Visit Burnsall: A complete guide to visiting Burnsall

Burnsall is a pretty village in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Off of most people’s radars, it is a quietly popular spot for hikers and national park enthusiasts. If you are looking for an idyllic place to experience Yorkshire’s countryside, it makes a beautiful place to visit.

Information about the village can be quite limited online, which is challenging when planning a visit. To help you find all the information you need, I’ve compiled a complete guide to visiting Burnsall. From the best time to visit to the best things to do, this is everything that you need to know about visiting.

Where is Burnsall?

Burnsall is in the south of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Just two miles southeast of Grassington, it is one of the most accessible villages in the national park.

How to get to Burnsall?

The easiest way to get to Burnsall is to drive.

Burnsall is less than an hour’s drive from major towns like Ilkley and Skipton and a two-hour drive from Leeds. The roads are typical of the Yorkshire Dales; narrow, windy, with few passing points. However, if you fancy an adventure, driving will give you one. The route is incredibly scenic, and if you take the B6160 road, you’ll pass Bolton Abbey Estate.

If you don’t drive, the only option to get to Burnsall is to take the bus. The 74A runs from Ilkley to Hebden, passing Bolton Abbey Estate, Burnsall, and Grassington. From Ilkley it takes less than an hour on the bus, so it is no slower than driving. Just check the departure times a day or two before as they are prone to change.

Why visit Burnsall?

Burnsall Bridge.
Village bridge via Unsplash.

Burnsall is a fantastic place to visit in the Yorkshire Dales as it tends to be quieter than other Yorkshire villages like Malham. It still has that romantic, country village appeal.

The village is also well-located to combine with a trip to Grassington or Bolton Abbey Estate – perfect if you’ve only got limited time to explore the Yorkshire Dales. Of course, there are many amazing things to do in Burnsall, so you could equally dedicate a full day to visiting the village, but more on that later.

Best time to visit Burnsall?

The best time to visit Burnsall is in late spring or early summer.

While Burnsall is one of the quietest Yorkshire villages, you should still avoid visiting during major holidays. The summer holiday is worst for crowds, so visit in early summer to avoid this period. Early summer is still warm with less rain, but you’ll beat the crowds that appear in August and September – win, win!

The Yorkshire Dales are beautiful in winter and early spring when there is often snow. However, driving in the snow is not advisable – especially without a four-wheel drive. Similarly, in early spring, the area is prone to flooding. Visit Burnsall in late spring to get the best weather and driving conditions.

Things to do in Burnsall

St Wilfred's Church.
St Wilfred’s Church via Unsplash.

Take a walk through the village 

The more you know about Burnsall, the more you will appreciate it. The village was once a Viking settlement. There are also listed buildings dating back to the 16th century, and even a haunted pub.

St Wilfred’s Church is a good place to stop by for a look around. The church is an excellent example of early English architecture and you can take a look inside and around its grounds. It has a small graveyard that still features stocks, where villagers would have once been punished. Wander around and soak up the atmosphere, perhaps posing for a picture in the stocks!

Burnsall Primary School is interesting to take a brief look from the outside. The building was constructed in the 16th century and is still functioning, despite the tiny village population.

You can admire the residential cottages and get a good feel of Burnsall’s atmosphere by just walking through the village. Obviously, be respectful and stay reasonably quiet. Part of the draw of visiting Burnsall is how idyllic it is – let’s keep the laidback lifestyle peaceful and protected.

Finally, stop for a pint in the Red Lion Pub. The pub was constructed in the 16th century and has been maintained since then. It is also the haunted pub I mentioned earlier. It is worth sitting at the bar to ask the bartenders more about the spooky stories.

Go fishing

Love fishing? Burnsall is the spot for it. There are plenty of quiet grassy verges to set up along the riverbank. A few brave souls also go fly fishing and can occasionally be spotted waist-deep in the river awaiting a bite.

The River Wharfe is best known for its brown trout and grayling. Salmon are slowly being reintroduced, and there are a few spots where you can visit to watch the salmon jumping upstream. Don’t go catching any salmon, though. You’ll be in trouble with the law and the locals desperate to see the population increase.

Go for a swim in the River Wharfe

Have you been wild swimming before? There is something incredibly liberating about swimming in a river, lake, or ocean.

Going swimming in the River Wharfe is one of the best things to do in Burnsall. I’d recommend walking upstream and swimming at Loup Scar, a popular Burnsall swimming spot amongst locals and those in the know. Loup Scar is a pretty limestone gorge with a plunge pool that is ideal for swimming, especially in summer when the water levels are low. Some even go as far as to describe this Burnsall swimming location as a natural ‘lazy river’.

