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A guide to the best Yorkshire walks holiday cottages

A guide to the best Yorkshire walks

Julie Smith 18 November 2020

Fresh air and exercise can have a rejuvenating effect on mind, body and soul, and what better way to get some Yorkshire air into your lungs than on a scenic walk along coastal paths and through national park countryside?

So whether you are looking for a gentle stroll with little ones, a walk through the countryside with your four-legged friend or a challenging ramble to take on with a group of friends, we have compiled some of the best Yorkshire walks for all ages and abilities. 

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The best Yorkshire Dales walks

The best North York Moors walks

The best Yorkshire Coast walks

The best Yorkshire Wolds walks

The best Nidderdale walks

The best Yorkshire Dales walks

Muker meadows

Muker meadows

The Yorkshire Dales is well known for its upland hay meadows which are filled with more than 100 varieties of wildflowers during the spring and summer. One of the best places to see these meadows is in the Swaledale village of Muker and you can enjoy them in all their glory on a 6-mile circular walk which takes in the high point of Kisdon Hills, with wonderful views of the surrounding landscape. The walk starts and finishes at The Farmers Arms in Muker so you can grab some well-earned refreshments after your scenic stroll. 

Length of walk: 6 miles

Difficulty: 🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️

Where to stay: Brookside - Muker | Sleeps: 5 guests plus 1 dog

Wensleydale waterfalls

Wensleydale waterfalls

The hills and valleys of Wensleydale are well known for their waterfalls and a walk through the countryside around Hawes or Leyburn is a wonderful way to discover secret falls at villages such as Harmby and Wensley. One of the best walks to try, though, follows in the footsteps of Turner and takes in Aysgarth Falls and Cauldron Falls on a 6-mile circular stroll from Aysgarth to West Burton. Parking is available at the Aysgarth Falls National Park Centre where you’ll start and finish your walk.

Length of walk: 6 miles

Difficulty:  🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️ 

Where to stay: Tannery Cottage | Sleeps: 4 guests plus 2 dogs

Bolton Abbey circular

Bolton Abbey circular

There are more than 80 miles of footpaths to explore within Bolton Abbey so you’ll never be short of walking options at this grand Yorkshire estate, featuring abbey ruins that are surrounded by around 30,000 acres of countryside. Walking at Bolton Abbey is a great choice for families and there’s lots of nature to spot from riverside, woodland and moorland paths. A walk that is suitable for all ages is Bolton Abbey Village to Cavendish Pavilion which follows the path of the River Wharfe and takes in Bolton Abbey’s famous stepping stones.

Length of walk: 2 miles

Difficulty:  🚶‍♂️ 

Where to stay: 3 Bay Horse Yard | Sleeps: 3 guests plus 

West Witton to Penhill

West Witton to Penhill

This Wensleydale walk starts and finishes at the pretty village of West Witton which is home of one of Yorkshire’s best dog-friendly restaurants, The Wensleydale Heifer. You’ll climb up the 553 metres to the top of Penhill to enjoy a panoramic view of the Wensleydale landscape before heading back to West Witton via Middleham High Moor where you can see the racehorse gallops used by various local stables.

Length of walk: 6.5 miles

Difficulty: 🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️  

Where to stay: The Old Reading Room | Sleeps: 4 guests

Malham Cove and Janet’s Foss

Malham Cove and Janet’s Foss

This popular family and dog-friendly walk starts in the village of Malham and takes in the white cliffs and limestone pavements of Malham Cove (featured in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), the rocky ravine and waterfalls of Gordale Scar and the magical Janet’s Foss. Janet’s Foss is one of the prettiest waterfalls around and is named after a fairy queen who is said to live there; children can dip their feet in the peaceful pool that the water tumbles into. There’s also woodland walks and gentle becks to paddle in on the course of this very scenic walk.

Length of walk: 4 miles

Difficulty: 🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️         

Where to stay: Boo’s Barn | Sleeps: 6 guests plus 2 dogs

Pen-y-ghent walk

Pen-y-ghent walk

Pen-y-ghent is the one of the hills that, along with Ingleborough and Whernside, makes up the Yorkshire Three Peak Challenge. At 694 metres high, it’s the smallest of the peaks and can be tackled as part of a 6-mile walk from the nearby village of Horton in Ribblesdale. The walk is fairly difficult with some steep sections along the way so it’s one for more experienced walkers, but you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. 

