Justin Foulkes

Yorkshire Dales National Park

The Yorkshire Dales – named from the old Norse word dalr, meaning 'valleys', and protected as a national park since the 1950s – are beloved as one of England's best hiking and cycling areas. The park's glacial valleys are characterised by a distinctive landscape of high heather moorland, stepped skylines and flat-topped hills, punctuated by delightful country pubs and windswept trails.

Down in the green valleys, patchworked with drystone dykes and little barns, are picture-postcard villages where sheep still graze on village greens. And in the limestone country of the southern Dales you'll find England's best examples of karst scenery (created by rainwater dissolving the underlying limestone bedrock).

The whole area is seriously scenic and easy to explore. Consequently it's popular with holidaying Britons – book accommodation ahead as there are no big hotels here. Beds get particularly scarce on public holiday weekends and during events such as the annual Tour de Yorkshire.