Sometimes there’s nothing better than getting outside, enjoying the fresh air, and exploring some of the wide open spaces that surround us. Walking is an amazing way of looking after our bodies and minds, providing countless benefits from improved circulation to relieving stress and anxiety. With so much going on around us, why not take the chance to escape the daily stresses this summer by heading out into the glorious Yorkshire countryside?
It can be easy to take for granted just how much beautiful countryside surrounds us in North Yorkshire, and with everything from rocky outcrops to majestic railway bridges to explore, it’s easy to find somewhere new to enjoy this summer. While there’s a seemingly endless supply of routes and destinations dotted around the county, we’ve had to narrow our list down to just a few of our favourite spots, each with some suggestions for routes and stops to help you get started…
Sitting up high on the side of Nidderdale, this impressive collection of natural rock formations is a sight to behold, making it no surprise that they’ve been attracting visitors for well over 200 years. Surrounded by beautiful dales and countryside, Brimham Rocks is placed firmly in the middle of an area of natural beauty, making it the perfect spot to spend a sunny day taking in the views.
Most of the most impressive formations are located just a short stroll away from the National Trust car park, while exploring the whole site can take anywhere up to four hours for more adventurous explorers. With routes designed for all ages and abilities, it’s easy to find and follow the various signposted walks around the site. You’ll also find a fantastic visitor centre and café on site, helping to provide much needed refreshments and plenty of information about your historical surroundings.
While not strictly a castle, this majestic stately home is still a stunning piece of architecture that sits proudly amongst over 1,000 acres of luscious green parkland. Castle Howard’s history spans back over hundreds of years, and these days incredible ornate interiors and gorgeous gardens are now open to the public all year round.
Situated amongst the Howardian Hills, the surrounding estate is a haven for walkers, with babbling brooks, bluebell woods, and even ancient monuments to explore. You can easily find plenty of routes and trails from the estate’s official website, most of which start from the Castle Courtyard, where you’ll also be able to grab some fuel for the journey ahead.
Hidden away in York, this beautiful piece of parkland is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, just 15 minutes away from the centre of town. Rowntree Park plays home to over 30 acres of green space, as well as beautiful woodland, sports facilities, playgrounds, and even it’s very own library-café. Exploring the park is incredibly simple, and walkers can easily while away an hour or two taking in the paths alongside the River Ouse, through the woods, and amongst the lawns.
Just a short walk from Ribblehead station, you’ll find an incredible piece of Victorian architecture stretching out across the valley, carrying trains travelling along the Settle-Carlisle railway. Ribblehead Viaduct is surrounded by wide open countryside, with views reaching out in all directions, making this piece of architectural beauty the perfect spot to explore on foot this summer.
There are plenty of routes available online, most of which begin and end at the visitor centre and café that sits proudly inside the active station at Ribblehead. From there, you can explore the hills and dales nearby, initially following the railway across Batty Moss, before sweeping around the beautiful landscape.
Often dubbed as one of the finest views in England, the very top of Sutton Bank certainly delivers on its reputation, with beautiful vistas and landscapes stretching out for miles across the vales of Mowbray and York. Acting as a gateway to the North York Moors National park, Sutton Bank makes for a fantastic day out for adults and families alike, with a huge variety of walks, cycle routes, and activities to get involved with.
One of the most popular routes takes you to the very top of the Kilburn White Horse – cut into the hillside, this incredible figure is visible from miles around. The short walk begins and ends at the Sutton Bank Visitor Centre, guiding you out along the ridge to admire the views before returning to where you began, and takes around an hour and a half in total.
Nestled in a secluded North Yorks valley, this impressive Cistercian abbey makes for a peaceful day out amongst the rich historical surroundings and countryside. While Rievaulx Abbey is now mostly ruins, you can easily get a sense of the scale and size of this incredible landmark from the remaining structures. Explore the grounds and museum to uncover the hidden secrets of the abbey, before taking in the views from the visitor centre’s café.
Thanks to the sweeping landscapes, the abbey makes for a perfect stop along many walks in the area. One of the more popular routes begins from the nearby market town of Helmsley, climbing gently to reveal impressive views of the town and castle, before dropping down into bluebell woods as it winds its way towards the abbey grounds. Once reaching the abbey, it
continues in a circular route to join up with the earlier path, taking around four hours from start to finish.
The small village of Malham sits at the southern base of the Yorkshire Dales, surrounded by dramatic landscapes, picturesque cottages, and winding brooks. Every year, the village attracts thousands of visitors looking to explore it’s many natural attractions and landmarks. One of the most famous natural spots is Malham Cove – a sweeping limestone cliff formation, with the top of the cove covered in natural limestone pavement – thanks to its appearance in the Harry Potter film series.
Visitors also flock to take in the beautiful gorges of Gordale Scar and the magical charm of Janet’s Foss waterfall. Starting from the National Park Centre car park, all of these sights can be taken in following a three-hour round trail, giving you plenty of time to explore the surrounding countryside and its natural splendour before stopping for refreshment’s in the village centre.
North Yorkshire Moors
One of the most impressive national parks across the country, the North York Moors is made up of miles upon miles of sweeping moorland, picturesque villages, and ancient monuments. With so much to see and do, what better way to get out into the wild than by foot?
Covering over five-hundred square miles of natural countryside, the North Yorkshire Moors National Park is home to an endless amount of walks and trails, taking in sights right across the region. Many of the more popular routes can easily be found on the park’s official website, with different routes provided depending on distance and ability, helping you to find the perfect walk for you and your group. From the rocky outcrops of Wainstones, to the grand landscapes and big skies of Levisham Moor, there’s no shortage of natural wonders to explore here this summer.
Image Credits: Castle Howard, Malham, Brimham Rocks