Yorkshire Dales road trip: exploring Buttertubs Pass in a motorhome


Nestled in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, Buttertubs Pass is a breathtaking road that promises adventure, natural beauty and a sense of escape. For those who crave a road trip filled with rugged landscapes, lush greenery and charming countryside, Buttertubs Pass is the place to be. And what better way to experience this stunning route than in a campervan or motorhome, where you have the freedom to take your time and soak in the sights?

In this article, we'll guide you through a day's journey along Buttertubs Pass, highlighting the key attractions and must-see spots along this picturesque route.

What is Buttertubs Pass?


Buttertubs Pass, a 5.5-mile mountain road, is a hidden gem within the Yorkshire Dales. The pass gets its name from the natural limestone potholes known as the "Buttertubs" which are both a geological curiosity and a source of local legend. Over thousands of years, water carved these deep holes into the rock and it's said that farmers used them to keep their butter cool during warm weather.

This stunning route winds through valleys, crosses charming stone bridges and meanders past idyllic stone cottages. Whether you decide to drive or cycle, the road offers sweeping views of the surrounding countryside, and if you're lucky, you might spot some local wildlife, including sheep, cows, and even the occasional red kite soaring in the sky. It’s no wonder TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson once dubbed it as "England's only truly spectacular road"!

How to get there

To embark on your Buttertubs Pass adventure, you can start from the town of Hawes. Hawes is a charming market town in the Yorkshire Dales and serves as the perfect base for your journey. From here, you can drive west along the B6255 to begin your ascent into the stunning landscape of the Buttertubs Pass.

Map of Buttertubs Pass

Itinerary through Buttertubs Pass : a day of exploring

Optional starting point: Thwaite or Hawes

One of the wonderful aspects of this Buttertubs Pass road trip is its flexibility. Depending on your preferences or logistics, you can choose to start in either Thwaite or Hawes.

If beginning in Hawes works better for your schedule or location, you can reverse this itinerary. The journey remains equally captivating whether you're travelling from south to north or vice versa, ensuring you can make the most of your Yorkshire Dales exploration. The choice is yours, and either way, you're in for a day of breathtaking scenery and unforgettable experiences!

Set off from Thwaite


Start your day early by departing from the charming village of Thwaite in Swaledale. This quaint hamlet, nestled among rolling green hills, is the perfect starting point for your Buttertubs Pass adventure.

Take a leisurely stroll around the picturesque village centre, with its traditional stone-built cottages and beautifully maintained gardens. Visit the Kearton Country Hotel, named after the famous wildlife photographers Richard and Cherry Kearton, to learn about their remarkable work.

Start the scenic drive through Buttertubs Pass


Head north along the B6270, and you'll soon find yourself on the Buttertubs Pass road. This 5-mile stretch of road winds through the heart of the Dales and offers breathtaking views at every turn. Be prepared to stop frequently to admire the rugged beauty of this area!

As you make your way through the pass, you'll encounter the iconic Buttertubs, a series of limestone potholes. These deep, cylindrical sinkholes were named after the fact that farmers would use them to store butter in cooler months. These impressive natural limestone potholes are a real work of art by Mother Nature. A short walk from the roadside is all it takes to reach these unique formations. Stop at the Buttertubs themselves, take in the remarkable views and take a few photos to capture the moment. Be prepared to be amazed!

Visit Hardraw Force


For those with a thirst for more natural wonders and unique experiences, a detour to Hardraw Force is definitely worthwhile. Nestled in the Yorkshire Dales, Hardraw Force is England's largest single-drop waterfall. The journey to this remarkable cascade takes you through a picturesque, wooded path, adding to the anticipation of what lies ahead. Access to this natural wonder is through the Green Dragon Inn, adding an extra layer of charm to your visit.

Before or after your visit to the falls, consider stopping at the Green Dragon Inn. This historic pub dates back to the 13th century, and its age-old charm, coupled with its proximity to the waterfall, makes it a delightful stop for a refreshing pint or a meal!

Continue your journey to Hawes


Once you've refuelled and are ready to go, get back on the road and continue north. You'll wind your way through lush meadows, cross quaint stone bridges and the rolling Dales. The journey itself is an experience, with the route offering countless opportunities for picturesque views.

Your day's adventure ends in the charming market town of Hawes in Wensleydale. Park your motorhome and spend the afternoon exploring this delightful place. Don't miss the Wensleydale Creamery, where you can taste and purchase the famous Wensleydale cheese. The Dales Countryside Museum is another worthwhile stop for those interested in the region's history.

Finish off the day at Aysgarth Falls


While returning from Hawes, consider a side trip to Aysgarth Falls. These mesmerising cascading waterfalls set amidst lush woodlands provide an ideal backdrop for a serene walk and plenty of photo opportunities.

Surrounded by lush green forest, the falls are the perfect setting for a leisurely stroll, offering you the chance to immerse yourself in the peacefulness of the outdoors. Wander along the well-kept paths and wooden footbridges to different viewpoints, each of which reveals a different angle of this natural masterpiece. The gushing waters offer a soothing soundtrack as you explore the pristine forests.

As the day winds down, find a quiet spot to watch the sunset over the Dales. The surrounding hills offer a great backdrop for this magical moment!

Extra things to do on your Buttertubs Pass road trip


Stop at Muker for lunch

As you cruise through Buttertubs Pass, consider taking a detour to the charming village of Muker. This idyllic spot is the perfect place to stop for lunch. Park your motorhome and explore the village on foot. Consider dining at the Farmer's Arms, a traditional pub that serves hearty, locally sourced dishes. Trust us, you will not be disappointed!

Explore Keld and the Swinner Gill Lead Mine

Spice up your road trip with a visit to Keld, a quaint village with a unique charm. Uncover the secrets of the Swinner Gill Lead Mine, an abandoned marvel that spills the tales of the region's industrial past. The remnants of the mine and the surrounding landscape create a captivating scene that history buffs won't want to miss!

Visit Yorkshire Dales National Park Centre

On your way back to Hawes, make a pit stop at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Centre. Get hands-on with interactive exhibits that unravel the secrets of the region's flora, fauna, and geological wonders. This isn't just a stop, it's a deep dive into the wonders that make your Buttertubs Pass adventure truly stand out!

From the geological wonders of the Buttertubs themselves to the charming market town of Hawes and the stunning waterfalls, this route has something to offer every traveller.

So, rent a motorhome or campervan on Yescapa, pack your bags and hit the road to experience the raw beauty of Buttertubs Pass in the Yorkshire Dales. It's a journey you'll cherish forever, with memories to last a lifetime.

Ellen M

Ellen M

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