Walking in York - The Best Walks in York and Beyond
With stunning landscapes, beautiful gardens and historic architecture, discover the natural beauty of York and beyond by venturing out in the great outdoors. With so many beautiful walks in York and the surrounding area, there’s a lot to love about getting out and enjoying some fresh air. York is a very walkable city with all the popular attractions in close proximity, a stroll down the cobbled streets, a wander down the river and a walk around the Ings makes for a really enjoyable experience.
With an abundance of lovely walking routes, York is a fantastic city to explore on foot and if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city centre there’s lots of beautiful countryside spots and green spaces. From short circular walks to longer distances, exploring York has never been so easy and you might find some places that you haven’t been to before.
York City Walls
Distance: 2.8 miles
Time: Around 2 hours
Things to note: Dogs are not allowed on the walls, except for assistance dogs. Due to the steps, there is no disabled access.
York City Walls are the best remaining medieval town walls in England and offer a splendid, elevated view of the city. It’s easy to hop on and off and can be enjoyed at any time of year.
Once the autumn leaves burst into colour around the city, I particularly love the section behind Gray’s Court Hotel and York Minster. Gray’s Court is a luxury boutique hotel with a beautiful garden and you will be able to find it on the stretch between Bootham and Monkgate. The route is circular and you can start wherever you like – The Friends of York Walls provide an online guide where you can check the locations of the walls and the access points.
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, there are plenty of cafes and restaurants for refreshments.
See the stunning sights of York from a different perspective and enjoy some lovely views of the city. The walls are 2 miles long and typically takes around 2 hours to complete. Please note that the city walls might be closed in bad weather.
Millennium Bridge to Bishopthorpe
Distance: 6 miles
Time: 2 hours
Put on your walking shoes and enjoy one of the most popular routes in York. Begin your walk from either the Millennium Bridge or from Rowntree Park and follow the path along the River Ouse as though you are walking away from the city centre. The route is fairly easy to navigate and there’s plenty of lovely wildlife to spot along the way. You will pass through several fields full of beautiful and colourful flowers and if you want to head back to the city centre, you can catch the number 11 bus back into York. Once you reach the beautiful Middlethorpe Hotel, you will also go near York Racecourse and along to Knavesmire Wood.
Knavesmire Wood is a magical place and definitely worth a visit especially with children. If you continue along the path you will come to the former Terry’s Chocolate factory. If you then turn right after reaching Butcher Terrace, you’ll be able to return back to the Millennium Bridge.
Askham Bar to Askham Bog and Copmanthorpe
Distance: 2.5 miles
Time: Around 1 – 1.5 hours
This walk is accessible to all. Dogs are allowed at Askham Bog but must be kept on a lead.
The Askham Bar to Askham Bog and Copmanthorpe trail is lovely which is 2.5 miles in total and takes between one hour to 1.5 hours to complete. Start at the Askham Bar Park and Ride entrance and make your way towards the main road. You will find lots of beautiful wild flowers to admire along the route. Askham Bog is a lovely walk to enjoy with your family, as you can complete the circular walk around the reserve. Wellies or boots are required because it can be a bit boggy. Perfect for birdwatching, get closer to nature and admire the beautiful trees and flowers. It’s really well maintained and is accessible for the majority of wheelchairs and pushchairs.
If you fancy going a little bit further, after visiting Askham Bog, return to the main road and turn right, walk straight following a surfaced footpath until you reach Copmanthorpe.
The Solar System
The Solar System trail is a scale model of the Solar System which starts at the Astrocampus on Heslington West and ending at Constantine College on Heslington East. Representing each of the planets you’ll see the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. You can also cycle the Solar System which is spread over 6.5 miles, starting at Askham Bar Park and Ride and ending in Riccall. It is part of the old East Coast mainline railway on the national cycle network 65. The distance and all of the models are done to scale and there are also signposts at each of the planets showing you how far away you are to the next planet, both on the trail and how far it would be if you were in space! Find all nine planet locations along the cycle route, there are also several pubs on the way to stop off and get something to eat too.
If you are completing the walk make sure you print off the mission sheet from the University of York website and tick off all the planets you see along the way. Alternatively if you are planning to cycle the solar system then parking is available at Askham Bar Park and Ride. Bike hire is also available at Get Cycling and Cycle Haven.
Parks and gardens
In York you really are spoilt for choice when it comes to beautiful parks, gardens and green spaces. Offering some peace and quiet away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre, York is full of beauty and has some lovely places to enjoy an afternoon stroll or a picnic in the summer months.
Have lunch in front of the Minster at Dean’s Park, get out for some fresh air and enjoy a stroll through York Museum Gardens and admire the wildflower meadow at Homestead Park. From local parks to botanical gardens, there are a whole host of lovely green spaces to spend your day. Popular with families, Rowntree Park is open all year round and is an excellent place for children to explore, or wander around the large expanses of parkland at Castle Howard. There’s lots of lovely parks and gardens in York to get out for some fresh air and embrace nature.
Distance: 4 miles
Time: 2 hours
Beningbrough Hall, only a 20 minute drive from the city centre, is a real treat to visit all year round. Relax in the walled garden and surrounded by parkland, with Riverside and woodland walks on all sides there are plenty of perfect spots to stop for a picnic. Walking routes around Beningbrough Hall can take anything from 20 mines to 2 hours. The Wilderness play area is also great for children to let off some steam, there is a play area, restaurant and a shop to visit as well.
Clifton and Rawcliffe Ings to York City Centre
A wonderful walk which is perfect for walkers, cyclists and runners, enjoy the wide green open spaces of Clifton and Rawcliffe Ings. Accessible from the Rawcliffe Bar Park and Ride on Shipton Road, the car park is free and is mainly used for people heading into the city, but it is situated in the perfect location to be able to drive there and enjoy a walk around the Ings. It’s the ideal walk because you can make it as long or as short as you want. There’s a path which takes you past the Ings which you can follow by the river until you reach the city centre. It’s perfect for walking the dogs, nature and great for families. The walk is definitely achievable and is only 3.5 miles between both Clifton and Rawcliffe Ings.
A fantastic walk on a sunny day, enjoy beautiful views of the River Ouse if walking towards the city centre. In only a mile or two, this stretch of the route will lead you past York Museum Gardens and the Star Inn the City.