Length of walk: 6 miles

Difficulty: 🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️  

Where to stay: Three Roods | Sleeps: 4 guests



The best North York Moors walks

Farndale Daffodil walk

Farndale Daffodil walk

Peaceful Farndale is located right in the middle of the North York Moors National Park and is known as the ‘Daffodil Dale’ because of the swathe of native wild daffodils that grow here each spring. You can park at Low Mill car park and follow a 3.5-mile pathway alongside the River Dove to see these beautiful yellow flowers. You can extend the walk further to the pretty village of Hutton-le-Hole and there are refreshments available on the trail at the seasonal Daffy Cafe.  

Length of walk: 3.5 miles

Difficulty: 🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️  

Where to stay: The Old Tin School | Sleeps: 2 guests plus 2 dogs

May Beck and Falling Foss

May Beck and Falling Foss

If you’re looking for a short but very scenic walk then a 2-mile woodland stroll through the Falling Foss tea garden fits the bill perfectly. The highlight of the walk is the 30-foot Falling Foss waterfall but there’s also the babbling May Beck to paddle in, a bridge that’s perfect for pooh sticks and The Hermitage cave to seek out. Dogs are welcome to join you at Falling Foss, though they must be kept on a lead, and there’s a dog-friendly cafe where you can get refreshments after the walk.

Length of walk: 2 miles

Difficulty: 🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️

Where to stay: Curlew Cottage | Sleeps: 8 guests plus 2 dogs

Sutton Bank and the White Horse

Sutton Bank and the White Horse

The Kilburn White Horse is a 314-foot turf-cut white figure that’s one of the best-known sights in the North York Moors National Park. This 3-mile walk follows part of the Cleveland Way National Trail to get to the horse from the Sutton Bank National Park Centre. The view from the Sutton Bank escarpment was described as the finest view in England by James Herriot and you can enjoy a vista that includes the tranquil Gormire Lake as you complete this scenic walk. There’s also parking and lots of local information in the National Park Centre with interactive displays, walking maps and wildlife viewing stations.

Length of walk: 3 miles

Difficulty: 🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️

Where to stay: The Garden Cottage - Thirsk | Sleeps: 4 guest

Roseberry Topping and Captain Cook’s Monument

Roseberry Topping and Captain Cook’s Monument

Another walk that includes some spectacular views involves a climb up Roseberry Topping and follows in the footsteps of famed Yorkshire explorer, Captain James Cook. The walk starts in Great Ayton, a pretty village that’s home to two village greens, an excellent ice cream parlour and the Captain Cook Schoolroom Museum, and gets to Roseberry Topping via the bluebell-filled Newton Wood. After climbing to the top of ‘Yorkshire’s Matterhorn', you’ll continue to Captain Cook’s Monument, an early 19th-century monolith that was erected on Easby Moor in Cook’s honour. This makes a good spot to pause and admire your surroundings before heading back to Great Ayton where you can call in one of several pubs in the village for refreshments. 

Length of walk: 7 miles

Difficulty: 🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️

Where to stay: Tawny Owl Cottage | Sleeps: 6 guests plus 2 dogs

Helmsley to Rievaulx Abbey

Helmsley to Rievaulx Abbey

This is a classic country walk that starts in the popular market town of Helmsley where you can browse a range of independent shops, enjoy afternoon tea in a quaint cafe and visit the Helmsley Walled Garden that was featured in the 2020 version of The Secret Garden. You’ll follow the start of the Cleveland Way National Trail through woodland paths to reach the tranquil ruins of the 12th-century Rievaulx Abbey and the landscaped gardens of the National Trust-owned Rievaulx Terrace before circling back towards Helmsley.

