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.
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.
Sometimes a there and back walk will mean returning to your start point on a bus or train. The Saltaire to Bingley canal walk is a good example. 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.
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.
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 on the left is of the Crown Inn. Waiting for us at the end of our walk. Did a pint of beer ever taste so good? Click hear to read how I got on.
Strid Wood Walk
The woodland walk upriver from the 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.
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.
The Bradford Millennium Way
Taking in some of the most picturesque locations in the metropolitan district of Bradford, as its name suggests it was created to mark the new millennium. This walk is special to me because my brother was one of the volunteers who designed the walk, created the waymarks and continue to maintain them. Starting and finishing on Shipley Glen it will take you alongside river and canal, following the valley bottom, up and over the high lands of the valleys of the rivers Aire, Worth and Wharfe. The volunteers have also devised sixteen shorter circular walks that each take in part of the Bradford Millennium Way. (click the link to open a new window - close the new window to return here at Yorkshire Visitors Guide). Click here for my review of the two booklets describing the walks.
Short Walks and Strolls
Many books describe hundreds of short walks in Yorkshire that you can cover within a day or in many cases much less. Many of these walks are circular - starting and finishing at the same place. You can usually park the car nearby or use public buses or trains. The AA (Automobile Association) has published an excellent one that is covered in transparent plastic – it does occasionally rain in Yorkshire! For my review of 50 Walks in West Yorkshire click the link.
Some short strolls are designed to get the less energetic of us out and about into the countryside. One of the best books in this category, Pub Strolls in The Yorkshire Dales, written by Len Markham uses bribery, in the form of a pub lunch for each stroll, to persuade us.
Canal Walks in Yorkshire
Another favourite type of walk is those using the canal towpaths. Canal walks in Yorkshire are popular with old and young. Level, except around the locks, they provide easy, pleasant walks. Often passing through beautiful, peaceful countryside they offer great chances of spotting a variety of wild life.
I'd love to be able to tell you that I've done all of these walks. Truth is - even one of the long distance walks I would consider a fantastic achievement! My level is among the short strolls. However, I know people who have successfully covered many of the walks in Yorkshire. They assure me they are all well worth the effort.
Free Walk Downloads
Thousands of free walk downloads are available across the internet. Hundreds have details of walks covering the length and breadth of Yorkshire. The Free Walk Downloads page is building into a useful resource to help plan your walks in Yorkshire. To use this page of links to other walking web sites click here
Take a look at our dedicated page on ‘Holiday Ideas’ , featuring walking holidays in the North York Moors National Park, along with a few other suggestions to help you plan your ideal holiday to Yorkshire.
With help and encouragement from my son Dave I'm gradually ticking off as "done" some of the walks in Yorkshire. Slowly my stamina and fitness levels are increasing. I'm beginning to understand and enjoy for myself the benefits of walking in the great outdoors. One lesson I have learnt and am happy to pass on is the need for good quality outdoor clothing and footwear.
For more advice for walkers and tips to help you enjoy your walks in Yorkshire click here
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Incidentally, I recently needed to replace my old walking boots and found a really comfortable pair at OutdoorGear's web site. My new boots are a well-respected make (Scarpa), very well made and so comfortable. They had a very competitive price tag and I got great service. If you need some new gear click the link here and take a look. You won't be disappointed. OutdoorGear UK
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