The best things to do in Grassington holiday cottages

The best things to do in Grassington

Emily Cunningham 27 June 2024

Step back in time in Grassington, an unspoilt market town with a vibrant cobbled square busy with tempting shops and cafes. Situated in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, it’s the perfect starting point to venture further afield and explore the region’s breathtaking natural scenery – both above and below ground. There are waterfalls to marvel at and dazzling underground caverns to investigate, as well as mile upon mile of exquisite, rolling countryside.

You can discover the heritage and history of the area at the fascinating local museum and then stretch your legs in the beautifully tended gardens and farm parks. For a snapshot of life in rural Yorkshire, try Grassington.

Read on to discover all the best things to do in Grassington and take a look at some of the lovely places to stay in and around this small but perfectly formed market town.

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Grassington shops

Exterior view of the Stripey Badger Bookshop in Grassington

A charming array of unique shops line the streets of Grassington, harking back to a time gone by when supermarkets and online shopping were still to be invented. A lovely afternoon can be spent browsing among them – a good place to start is The Stripey Badger, an exceptional, independent bookshop where a family-run team go the extra mile to provide all you could want, including guides to Yorkshire and souvenirs of Grassington. The traditional frontage lent itself perfectly for the filming of All Creatures Great and Small where it became Endleby’s Grocers.

Three converted cottages in the heart of Grassington form The Rustic Rabbit. This gift shop is full of things you didn’t know you needed, like quirky notebooks and film mugs. There’s a good collection of Harry Potter memorabilia, as nearby Malham Cove was used as one of the filming locations.

The Wine Shop states its business plainly, but inside, you’ll discover an imaginative selection of tipples, selected by the knowledgeable owner who has 25 years of experience as a wine buyer. As well as wines from all over the world, you’ll find a good choice of whiskies and beers too.

Our favourites

Eating out in Grassington

Sunday lunch at the Gamekeeper's InnImage credit: The Gamekeeper's Inn

Here’s your chance to sample local, beautifully made produce, as every menu in this small market town proudly includes its Yorkshire provenance. The Stripey Badger Coffee Shop and Kitchen, neighbour and close relation to the bookshop, serves its signature Grassington’s Ploughmans featuring a Weatherhead’s pork pie.

A special meal out should be at Grassington House, a Grade II-listed Georgian house with a beautiful terrace. The award-winning chef prides himself on the rare-breed pork which is hand-reared at a smallholding nearby.

If you’re lucky enough to be in the area on a Sunday, head to The Gamekeeper’s Inn, 2 miles outside of Grassington, where the carvery is legendary and can be eaten in the cosy snug, bar, or airy conservatory. Equally, a plate of locally sourced sausages and mash makes a satisfying mid-week meal.

Our favourites

Grassington Folk Museum

Period room inside the Grassington Folk MuseumImage credit: Grassington Folk Museum

Roll back the decades and discover bygone life at Grassington Folk Museum. Housed in two interlinking 18th-century cottages and staffed by friendly volunteers full of local knowledge, you can discover the history of all elements of life in the Yorkshire Dales, including lead and mineral mining, traditional craft techniques, farming, and culture.

The period costumes, complete with wooden clogs, are beautifully presented and children will love to see the vintage toy collection – a far cry from the now-ubiquitous screens.   

Good to know

  • Location: 6 The Square, Grassington BD23 5AQ
  • Opening times: 10.30am–12.30pm and 2pm–4pm, Tuesday–Sunday. Open on Monday during half term and bank holidays
  • Entry fee: Free but donations are welcome
  • Parking: Limited free parking in The Square or £3.50 for two hours at the National Park Car Park in Grassington
  • Stay nearby: Emily’s Cottage | Sleeps 4

Linton Falls

Linton Falls on the River Wharfe

If there has been recent rainfall, standing on the bridge to watch the water thundering over Linton Falls is quite a sight. The nearby weirs were created at the beginning of the last century to harness the power of the River Wharfe and supply electricity to Grassington and Linton Mill until the arrival of the National Grid. The hydroelectric power plant ceased working until 2008 when it was rejuvenated as a fully operational plant and heritage site.

If you’ve got half an hour to spare, you can take in both Linton Falls and the weirs during a gentle riverside stroll as well as a stretch of the gorgeous surrounding Wharfedale countryside.

