The Best Yorkshire Walks For A Lockdown Catch-Up

A lot has happened over the last year and you’ll no doubt have tonnes of gossip to catch up on with missed loved ones. Granted, the topic has changed from scandalous workplace relationships to that new pair of joggers and how your workwear wardrobe is really coming together.

If we’ve learned anything, it’s that the small things are always worth celebrating and that time together is so precious. With restrictions easing, we can once again meet up with family and friends outside. Albeit still at a safe distance.

To celebrate this, Keighley born and bred business Fenetic Wellbeing had an idea. They realised that Yorkshire is home to many wonderful things. Most notably among them are its smiling people, indescribable views and the peace and quiet that the northern countryside offers.

Fenetic Wellbeing handpicked some of the most beautiful walks for you to enjoy. They did some calculations, giving you the perfect walk for a lockdown catch-up based on your time spent apart. If you’re sharing your most prized secret, the Betty Eastwood walk has trees tall enough to hide behind. If you want to be surrounded by nature without having to travel too far, the Leeds canal city walk offers exactly that.

All of the walks offer miles of open green space for children and dogs to run free in. You’ll find both rural and urban walks that are accessible for all.

So, if you haven’t seen your dad for 6 months, you’ll have plenty of time to catch up on a 5-mile walk. On every walk, you’ll witness scenery far more breath-taking than you’ll find on a Zoom screen.

With all of this right on our doorstep, it would be a shame not to witness it for yourselves.

Please continue to adhere to official government guidance and don’t travel out of your area until allowed to do so. Similarly, please continue to respect the safe social distancing rule wherever possible.

Deffer Wood, Barnsley

This fab circular walk is just amazing. At 4km, it is PERFECT for families and has pretty much everything you could want in a walk.

Starting and finishing at Cannon Hall Museum, Park and Gardens means you can enjoy their great facilities (including the café, toilets and play area). Additionally, on the route you pass farms and beautiful woodland, enjoy great views and get lots of opportunities for exploring. There are a number of stiles and footpaths across uneven surfaces on this route.

Click here to see the route description. Muddy Boots Mummy is a website that shares lots of ideas for family walks and days out to enjoy the Great Outdoors around Yorkshire and beyond. To see more of my favourite walks for families which are less than 5km in length, click here.

Inclusive Walks with Experience Community

Born and bred in South Leeds, I grew up spending my holidays and spare time exploring Yorkshire. You could find me on an annual summer holiday to Scarborough or spending a few days walking in the Yorkshire Dales or North York Moors. Once, with the 4th Gildersome Scout Group, I even hiked from Kettlewell, up Great Whernside to Hag Dyke in snow drifts, carrying all of my bedding and kit for the weekend. Walking was in my veins, but what happens when all that changes?

A Mountain Trike user on Great Whernside in the Yorkshire Dales.
Years later, part way up Great Whernside using a Mountain Trike All-Terrain Wheelchair.

Back in the mid-1990s, I was pursuing my passion for the outdoors and conservation by studying a degree in geography and environmental science. My plan was firstly to study otters for a few months as a volunteer in the Czech Republic. Next, I would continue onto a Masters in National Park Management at Aberystwyth University. Unfortunately, my plans didn’t come to fruition: an accident left me paralysed from the chest down and a wheelchair user. I couldn’t continue on my chosen career path, with access to conservation opportunities now closed off to me.

14 years later and after living, working and travelling throughout Europe and Central America, I returned to Yorkshire. With a wealth of experience of working in the inclusive travel industry, I wanted a new challenge. I decided I wanted to help other people like me enjoy the great outdoors. More than just thinking of a one-off adventure, I envisaged something you could do on a weekly or monthly basis.

And so, I established Experience Community with the aim of building a community of disabled people who, along with their families and friends, wanted to share the experience of being in the great outdoors. It’s now almost 10 years since Experience Community was established and I’m proud that we’ve been asked to partner up with #Walkshire to share our knowledge of some of the best walks in Yorkshire for people with disabilities.

A wheelchair user on the Calder Hebble Canal.
Checking a route on the Calder Hebble Canal.

Many of my favourite places to roam are in the Yorkshire Dales. Above all, Nidderdale, Scar House and Grimwith Reservoirs come springing to mind. The Colne Valley, in the South Pennines just west of Huddersfield where I live, is always close to my heart. It’s amazing what you can find right there on your doorstep.

A group of people using Mountain Trike All-Terrain Wheelchairs at Yorkshire Water's Grimwith Reservoir.
An Experience Community Mountain Trike Ramble at Yorkshire Water’s Grimwith Reservoir.

In the spring, I like to get out to woodlands to spot the bluebells and smell the wild garlic. In summer, I explore the more hilly and remote trails and in autumn I head to fungi hotspots as their colour and form fascinate me. When winter arrives, I prefer managed sites like Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and RSPB reserves and reservoirs that are more wheelchair-friendly. There’s plenty of overwintering birdlife to see: the Aire Valley is particularly great at this time of year.

A wheelchair user taking a photo of fungi with a  mobile phone.
Natural England’s Humberhead Peatlands National Nature Reserve is a great place for wheelchair users to go fungi spotting in autumn.

If you have a disability and would like to share your favourite walk with me, please do get in touch via email on info@experiencecommunity.co.uk or through our social media networks.

park in the sunshine grass flowers

Valley Gardens, Harrogate to RHS Harlow Carr

One of the most popular walks in Harrogate takes you from the Royal Pump Room Museum to RHS Harlow Carr. The draw is twofold. Firstly, flower lovers will delight in the majestic Valley Gardens, with their seasonal displays of colourful blooms, as well as the 58-acre showcase of RHS splendour to be found at Harlow Carr. Secondly, the walk features a Betty’s Tea Room and Café at each end and we know of no other walk that makes this delicious claim!

