Top 5 Walks in North Yorkshire

24 January 2018

The Stray - Harrogate

Here in Harrogate we are blessed to be surrounded by 200 acres of unspoilt grassland. The Stray covers a large part of Harrogate old town and this fabulous area is used by walkers, amateur football teams, runners, kite flyers and those who just enjoy a good picnic at any time of year.  The central location means you are never more than a stone’s throw away from Harrogate’s wonderful selection of cafes, bars and restaurants so after a brisk stroll across the Stray why not pop into one of the local hostelries for an indulgent hot chocolate or a glass of wine. Here's a map to give you a guide.

Swinsty and Fewton Reservoirs

If you would like to venture a bit further afield Fewston and Swinsty Reservoirs are just a short drive from central Harrogate. Nestled in the Washburn Valley this stunning site is managed by Yorkshire Water and no matter what time of the year the views are simply spectacular. The Reservoirs can be explored individually but can also be combined to offer an 8-mile circular route that is well pathed and relatively flat. There is an abundance of wildlife to watch, including an amusing family of vocal Canadian Geese. The established woodland surrounding the reservoirs provides a perfect backdrop and the result is a walk that never fails to disappoint. With good car parking and a quaint tearoom at the nearby Wasburn Heritage Centre Swinsty and Fewston are an absolute must.

The Harrogate Ringway

For those who are looking for a more challenging walk the Harrogate Ringway ticks all the boxes. It is a strenuous 20 miles walk which takes in becks, rivers, viaducts, woodland and pretty country trials. The walk starts on the Otley Road near Harlow Carr Gardens. Along the well sign posted route you will experience sites such as the beautiful River Nidd, the impressive Knaresborough Viaduct and the magical Oak Beck. The circular route will eventually bring you back to the start where a well-deserved famous Fat Rascal and pot of tea from Bettys, Harlow Carr might be just what you need.  If you feel 20 miles may be a bit too much the walk can be divided into shorter sections at various points along the way so well worth a visit even if you don’t have 8 – 10 hours to spare! Click here for a map.

The Seven Bridges Valley Walk, Fountains Abbey

Studley Royal and Fountains Abbey is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is now managed by the National Trust and it is most definitely worth a visit any time of the year. The Seven Bridges Valley Walk is a delightful, easy walk which allows you to experience the wilder side of the stunning Fountains Abbey Estate. Starting at the Lake outfall, this 3.8-mile walk follows the winding Skell river along a steep-sided valley and across a series of delightful arched bridges, of which only five remain.  The route takes you past one of the stunning ornamental lakes, through the deer park and provides a breathtaking, elevated view of this great Cistercian monastery. 

Valley Gardens and The Pinewoods

Starting from the Harlow Carr car park in Crag Lane this short but pleasant walk takes you through the Pinewoods, a picturesque woodland area of 96 acres with stunning views across Nidderdale.  A vast array of species can be found in the woods including Whitebeam, Yew, Hawthorn and Spruce. The walk then continues across Harlow Moor Road and eventually merges with the Valley Gardens, a fabulous park where there is always something going on such as the highly entertaining, annual Street Food Festival.  The Valley Gardens are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and with many different areas and garden styles make a relaxing and captivating place to explore.  As well as being a gem of a walk a wide variety of outdoor activities can be enjoyed such as tennis, pitch & putt golf, crazy golf, the boating pool, paddling pool and a children's play area, so one for all the family. See a map here.