A great base to explore the Yorkshire Dales. Or take a trip on the famous Settle to Carlisle railway.

Settle is a busy market town in the Yorkshire Dales and the largest town in Ribblesdale. It’s the starting point of the famous Settle to Carlisle Railway journey and still holds a very popular weekly market each Tuesday. There’s a great range of accommodation options, many places to eat, and a wide variety of shops, making Settle a wonderful base from which to explore Ribblesdale and the wider Yorkshire Dales.

In brief

  • Busy market town
  • Leading centre of Ribblesdale
  • Start of the Settle to Carlisle Railway journey
  • Great selection of accommodation, shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants
  • Lively market each Tuesday
  • Great views of the town and Ribblesdale from nearby Castlebergh Crag
  • Easy access to the Yorkshire Three Peaks either by road or rail.

A bit of history

The name Settle is Anglo-Saxon in origin, more Angle than Saxon, coming from the word for “settlement” and is thought to date back to the 7th Century. The settlement prospered as farming developed in Ribblesdale – livestock higher up the valley, arable in the lower parts. The Vikings followed, from Denmark and then from Norway, and eventually the Normans arrived.

After William the Conquerer defeated Harold in 1066, however, the town’s troubles were far from over. William had to continue fighting to establish control over the whole country, not least in the North where, in 1068 the Danes were back to occupy swathes of Northumbria which included Yorkshire at that time. So William headed north in 1069 and imposed his sovereignty over the next 2 years in a brutal campaign of slashing, burning, slaughter and starvation. Such was the devastation that 15 years after the massacres the area was still described as “waste” in the Domesday Book.

William divvied up England amongst his Norman supporters and Settle gradually recovered. By 1248 it was large enough to be granted a Market charter. However the now much smaller village of nearby Giggleswick remained more important as the parish church was there.

By the 1600s the Cliffords of Skipton were Lords of the Manor and the town was prospering, with farming still the main activity in the area. During the 18th century the corn mills were gradually converted into cotton mills, with cotton spinning overtaking farming as the main employment. In 1875 the Settle to Carlisle Railway opened, greatly assisting both the industrial revolution and tourism to the Yorkshire Dales.

Settle today

Settle town centre, North Yorkshire
Today tourism is a crucial part of the local economy. Large number of visitors come to enjoy the town, the wonderful Ribblesdale landscape, the walks and the Yorkshire Three Peaks. There’s a busy weekly market held in the market place in the town centre every Tuesdays. Many of the town’s businesses are family-owned, selling items that are unique to the Settle area.


Castlebergh Crag

Castlebergh Crag, Settle from town centre, Settle
The largest outcrop of limestone in Britain, Castlebergh Crag, sits just outside the town. There is a winding footpath to the summit which is well worth climbing to get stunning views of the town, Ribblesdale and the fells.

Settle to Carlisle Railway

The Settle to Carlisle Railway line is generally acknowledged to be one of the loveliest train journeys in the world. Built by the Midland Railway Company to snatch some of the lucrative Anglo-Scottish Market, the line opened in 1875 and included 72 miles of track, 17 major viaducts (including the Victorian engineering marvel, the Ribblehead Viaduct) and 14 tunnels through the hills.

More information about the Settle to Carlisle Railway

Settle Hydro

The River Ribble has long been a source of power to drive industrial development along its banks. At Settle, Bridge End Mill used the river first to mill corn then, after conversion, to spin cotton and later still, as a wood working shop, to provide furniture for the growing town. Since 2009 it has generated electricity.

In early 2009 a community project was given permission to install a reverse Archimedean screw in the old millrace. Work began in June and by November of that year it was generating 50 kW of electricity, enough to power 50 houses in the town and saving 80 tonnes of carbon a year.

Visit the Settle Hydro website

Settle Storytelling Festival

The first Settle Storytelling Festival took place in 2010 and featured a range of events at locations around the town. The Festival was organised by Settle Stories and supported with grants from the Arts Council England. It included storytelling events from leading writers and performers as well as workshops. Stories could also be submitted into an exhibition.

The Festival proved a great success and has been held each year since.

Visit the Settle Storytelling Festival website

Museum of North Craven Life

The Folly, Museum of North Craven Life, Settle
The Museum of North Craven Life can be found in a restored, Grade I listed building called ‘The Folly’, built in 1679, in Settle. There are a number of permanent and temporary exhibitions on the history of The Folly and of North Craven through its landscape and people.

Entrance is only £2.70 per adult. Children under 16 are free. Well worth a visit.


Visit the Museum of North Craven Life website

Where to stay in Settle

There’s plenty of accommodation in Settle to suit all tastes and budgets, from great hotels to pubs to award winning guest houses offering bed and breakfast. So if you’re not sure where to stay in Settle, here’s a selection.

Pubs & hotels

The Lion at Settle
Falcon Manor Hotel
Royal Oak

Bed and breakfast

Settle Lodge Guest House
Burn Lodge
The Oast Guest House
King William the Fourth Guest House
Whitefriars Country Guest House

Photos of Settle

Photographs in and around Settle in North Yorkshire. The town centre, the Museum of North Craven Life, The Folly, Castlebergh Crag.

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