12 of the best walks in Yorkshire holiday cottages

12 of the best walks in Yorkshire

Kate Atkin 26 April 2023

Windswept moorland, rambling hills, and golden coastlines; Yorkshire is a walking paradise. From the wild beauty of the Yorkshire Dales to the heather-filled realms of the North York Moors National Park, hikers are truly spoilt for choice when searching for walks in Yorkshire.

To make the decision slightly easier, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite Yorkshire walks, including leisurely valley rambles, dazzling waterfall wanders and challenging mountain treks.

Lace up your hiking boots and set out on a memorable Yorkshire adventure, and if you need a cosy cottage to return to afterwards, click the button below to browse our full collection of holiday cottages.

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Best walks in the Yorkshire Dales

Janet’s Foss, Gordale Scar and Malham Cove

Montage of Janet’s Foss, Gordale Scar and Malham Cove - waterfall, hiker and stream running through hills

One of the most popular Yorkshire Dales walks, this relatively easy loop takes in the three wonders of Janet’s Foss, Gordale Scar and Malham Cove. The route starts just south of the chocolate-box village of Malham, and leads walkers along the famous Pennine Way, before arriving at Janet’s Foss, an enchanting waterfall hidden away in a secluded wooded dell. Its deep turquoise plunge pool is a great spot for a wild swim and is shrouded in tales of fairies.

The walk then progresses towards the rocky ravine and the waterfalls of mighty Gordale Scar, before arriving at the colossal limestone amphitheatre of Malham Cove – as featured in Harry Potter. And, if you are lucky, you might catch sight of the peregrine falcons that frequent the area.

Starting point: Malham village post office

Distance: 4 miles

Difficulty: Easy/moderate

Stay nearby: Turret Cottage, Malham | Sleeps 6 + 2 dogs

Muker Meadows

Muker Meadows with track, stone building and blu sky

If you’re looking for one of the best summer walks in Yorkshire, then this moderately challenging hike should be at the top of your list. The Yorkshire Dales is well known for its colourful blankets of upland hay meadows, which are simply bursting with more than 100 varieties of wildflowers during the spring and summer months.

This seasonal spectacle is best observed in the Swaledale village of Muker where you can experience these rainbow fields and their wonderful scents on a 5-mile circular wander. A Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), these hay meadows are rich in species such as cat’s ear, wood crane’s bill, lady’s mantle, pignut and the lovely melancholy thistle.

Starting point: Muker pay and display car park

Distance: 5.2 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: Brookside – Muker, Muker | Sleeps 5 + 1 dog


Hiker heading up Pen-y-ghent and track heading up the hill

A Yorkshire Dales icon, Pen-y-ghent stands proudly over the village of Horton-in-Ribblesdale and is traditionally the first peak climbed by those undertaking the Three Peaks Challenge. At 694m high, it is the smallest of the trio and can be tackled as part of a 6-mile walk from the village.

Resembling the shape of a crouching lion, this mini mountain is one of the more challenging Yorkshire walks on our list, but the magnificent 360-degree views from the summit will reward you for your efforts. This route also includes the impressive Hunt and Hull Pots on the way down.

Starting point: Horton car park

Distance: 6 miles

Difficulty: Challenging

Stay nearby: 2 Railway Cottages, Horton-in-Ribblesdale | Sleeps 3 + 1 dog

Best walks in the North York Moors

May Beck and Falling Foss

Water falling into the pool at Falling Foss

This spectacular 2-mile waterfall walk in Yorkshire is a great choice for families. Short yet incredibly scenic, the route winds through leafy woodland and past the idyllic Falling Foss Tea Garden where you can stop for a quick cuppa and a slice of cake.

Refreshed and refuelled, you can continue to the highlight of the stroll, the 20m-high Falling Foss waterfall. Take in the extraordinary views and then return along the shallow waters of May Beck which are perfect for a little paddle in the summer or a fun game of Pooh sticks.

Starting point: Forestry England car park at May Beck

Distance: 2 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Stay nearby: Apple Barn, Fylingthorpe | Sleeps 6 + 2 dogs

Sutton Bank and the White Horse

Kilburn White Horse from the air

The undulating trail along Sutton Bank to the White Horse is one of the best North York Moors walks for awe-inspiring vistas. This incredible adventure navigates the steep valley slopes of Kilburn Woods to the most northerly turf-cut figure in Britain, and one of the most famous landmarks in North Yorkshire.

At 314ft long and covering approximately 1.6 acres, the Kilburn White Horse was created in 1857 – carved from the underlying limestone rock. The path is directly above, so you can’t see much of the horse itself, but the linear route along the Sutton Bank escarpment allows you to savour one of the finest views in England, across the Vale of Mowbray.

Starting point: Sutton Bank National Park Centre car park

Distance: 3.5 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: Tickleberry Cottage, Kilburn | Sleeps 2 + 2 dogs

Roseberry Topping and Captain Cook’s Monument

A scenic view of Roseberry Topping and Captain Cook’s Monument

Another top North Yorkshire walk for Insta-worthy views is the climb up Roseberry Topping. Follow in the footsteps of famed Yorkshire explorer, Captain James Cook, and conquer this 7-mile trail from the picture-postcard village of Great Ayton.

After ascending through woods and farmland, you’ll reach Captain Cook’s Monument, a striking 19th-century obelisk erected in the explorer’s honour. The path then continues to Roseberry Topping, nicknamed ‘Yorkshire’s Matterhorn’, which forms a significant pinnacle with rewarding views over the Cleveland plains on a sunny day.

