The best autumn walks to enjoy in Yorkshire

27th September 2021

Best autumn walks in Yorkshire

Yorkshire is home to some beautiful scenery and whether you fancy a gentle stroll or a refreshing hike, you can enjoy the county’s stunning landscapes via its different walking routes.

Each season transforms the countryside of Yorkshire and in autumn you can walk beneath colourful leaves in woodland areas, across rugged moorland or along its picturesque coastline.

Now that autumn has arrived, in this guide, we take you through some of the best autumn walks in Yorkshire and what you can see on each route.

The best autumn walks in Yorkshire

•Leyburn Shawl via Preston-Under-Scar to Wensley

•Cleveland Way

•The Five Rise Locks in Bingley to Saltaire

•Grosmont to Goathland Rail Trail

•York Walls

•Bolton Abbey walk

•Richmond circular walk

Leyburn Shawl via Preston-Under-Scar to Wensley

Length of walk: approx. 6 miles

Leyburn Shawl

If you’re staying at one of the beautiful Scarborough hotels, then a walk you can enjoy in North Yorkshire is from Leyburn Shawl via Preston-Under-Scar to Wensley.

This route has a bit of everything as you can enjoy stunning views of the surrounding countryside, is a great place to spot nature and it takes you through the attractive Yorkshire villages of Preston-Under-Scar and Wensley.

Nat Johnson, who is the writer behind the Girl About North Yorkshire blog and is part of the Girl About squad, told us a bit more about this route.

“Starting at Leyburn Shawl walking along its limestone ridge with magnificent views over Pen Hill and rolling Wensleydale. Taking you over fields, streams, and through woodlands. It is the perfect place to see autumn in all its glory.

“If you love your birds, this is the perfect walk. We often see barn owls and buzzards in flight, which is such an amazing sight.

“You could even have a little pit stop at the lovely country pub The Three Horseshoes, they do great food and a tasty cider!”

Fun Fact: Legend has it that ‘The Shawl’ got its name because Mary Queen of Scots who was imprisoned at Castle Bolton (around 6 miles from Leyburn) managed to escape and fled along the woodland, she caught her shawl on a branch, revealing to the soldiers that she had passed this way.

Cleveland Way

Length of walk: approx. 2.5 miles

Cleveland Way

This walk along Cleveland Way is a circular walk from Sutton bank via Gormire Lake and it boasts one of the best views that Yorkshire has to offer.

Whilst the walk is relatively short and the start of the route is easy, there are some steep sections around Gormire Lake, but these parts of the trail don’t last for very long and they are not too strenuous.

Stuart Hodgson, the writer behind the Hiking Photographer blog, tells us why he loves walking this route during the autumn months.

“There are many great walks all over Yorkshire - but if I were to recommend one for an autumnal walk then it would have to entail the beautiful autumnal tree colours, have stunning elevated views as far as the eye can see and have excellent accessibility, with various routes to extend it to suit the more able and fitter walkers.

“So, the walk I would recommend, which simply has everything, including views of an ancient glacial lake, is the walk north along the flat Cleveland Way path from the car park at the top of Sutton Bank where you will get some stunning views of Gormire Lake, Whitestone Cliff and the surrounding woods. The path is quite flat from the elevated car park along this little section of the Cleveland Way so very accessible and you could just walk to the viewpoint and back again if you are not the most mobile! I chose to descend down towards Gormire Lake via South Work and visit this sheltered and very peaceful ancient glacial lake and then head back up the bank to the start.”

Fun Fact: In total, the Cleveland Way National Trail is 109 miles long and was the second recognised National Trail in England and Wales.

READ MORE: The best coastal walks in Yorkshire

The Five Rise Locks in Bingley to Saltaire

Length of walk: approx. 3 miles

Saltaire

One of the best autumn walks in West Yorkshire is from the Five Rise Locks in Bingley to Saltaire along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

The route has a bit of everything as you can visit a world heritage site, there are lots of cafes and eateries to stop at and you can enjoy the surrounding landscapes.

Caroline Towers, who is Girl About West Yorkshire, tells us why this walk is her favourite to do in the autumn.

“A favourite autumn walk is along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. I love to see how the trees which line the canal change with the seasons and you adjust the distance to suit you. I like to walk from The Five Rise Locks in Bingley to the World Heritage Site of Saltaire which takes just over an hour. There are lots of pubs and cafes to stop for a break in the iconic Saltaire village. 

“Once rested you can then walk back towards Bingley, stopping at The Fisherman's Pub at Wagon Lane. Along the canal you walk further, I have walked from Bingley to Leeds which is 17 miles (but then I got the train home).”

Fun Fact: Saltaire Village was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2001.

Grosmont to Goathland Rail Trail

Length of walk: approx. 3.6 miles

Goathland Rail Trail

One walk that is close to accommodation and hotels in the Robin Hoods Bay area is the Goathland and Grosmont Rail Path near Whitby. The route is suitable for walkers of all fitness levels and what makes it unique is the fact that you can actually go on a train as part of the trail. You can even go on a steam train if you check which days they are running.

