We are definitely guilty of not giving the North York Moors the attention they deserve. As the Yorkshire Dales are practically on our doorstep, we have slightly neglected the wonderful walking opportunities in the Moors, something which we have started to rectify in the last few months!
The best time to visit the Moors is undoubtedly in August, when the heather which carpets the uplands is in full bloom, although you may have to contend with a few more walkers knocking about. The Moors the have spectacular views all year round, purple or not. Below I’m going to share five of my favourite shorter walks, which vary in length from an hour or two to half a day. There is a bit of a skew in this blog towards the western parts of the Moors as this is where we get out and about most often, however, don’t discount the stunning Yorkshire Coast which runs along the eastern edge of the National Park.
5. Osmotherley and Cod Beck
When I first moved to Yorkshire 4 years ago, Cod Beck reservoir was the first place where I started to go for a walk in the countryside. Since then the reservoir walk, which is a short and easy walk suitable for small children and buggies, has got more and more popular to the point where for me it is a little over crowded. I therefore now mostly stick to the quieter paths, away from the reservoir itself, which include lovely pockets of woodland and bracing stretches over the moors. There are a number of walks you can start from the reservoir car park (free, ice cream van in summer!) including paths to Mount Grace Priory, however, my favourite is to pick up this five and a half mile circular walk from the Walking Englishman website. Those who are after more of a challenge could take on the 40 mile Lyke Wake Walk which starts from the car park!
Dog friendly rating – 5/5. This walk has everything your dog could ever dream of! There is plenty of water and the opportunity to go for a swim as you walk along the reservoir for a short stretch. Much of the walk passes along walled grassy lanes or through woodland so much of this walk can be done off the lead. When you pass over the moor please be mindful of nesting birds and keep your dog on a lead for this short section or if you come across any livestock. The reservoir itself does get busy, particularly at weekends, but you only walk along here for a short stretch and the rest of the walk is very quiet.
4. Around Hawnby Hill
Hawnby Hill is one of those walks where you don’t have to go all of the way to the top of the hill to get a nice view! I did this walk in September when the heather was dying back, but I was still impressed by the views over the moors for little to no climbing, and I imagine it would look absolutely amazing covered in heather!
The route I followed for this walk was from my North York Moors Pocket Mountains book, which includes an optional detour to the top of the hill, but an alternative 5 mile circular route which includes the top of the hill is available on the Walking Englishman website.
There is a small-ish car park in Hawnby by the Village Hall with an honesty box or free parking in a large-ish lay-by on the way out of the village towards All Saints church. The walk itself passes through a variety of landscapes, including farmland, woodland and moor, with a few short sections of walking on quiet roads around Hawnby. The path is generally fairly level with no really steep sections of hill.
Dog friendly rating – 3/5. Apart from the short section through the woods, leads are required for the duration of this walk, as there is livestock (both sheep and cows) on most of the paths through fields and sheep on the moors. There is also no water on this walk, so make sure you carry some extra for your dog. I use a Ruffwear Quencher bowl which suits me best – it’s light, portable and I can clip it to the outside of my backpack with a Hyena clip.
3. The Rosedale Railway
The Rosedale railway walk will take you deeper into the moors than any of the other walks on this list, and will give you a glimpse into the industrial heritage of the National Park. Rosedale is one of the focuses of the Land of Iron project run by the North York Moors National Park, as 150 years ago, this peaceful part of the moors was a busy ironstone mine covered in smoke. A twelve mile railway was built to transport the ironstone from the kilns to its final destination – the blast furnaces of the Industrial Revolution.
A similar route to that which I followed from the Pocket Mountains guide can be found on the North York Moors website. At seven and a half miles it’s a bit of a leg stretcher, and also stretches my definition of a short walk a bit, but much of this walk is relatively flat (apart from the last kilometre or so which is a section of steeper ascent) and the views are definitely worth it!
Parking for this walk is free in a large parking area just past the Lion Inn at Blakey Ridge. It wasn’t at all busy when we did this walk on a sunny Tuesday right at the end of the school holidays – maybe everyone was getting ready to go back to school! There are no facilities so you will need to come prepared with lunch or you could call in at the Lion Inn at the start or end of the walk.
Dog friendly rating – 3/5. This is another walk where the dogs were on leads for the majority of the time due to the presence of livestock. There are sheep throughout most of this walk and you may pass through some fields with cows in when you drop away from the old railway line. You also pass through a few farmyards so please respect the public footpath and don’t let your dog run around someone else’s yard!
2. Lord Stones
At just under three miles, this walk from the North York Moors website is definitely the shortest on this list, but it is also one of my favourite local walks. It very nearly took the top spot but ended up in second as it can be busy in summer and at weekends. The route itself is very easy to navigate with good paths throughout – you pass along the Cleveland Way for a stretch and this always offers lovely walking.
Lord Stones county park is right on the edge of the national park and easily accessed from the North East, which perhaps accounts for some of its popularity. For very little effort you get wonderful views over the North East and Roseberry topping, and, according to the sign at the top, on a clear day you can see all the way to Ingleborough – although we couldn’t see it!
Parking is free but it does fill up quickly so it’s probably worth arriving early – dog walkers tend to fill up the ‘early slot’, and after around 10 o’clock, larger groups and families with children start to arrive to fill up the spaces as the dog walkers leave.
Dog friendly rating – 4/5. This walk is popular with local dog walkers and as soon as you’ve been up here you’ll understand why! It’s a very easy gentle walk with fabulous views. Most people let their dogs off here, which is fine close to the main cafe area, but when you start seeing signs about ground nesting birds leads need to go back on. Ours absolutely love this walk – Merry in particular loves zooming through the woody area at the end and throwing himself into the very smelly pond!
1. The Wainstones
This is another walk which stretches the definition of ‘short’, but it is one of my all time favourite walks in the moors, and therefore had to take the top spot on this list. The Wainstones are distinctive sandstone crags which jut out of the landscape – as soon as they come into sight as you walk across Cold Moor, you’ll know what you’re looking at!
The walk we followed was another one from the North York Moors Pocket Mountains book but pretty much exactly the same route is available on the North York Moors National Park website. At 8 miles this circular walk makes an excellent morning or afternoon adventure – there are a few short ascents but also a lot of flat stretches in between. The path does get boggy and indistinct at times, especially on Urra Moor (which is the highest point in the Moors), so make sure you watch where you put your feet!
Dog friendly rating – 3/5. There were a few odd sections where dogs could be let off leads, but for the most part, leads were required due to livestock on the moor (mostly sheep, some cows in one field). There was some bog water due to recent rain when we did this walk but no streams or rivers, so you’ll need to bring some water for your dog. Merry loved climbing over the stones – I’m not sure if all dogs are like this but Merry loves any chance to unleash his inner boulderer! So overall not the most dog friendly walk but still one worth doing for the great views and a very quiet walk (apart from the stones themselves).
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