Length of walk: 7 miles

Difficulty: 🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️

Where to stay: St Aidans | Sleeps: 4 guests plus 2 dogs 

Levisham Moor and the Hole of Horcum

Levisham Moor and the Hole of Horcum

Take in one of the natural wonders of the North York Moors National Park with a walk across Levisham Moor. The route circles around the Hole of Horcum, a 400-feet-deep natural amphitheatre that covers more than half a mile. Legend has it that the basin was formed when Wade the Giant scooped up a handful of earth but the Hole of Horcum was actually formed by water eroding rocks underneath the ground. The walk starts at Saltergate Car Park and includes peaceful heather-clad moorland, spectacular sights and grazing sheep along the way.  

Length of walk: 5 miles

Difficulty: 🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️

Where to stay: Gateways | Sleeps: 5 guests


The best Yorkshire Coast walks

Whitby to Robin Hood’s Bay

Whitby to Robin Hood’s Bay

This cliff top walk follows the path of the Cleveland Way National Trail from the popular seaside town of Whitby to the pretty village of Robin Hood’s Bay. Wander the streets of Whitby old town before climbing the 199 steps that were featured in Bram Stoker’s Dracula to gothic Whitby Abbey where you can pick up the Cleveland Way. Highlights of the walk include the Von Tromp shipwreck at Saltwick Nab and the first view of Robin Hood’s Bay from Ness Point. Once at Robin Hood’s Bay, it’s worth exploring the maze of narrow cobbled streets that were once a haven for smugglers before catching a bus back to Whitby.

Length of walk: 7 miles

Difficulty: 🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️ 

Where to stay: Rose and Crown | Sleeps: 4 guests

Ravenscar round

Ravenscar round

You’ll start this walk at the National Trust Coastal Centre in Ravenscar, where you can find lots of information on the North York Moors heritage coastline and wildlife watching in the area. Ravenscar is home to a seal colony at the foot of the cliffs and, while you shouldn’t get too close, you can watch these wonderful animals from a distance. The walk follows the Cleveland Way along the towering cliffs here for one of the best vantage points on the Yorkshire Coast before following the tracks of the disused Cinder Track railway which will take you back towards your starting point.

Length of walk: 4 miles

Difficulty: 🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️ 

Where to stay: Lilly’s Cottage | Sleeps: 6 guests plus 2 dogs

Grosmont to Whitby

Grosmont to Whitby

This is a walk that has the best of both worlds as it starts in the glorious countryside of the Esk Valley and finishes by the beach in Whitby. It follows the path of the River Esk from high moorland at Grosmont through woods, fields and a couple of little villages as the water flows down towards the coast. Highlights of the walk include hiring a pleasure boat to take to the water in the village of Ruswarp and catching a heritage NYMR steam train back to Grosmont to finish your journey in style.

Length of walk: 8 miles

Difficulty: 🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️ 🚶‍♂️ 

Where to stay: Egton Cottage | Sleeps: 4 guests plus 2 dogs

Bempton Cliffs to Flamborough

Bempton Cliffs to Flamborough

This stunning coastal route takes in the highest chalk cliffs in Britain which not only give mesmerising views out to sea but are a haven for a wide variety of nesting seabirds. The walk starts at the RSPB’s Bempton Cliffs where half a million seabirds gather between March and October. There are viewing platforms here where you can watch the guillemots, puffins and barn owls before setting off along the cliff path to the promontory of Flamborough which is home to a couple of lighthouses and several dog-friendly beaches.     

Length of walk: 9.5 miles

Difficulty: 🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️ 

Where to stay: Rock Lobster | Sleeps: 4 guests plus 1 dog 

Staithes and Port Mulgrave

Staithes and Port Mulgrave

This lovely circular walk starts and ends in the picturesque fishing village of Staithes which was the setting for CBBC series Old Jack’s Boat. The colourful cottages have been featured in many coastal paintings and once a year are turned into miniature art galleries as part of the Staithes Heritage Centre. You’ll follow the Cleveland Way to the high cliffs of Port Mulgrave which look down to the peaceful sheltered bay below before heading back to Staithes via inland fields and woodland.  