This Yorkshire walk is highly recommended by Rachel from the Muddy Boots Mummy blog and she told us why she loves this particular trail.

“Families with young children will love the Grosmont to Goathland Rail Trail. Climb aboard the North Yorkshire Moor Railway at Goathland station (the setting of Hogsmeade station in Harry Potter) to the next stop at Grosmont and enjoy the lovely walk along the original rail line back. Our train mad toddler LOVED it.

“The walk is 3.6 miles and is really well signposted. You should be able to use a pushchair the full route although leaving Grosmont does get a little steep! After that, the path is wide and pretty flat, great for little legs to have a run-around! You can also detour to visit the sweet shop in Beck Hole on the way to give you the energy to get up the last little incline. Finish in Goathland, best known as Aidensfield from the popular TV series Heartbeat.”

Fun Fact: As well as being featured in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and ITV drama Heartbeat, Goathland Railway Station has also featured in the BBC series All Creatures Great and Small and the 2005 British film Keeping Mum.

READ MORE: How to best spend Christmas in Yorkshire

York Walls

Length of walk: approx. 2 miles

York Walls

The York Walls or ‘Bar Walls’ as they are also known as date back to medieval times and they encircle the historic city of York.

They are the longest town walls in England and this elevated walk around the city offers up some stunning views of York. The route will give you a great insight into the history of the city as you can learn about how the walls were built and find out where the old moat was located.

Laura Shepherd, the writer behind Girl About York, tells us why she highly recommends you visit York and walk on the city walls when holidaying in Yorkshire.

“York City Walls are the best remaining medieval town walls in England and offer a splendid, elevated view of the city. Whether you visit in spring, summer, autumn or winter you will always enjoy some of the best views of York. Once the autumn leaves burst into colour around the city, I particularly love the section behind Gray’s Court Hotel and York Minster.

“If you’re visiting York a walk around the walls is one of my top things to do for families – and it is free too. As the walls aren’t intact you can always stop off in the city on your way around. Enjoy seeing the sights of York from a different perspective. The walls are 2 miles long and typically takes around 2 hours to complete.”

Fun Fact: The wall encircles an area of 263 acres, that’s over 130 football pitches.

READ MORE: Discover the history in the city of York

Bolton Abbey walk

Length of walk: approx. 2 miles

Bolton Abbey walk

Image credit:  Little Miss Yorkshire

Bolton Abbey is the perfect destination to enjoy the great outdoors on a family day-out and it is also a walkers paradise. You can wander across the moors or along woodland and riverside trails and can then enjoy some well-earnt afternoon tea.

Gemm, who is born and bred in Yorkshire and runs the Little Miss Yorkshire blog, says her favourite walk in autumn is on the grounds of Bolton Abbey.

“My all-time favourite autumnal walk has to be Bolton Abbey, walking from the Cavendish up through Strid Wood.

“Bolton Abbey in the Yorkshire Dales is a private estate with an abundance of stunning walks to enjoy but this one tops them all.

“The route is accessible for all as there is a wide, flat, well-stoned path which is suitable for prams and wheelchairs. The route is a linear route, 1 mile in each direction.

“The path follows the River Wharfe upstream to the famous Strid. This natural narrowing of the rocks causes the water to force through at high velocity. The area is a fascinating yet dangerous place so don’t get too close to the edge.

“The trees surrounding the path really come alive at this time of year and the colours are simply beautiful. For little ones, there is an annual Halloween walk too with scary props placed along the route.

“The walk can be extended to Barden Bridge and then return on the other side if you wanted a longer walk, but this section is not as accessible.

“No autumnal walk would be complete without a hot chocolate which can be bought at the Cavendish Pavilion next to the riverside car park.”

Fun Fact: In 1810 the 6th Duke of Devonshire and the Rev. William Carr opened Strid Wood and invited the public to walk the paths they created.

Richmond circular walk

Length of walk: approx. 5 miles

Easby Abbey

This picturesque walk starts at the historic market town of Richmond and then leads you down towards the River Swale until you get to the ruins of Easby Abbey, one of the best-preserved monasteries of the Premonstratensian 'white canons'.

Nat Johnson from Girl About North Yorkshire recommends walking this route during autumn. She said: “I love this walk particularly in autumn when the air is crisp, the sun is golden, and the trees are cinnamon dipped. Walking along the River Swale is peace itself, being able to watch the fast-flowing rapids and waterfalls just adds to the ambience.”

Fun Fact: The parish church, which is still in use and is in the surrounding area of Easby Abbey, contains rare 13th century wall paintings.

These are just some of the beautiful walks that you can enjoy in Yorkshire in autumn and each one has its own unique characteristic. For more articles like this, then take a look at our blog here.