When to Visit the Yorkshire Dales
Much of the Yorkshire Dales is situated on high, hilly ground in the North of England. Therefore anyone expecting to take only shorts and T-Shirts at any time of year is probably going to be disappointed (or chilly!). The phrase ‘Four seasons in one day’ is quite appropriate to the Dales and weather can change quickly and vary considerably over quite short distances. On many occasion I’ve reached the Dales in heavy rain, and decided to carry on driving, and found dry conditions in the next valley. Therefore the following should be viewed as a general summary of likely conditions, rather than an absolute view of the weather you’ll find in the Dales at any time of year.
Spring- March to May
Personally, I think Spring is the best time to visit the Dales. The trees are in blossom, daffodils and other wild flowers add colour to the meadows and new-born lambs are everywhere. The days begin to stay light for longer from Mid March and, in recent years, April has provided some warm and sunny weather. It can still be chilly, especially at night, with frost and snow often extending into March and even April. Fields can also be muddy following a long, wet winter .May is the first month where we generally see some genuinely hot days and, coupled with two Bank Holidays, this is the month when visitor volumes will start to increase.
Summer – June to August
Weather is generally warmer (think around high teens degrees centigrade on average) with occasional hotter spells. Summer tends to be quite wet, especially June, so always pack some waterproofs. Visitor numbers will increase, especially at weekends, so you should make accommodation arrangements well in advance. The days are long in mid Summer – daylight generally between 4am and 10pm in the middle of June, allowing you to fit much more into a short visit, though expect busier roads, particularly on sunny weekends and on Bank Holidays.
Autumn –September and October
The nights begin to draw in, as it gets dark earlier and the weather turns cooler, though generally you should escape frost and snow at this time of year. Late Summer, early Autumn often provides some fine days and temperatures can remain quite high when the sun shines. The leaves begin to change colour and fall from the trees, and although the Dales doesn’t rival New England for ‘Fall’ colours, it can still make for some attractive scenery. With lower visitor numbers, and some good fortune with the weather, Autumn can be a nice time to visit the Dales.
Winter- November to February
November and December are the first months where temperatures start to fall and the first flakes of snow are likely to be seen on higher ground. As a visitor though, the main drawback is the short days. It often doesn’t get light until around 8.30 am and dusk is beginning to fall by 3.30 in the afternoon. In Mid December it will be fully dark not long after 4pm. This therefore cuts down on the time available for outdoor activities, but allows you to spend time in a cosy pub with a roaring fire, and potentially traditional Christmas decorations. Bear in mind that minor roads are often closed following snowfalls and villages and even towns can be cut off temporarily while snow ploughs clear the roads.