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Getting around the National Park - by road

The Yorkshire Dales National Park is very accesible by car - the area is bordered by major trunk roads with the M6 skirting the west, the A66 to the north, the A1 to the east and the A65, A59, A629, M62 and M65 to the south.

Unfortunately, around 90% of people currently arrive in the National Park by car and this has an impact on this special landscape. Remember that you can beat the traffic and be kinder to the environment by using alternative means to get around and explore the area. Using public transport allows everyone to relax and enjoy the scenery, and means you get to see over the top of roadside walls too!

By leaving your car behind on just two days during your holiday, you will be making a valuable contribution to the future well-being of the Dales.

Alternatively, you can leave your car on the edge of the National Park and use the bus or train to take you to your destination. From Easter until the end of October, extra summer bus services are run especially for visitors to the Dales. To check times of these bus services visit the Transport Direct website.

Or why not car share!

A word about driving sense ...

If you do have to drive in the National Park please remember that driving in the Dales is very different to driving in other areas. Roads are lined with hard dry stone walls and often have poor visibility due to the twists and turns and gradients. Around any corner there may be a slow moving farm vehicle, livestock, a walker, cyclist or perhaps even a deer, low flying owl or bird of prey.

It is important to slow down and enjoy the journey, but please consider other drivers and their destinations. If you think you may be holding them up, pull over when it is safe to do so to let them pass, as it is difficult to overtake on many roads in the National Park. You can then continue to enjoy the surroundings at your own pace, using designated viewing points to appreciate the scenery or stopping at a recognised car park to enjoy a walk.

Roads in the Dales

Roads in the Yorkshire Dales are generally narrow with frequent bends and they are often lined with dry stone walls.

Always be on the look out for animals, walkers and cyclists. Roads in this area have been categorised into a Dales Road Hierarchy and we've produced a map to help you plan your journey.

Where possible please keep to roads in the higher categories.

Road categories:

  1. Suitable for all traffic.

  2. Suitable for buses and coaches but larger vehicles may have difficulty in passing some locations.

  3. Car drivers should take extra care due to narrow sections and tight bends. Suitable buses and coaches outside peak periods only and best avoided if possible. More suited to minibuses.

  4. Drivers should be aware of oncoming traffic, especially on single-track sections. Unsuitable for buses and coaches; may be possible in a minibus.

Parking

Wherever possible please use designated car parking areas.

Cleared roadside verges or wide access gates are not intended for visitor use. They are more likely to be important turning points for feed wagons or milk tankers.

Parking on roadside verges can often contribute to damage to stone walls which are both an integral part of the beauty of the landscape and the means of keeping livestock from straying onto the road. In some areas they also contain important archaeological evidence such as the remains of the Ribblehead Viaduct 'navvy-town' in Ribblesdale.

There are plenty of car parks across the Dales, some of which are managed by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority. Please note that any money collected from car parks managed by the Authority is used to care for the National Park.

Regrettably not all visitors come to the Dales to enjoy the peace and quiet and some actually come to steal from parked cars. Vehicles parked in remote and quiet locations are often the targets for thieves. Police advice is:

  • Always try to use recognised car parks.

  • Remember to lock all doors and the boot.

  • Keep valuable items with you or lock them out of sight.

Give your car a holiday

About 90% of people currently travel to the Yorkshire Dales by car. This has a big environmental impact in several different ways. Cars produce carbon dioxide - a greenhouse gas - contributing to climate change. And of course they increase the level of traffic on the small country lanes of the Dales - contributing to traffic jams and disrupting the tranquility of this special landscape.

Even if you use a car to get here, you really can make a difference and reduce your environmental impact.

For example, if you're visiting the Dales on holiday, you can set aside at least a couple of days when you give your car a rest too. There's a wealth of things to do which don't require a car and we guarantee that they'll add to your enjoyment of the Yorkshire Dales. Try public transport, cycling, horse riding or walking.

Caravans

Towing a trailer or caravan at any time requires extra care and in the Yorkshire Dales National Park this is even more important. Even A and B roads will be narrow and there are many narrow bridges to watch out for.

Our advice is to plan your journey carefully and to use the Dales Advisory Road Hierarchy as your guide.

Avoid category 4 and 5 roads unless you have first assessed the route in a smaller vehicle or have been advised that your destination can be reached with your unit. Category 3 roads are also best avoided at busy times and if possible you should follow the one way system recommended for large vehicles in our Dales Advisory Road Hierarchy. Pay particular attention to the gradient of roads as many Dales roads and passes have some very steep and dangerous ascents and descents.

The websites listed below will be of interest to caravan enthusiasts.

Large vehicles, coaches & HGVs

Driving an HGV or other large vehicle at any time requires extra care and in the Yorkshire Dales National Park this is even more important.

Even A and B roads will be narrow and there are many narrow and weight-restricted bridges to be aware of. Our advice is to plan your journey carefully and to use the Dales Advisory Road Hierarchy as your guide keeping to category 1 and 2 roads wherever possible.

Coach trip organisers and drivers may find the leaflet 'The Yorkshire Dales Group Organisers' and Coach Drivers' Guide' useful. It also includes village and town maps.

Unless you require access to a property in the Dales you are best advised to use the trunk road box around the Dales formed by the A59, A1, A66, M6 and A65. For journeys from West Yorkshire to Lancashire use the M65 and M62, M60, M6 rather than the A65 which is a much slower route.

Avoid category 4 and 5 roads unless you have assessed the route in a smaller vehicle first or have been advised that your destination can be reached with your unit. Many category 5 roads will have width restrictions and are too narrow for a large vehicle even for access. Category 3 roads are also best avoided at busy times and if possible you should follow the one way system recommended for large vehicles in our Dales Advisory Road Hierarchy. Pay particular attention to the gradient of roads as many Dales roads and passes have some very steep and dangerous ascents and descents.

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