Bettys café and tea room in Harrogate
The iconic Bettys Café and Tea Rooms in Harrogate

Before you start your walk, make sure to visit Bettys on Parliament Street in Harrogate, if only to gaze upon the incredible treats in the sumptuous window displays. From there, head down the hill past the Turkish Baths and the Winter Gardens building. From the traffic lights at the bottom of the hill, you’ll see the Royal Hall diagonally to your right. Take a left and pop into the Tourist Information Office. Here you can pick up a map for this route which includes a discount for entrance to RHS Harlow Carr. Ahead, you’ll find the Royal Pump Room Museum. Here, you can discover the history of the spa town, learning how the Victorian gentry took in the strongest sulphur waters in Europe.

From the Royal Pump Room Museum, use the pedestrian crossing to enter Valley Gardens. Here the walk begins in earnest, at the main entrance to 17 acres of award-winning English Heritage Grade II-listed parkland. You can explore immaculate floral displays and intriguing themed gardens, while the park also features a children’s play area and sporting activities.

Of the three paths in front of you, take the left hand option and walk alongside the stream. We stopped several times to watch ducks in the water and squirrels racing up the trees to our right.

You’ll soon reach the Magnesia Well café serving refreshments inside and out. You could even treat yourself to an ice cream to take with you on your walk. Check out the circular feature where the pathways meet- this area is known as Bogs Field and contains several capped wells. You can find a total of 36 mineral wells within Valley Gardens.

flowers and grass in the park. people sat outside having drinks and snacks. sunshine café
The Magnesia Well Café in Valley Gardens, Harrogate

To explore the gardens further, you can wander through the Japanese Garden, visit the play park or even enjoy a game of pitch and putt. Whatever you choose to do, just return to this circular meeting of paths to continue the walk.

Japanese ornament, path and trees with red branches in a Japanese style park
The Japanese Garden in Valley Gardens

From here, roughly opposite the path that brought you to the Magnesia Well, you’ll find a bench-lined path passing the tennis courts with a grassed area to your left. This part of the walk is slightly uphill. At the fork of the paths, follow the right hand dirt path into the pine woods.

path leading into pine woods information board
Track into the pine woods

Now all you need to do is follow this one path towards the west. Look out for an abundance of wildlife amongst the trees. Keep any dogs and young children close to you as you’ll need to cross a road en route.

A small brown dog running towards the camera along a path through a woods

Approximately 10 minutes after crossing the road, you’ll reach an information point with binoculars offering panoramic views of the countryside. To the other side of the path, a feeding station brings a wide a variety of birds into close range. Once you’ve enjoyed this special spot, you’re on the home straight. Your destination of RHS Harlow Carr is now within sight, with its stunning gardens, beautifully stocked garden centre and homeware shop. There’s also, of course, another Betty’s Tea Room.

Manicured lawns and stunning flowerbeds blue sky
RHS Harlow Carr

www.visitharrogate.co.uk/

Boston Spa and the River Wharfe

This is my favourite daily walk- you can see me jumping for joy even though I get to do it pretty much every day at the moment!

As you travel through the village of Boston Spa towards Newton Kyme, you’ll find the entry to the spa baths walk on your left just as the shops start to disappear. If you look closely, you can see the original spa baths sign engraved into the wall here.

Following this path through the middle of some lovely houses, you’ll reach a hill descending towards the site of the original baths.

Still jumping for joy as Daddy gets ready to release my ball- my favourite thing ever!!

As you travel down the hill (chasing the ball in Merlin’s case!), you can either continue straight ahead towards Newton Kyme or make a sharp left towards our river walk. The river is down a sloped bank and as you walk along, you’ll spot the bridge below in the distance, with its beautiful arches.

This is my favourite kind of peril- dropping my ball down a slope and chasing it- then crying for Daddy to rescue me!!

As you pass under the bridge (which has great echoes by the way!), you’ll arrive at Merlin’s daily ball chasing patch. He enjoys running the length of it and skidding through the mud to grab his ball!

Muddy tongue out, Tuesday post-ball chasing

From here, the path to the right leads to a great swimming spot. It’s always a joy to watch Merlin dive in for his ball- he’s such a strong swimmer. It’s far enough away from the weir to avoid the drift, while the reflection in the still river is glorious with a bright blue sky above.

Continuing with the river on your right, you’ll reach a narrow path, from which you can spot Stick Man in the river on a low water day. The steps leading upwards are breath-taking for another reason: you’ll need to prepare yourself for the climb (and watch out for flying chocolate Labradors rushing back down again in pursuit of the ball)!

At the top of the climb, turn left to complete this circular walk and you’ll see a relatively new housing estate on the right. The fields and grounds around the estate are a great place for a picnic, sledging session, coffee stop and of course another ball throwing session!

There is a lovely bug hotel here too to check out, built by local joiner Tom Brothwell. You can see the beautiful church from here as well.

merlin the chocolate wizard
Hello!! Anyone home?

As you go back into the woods, head right down some much more gradual steps and back to the ball throwing open space. You can turn to the right just before or just after this to enter the gorgeous village of Boston Spa. Here you’ll find some lovely coffee and gift shops, as well as a few bars and restaurants for a lunch or tea stop (when we’re out of lockdown!).

Try Harts for the best ice cream sundaes, tiffin and hot chocolates on the block (their hatch is open throughout lockdown!).

It’s a great end to a lovely walk and even Merlin gets the last bits – yum!

harts coffee shop boston spa
puppy eating ice cream
The pure bliss of an ice cream treat!

Read more about Merlin on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/merlinthechocolatewizard/