You can also paddle in the river next to the village green, but there is less privacy and more hustle and bustle since it is right next to the car park. Take necessary precautions when wild swimming and be mindful of strong currents.

Go on a hike

Burnsall has some great walks. If you love hiking (or even just want to try to get some fresh air), going for a walk is one of the best things to do in Burnsall.

Walking along the River Wharfe, past beautiful stone buildings, and through huge meadows is definitely an excellent way to relax. Pack a picnic or plan a stop at a pub en route.

I’ll go into more detail below, but, in short, Burnsall Circular is the best walk if you want a short stretch of your legs. Walking from Burnsall to Grassington or Barden Bridge are half-day or full-day hikes if you want a challenge.

** Seasonal and annual events **

Burnsall has many seasonal and annual events, including fell runs. You can google ‘what’s on in Burnsall’ before visiting and adjust your visits to include any events that take your fancy. Typically, August is the busiest time for events in Burnsall.

Burnsall walks: Four best Burnsall walks

Hiking boots.
Hiking boot via Unsplash.

It is no secret that the Yorkshire Dales has some incredible walks. For a general guide to walking in Yorkshire Dales National Park, check out my existing article here.

To narrow things down, I suggest prioritising some of the great walks that start from Burnsall. These are the best four.

Burnsall Circular

Length: 2.4 miles

Time: 2 hours

Difficulty: Easy

If you want a nice, leisurely walk around Burnsall, this circular route is the best choice. At just 2.4 miles, it is a short and sweet walk to stretch your legs before going for a swim or grabbing a pub lunch.

Start at the Red Lion Pub and head down the steps to the left of Burnsall Bridge. You’ll follow a narrow dirt path alongside the River Wharfe, which is partially shaded by woodland and a serene section to spot birds and wildlife.

Once you reach a suspension bridge, cross over to the other side of the riverbank. The path directs you through meadows and back towards Burnsall. Crossing a final stile, you’ll finish by crossing back over Burnsall Bridge – ready to enjoy the rest of your day in the village.

The Burnsall Bridge is great for families. I’ve also walked it as a solo female and found it very safe, especially with the many dog walkers using the route. It requires minimal stress, navigating, and effort, making for a relaxing hiking experience.

Burnsall to Grassington

Length: 7 miles

Time: 4 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Got a bit longer on your hands? If you are staying in the village for more than a day, I’d recommend completing the Burnsall to Grassington walk.

You start at the same point as the Burnsall Circular, heading down the steps to the left of Burnsall Bridge and along the riverbank. However, turn left and not right on the other bank at the suspension bridge. You carry on heading along the river for a few more hours. The route then crosses a couple of roads, stiles, and gates. I’ll attach a detailed guide here.

Spend the day in Grassington, perhaps visiting Linton Falls, the Grassington Folk Museum, or just making the most of the country shops and pubs. You can then walk back or catch the 74A bus to save your legs.

The Burnsall to Grassington walk requires a bit of extra navigating effort but is the best choice if you want a day out, not just a short stroll.

Troller’s Gill

Length: 7 miles

Time: 3 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Inspired by landmarks and natural attractions? Troller’s Gill is the best Burnsall walk for you. It passes a grade II listed manor called Parceval Hall Gardens, Troller’s Gill, and has the option for you to extend and visit Linton Falls or Grimwith Reservoir.

The route starts at the Wharfe House Car Park. You can either pay for parking or park for free alongside the village green and walk to the trailhead. The path roughly follows the River Wharfe, with some road sections and crossings. I’ll attach a route guide here.

I recommend stopping for a refreshment break in Appletreewick or Hebden.

Burnsall to Barden Bridge

Length: 8 miles

Time: 3 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

If you don’t mind out and back trails, the Burnsall to Barden Bridge walk is one of the most scenic river walks. The route follows the River Wharfe to Barden Bridge – a huge, three-arched bridge linking either side of the river.

Start at the Wharfe House Car Park and just keep to the riverbank path for the whole walk. The route is straightforward to navigate, and you can detour at many places to grab a pub lunch or quick drink.

Be aware that a lot of the scenery can blur into one, especially as it is an out-and-back trail. This route is best for those who want an easy-to-navigate ramble and are looking for a walk where they can relax and socialise along the way. With that being said, Barden Tower is a fascinating historical attraction. When you reach Barden Bridge, I’d recommend walking just a little further and paying the 15th-century ruins a visit.