Starting point: Great Ayton village green

Distance: 7.2 miles

Difficulty: Challenging

Stay nearby: The Willows - Great Ayton, near Great Ayton | Sleeps 4 + 2 dogs

Best Yorkshire coast walks

Staithes and Port Mulgrave

Montage of Staithes and Port Mulgrave - from above, up a flower-lined street and along the coast path

Enjoy some fresh sea air on one of our favourite coastal circular walks in Yorkshire. Starting in the atmospheric fishing village of Staithes, with its pastel-painted cottages, cobbled streets and winding alleys, you’ll follow the Cleveland Way National Trail for the first half of the 4-mile loop.

The path meanders along the clifftops until it reaches Port Mulgrave where you can pause and admire the views over the sheltered bay below, before returning to Staithes via an inland route across some fields and through lovely woodland.

Starting point: Staithes Harbour

Distance: 4 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Stay nearby: The Curious Crab – Staithes, Staithes | Sleeps 6 + 2 dogs

Whitby to Robin Hood’s Bay

Sun shining through ruins of Whitby Abbey and Robin Hood’s Bay from above

Beginning at the dramatic gothic ruins of Whitby Abbey, this Yorkshire coastal walk follows the path of the Cleveland Way National Trail south for 7 miles to Robin Hood’s Bay. It traverses towering cliffs that come alive with the sound of seabirds in spring and summer, and the ever-changing view of clifftops and sea will keep you in constant wonderment.

Along the way, you will pass Saltwick Bay, a prime spot for fossil hunting – if you’ve got time, it’s well worth having a little look along the shoreline for fossilised ammonites, reptiles and shells. There’s also a café just after the bay if you fancy a sweet treat. Once at Robin Hood’s Bay, you can explore the maze of narrow cobbled streets that were once a haven for smugglers, before catching a bus back to Whitby.

Starting point: Whitby Abbey

Distance: 7 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: Crooked Cottage, Whitby | Sleeps 4 + 1 dog

Bempton Cliffs to Flamborough

Montage of a variety of seabirds on Bempton Cliffs

Comprising the highest chalk cliffs in Britain, a famous lighthouse view and thousands of squawking seabirds circling their cliffside roosts below, this is one of the best walks in Yorkshire for nature lovers. The route begins at the RSPB’s Bempton Cliffs Nature Reserve, where half a million seabirds gather between March and October.

Before you set off on the cliff path, make the most of the viewing platforms where you can get fantastic views of guillemots, puffins and swooping gannets. Then, follow the trail to the promontory of Flamborough which is home to a couple of lighthouses and several glorious beaches. Seals and porpoises are commonly seen from the cliff tops, with reported sightings of basking sharks and whales lurking in the depths, too.

Starting point: RSPB Bempton Cliffs car park

Distance: 11.5 miles

Difficulty: Challenging

Stay nearby: North View – Flamborough, Flamborough | Sleeps 6 + 1 dog

More Yorkshire walks

Huggate and the Poetry Bench

Huggate countryside: tree in the middle of a green field and a yellow field

Not only is this one of the best walks in the Yorkshire Wolds, but it’s also one of the most unusual. Following the scenic route of the Yorkshire Wolds Way, the circular amble takes you to a very special ‘Secret Art’ location, where the famous Yorkshire poet Ian McMillan has recorded a poem unique to the setting. 

The Huggate Poetry Bench is located at the point where three different valleys meet, so you can enjoy picturesque views over Horse Dale, Holm Dale and Harper Dale as you take a breather on the sculpted wooden seat. Once you have listened to the poem via an app on your phone, you can head back towards Huggate, the highest village in the Yorkshire Wolds.

Starting point: Huggate village

Distance: 3.6 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Stay nearby: The Gate Lodge, Londesborough | Sleeps 4 + 2 dogs

Nidderdale Greenway

Nidd Gorge Viaduct towering above the water and buildings below

Passing wildflower meadows, wildlife-filled woodland and golden wheat fields, the 4-mile-long Nidderdale Greenway is a traffic-free walking and cycle trail that connects Harrogate with the pretty village of Ripley.

This former railway line makes for a relaxing wander, with a highlight being the seven-arch Nidd Gorge Viaduct, where you can soak up the mesmerising views over the dramatic ravine and the thick coniferous forest that spreads across the nearby hillside.

Starting point: Asda car park, Harrogate

Distance: 4.2 miles

Difficulty: Easy/moderate

Stay nearby: Colcote Cottage, Harrogate | Sleeps 4 + 2 dogs

Pateley Bridge Circular via Brimham Rocks

Brimham Rocks: a woman looks out at the countryside and a man stares up at a rock formation

Traversing woodland and farmland, the 9-mile Pateley Bridge Circular Trail features idyllic views and unique landmarks. After setting off from the charming market town of Pateley Bridge, you’ll eventually reach the outstanding geological formations known as Brimham Rocks.

These gigantic natural rock shapes were sculpted millions of years ago by ice, wind and rain, and are now in the care of the National Trust in Yorkshire. Explore the labyrinth of paths through this epic landscape at your leisure before heading back to Pateley Bridge via the peaceful Glasshouses Dam.

Starting point: Centre of Pateley Bridge at the river bridge

Distance: 9 miles

Difficulty: Moderate/challenging

Stay nearby: Blue Plain Dairy, Pateley Bridge | Sleeps 4

Plan your Yorkshire walking holiday

With so many wonderful walks in Yorkshire on offer, you’ll need a cosy cottage where you can shake off your hiking boots and relax in ultimate comfort after your adventures.

Our self-catering accommodation in Yorkshire is peppered throughout the coast and countryside, so you can guarantee you’ll find the perfect place to stay near one of these exciting trails. Just click the button below to browse our full collection of holiday cottages in Yorkshire.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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