Length of walk: 4 miles

Difficulty: 🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️ 

Where to stay: Waverley House | Sleeps: 6 guests plus 2 dogs

Scarborough to Filey Brigg

Scarborough to Filey Brigg

The final section of the 110-mile Cleveland Way National Trail will take you between the popular seaside towns of Scarborough and Filey and showcases some of the rich history of the Yorkshire coast as a popular seaside resort. The start of the walk will take you past a cliff lift which is the oldest funicular railway in the UK and Scarborough Spa which was a grand Victorian music venue. The cliff-top path will take you past sandy beaches such as Cayton Bay, a popular spot for surfers, before arriving at Filey and its handsome Edwardian architecture. Just north of the town and sandy beach is Filey Brigg, a narrow peninsula that is a great place to spot seabirds, seals and even the occasional dolphin or whale.   

Length of walk: 10.5 miles

Difficulty: 🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️

Where to stay: Wold Cottage at Wellspring Farm | Sleeps: 4 guests plus 1 dog 


The best Yorkshire Wolds walks

Thixendale circular

Thixendale circular

Thixendale has a wonderfully rural location in the rolling Yorkshire Wolds at the intersection of six different valleys. The traditional village is also around halfway along the Yorkshire Wolds Way so makes a great choice for a scenic spring or summer ramble. We recommend taking a gentle walk to the deserted medieval village of Wharram Percy where you can trace the remains of lost houses and explore the ruins of a church and millpond before heading back to The Cross Keys pub in Thixendale for refreshments.  

Length of walk: 8 miles

Difficulty: 🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️      

Where to stay: The Granary at Close Farm | Sleeps: 6 guests plus 4 dogs 

Millington

Millington

Millington is a small village that’s around 3 miles east of Pocklington and the undulating surrounding landscape includes wonderful viewpoints, peaceful farmland and a couple of steady climbs. This area is a haven for birdwatchers and, after hiking through the tranquil countryside around the village, you can return to the Rambler’s Rest Tea Room for some well-earned tea and cake.

Length of walk: 5 miles

Difficulty: 🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️  

Where to stay: Little Owl Barn | Sleeps: 6 guests plus 2 dogs    

Londesborough Park

Londesborough Park

Once the landscaped grounds of a grand country estate, the parkland at Londesborough is a haven for Red Kite and one of the best places in the Yorkshire Wolds to spot these majestic birds of prey. There are lots of family-friendly paths to explore in the park with a range of colourful flowers, a lake and picnic tables. We recommend starting your walk at the Towthorpe Picnic Site and crossing the lake to the village of Londesborough before heading back to the park. 

Length of walk: 3 miles

Difficulty: 🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️

Where to stay: Field View Cottage | Sleeps: 4 guests

Stamford Bridge and the River Derwent

Stamford Bridge and the River Derwent

The riverside village of Stamford Bridge is around 9 miles east of York and was once the scene of a famous Norman battle. A circular walk from the village is almost entirely flat and takes in the 1066 battle site, a long scenic stretch of the River Derwent and an old disused railway line. The Three Cups pub in Stamford Bridge is a good place to call for food and drinks after your walk - it’s on a site that was once a camp for soldiers and the old building includes an ancient draw well.

Length of walk: 3 miles

Difficulty:  🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️ 

Where to stay: Cherry Garth Cottage | Sleeps: 4 guests plus 2 dogs

Huggate and the three valleys

Huggate and the three valleys

This circular Wolds Way walk is centred around Huggate, the highest village in the Yorkshire Wolds, and takes you to a special ‘Secret Art’ location where you can listen to a poem recorded by Ian McMillan that’s unique to this spot. The Huggate Poetry Bench is located at the point where three different valleys meet so you can enjoy picturesque views over Horse Dale, Holm Dale and Harper Dale as you take a seat on the sculpted wooden seat. Keep your eyes peeled on your return to Huggate for a series of Bronze Age earthwork markings that were thought to have been barriers or marked routes through the land and which are still visible today.     

Length of walk: 3.6 miles

Difficulty: 🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️ 

Where to stay: The Barn - York | Sleeps: 6 guests

Beverley Minster and Westwood

Beverley Minster and Westwood

For something a little different, you can take a walk around the historic market town of Beverley which is home to a 13th-century minster, a 15th-century town gate and a series of cobbled streets and courtyards that are filled with independent shops and artisan eateries. This route starts at Beverley Minster and goes past the town’s racecourse to Beverley Westwood, an open parkland with wildflowers, avenues of trees, lush green pastures and grazing cows. 

