Winter’s here, but don’t stay inside – Yorkshire is full of amazing walks that will make going out in the cold well worthwhile.
Waterproofs on, wellies at the ready – it’s time to go on a winter walk across Yorkshire. God’s Own Country comes alive at this time of year, with snowy hilltops, frozen lakes and misty vistas. Not only can you see Yorkshire at its most beautiful, but it’s the perfect excuse to stop for a cuppa or pint in one of the region’s finest cafes and pubs.
Whernside and Ribblehead
If you’re looking for a challenging winter walk, Whernside will definitely do the job – this is a journey up and down the highest of Yorkshire’s three peaks. It’s a 9-mile route with a climb of 513 metres, so it’s quite the jaunt, offering up dramatic views of the snow-covered Yorkshire Dales National Park.
You start at Dent Station, which is actually just across the border in Cumbria. From here, you’ll pass by the quaint village of Cowgill, where The Sportsman’s Inn is a great spot for lunch. You can soak up incredible vistas across Dentdale as you head along the Dales Way, then Hagg Worm Haw will take you right to the top of Whernside peak – this is the perfect place to pause to take it all in. The best is yet to come though, as you pass through the impressive Ribblehead Viaduct, and finish at The Station Inn after 6 hours. Why not warm up with a drink and a bite to eat before you get the train back to Dent Station?
The walk starts at Dent Station, Sedbergh, Cumbria, LA10 5RF, OS Reference – SD 76057 86987.
The Haworth Circular
Think of the name Brontë and it conjures up images of wild, wintery countryside beaten by whirling winds. So what better time of year to explore Haworth than in winter? The area is now known as Brontë Country as it inspired much of the family’s work, and you can see some of its biggest landmarks on this 7-mile route.
Start at St Michael & All Angels Church and pick up The Brontë Way, which leads you through Penistone Hill Country Park. Along the way, you’ll pass flowing becks and crisp moorland on your way to the Brontë Waterfall. Once you’ve taken in the sights, walk across to Top Withens, a ruined farmhouse which acted as the inspiration for Wuthering Heights, and over to Lower Laithe Reservoir on the path back into Haworth. Take the chance to pop into the Haworth Steam Brewing Co. bar before you leave the village.
The walk starts at St Michael & All Angels Church, Haworth, West Yorkshire, BD22 0HB, OS Reference – SE 00925 37050.
The Railway Trail at Hardcastle Crags
Lose yourself in the stunning frost-tipped valleys around Hebden Bridge with The Railway Trail this winter. It’s a leisurely 3-mile walk that won’t take more than 2 hours, which makes it a great choice for families. And those riverside views are something else in the winter months.
You’ll kick off your walk at Gibson Mill, before taking a stroll towards Hardcastle Crags as you follow Hebden Beck. You’ll come to the ruins of the Hell Hole Quarry on your way – don’t worry it’s not as devilish as it sounds. Your halfway point is when you see the remaining stone stanchions of the long-gone wooden trestle railway bridge, and you come back through Walshaw Wood, which is home to all kinds of wildlife – bring your binoculars. You’ll come full circle, so pop into the Gibson Mill for a warming brew before you head back home.
The walk starts at Gibson Mill, Hollin Hall, Midgehole Road, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, HX7 7AP, OS Reference – SD 98318 29563.
The Malham Tarn Circular
If you’re looking for a long but easy winter ramble through the Yorkshire Dales, this is the one to go for. The 11.5-mile route takes you around Malham Tarn and the valley of Littondale, complete with snow-covered hills and picturesque views across the countryside.
You’ll start at Street Gate, just around the corner from Malham Tarn. Walk away from the lake along the limestone tracks before dropping down alongside Cote Gill towards Littondale. Take in the incredible scenery across Hawkswick Clowden before you make your way to Arncliffe, where you’ll find The Arncliffe Arms – it’s the perfect place to break off for a well-deserved pint. Join the Monks Road footpath as you head back to the start, stopping at Lee Gate, the high point of your journey, where the snowy hills will come into focus around you. You’ll finish the walk by passing the historic Middle Close Farm and then take a turn around the Tarn itself, England’s highest freshwater lake.
The walk starts at Street Gate, Waterhouses, Settle, North Yorkshire, BD24 9PT, OS Reference – SD 89306 66688.
Yorkshire Coast Circular
There’s something rather special about a bracing circular walk up the Yorkshire coast in the middle of winter – which is why you should make a beeline for Saltburn-by-the-Sea. It’s a 4.5-mile walk that’s packed full of scenery, landmarks and wildlife you’ll only see at this time of year.
Kick things off in the heart of Old Saltburn, on the pier overlooking the beach. Make sure you’re layered up because it gets very windy, but it’s really rewarding. You’ll get to walk along the Cleveland Way, keeping an eye out for winter wildflowers, rarely-seen seals and Richard Farrington’s Charm Bracelet sculpture. After you get to the Guibal Fan House, a concrete monument to the area’s industrial past, you’ll reach Warsett Hill, where you can take in the breathtaking vista. Make your way back to town after your 2-hour walk, where The Ship Inn will have the fire going ready to warm you up.
The walk starts at Saltburn Pier, Marine Parade, Saltburn-by-the-Sea, North Yorkshire, TS12 1BY, OS Reference – NZ 66591 21636.
