. There is also a red phone box which must be in one of the lovliest settings in the Dales.

10. Fewer crowds in Littondale

One of the best things about visiting Littondale is that there are fewer crowds! This is almost a secret valley. Many people go past Littondale without every realising the beauty that lies within. It may not have giant peaks to climb or as many tea rooms but its sleepy, relatively undisturbed nature makes this one of the most authentic dales in the Yorkshire Dales.

I was debating whether to post this as I almost want to keep Littondale a secret from the world. Yet it is so beautiful I think you should visit to see it for yourself.

Best time of year to visit Littondale

door arncliffe

Littondale is lovely year-round. It is very pretty in June when the wildflower meadows are in full bloom and in mid-winter when a blanket of snow covers the dale. Otherwise blossom awaits visitors in spring and autumn foliage for those who visit in October. Littondale is pretty regardless of the season. Just remember that Littondale is in the Yorkshire Dales meaning you should pack a waterproof rain jacket just in case!

Where to stay in Littondale

There are a few places to stay in Littondale. You could stay in a traditional stone barn in Halton Gill or stay in a friendly B&B in Litton. Use the booking.com tool below to find accommodation in and around Littondale.

Things to do near Littondale

1 day in the yorkshire dales itinerary

There are many lovely things to see and do in Littondale and well as in the area around. If you have more time to explore the dales you could visit one of these Yorkshire Waterfalls, check out the best walks in the Yorkshire dales or any of these spectacular spots in the Yorkshire Dales. If it is your first time visiting the Dales you might also enjoy this one day in the Yorkshire Dales itinerary. The Yorkshire Dales is a magical place to visit.

Have you been inspired to visit Littondale?

Have you been inspired to visit Littondale? Do you like the sound of wildflower meadows, pretty villages and lovely views? Let us know in the comments below!

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