Good to know

  • Location: Grassington, North Yorkshire (5-minute walk downhill from Grassington car park)
  • Opening times: Open all year without restrictions
  • Entry fee: Free
  • Parking: £3.50 for two hours at the National Park Car Park in Grassington
  • Stay nearby: Beckside – Kettlewell | Sleeps 6 + 2 dogs

Grassington walks

Lane between dry stone walls in the Wharfedale countryside

The scenic setting of Grassington in Wharfedale means there are plenty of lovely Yorkshire Dales walks to try, whatever your age or ability. You can stroll along the River Wharfe and find a perfect spot for a picnic or head to nearby Bolton Abbey where you can step over 60 stepping stones that cross the river to find a selection of woodland and nature trails.

The Dales Way long-distance trail passes through Grassington and following this pathway is a great way to explore the stunning landscape at the western edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Before you set off into the surrounding countryside though, make sure to explore Grassington’s pretty market square and the cobbled side alleys and ginnels that are filled with historic buildings.  

Don’t miss:

Cycling around Grassington

Handlebars of a bicycle with Yorkshire Dales country road leading into the distance

How better to explore Grassington than on two wheels? You can be as adventurous as you like – following in the footsteps (wheels?) of the Tour de Yorkshire or just having a pootle around Grassington. There are lots of routes for all abilities, both off-road and via country lanes. A lovely family jaunt at only 6 miles is between Skipton and Bolton Abbey, taking you along some gorgeous quiet backroads. Another easy ride is out exploring Upper Wharfdale and Littendale – although it’s not a circular ride, the scenery is so stunning you’ll appreciate it there and back.

If your legs start to protest, there’s always the option of hiring an electric bike from Grassington E-Bikes for £40 a day. These are just as easy as riding a bike but make hills effortless.

Don't miss:

  • Challenging yourself with the 11-mile circular route from Grassington to Malham Moor where you'll cycle on a mixture of grass track and purpose-built trails with some tricky climbs and descents along the way  
  • Following part of the Yorkshire Dales Cycleway to Kilnsey; the 4-mile route will take you on the historic Mastiles Lane which was once a Roman marching road  
  • Heading to the Family Cycle Zone at Bolton Abbey where little ones can safely practise their cycle skills on the grass with special road signs marking out the child-friendly route

Parcevall Hall Gardens

Lawned garden with steps leading up to Parcevall Hall

The hillside location of Parcevall Hall Gardens creates a natural amphitheatre to display horticultural delights to their full advantage. The sympathetic planting acknowledges the changing soil beneath – at the top of the hill, there’s alkaline limestone perfect for a stunning rock garden, changing to acidic gritstone at the bottom where rhododendrons flourish. Four-legged friends on leads are welcome at this dog-friendly Grassington attraction.

The foundations of these gardens were laid almost 100 years ago by plantsman Sir William Milner, who rescued the then-crumbling Hall from dereliction and developed the stunning landscaping, adding specimens from China and the Himalayas.

Be sure to visit the appealing tearooms where you can sup on homemade soup, but leave room for the award-winning brownies.

Good to know

  • Location: Skyreholme, North Yorkshire BD23 6DE
  • Opening times:  29 March–29 October from 10am–6pm, last admittance 5pm
  • Entry fee: Adults £9, senior citizens £8, under-12s free
  • Parking: Free car park available
  • Dog restrictions: Dogs on leads are welcome
  • Stay nearby: Whisper Cottage - Grassington | Sleeps 3 + 2 dogs

Kilnsey Park Estate

Fishing lake at Kilnsey Park Estate

This family-friendly outdoor attraction is the perfect place to relax and recharge the batteries during a getaway to Grassington. You’ll be surrounded by fishing lakes and lush green countryside at Kilnsey Park Estate with spectacular views across to Great Whernside – one of the most majestic peaks in the Yorkshire Dales.

If you fancy trying a spot of fishing, there are beginner’s lessons available and a special family-friendly pond that is kept well-stocked with rainbow trout. Keep your eyes peeled for bashful red squirrels during a woodland trail then say hello to some of the friendly farm animals that live on the estate, including alpacas and rare breed pigs. To top off your visit, head to the on-site cafe and tuck into the ‘Tickled Pink’ fish and chips which uses fresh Kilnsey trout.

Good to know:

  • Location: Skipton, North Yorkshire BD23 5PS  
  • Opening times: Vary throughout the year so please check the website
  • Entry fee: Activity prices vary so please check the website
  • Parking: Free car park available
  • Stay nearby: Wayside Cottage - Kettlewell | Sleeps 4 + 1 dog

Stump Cross Caverns

Stump Cross Cavern hard hat behind fossils found in the caveImage credit: Stump Cross Caverns

It’s incredible to think that the visual treat that is the Yorkshire Dales also continues underground. Stump Cross Caverns is a glittering treasure chest of caves beneath Greenhow Hill, discovered by prospectors in the last century on the hunt for lead. Instead, they found a cave system filled with stunning crystalline stalactites and stalagmites made from mineral deposits created over thousands of years.

