Ten of the best winter walks

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As the Ramblers launches its annual Festival of Winter Walks across Yorkshire, Sarah Freeman picks 10 of the best routes to explore on foot this winte

Growing large on turkey leftovers, we’ll admit it’s tempting to spend the next couple of days in a state of semi-hibernation.



However, if you can draw yourself away from the countless repeats and the Quality Street tin, this is also the perfect time of year to explore God’s Own County.

It’s one of the reasons why the Ramblers has launched its Festival of Winter Walks. Over the next week or so the county’s various groups will be organising a series of events with the aim of getting the rest of us to pull on our walking boots.

“Walking in Yorkshire is great at any time of the year,” says Ramblers chief executive Benedict Southworth. “We’re spoiled by dramatic coastlines, rolling hills and stunning views, but there’s nothing like wrapping up warm and heading out with family and friends to explore the county at its wintry best.

“During the festival our walks are free, fun and open to everyone and we want to encourage everyone to really make the most of the winter by putting their best foot forward.”

Here we pick 10 of the best winter walks showcasing Yorkshire at its best.

Post-Christmas amble

Date and time: Saturday, December 27, 10am.

Distance: 10 miles.

Meeting point: Norton Junior School, Womersley.

Work off that Christmas pudding, blow away Boxing Day excesses and stride out and enjoy a local, flat and easy walk around the two picturesque villages of Womersley and Smeaton, near to Selby. For those in need of it, there will also be the opportunity to have some hair of the dog if necessary.

Contact: David Nicholson, 07954 697447.

Rishworth Moor

Date and time: Sunday, December 28, 10am.

Distance: 12 miles

Meeting point: Wood Edge car park, Low Platt Lane, Scammonden (above the reservoir dam)

It might be a stone’s throw from the M62, but it feels like a world away from modern life. The moor itself is home to many rare animals, and a series of ancient round barrow burial sites are also worth a look.

Contact: www.ramblers.org.uk

Explore the Howardian Hills

Date and time: Sunday, December 28, 10am.

Distance: 8 miles.

Meeting point: Wass village hall.

Get away from it all with a walk through this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Jurassic limestone gives the landscape its character and the area contains a rich tapestry of wooded hills and valleys, pastures and rolling farmland.

Contact: www.ramblers.org.uk

Captain Cook Country

Date and time: Sunday, December 28,

Distance: 6 to 8 miles.

Meeting point: Car park opposite the Royal Oak pub.

The perfect time of the year to take in the splendour of Captain Cook country. The walk will head out of Great Ayton towards the monument to Yorkshire’s famous explorer before sweeping round to approach Roseberry Topping which offers spectacular views across North Yorkshire and Cleveland. Descend back into Great Ayton for some well-earned refreshments.

Contact: Karen Bowran, 01642 585130

River Ouse

Date and time: Monday, December 29, 10am.

Distance: 8 miles

Meeting point: Ashes car park, Howden.

Head out from the small market town for a gentle walk along the banks of the River Ouse. With the surrounding landscape largely flat, this walk is suitable for all abilities.

Contact: www.ramblers.org.uk

Stainburn Moor

Date and time: Wednesday, December 31, 10am.

Distance: 10 miles.

Meeting point: Stainburn Moor car park, near Beckwithshaw.

Perfect for feeling virtuous ahead of the New Year’s Eve celebrations. Join the York Ramblers for this amble across Stainburn Moor. The woodland, close to Harrogate and Otley, is always popular with walkers with a number of routes to explore. While this one will take in 10 miles of woodland, the group promise it won’t be too strenuous.

Contact: www.ramblers.org.uk

East Coast explorer

Date and time: Sunday, January 4, 10am.

Distance: 10 miles

Meeting point: Scalby Mills car park, near Scarborough.

Is there a more bracing place to be this winter, than the coast. As well as offering impressive sea views, the walk will also take in a little of the countryside which boasts dramatic heather moors.

Contact: www.ramblers.org.uk

Wentworth Village

Date and time: Thursday, January 1, 10.30am,

Distance: 5 miles.

Meeting place: Wentworth car park, near Rotherham.

Historic and picturesque village which boasts the impressive country house Wentworth Woodhouse. Worth a look in the grounds are 21 follies, including the Needle’s Eye, Hoober Stand, Keppel’s Column, the Mausoleum, the Ionic Temple and Doric Temple, the Vinegar Stone, and the Bean Seat.

Contact: www.ramblers.org.uk

North York Moors

Date and time: Sunday, January 4, 10am.

Distance: 9 miles.

Starting point: Welburn layby, Kirkbymoorside.

The North York Moors National Park is home to one of the largest expanses of heather moorland in England and this is a chance to explore a small corner of this bleakly beautiful landscape. Forged over centuries this ramble is a way of experiencing nature at its most wild.

Contact: www.ramblers.org.uk

Airton and Back

Date and time: Sunday, January 4, 10.30am

Distance: 6 miles.

Meeting point: Bell Busk telephone box.

This circular walk starts in Bell Busk just north of Gargrave, turning off the A65 at Coniston Cold. The walk begins along leafy lanes and returns by way of the upper reaches of the River Aire, with gentle climbs over empty fields amid beautiful winter scenery in between.

Contact: 01274 597718 or 0784 700 9513