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10 Winter Walks around Harrogate and Nidderdale

10 Winter Walks around Harrogate and Nidderdale

Nidderdale Greenway

The Sustrans route from Harrogate to Ripley is a perfect walk at all times of year.  You can pick the Nidderdale Greenway up from the centre of Harrogate, or from the residential area of Bilton where it crosses Bilton Lane and meets the Beryl Burton Cycle Way. 

This walk is fully surfaced making it particularly accessible all year round passing beautiful woodland and open fields.  Following the Greenway to Ripley also takes in Nidd Valley viaduct, which appeared recently in Paddington 2, and looks out over the River Nidd and surrounding woodland.

Length: up to 8miles there and back, up to 3 hours

Good for: families, mobility devices, young ones on balance bikes or learning to ride.

Scar House Reservoir

Experience the higher reaches of Nidderdale with this four mile loop around one of its great Edwardian wonders.  Access to Scar Houe Reservoir is from the village of Lofthouse via the route of the old railway line that was used in the construction of the dam. 

This circular walk takes you across the dam of Scar House and its immediate neighbour Angram.  While the path on the far side of Scar House Reservoir is natural terrain and rough track, the walk up to Angram and both the dams are well surfaced and suitable for all.

Length: 4 miles, 1hr 30m

Good for: birdlife, remote countryside, photography

Ripon to Fountains Abbey

Enjoy this scenic route between the city of Ripon and Studley Royal crossing the fields that separate the two.  Explore the Studley Royal deer park and enjoy the fantastic view across the lake. 

At Studley Royal you can enjoy refreshments, or even visit the Water Gardens themselves - a UNESCO World Heritage Site.   This walk also forms the route of the annual Boxing Day Pilgrimage in Ripon.

Length: 8 miles (or shorter as a ‘there and back’), 3 hrs

Good for: energetic families, photographers

Valley Gardens to Harlow Carr

This beautiful Harrogate walk connects two of Harrogate’s best known gardens: the Grade II listed Valley Gardens and the RHS Garden Harlow Carr.  The route is surfaced from end to end and is an enjoyable way to stretch the legs and see the winter gardens and the peaceful pine woods that separate the two. 

This walk is particularly easy to follow, and can be undertaken from either end with the added bonus of delicious refreshment at the other.

Length: 3 miles, 70 – 90 minutes walking time.

Great for: Walking from the town centre, horticultural enthusiasts, traffic free.

Beningbrough Hall Grounds – River Walk

While known for its walled and formal gardens, Beningbrough Hall retains some of the beautiful country park that was once just part of the estate.  The Beningbrough River Walk starts from the Beningbrough Hall car park and is fully waymarked.  The route follows paths round the parkland to pick up the riverside path alongside the River Ouse. 

At the furthest point from the Hall you can see where the River Nidd joins the Ouse and ends its 58 mile journey from the top of Nidderdale.  The walk follows the river to the northern extent of the grounds and the village of Newton on Ouse before returning to the Car Park across the parkland.  Throughout the route you can enjoy ever changing views of the hall and its surrounding buildings.

Length:  3.5 miles – up to 2 hrs

Good for: family walks, NT members, Dog Walkers, ease of navigation

Hackfall Woods

Explore the remarkable landscape of Hackfall Woods with all its winding paths and water features.  In and amongst this landscape you will also find curious follies and remarkable views.  Hackfall is a rolling landscape with some significant climbs and steep steps along its paths.  Few of the paths are surfaced, so good water resistant footwear is advisable.  A leaflet that includes a map of the woods is available from the Masham Tourist Information Point and other Visitor Information Centres.

You can also enjoy a post walk lunch at one the pubs in Masham and the neighbouring village to the woods, Grewelthorpe. 

Length: 3 – 7 miles, depending on route options chosen

Good for:  young children with energy to burn off, dog walking, exploring

Guise Cliff Circular Walk – The Yorkes of Bewerley

Beginning from Pateley Bridge the Guise Cliff Circular is not only incredibly scenic but also a Yorkshire classic.  Climbing up the valley side through the village of Bewerley the walk passes by local landmark Yorke’s Folly or ‘Two Stoops’.  The walk then crosses the open moor with the option of a clifftop path that features some of the best views up the length of Nidderdale. 

The two routes re-join before descending back to the valley floor through the beautiful Guise Cliff Woods, passing the dark still water of Guise Cliff Tarn.  At the foot of the hill is the village of Glasshouses where the historic Glasshouses Mill is currently undergoing refurbishment.  The walk returns to Pateley Bridge along the River. 

Good footwear is advised for this walk, and only the sure of foot should consider the clifftop option as it does directly traverse the crags at some points.  Pick up some tasty treats for your walk in Pateley Bridge as you set off.

Length: 5.5 miles, 2hrs 30m + time for admiring the views and points of interest

Good For: views, local history, strong climbs

Fewston Reservoir

Relax and enjoy this surfaced walk around one of the Washburn Valley reservoirs.  The advantages of a reservoir loop are not only the surfaced path, but also the ease of navigation.  Keep the water by your side and you simply cannot go wrong.  As you make your way round this walk, you can enjoy the views out over the water. 

These are often even more dramatic under the low winter sun.  You can also take the chance to watch the bird life that has made these waters its home.  This is a moderately easy walk of 5 miles with a few short ramps but mostly level.  You can add the neighbouring Swinsty Reservoir for a more serious 8 to 9 mile walk.

Length: 5 miles, 2 hrs.

Good for: Ease of navigation, young children, water views and bird life.

Victorian Gardens of Pateley Bridge

This simple to follow and ever popular three mile walk (with options to lengthen) is a quiet loop from Pateley Bridge to Glasshouses by the river, returning along quite lanes. Along the River Nidd there are places for skimming stones and feeding the ducks. 

The return leg passes fields with cows, sheep and horses before returning through the village of Bewerley with the optional route through Fishpond Wood. The Victorian Gardens Walk has about as few hills as it is possible to get in a Nidderdale walk, has low levels of traffic and offers a host of cosy pubs and tearooms at its end.

Length: 3 miles,1hr -1hr 30m

Good for: quick short walks, young children/buggies, dog walking

The Nidderdale Way

Set yourself a challenge for the winter months to complete the 54 miles of the Nidderdale Way, our local Long Distance Walking Route. As well as those who tackle the route as part of a long weekend in four consecutive days, we see more and more people ticking off the Nidderdale Way in bite size chunks. 

This cumulative challenge is a great way to keep the walking up through the darker half of the year.  You can devise small loops that tick off the Nidderdale Way in small bits or use the Nidderdale buses to take it on in longer end-to-end chunks.  This popular route will show you the variety of landscape that exists in Nidderdale, from the rolling hills that surround Ripley and Birstwith, to the wide open fells and moors that surround Scar House Reservoir.

Length: not 54 miles in one go!  We would suggest chunks between 5 and 8 miles, including extra bits to make a loop.

Good for: staying active over or after Christmas, photography, exploring Nidderdale

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