There are inventive packages for the whole family to enjoy, including digging for fossils, exploring the caves under UV light, and enjoying a cream tea in the excellent Time Café when you’re above ground again.

Good to know

  • Location: Greenhow Hill, Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire HG3 5JL
  • Opening times: Monday–Friday from 10am–5pm (closed on Tuesdays), Saturday and Sunday from 9am–6pm
  • Entry fee: Adults £15, under-14s £10.50, concessions £13
  • Parking: Free car park available
  • Stay nearby: Hidden Gem - Pateley Bridge | Sleeps 2

Janet’s Foss Waterfall

Janet's Foss Waterfall with tranquil pool at the bottom

The Dales are awash with waterfalls and Janet’s Foss is one of the best waterfalls in Yorkshire. It’s just a short drive from Grassington with a hidden cave that’s only accessible by wading through the crystal-clear pool – once believed to be the home of Janet, the unlikely named queen of the fairies.

Whether you believe in fairies or not, this place certainly has a magical feel to it; the secluded waterfall has a lush carpet of vivid green moss and is hidden by dense foliage. It’s only revealed at the end of the woodland path. Malham Cove and Goredale Scar are both within stomping distance if you fancy extending your walk.

Good to knowhiredales.org.uk/places/malha

  • Location: A short walk from the National Park Centre in Malham
  • Opening times: Open all year round with no restrictions
  • Entry fee: Free
  • Parking: At Malham National Park Centre, £3.50 for two hours
  • Stay nearby: Town End Farm - The Byre | Sleeps 4 + 1 dog

Aireville Park and Craven Leisure Centre

Child on a colourful piece of equipment at a playground

Not your average park, Aireville Park’s facilities are top-notch. There’s a great adventure playground with climbing frames and tunnels, while runners can limber up for the Skipton Parkrun on Saturday mornings at 9am. Bring your bikes to the pump track to test your cycling skills before swinging by the Revive Café for wholesome, homemade cakes and smoothies.

Aireville Park is also home to Craven Leisure Centre. The 25m, six-lane swimming pool has family fun sessions with ‘Ollie’s Run’ – a huge inflatable obstacle course spanning the length of the pool.  

Good to know

  • Location: 21 Gargrave Road, Aireville Park, Skipton BD23 1UD
  • Opening times: The park is open year-round, please check the leisure centre timetable for swim times
  • Entry fee: The park is free, swimming prices are £5.80 for adults, £3.35 for under-18s
  • Parking: The car park is 70p per hour
  • Stay nearby: Lorna Loom | Sleeps 4

Hesketh Farm Park

Young girl feeding a goat at a farm

Get a flavour of what life is like on a farm at Hesketh Farm Park in the cute village of Bolton Abbey. It’s bustling with rural activities that you can get involved with, including gathering the eggs, feeding the donkeys and grooming the ponies and pigs. The guinea pigs also need a cuddle! For an extra £1.50, you can hop on a tractor for a ride around the fields as Farmer Chris explains how the changing seasons bring different challenges.

If the weather isn’t great, there’s a warm and cosy barn to shelter in with lots of indoor fun including sand pits and ride-ons.

The owners have worked hard to make the farm fully accessible, with disabled access to most activities.

Good to know

  • Location: Bolton Abbey, North Yorkshire BD23 6HA
  • Opening times: Check the website as it varies throughout the year
  • Entry fee: £7.50, under–2s £3.50, under–1s £1
  • Parking: Free parking
  • Stay nearby: Middleton View | Sleeps 7

Places to stay in and around Grassington

Blackburn House is nestled in Wharfedale countryside on the edge of Grassington

Whether you’re making a beeline for the chocolate-box villages around Grassington or heading to the great outdoors – uphill and down Dale – there are plenty of gorgeous Yorkshire Dales homes to stay in during your holiday. If a hot tub is a priority, why not treat yourself to Blackburn House with breathtaking views of the Yorkshire Dales? Or if you’ve always fancied staying in a barn conversion, there’s Mullion’s Nook in nearby Buckden.

If you have been inspired by some of these lovely things to do in Grassington, browse our range of cottages to find your perfect base.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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