The Yorkshire Matterhorn
Dappled woodlands and heather moorland combine to create a beautiful, wintery spectacle on this 7-mile walk around The Yorkshire Matterhorn – and it’s an absolute must during winter. Expect major landmarks and impressive views, but be warned, there’s a big climb ahead of you.
You’ll start in the quaint village of Great Ayton and take Newton Road to the single track that takes you through the fields and up the steep ascent to the star attraction of this walk, Roseberry Topping. You’ll enjoy incredible views in every direction, so take a moment to look out over the frosty, sometimes snowy, valleys below. Back on the path, you’ll cross Great Ayton Moor to reach the Captain Cook Monument, a homage to the iconic explorer, before you head back to Great Ayton and into The Royal Oak pub for well-deserved refreshments.
The walks starts at High Green Car Park, Great Ayton, North Yorkshire, TS9 6BJ, OS Reference – NZ 56244 10611.
Raydale and Semer Water
Raydale is something of a hidden gem and it doesn’t get talked about nearly enough, perhaps because of how close it his to its famous neighbour, Wensleydale. At around 9 miles long, this walk is an all-day job and one for the more experienced rambler, but it’s well worth it. There’s lots to see along the way, from lakes to Roman roads and snowy moors that really come to life at this time of year.
You’ll start in the village of Bainbridge, and follow the paths up to Worton Pasture with incredible views of the valley surrounding the River Bain. This will lead you to the largest freshwater lake in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, Semer Water. It’s the perfect place to stop and enjoy a mug of tea from your flask, before you head along to the peace and quiet of Raydale, where you can stop for lunch at Raydale Preserves in Stalling Busk. Cross the moors at Wether Fell, with more beautiful vistas, and join the well-preserved Roman Road which takes you back to Bainbridge. You could even stop for a pint in The Rose and Crown for a few winter warmers.
This walk starts at School Hill, Bainbridge, Leyburn, North Yorkshire, DL8 3EH, OS Reference – SD 93428 90074.
Keld and Ravenseat Circular
This 9.5-mile trek across the edge of Swaledale in the Yorkshire Dales brings together beautiful wintery scenery and the highest pub in Great Britain. It kicks off at the famous Tan Hill Inn, which sits 528 metres above sea level and dates back to the 17th century.
Leaving the pub behind for now, you’ll take the moorland road to Nine Standards Rigg, a row of cairns on the edge of an escarpment near Hartley’s Fell. Stop to take in the view below, before you head into the picture-perfect valley along the Pennine Way to the River Swale. You’ll get to see the stunning Keld Waterfalls before passing Ravenseat Farm, which doubles as a cafe for walkers to come in and take a break. Get on the Coast-to-Coast footpath before you return to the beginning – The Tan Hill Inn is a bucket list venue, an isolated watering hole surrounded by snowy moors, you can even stay the night if you can’t bear to leave the views behind.
The walk starts at The Tan Hill Inn, Long Causeway, Richmond, North Yorkshire, DL11 6ED, OS Reference – NY 89702 06699.
Baildon to Ilkley
These two Yorkshire towns are connected by some of the finest countryside Yorkshire has to offer and it’s a revelation during winter. This route is just under 8 miles long, so it should take you four hours from start to finish, but you might want to leave a little more time, as we’ve got a few stops along the way that you won’t want to miss.
Kick things off at Baildon’s Potted Meat Stick landmark and head past the golf course and Faweather Grange to Hawksworth Moor. From here, you’ll be able to see across Wharfedale and over to Otley Chevin, as you join the Ebor Way which leads to The Cow and Calf pub. This is the ideal place for a mid-walk pit stop before you head over to the Stanza Stone and Poetry Seat. You’ll take on the scenic route into Ilkley where you can recuperate in The Flying Duck, or if you fancy really treating yourself, head to Ilkley Park for the Christmas Tepees where you can indulge in mulled wine, beers and festive-themed cocktails until 22nd December each year. Then it’s a quick train back to Baildon or straight back to Leeds.
The walk starts at the Potted Meat Stick, Northgate, Baildon, Shipley, West Yorkshire, BD17 6LX, OS Reference – SE 15513 39706.
Hutton-le-Hole and Lastingham Circular
Go for a leisurely winter 4.5-mile ramble that brings the beauty of the North York Moors together with a duo of idyllic villages. Expect a combination of quiet fields, country lanes and moorland tracks that frame incredibly pretty big sky views and snow-covered scenery.
Start in Hutton-le-Hole and head east on the broad grassy paths that lead you through a charming little wood before crossing the moorland path to the historic Mary Magdalene Well on the outskirts of Lastingham. Once you’re in the village, you can visit St Mary’s Church, which is home to a beautiful crypt that dates back to 1078, before stopping for a break in The Blacksmiths Arms. From here, head back to the start along the Spaunton escarpment where the views open up once more. Before you leave Hutton-le-Hole, take the time to go for a walk around the open-air Ryedale Folk Museum, which is next door to The Crown Inn pub.
The walk starts at Hutton-le-Hole car park, North Yorkshire, YO62 6UB, OS Reference – SE 70405 90187.Feature image copyright Neil Turner licensed for commercial use under Creative Commons.