Trail signpost in the hills above Coniston in the Yorkshire Dales

Walks in Yorkshire
Get yer boots on!

You could do worse than check out the best walks in Yorkshire for an active, healthy and truly enjoyable holiday or vacation. Blessed with long distance footpaths, circular walks, shorter day or afternoon walks and leisurely strolls between pubs, your holiday in Yorkshire could be built around one or more of these options.

South to North, West to East – or vice-versa – there are many walks in Yorkshire for you to choose from.

Coast to Coast

The challenging (this is the Ramblers Association classification!) northerly trail linking St Bee’s Head on the Irish Sea coast in the West with Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Sea coast in the East takes in three of England’s National Parks. Attempting the entire length of this walk you’ll pass through the magnificent scenery of England’s Lake District and some of Cumbria’s more challenging fells before reaching the beauties of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the wild remoteness of the North York Moors National Park. Over the years a number of traditions have become associated with the Coast to Coast.

  • Tackle the walk from west to east – keeping the prevailing weather at your back
  • Dip your boots in the Irish Sea as you start. Wet your boots again in the North Sea when you finish
  • Pick up a pebble from the beach at Saint Bees Head and toss it into the sea at journey’s end in Robin Hoods Bay

Agreed by many to be the most satisfying of all the walks in Yorkshire.

The easy (again the Ramblers Association classification!) more southerly Trans Pennine Trail links Merseyside in the west with Humberside in the east. The English mainland is much wider here and the distance is nearly double. However, the route follows disused railway lines, canals and riverside making it surprisingly level considering it crosses the Pennines, England’s backbone.

South to North

The Pennine Way follows the high lands of the backbone of England – The Pennines – taking you from the Peak District National Park to the Scottish Borders. One of Britain’s best known long distance trails, it is also one of the toughest!

The Dales Way will take you from Leeds in West Yorkshire through the Yorkshire Dales and into England’s Lake District, finishing at Bowness-on Windermere. Originally starting at Ilkley in Wharfedale, the walk was extended to include sections from Leeds via either Shipley in the Aire Valley or the spa town of Harrogate.

A bit of both

The Cleveland Way follows the northern edges of the North York Moors National Park. Taking you north from Helmsley in North Yorkshire and east to Saltburn on the North Yorkshire coast, the Cleveland Way follows sheltered valleys and crosses bleak moorland. From Saltburn the way turns south along the “Jurassic” coast, through Whitby, Robin Hoods Bay and Scarborough, finishing in the Edwardian seaside resort of Filey.

On the long distance walks in Yorkshire, unless you plan to camp along the way, you’ll probably be able to find organisations to help with booking accomodation en route and also with porting some of your luggage. You’ll likely enjoy the experience more without a massive backpack weighing you down! I know I would!

You’ll find more information about the above walks and more on the Ramblers Association website.

You might tackle an entire long distance walk over a number of consecutive days, making a holiday of it. But many people will cover just a section at a time, as time permits. They’ll return to do another section and another, ‘till the entire walk is complete.

There-and-Back walks

Sometimes a there and back walk will mean returning to your start point on a bus or train. The Saltaire to Bingley canal walk and the Colne Valley canal walk are good examples. But when there’s no other means of getting back, the only option is to retrace your footsteps all the way. I did just that on my walk to the summit of Ingleborough. I’d invited some of my family and friends to join me for a 60th birthday luncheon there. Fortunately a few of them turned up. The weather was kind and we all enjoyed a great day out.

Circular Walks in Yorkshire

The walks I’ve mentioned so far are linear walks. You start walking at one place and end up in another place. Many are the walks in Yorkshire, however, where you start walking in one place and after a few miles or many you will end up back where you started. These circular walks are very popular. They enable you to enjoy the beauty, and benefits of being outdoors.

The Crown – Horton in Ribblesdale

Completing the final instruction of your walking guide, more often than not, right on cue as a “welcome back”, you’re sure to spot a colourful, welcoming inn sign – as though it were planned that way all along! What better way to quench that almighty thirst, satisfy a well-deserved appetite! And then, when you’re finished, there is your car or bus, waiting to take you back home or to your accommodation.

Pen-y-Ghent walk

Talking of circular walks. Here’s one of the walks in Yorkshire I’m proud to say I’ve actually completed – and very much enjoyed. It’s the circular walk from Horton in Ribblesdale, taking in the summit of Pen-y-Ghent and part of the Pennine Way. The picture above is of the Crown Inn. Waiting for us at the end of our walk. Did a pint of beer ever taste so good? Click here to read how I got on.

Strid Wood Walk

The woodland walk upriver from the Bolton Abbey priory to Barden Tower passes the Strid. Famous or infamous, the rock formations here constrict the flow of the River Wharfe through a deep, narrow chasm. Suitable, along some of its sections, for pushchairs and wheelchairs, this is one of the gentler walks in Yorkshire. Read more about the Strid Wood Walk and Bolton Abbey.

Bolton Abbey – The River Wharfe in the Yorkshire Dales is particularly beautiful in the autumn. 3872 x 2592
The Calderdale Way

Following moorland paths and old packhorse routes, the Calderdale Way will take you through some of West Yorkshire’s ancient weavers’ cottages countryside. Starting and finishing at Clay House in Greetland the way will take you near to Halifax, Todmorden and Hebden Bridge.

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