Burnsall accommodation: Where to stay in Burnsall

Hotel bed.
Hotel bed via Unsplash.

Burnsall makes a great day trip. But, if you have the time, staying overnight or for a short holiday is a good way to maximise your experience. Staying in Burnsall is the perfect chance to unwind and fully immerse yourself in laidback country life.

To stay in the village itself, you have two options – book a hotel or book a campsite in Burnsall.

Hotels in Burnsall

To keep things simple, there are only three hotels in the village. The accommodation options are two, three, and four-star, which helps you pick based on budget preference.

Wharfe View B&B, Burnsall

Budget: Budget-friendly

Address: Wharfe View B&B, Main St, Skipton, BD23 6BP

The Wharfe View B&B is great for those who want homely luxuries yet a budget-friendly place to stay when visiting Burnsall.

The ivy-covered B&B has a contained garden that guests can use, which is a winning factor for those with young children. Cyclists should know that the B&B has bike storage options. Everyone should know that Wharfe View serves a delicious full English breakfast every morning.

Wharfe View B&B is good value for money and a fantastic budget-friendly accommodation option.

The Red Lion, Burnsall

Budget: Mid-range

Address: The Red Lion, Burnsall, Skipton, BD23 6BU

Remember that haunted 16th-century pub? Well, I dare you to stay in it. In true Dales style, the Red Lion offers comfortable rooms above the pub at a reasonable rate.

On a serious note, if you want mid-range and unfussy accommodation, the Red Lion is a good choice. The pub has the best location, is well-located along the river, and has excellent access to local hikes.

The Devonshire Fell

Budget: Luxury

Address: The Devonshire Fell, Burnsall, Skipton, BD23 6BT

This Edwardian manor is the way forward if you want to treat yourself. The Devonshire Fell

keeps a country-style atmosphere, with plush furnishings and comfortable room designs. However, there is no mistaking this level of luxury when you see it.

The Devonshire Fell has a spa and a fine dining restaurant on-site for guests to enjoy. Even if you don’t book a room here, it is worth enquiring about a spa or afternoon tea experience.

Camping in Burnsall

Burnsall’s country setting is so beautiful that it is no surprise that people want to go camping in Burnsall. Unfortunately, there are no formal campsites in the village itself.

Mason’s Campsite is the best place to stay if you want to go camping in Burnsall (or as close to it as possible). Mason’s Campsite is located just downstream of the village centre. It is only a thirty-minute walk along the riverbank.

Mason’s Campsite is on the outskirts of the neighbouring village Appletreewick so has plenty of facilities nearby. It is also conveniently located to walk to and from Burnsall during the day. I’ll attach a link to the website here.

What if all the Burnsall accommodation options are booked out?

Burnsall is a small place, and it is quite likely that most accommodation will be booked out if you book last minute.

If that’s the case, don’t panic. Look at accommodation options in Grassington, Harlington, and Hebden. In the worst-case scenario, you can always stay somewhere like Addingham, Ilkley, or Skipton and then drive in to visit.

Burnsall weather: What to expect and what to wear

River Wharfe.
River Wharfe via Unsplash.

What to expect

Like all the other villages in the Yorkshire Dales, Burnsall is prone to overcast and drizzly weather.

November is the wettest month and has an average of 13 days with precipitation, which can be rain or snow. However, be prepared for wet days throughout every month of the year.

Want to experience the best Burnsall weather? June to September are the warmest months to visit. June, August, and September have average temperatures of between 12 and 14 degrees Celsius. July is the hottest month and has an average daily temperature of 15 degrees Celsius. For the rest of the year, temperatures are under 10 degrees Celsius – so wrap up warm!

What to wear

You should always bring a waterproof coat and waterproof footwear when visiting Burnsall. The best way to prepare for Burnsall weather is to actually arrive prepared.

On the flipside, don’t get caught out with no suncream in summer. Suncream and a capped hat will keep you protected from the sun that caught you off guard with a sudden (and quite aggressive) appearance. This is especially important if you are planning on completing one of the local walks

Is Burnsall worth visiting?

Yes, Burnsall is absolutely worth visiting. The village is a lovely day out in the Yorkshire Dales and has lots of walks and the chance to swim in the river.

There we have it; a complete guide to visiting Burnsall. I hope you have a fantastic trip and the weather holds out for you. You can view our Yorkshire archive here for more inspiration about visiting the Yorkshire Dales.

Visited Burnsall before? Feel free to drop any recommendations in the comments below.

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