On foot is one of the best ways to explore Yorkshire’s varied landscapes, stunning scenery, historical sites and legendary landmarks. Whether you’re out for a stroll, a hike or picking up the pace with a fell run or adventure race, here are four fantastic walks to get you started.
Langsett Reservoir and Midhope Moor
This 3-5 mile walk is a fairly sedate affair most of the year, and come winter it offers a manageable way to experience Yorkshire moorland at its most stark and beautiful. The walk starts and ends in coniferous woods at the north end of the reservoir but then it skirts the edge of Midhope Moor, allowing you uninterrupted views of the moors and back toward the reservoir. If you’re lucky enough to catch some snow, the moors become startlingly beautiful landscapes. What look like standing stones are in fact the ruins of an old farmhouse used for target practice by US troops in the Second World War. You can expect to see grouse, treecreepers, woodpeckers and owls braving the winter weather.
Start: Langsett Barn Car Park
Hardcastle Crags and Calderdale
A fairly easy 5-mile walk around the best of the Calderdale countryside. This circular trail will take you along unspoilt riversides and tumbling streams, through lush green woods, past mills and other remnants of the area’s industrial past. The geology, too, is fascinating, with the pretty lined pattern of the millstone grit which gives Hardcastle Crags its name and disused quarries offering up fossils, particularly along the river banks. Expect to see dippers, herons, woodpecker, jay and nuthatch. You should spot dragon flies hovering above the ponds and in late spring you’ll find carpets of bluebells and wild garlic under the huge beech trees. All the sights, sounds and smells of the English countryside – a true sensorial delight.
Start: Hardcastle Crags, nr Hebden Bridge
Bempton Cliffs and Buckton
This cliff top walk along the East Yorkshire coast is one of the best in the country, shared with England’s largest seabird colony. In summer, the cliffs are home to over 200,000 indigenous and visiting birds including kittiwakes, razorbills, fulmars and short-eared owls but the real stars are the puffins. This is a relatively gentle 4-mile circular walk from the car park at the RSPB reserve in Bempton. It skirts the chalk cliffs that run for four miles along the Yorkshire coast just north of Bridlington. From the cliffs you move inland, over stiles, gates, paths and fields to the small, unspoilt neighbouring villages of Bempton and Buckton for a refuel before turning back towards the cliffs and heading for home.
Start: RSPB Bempton Cliffs
Snaizeholme Red Squirrel Trail
A slightly tougher 9-mile linear walk through moorland, woods and a conifer plantation, south-west of Hawes in Wensleydale, but well worth the effort. Why? Because it leads to a colony of red squirrels, one of only 16 areas in the UK dedicated to preserving the red squirrel in its natural habitat. You’ll be able to see the squirrel all year round but autumn is when they are at their most active as they gather nuts and prepare their
drays for winter. There is a specially created viewing area, which gives you the best opportunity to spot the squirrels and take photos, but be aware that elsewhere, this route can be difficult to traverse in wet conditions.
Start: Dales Countryside Museum, Hawes