Jonathan Smith runs Where2walk, a walking company based in the Yorkshire Dales. Exclusively for Gorgeous Cottages he’s listed his top five family-friendly walks in the Yorkshire Dales below.
The Yorkshire Dales is a wonderful area for walking, I have spent the past 15 years discovering its hidden gems, many long walks, but also shorter ones as well. Having a young family has meant that ‘gentle walks that are full of interest’ is the requirement. Here are a few of my favourite family-friendly walks in the Yorkshire Dales, many of which are also pushchair friendly.
Exploring the lands of Bolton Abbey – 2.5 miles
I have visited Bolton Abbey, a 12th-century Cistercian abbey, many times and it is excellent for a young family. The River Wharfe flows next to the abbey and some excellent paths lead up into the woods on the far side. Just follow the path up to the bridge at the Cavendish Pavilion and then return back along the river bank. I have seen many families with pushchairs as well as older children on the walk.
Full walk details
What else can you do at Bolton Abbey?
Known as the jewel in the crown of Yorkshire, the estate has more than 30,000 acres of breathtaking countryside with over 80 miles of footpath to wander. It makes a great family day out for those who like to get out and about in the fresh air, and there is also an ever-changing events programme for children. While you are there you should also explore the ruins of the Priory, where you will uncover some fascinating history - sure to go down well at school! When it's time to refuel, head to the restaurant, cafes or tearooms and then treat yourself to a souvenir from the gift shop. who doesn't remember those bookmarks and pencils tempting you to part with your pocket money on family days out?
A walk under Kilnsey Crag – 2 miles
The spectacular overhanging rock at Kilnsey is a great setting for a short walk into the limestone scenery nearby. The walk is over some fields and then joins the famous Mastiles Lane before turning back towards the crag. There may well be climbers on the rock itself to watch, and there is also an excellent café to finish the walk.
Full walk details
What else can you do at Kilnsey Park Estate?
There's lots for children to do on the Kilnsey Park Estate. As well as the wonderful walking and getting the kids out in the fresh air, there are lots of events and activities on offer including fun fishing and cycling. Horsey children (and those keen to learn) can try out some pony trekking - the estate's trekking and riding centre is just a mile from Kilnsey Park, in the village of Conistone. All levels are welcome and for those who are used to being onboard, long trails up onto the moors are available. For animal-loving little ones, the estate is home to friendly farm animals as well as some interesting wildlife including cheeky red squirrels, butterflies and yucky bugs!
The waterfalls of Askrigg – 3.5 miles
The pretty village of Askrigg in Wensleydale was used for the filming of All Creatures Great and Small although for the younger visitors, it is the triple flight of beautiful waterfalls that come off the hillside behind the village which will be the main attraction. Discover exciting and safe places to play in, eat picnics and enjoy the spectacular views across the Yorkshire Dales. The youngest of children (if able to walk) will have enough to distract them from any climbing they need to do.
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What else can you do in Askrigg?
Take the public footpaths through the wooded valleys, with stunning views of the river and falls. Hunt for fairies and play hide and seek and then return to the café where children will be thrilled with a slice of sticky cake and a drink. Stop by the visitors' centre to find out more about the falls and surrounding areas, and empty little pockets with some of the items for sale. Later, pop into the village of Askrigg where adults can see if they recognise anything James Herriot-related, and smaller members will be thrilled with a foray into the old-fashioned sweet shop, open in the summer months.
Fountains Abbey & Studley Park – 3 miles
Situated close to Ripon is the best and most complete example of an abbey in the north of England. It is easy to get lost wandering around its ruins whilst the walk itself carries on through the grounds and on to the deer sanctuary of Studley Park. It is perfect for pushchairs but my children enjoyed the grounds, sense of history (Anne Boleyn stayed here) and ice cream in the tea shop with surely one of the best views in England!
Full walk details
What else can you do at Studley Park?
The woodland play area is a definite favourite for the smallest members of the family. With wooden swings and slides and little castle towers to climb, they will love to burn off any excess energy here. Made from sustainable timber and hand-spliced ropes, this natural playscape has been designed to blend in with the surrounding woods. The scramble nets are always popular, especially as you can swing with a sibling or perhaps even make a new friend! Also check out the fireman's pole, the huge rope bridge and a zip wire for the most adventurous members of the family.
A walk to Malham Cove – 2 miles
An easy, pushchair-friendly walk to one of the most popular sites in the Yorkshire Dales. Malham Cove is a spectacular amphitheatre of rock which you can walk right up to, whilst the more energetic can climb up the steep stone steps to its summit. Here lies a wonderful limestone pavement where amongst others Hermione and Harry pondered the difficulties of a slightly abnormal childhood. Malham village has tea shops and 2 excellent pubs.
Full walk details
What else can you do at Malham Cove?
Malham Cove is a beautiful picnic spot - get the whole family involved in making a yummy picnic and look for a spot below the limestone rocks. Older children with a taste for adventure can climb the steep pathway to the top to discover Malham Tarn and the limestone pavement at the top of the Cove. Younger members can take first dibs on desserts as they watch elegant peregrine falcons soaring above. If you are not lucky enough to see them, head over to the RSPB viewpoint to see if you have more luck there!
Thanks to Jonathan for sharing his favourite family-friendly walks in the Yorkshire Dales with us. There are so many wonderful Yorkshire walks you can discover something new every week, so come take a look! For even more inspiration of things to do during your next Yorkshire holiday, read our ultimate guide to the Yorkshire Dales, and after exploring the Dales on foot take some time to relax at one of our beautiful luxury Yorkshire Dales holiday cottages, perfect base for either weekend getaways or a longer holiday.
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