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10 of the Most Challenging Walks Within an Hour of Leeds

· Joseph Sheerin · Culture

Game for a challenge? Try out one of these incredibly difficult walks.

Wainstones, Lyke Wake Walk

These Yorkshire walks will push you to the limit with rocky terrain, tough climbs and feats of endurance.

Looking for more than just a gentle ramble? These incredibly difficult walks are all within an hour of Leeds, but they offer incredible views that make the drive worthwhile. Whether it’s difficult terrain or straight up feats of endurance, these walks showcase the best of God’s Own Country, while pushing you to the limit. Are you up for the challenge?

Rombalds Moor Circular

Credit: Simon Bowen licensed under Creative Commons for commercial use.

Tough climbs, boggy paths and rocky terrain make this 11.3-mile route around Rombalds Moor from Ilkley a tricky one, but it’s well worth persevering. You’ll see some of Yorkshire’s most treasured landmarks on your travails, from the Hebers Ghyll Woods and Swastika Stones to the Doubler Stone and Sunny Dale Reservoir. Take a break here to enjoy the views across Wharfedale before you head back into Ilkley.

Find out more about the Rombalds Moor Circular route.

Rawdon Billing

Billing Hill

Credit: Tim Green licensed for commercial use under creative commons.

A 2-mile walk around a Leeds suburb might not sound that challenging, but Rawdon Billing shouldn’t be underestimated with the old quarry providing challenging terrain and open spaces leaving you open to the elements. You’ll start your walk at the Jubilee Hall car park, taking in landmarks like Billing Dam, Larkfield Dam and Billing Hill. This is a perfect walk if you haven’t got loads of time on your hands but fancy taking on the outdoors.

Find out more about the Rawdon Billing route.

The Trans Pennine Trail

Bower Lake St Aidan's

Credit: David Botham

It’s one of the most famous walks in the UK, but we’re not suggesting you do the entire Trans Pennine Trail, at least, not in one go. The 14-mile Leeds to Wakefield section is worth a whole day of adventure, even if it’s tough-going. You’ll follow the rocky trail past Thwaite Mills Industrial Museum, the picturesque village of Methley and the natural beauty of St Aidan’s Nature Reserve before navigating the banks of the Aire-Calder Navigation on your way to Stanley Ferry Marina.

Find out more about the Trans Pennine Trail route.

Embsay Moor Circular

Embsay Crag

Credit: David Hodgson licensed under Creative Commons for commercial use.

This 9.6-mile trek takes you around the southern tip of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Get ready for big climbs up Cracoe Fell, Rylstone Fell and Hall Fell, as you make your way to landmarks like Rylstone Cross and Cracoe War Memorial. You’ll also take on boggy moorland as you head back to the start, passing the picturesque Upper and Lower Garden Reservoirs on your way. By the end, you’ll certainly deserve a pint and The Elm Tree Inn is the place to go.

Find out more about the Embsay Moor circular.

Pateley Bridge Circular

The fact that you start and end this walk at The Royal Oak pub in Dacre Banks (now reopen to walk-ins), will make the route around Pateley Bridge a little bit easier. This 12-mile walk takes in some incredible landmarks but it will also push you to the limit. You’ll pass through Nidderdale, heading over High Crag, Yorke Folly, Strikes Wood, Bewerley and Brimham Rocks, but it’s not just the length of the walk that makes it a toughie. The weather can cause it to be slippy underfoot, and the terrain switches from rocky to muddy and back again all the way through.

Find out more about the Pateley Bridge Circular route

Silsden Moor Circular

Skipton Moor

At 11.5-miles long with difficult terrain and steep climbs, the Silsden Moor Circular requires a big effort. You’ll head along Millennium Way from Addingham and take in the show-stopping views of Skipton, Rombald’s Moor and Ilkley in the distance. The tracks can be tough and boggy, but they’ll be worth it when you get close to the rocky outcrops at High Bradley, pause at the edge of Skipton Moor and visit stunning Chelker Reservoir before the end.

Find out more about The Silsden Moor Circular route.

Holme Valley Circular Walk

Castle Hill Iron Age Fort, Huddersfield

Copyright Jerzy Kociatkiewicz licensed under Creative Commons for commercial use.

This mammoth 24-mile trek around the stunning Holme Valley will see you walk through Holmfirth and Holmbridge, passing amazing reservoirs and woodland on the way – you’ll also traverse Thurstonland before visiting Castle Hill Iron Age Hill Fort, a Scheduled Ancient Monument. It should take around 11 hours to complete – but it’s not just the length of the walk that makes it a doozy, it’s the big ascents, which reach 1,100 feet in places. The views will be worth it though, as will that first pint in The Golden Fleece after your walk.

Find out more about the Holme Valley Circular route

Lyke Wake Walk


Copyright Nick Bramhall licensed under Creative Commons for commercial use.

When a walk is famous, it’s usually because it’s difficult – and that is certainly true of the Lyke Wake Walk. The 40-mile route across the North Yorkshire Moors is best split into manageable portions, but if you decided to do the 20-hour trek in a day, well, you wouldn’t be the only one. It takes bang on an hour to get to the start point at Osmotherly – from here you’ll have to deal with steep ascents, sections of peat bog and more often than not, bad weather, but you’ll be rewarded with beautiful moorland scenery and spectacular views. Keep an eye out for Cod Beck Reservoir, the Bronze Age Wainstones and North York Moors Railway as you go.

Find out more about the Lyke Wake Walk route.

The Leeds Country Way

Eccup Reservoir

Credit: Rich Tea licensed under Creative Commons for commercial use.

The Leeds Country Way is a 62-mile circular route around the outskirts of the city that takes in some of the biggest landmarks in Leeds. It’s got a bit of everything, from steep climbs to boggy ground and tough terrain. But don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be done in one day, you can split it up into four parts. Whether it’s the picturesque woodland of Barnbowl Wood, the historic ruins of Howley Hall or the breathtaking views across Eccup Reservoir, your effort will be well rewarded.

Find out more about The Leeds Country Way route.

Skipton to Malham

Gordale Scar Yorkshire

This 12-mile walk connects two of North Yorkshire’s most picturesque towns, Skipton and Malham, but it’s not for the faint-hearted. You’ll start with a big climb to Sharp Haw, where you can enjoy the views across the landscape, before you weave in and out of villages like Flasby and Hetton on your way to Winterburn Reservoir. See if you can spot Pendle Hill in the distance, then join The Dales High Way to reach the breathtaking Gordale Scar and intimate waterfall of Janet’s Foss.

Find out more about the Skipton to Malham route.

Cover image credit: Colin Gregory licensed under Creative Commons for commercial use.