So here we are in Lockdown number 3. I’m not sure how we got here, but I am sure that I’m sick of doing the same boring walk every day for my daily exercise. So, in a desperate bid to see some more sights beyond the field next to my house, I have spent the last 5 months participating in the best Yorkshire walks I can find.
Reaching all corners of God’s Own Country, here is a list of some of my favourite walks in England’s biggest (and let’s face it, best) county. So without further ado – and in no particular order – here are the best walks Yorkshire has to offer.
Time: Up to 3 hours. There are many routes around the abbey, so you can make your walk as long or as short as you like.
Starting point: Bolton Abbey car park. If you choose to park here, there is an entrance fee of £10 (correct as of 24th January 2021). This fee is put towards maintaining the estate and buildings within it. There are, however, several roadside parking spots further along the walking route. You can park in the majority of these spaces for free. Be warned though, they do tend to fill up fast! For your best chance of getting a free space, head towards Barden Bridge, where spaces are most plentiful.
Bolton Abbey is a stunning choice no matter when you choose to visit. Whether you want to see the enchanting Strid Wood turn red in the Autumn, or see the old priory poking through the mist in the winter, it truly is one of the most beautiful walks in Yorkshire.
Perfect for families or those with dogs, you can spend a whole day at this magical place if you choose to. Whether you sit and enjoy a picnic by the abbey or jump across the famous stepping stones, there is plenty to do.
This lovely circular route will take you directly through the old ruins, across the River Wharfe and into the enchanting Strid Wood. There are several crossing points along the river, so if you don’t wish to hike all the way to the end, there are plenty of opportunities to make your walk a shorter one.
Time: Approx. 1.5 hours
Starting Point: Ribblehead Viaduct parking laybys (right off the B6255) / Ribblehead train station.
The stunning Ribblehead Viaduct definitely isn’t one to be missed. Channeling strong Harry Potter vibes, you may be lucky enough to see the steam train heading over the viaduct. But while it doesn’t run to Hogwarts, we can certainly dream!
Straddling the border between Yorkshire and Cumbria, Ribblehead is perfect for walkers of all abilities, and offers a scenic but gentle route around the viaduct. Although stunning at all times of the year, I am partial to winter walks by the viaduct. There is something about the blanket of snow over the hills that makes Ribblehead the ideal winter walk. Surrounded by miles of farmland, Ribblehead is one of my favourite Yorkshire walks.
Time: Up to 2 hours
Starting Point: To walk around the grounds, park at Harewood House Car Park. There are varying entrance fees depending on the number of people visiting the grounds. If you would like to explore the perimeter of the grounds and avoid the entrance fee, opt for free parking in Harewood Village. The walk starts just past the Muddy Boots Cafe on Church Lane, Harewood. Just follow the dirt path, it’s (almost) impossible to miss!
Harewood House is more than just a famous Yorkshire landmark. Well known as the starting point of the Tour De France in 2014, Harewood is a must-see for anyone in the Leeds area.
Inside the grounds there is plenty to see and do. From activities in the house and bird gardens, to a children’s adventure playground, to long walks through beautiful gardens and manicured land, it is the perfect place to spend a family day out walking. There are a variety of routes you can take throughout the grounds, these are clearly signposted throughout. Great for people like me, who have absolutely no sense of direction.
If you want to avoid the entrance fee, the walk around the grounds is one of my favourites in Yorkshire. Perfect on a frosty winter’s day, you can enjoy sights of grazing deer, birds of prey, the Emmerdale Village set and, of course, the beautiful Harewood House.
There are numerous routes you can take around the grounds, giving you plenty of new areas to explore. The most popular is the loop past the Emmerdale Village set, this is around 7.5km and takes a little over an hour to complete. Download maps.me before your walk to plan your route.
Ilkley Moor and the 12 Apostles
Time: 1 hour
Starting Point: Cow and Calf car park or Ilkley Town Centre
Starting from either the Cow and Calf car park of Ilkley Town, this walk covers some of Ilkley’s most popular sites – the 12 Apostles and the old quarry.
Although the walk is easy underfoot, it can become boggy after rainfall. So be sure to wear sensible footwear before heading up the moor.
Offering stunning views of both the moor and Ilkley town, this walk is best on warm sunny days – or even in the snow. Ilkley Moor stretches for miles, and is a hot contender for one of the best walks in Yorkshire.
On your way up the moor, be sure to stop and check out the entrance to the old quarry. This area is a great spot for taking photographs – and if you’re feeling adventurous – you can even give the quarry a climb!
Can’t wait to get your walking boots on? Check out the full route of Ilkley Moor here.
Time: 20 minutes (longer if you also head for a stroll along the Leeds – Liverpool canal)
Starting Point: Kirkstall Bridge Shopping Complex.
Kirkstall Abbey is a lovely trail for anyone looking for a short Yorkshire walk. The abbey is beautiful at all times of year, and with plenty of paved pathways, it is extremely easy underfoot.
You can take stunning photos of the abbey from any angle, and on the last Sunday of every month, they even host a small market in the grounds, making it a great place to stop for a snack!
As the grounds themselves are quite small, a great way to extend your walk is to head down the neighbouring Leeds-Liverpool canal. This is a beautiful stretch of waterway, perfect for walkers of all abilities. And because it is a canal, you can choose to make the walk as long or as short as you wish.
Rodley Nature Reserve
Time: 1 hour
Starting Point: Rodley Nature Reserve entrance.
Also nestled along the Leeds-Liverpool canal is the lovely Rodley Nature Reserve. Especially beautiful in summer, the reserve is the ideal location for a slow, easy Yorkshire walk.
Rodley Nature Reserve was designed to bring wetland wildlife back to Yorkshire, and is built on a floodplain in Kirkstall Valley. A recognised ‘flyway’ for wildfowl and waders on migration, this is the ideal walk for nature lovers who want to see more wildlife on their walk.
With numerous routes available, you can easily extend or reduce the length of your walk. For more information, visit the Ridley Nature Reserve website.
The Yorkshire Three Peaks
Time: Up to 12 hours
Starting Point: The route can be started from Horton-in-Ribblesdale, Ribblehead or Chapel le Dale, and is a circular route finishing at the same point. You can walk either clockwise or anti-clockwise. The postcodes for these start points are:
- Chapel le Dale — LA6 3AR (limited free parking, usually quiet)
- Horton-in-Ribblesdale — BD24 0HE (lots of parking, £4 for the day, very busy at weekends)
- Ribblehead — LA6 3AS (some free parking)
Not for the faint hearted, the Yorkshire Three Peaks includes (you guessed it) three peaks! These include Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough. Located in the stunning Yorkshire Dales National Park, this walk is one of the most breathtaking (in more ways than one) but rewarding walks in Yorkshire.
Offering stunning views across the dales, it is impossible not to fall in love with Yorkshire along this walk. The total climb of the walk amounts to 1,672 metres, which is no mean feat indeed! However, you will be more than rewarded by the amazing scenery and deep sense of achievement once you’re done.
Don’t forget to check out the view of Ribblehead Viaduct while you’re there. You’ll see it just as you begin your ascent (or descent, depending on your route) of Whernside!
Don’t have the time or energy for a 12 hour hike? I don’t blame you. There is no obligation to complete all three peaks. You can just do one or two if you fancy! Pen-y-ghent is my personal favourite, and is even suitable for young families.
For more information and the three peaks route, check out the Yorkshire Three Peaks website.
Time: 1.5 hours
Starting Point: Aysgarth Falls National Park Centre
This gentle, circular walk offers plenty of opportunities to admire the tumbling Aysgarth Falls. Sat on the River Ure, the cascading beauty of this glorious waterfall is not to be missed.
The route winds through enchanting woodland and lush meadows, before reaching Low Force, Middle Force and High Force – the three tiers of the waterfall. While this makes the walk most enjoyable in spring and summer, it can be a challenge for hayfever sufferers. I learnt this the hard way! So be sure to pack your antihistamines before you set off.
Although this walk is suitable for families, the sides of the river are unfenced. Be sure to watch your footing and keep an eye on young children and dogs.
Time: 4 hours
Starting Point: National Park Centre car park in Malham
Easily one of the most popular walks in the Yorkshire Dales, Malham Cove offers dramatic scenery, far-fetching views, and even the opportunity to see the majestic peregrine falcon.
With a route that sends you straight through some of the finest limestone in the country, this walk offers a truly unique experience. It’s easy to see why us Yorkshire folk love it so much.
Starting in the National Park Centre car park in Malham, you will first visit Janet’s Foss. This idyllic waterfall is more than a little fairytale-like, and the perfect way to start your walk before heading to the mighty canon of Gordale Scar.
But the walk doesn’t end there – you’ll be awed by the towering Malham Cove, and have plenty of fun towing the intricate limestone pavements lining the top of it.
Definitely not a walk for a wet and windy day, this one is better saved for a beautiful sunny day. Find the full route here.
Whitby to Robin Hood’s Bay Coastal Walk
Time: 3 hours
Starting Point: The famous 199 steps in Whitby town. They lead up to the old St Mary’s Churchyard.
We are certainly spoilt for choice when it comes to beautiful walks along the Yorkshire coastline. But one of the best Yorkshire walks connects two of my favourite destinations along the east coast – Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay.
Made infamous by Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Whitby is a picturesque seaside town known for its jet, vampires, and many, many steps. This marks the start of your walk, and this one certainly starts as it means to go on.
The coastal route is nothing short of breathtaking. With views of rugged coastline, Oakham beck and fog horn station, there is plenty to see. Make sure you look back once you leave Whitby, you will be able to see the two lighthouses protecting Whitby harbour. These make for a fantastic photograph! If you plan on doing this hike in winter, be aware that the pathway will be muddy underfoot, so make sure you wear appropriate footwear. For the rest of the year, this walk is very easy underfoot.
By far the highlight of this walk, though, is stopping in Robin Hood’s Bay for a well earned rest. Sit down at a local pub or with a bag of famous fish and chips and take in this truly enchanting bay. There is nowhere else quite like it.
Don’t feel like retracing your steps back to Whitby? There is a circular walk you can do back into Whitby town from Robin Hood’s Bay instead. Simply use the old cinder track and follow the now disused railway path back to Whitby for an interesting change of scene.
The Best Yorkshire Walks
As you will discover on these walks, Yorkshire offers more than just Betty’s tea rooms and a mean Yorkshire pudding. It is the home to unrivalled natural beauty, which makes it the perfect place to head out for a day of walking. Especially in a time when we can’t go anywhere else!
Know of any other great Yorkshire walks? Be sure to let me know in the comments.