Burnsall is often described as the prettiest village in the Yorkshire Dales. Sitting on the River Wharfe in a stunning landscape, it's easy to see why.

Burnsall village

Burnsall village1

Burnsall is a small and pretty village in the Yorkshire Dales, right on the River Wharfe. A lovely five-arched bridge crosses the river and a village green is an ideal spot to rest, relax and enjoy the views.

There’s a lovely walk along the river towards Hebden and Grassington that dates back to Viking times.



In brief

  • Lovely Dales village
  • Pretty village green by the River Wharfe
  • Excellent base for exploring
  • Good cafes, pubs, hotels and bed and breakfast guesthouses
  • Great walks along the river and in the fells.
  • On the Dales way

A bit of history

It’s pretty tough digging historical gems for Burnsall, Certainly it features in the Domesday Book of 1085 as ‘Brineshale’ but it apparently suffered badly during the Norman conquest.

The name Burnsall is thought to mean either “the hall by the burn” or, possibly, the hall of a chieftain called Burn (meaning ruler). ‘Sal’ in Danish means the Chief room or hall.

A Norman, Robert de Romville, took over the area when he installed himself at Skipton and built a castle there to protect the area. The church, St Wilfred’s, was built in the 12th century and added to in the 14th. The church seems to have been repaired by Sir William Craven of nearby Appletreewick, who later became Lord Mayor of London and was rumoured to have been the inspiration for Dick Whittington.

Craven established the old Grammar School next to the church which is now the local primary school.

Burnsall today

The bridge at Burnsall

The Bridge at Burnsall2

The village attracts walkers, cyclists and other visitors all year round. It’s a favoured spot for picnickers who enjoy the river from the village green and the field across the river.

Burnsall is also popular with trout fishermen and for the annual feast day games held in August when there are amateur canoeing competitions, tug of war and fell races.

Nearby you can enjoy Loup Scar, the village of Appletreewick and the compelling limestone gorge of Troller’s Gill in Trollerdale which is said to be haunted by Scandinavian trolls and a huge spectral hound with “eyes as big as saucers”.


There’s a car park on the right as you enter the village which is owned and run by the villagers. If that’s full, there’s more spaces just a few yards further on the left, along a small side track.

Where to eat & sleep in Burnsall

There are plenty of options when choosing where to eat and where to stay in Burnsall. Here’s a selection.


Wharfe View Tea Rooms


The Devonshire Fell
The Red Lion & Manor House

Bed & Breakfast Guest houses

The Green
Wharfe View Farm House
Glebe Barn

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1 © Copyright John M Wheatley
2 © Copyright Colin Smith
Licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence