9 Best Walks In North Yorkshire



North Yorkshire’s gloriously rugged landscape encompasses most of the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales national parks. From sweeping heather moors and deep gorges to peaceful valleys and paths which hug the banks of the river, there’s a wide variety of terrain here – and some of the country’s best walking routes. Read on to discover our picks for the 9 best walks in North Yorkshire.

Light streaming through the ruined arches of Rievaulx Abbey (Michael D Beckwith on Unsplash)

Rievaulx Abbey

12th-century Rievaulx Abbey was one of England’s most important monasteries. It housed over 600 monks at its peak, before being seized by the Crown during Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries. The ruins of the abbey still tower over the surrounding Rye Valley, all sturdy walls and pointed arches soaring heavenwards.

Once you’ve explored the abbey itself, you can take a circular walk through the North York Moors National Park. Head towards Rievaulx village, then cross the River Rye over Bow Bridge. Stroll through Ashberry Wood for views of the abbey and classical temples on its terrace, before crossing over Rievaulx Bridge and back to your starting point. Extend your walk with a trip to the nearby market town of Helmsley.

Robin Hood’s Bay

Legend has it (although history isn’t so sure) that Robin Hood’s Bay is named after a victory won by the famous outlaw over pirates here. As it’s a long way from Sherwood Forest, this craggy fishing village is more likely to have been named after a local forest spirit. Either way, its inhabitants internalised an outlook of 'steal from the rich, give to the poor': by the 18th century, it was Yorkshire’s most active smuggling point. 

The village itself is an atmospheric cocktail of steep cobblestoned streets, fisherman’s cottages and high cliffs overlooking the secluded harbour. At low tide there’s a long sandy beach which is great for walks. Explore further by taking the four-mile circular route from the station car park along the disused railway, through Boggle Hole, and back via the clifftop Cleveland Way.

Roseberry Topping in spring (trevor pye on Unsplash)

Roseberry Topping

Roseberry Topping is often referred to as 'Yorkshire’s Matterhorn. Thankfully, it’s much easier to climb than its Alpine lookalike. From the car park in Newton-under-Roseberry, around half an hour of walking will get you to the 320m-tall peak – with soaring views for miles around. 

Come down via the Great Ayton side for Captain Cook’s Monument, and visit in spring to see Roseberry’s lower slopes awash with a sea of bluebells. 

Wondering where you’ll stay? Here are the best campsites in North Yorkshire.

River Wharfe and Bolton Abbey

The river Wharfe grows along its length (105km) – from a tiny trickle at Wharfedale to a wide waterway that joins the river Ouse far south of York. Along the way, it cascades into surging waterfalls, burbles over limestone ledges, and snakes through moorland. 

One of the best places to walk along its banks is around the village of Bolton Abbey. Start with a stroll around the splendid ruins of Bolton Priory, then through Strid Wood. Cross at Barden Bridge and head back downstream to end up back at the priory. This route takes around three hours, but can be shortened or lengthened according to preference – just choose a different bridge to cross over.

How Stean Gorge

There’s stiff competition for the title of best scenery in the Yorkshire Dales, but How Stean Gorge makes a strong case. Little glacier-cut canyons slice through leafy woodland, against a backdrop of gently rolling hills and wildlife-filled reservoirs.

Got your walking boots on? You can pick up the Nidderdale Way here, which takes you through dramatic scenery, reservoirs and rocky outcrops. The whole thing is a 53-mile-long circular walk: if you’d prefer to stay closer to home there are loads of paths running through the gorge, from waymarked routes to old drover roads and moorland trails.

Levisham Moor and Hole of Horcum

Also known as the 'Devil’s punchbowl', the Hole of Horcum is a huge (400 feet deep, more than half a mile across), cauldron-shaped depression. It’s one of the most recognisable features in the North York Moors National Park. From above, you’ll see vast skies and impressive panoramas.

While you could simply walk around the edge of the Hole, a far nicer jaunt is to make your way from here across Levisham Moor – where the sharp-eyed can spot traces of ancient human occupation, like burial mounds, ditches and ridges for enclosures and agriculture. Peer down from ruined Skelton Castle to hear the whistle of steam trains from the North Yorkshire Moors Railway below, then make your way back to the Hole. Walk this route in late summer or early autumn to see the moorlands bloom with heather.

White Horse Walk

Did you know there’s a White Horse in North Yorkshire? Kilburn White Horse is the UK’s most northerly turf-cut figure. It was created by the village schoolmaster and his students in 1857, making it possibly one of the biggest school projects ever – it’s 96 metres long and 70 metres high. The White Horse Walk climbs up from Sutton Bank National Park Centre along the ridge of the hill, dipping down into woodland briefly before clambering up past the Horse. Expect dramatic views from the cliffs and escarpment. 

Check out more places to visit in North Yorkshire.


One of Yorkshire’s renowned Three Peaks, Ingleborough is the second-highest mountain in the Dales (723m high). There are several ways to reach its summit, but we recommend the circular walk from Hill Inn. This will take you through Southerscales Scars and Humphrey Bottom before ascending the top: and you’ll have splendid views all the way up.

Malham Tarn

Malham Tarn’s giant glacial lake is the highest of its kind in the UK (377 metres tall), and the nature reserve around the Tarn is home to unique plant and animal species. From Malham village, you can follow the Pennine Way through woodlands and sheltered valleys up to wild moorland. 

Want to stretch your legs with a stroll on the seashore instead? Check out our guide to the best beaches to visit in North Yorkshire. And while you’re here, why not explore our ultimate guide to camping in North East England?