Length of walk: 4 miles

Difficulty: 🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️ 

Where to stay: Highgate Townhouse | Sleeps: 6 guests



The best Harrogate and Nidderdale walks

Fountains Abbey ancient tree walk

Fountains Abbey ancient tree walk

Fountains Abbey is a National Trust and UNESCO World Heritage site near Ripon that contains ancient abbey ruins and a beautiful water park with scenic trails amongst woodland follies and tranquil moon ponds. A lovely walk for animal lovers is around the ancient Fountains Abbey deer park which is full of ancient trees with herds of sika, fallow and red deer. Follow pathways around the park and look out for an avenue of lime trees with views to Ripon Cathedral and a bench made out of the branches of the nearby sweet chestnut. 

Length of walk: 2.5 miles

Difficulty: 🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️  

Where to stay: Brown Hare Cottage | Sleeps: 2 guests plus 1 dog

Valley Gardens to RHS Harlow Carr

Valley Gardens to RHS Harlow Carr

The spa town of Harrogate is well known for its gorgeous gardens and this lovely walk takes in two of the best of them. Starting at the Grade II-listed Valley Gardens which has a great children’s play area and a selection of outdoor games, you’ll follow a pathway through the trees of Pinewoods to reach RHS Harlow Carr. It’s a great option for little legs!

Length of walk: 1.4 miles 

Difficulty: 🚶‍♂️  

Where to stay: The Penthouse - Harrogate | Sleeps: 4 guests

Pateley Bridge circular

Pateley Bridge circular

This Nidderdale walk starts in the pretty cobbled village of Pateley Bridge and takes you past Brimham Rocks, a collection of strange natural rock shapes that were formed millions of years ago by ice, wind and rain. You can explore weird and wonderful rock formations at your leisure before heading back to Pateley Bridge via the peaceful Glasshouses Dam.

Length of walk: 9 miles

Difficulty: 🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️     

Where to stay: Blue Plain Dairy | Sleeps: 4 guests

Fewston Reservoir

Fewston Reservoir

Fewston Reservoir is a peaceful body of water located in Nidderdale’s beautiful Washburn Valley that’s a haven for local birdlife. You can take a gentle ramble through woodland around the edge of the water and enjoy the scenic views and nature. This is a great family-friendly walk and we recommend bringing along some feed for the resident ducks and geese. 

Length of walk: 4 miles

Difficulty: 🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️     

Where to stay: Silver Birch Lodge | Sleeps: 6 guests

The Packhorse Trail

The Packhorse Trail

This circular trail starts and ends in the lovely village of Darley near Pateley Bridge and takes in wildflower meadows, ancient woodland and the packhorse bridge that it’s named after which crosses Darley Beck. On the route back to Darley, there’s a wonderful view of Brimham Rocks and, once you're back in the village, there is a pub, cafe, community shop, and children’s playground to enjoy.

Length of walk: 4.5 miles

Difficulty: 🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️

Where to stay: Bay Tree Cottage - Pateley Bridge | Sleeps: 4 guests plus 1 dog

Nidderdale Greenway

Nidderdale Greenway

This 4-mile-long, traffic-free walking and cycle trail is a former railway line that connects Harrogate with the pretty village of Ripley. A highlight of the route is passing over the seven-arch Nidd Gorge Viaduct where you can pause to admire a wonderful view of the dramatically deep ravine. There’s also woodland with a variety of wildflowers along the way. Once at Ripley, it’s worth exploring the impressive Ripley Castle and Gardens before catching one of the regular buses back to Harrogate. 

Length of walk: 4 miles

Difficulty: 🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️

Where to stay: Scarah Cottage | Sleeps: 8 guests



Plan your getaway to Yorkshire

Plan your getaway to Yorkshire

If you’ve been inspired to get your walking boots on and try any of these Yorkshire routes, you’ll find a range of holiday cottages where you can rest your head after days of exploring. For more inspiration of things to do on your getaway, read our insider’s guide to Yorkshire and browse our range of romantic, dog-friendly and family-friendly holiday cottages to find your perfect base.


Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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