The best woodland walks in and around Yorkshire - as chosen by retired academic and her border terrier Bertie

Trees concealing hidden treasures, wildlife hotspots and woods perfect to de-stress in these troubled times - Yorkshire's top rustic walks flagged as the perfect antidote to our woes have been put to the test by perhaps one of the toughest critics of all.

For the last three years, six-year-old Border Terrier Bertie has accompanied his owner, retired York geography don Dr Margaret Atherden, to stroll through the region's top sylvan beauty spots, with the promise of a chicken twist at the end of his adventure.

Now, 16 of the best woodland walks in North and West Yorkshire are featured in a colourful new book, written by the former academic at York St John University and published by conservation charity PLACE.

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"As many people know, you can't exhaust a Border Terrier and Bertie absolutely loves his walks in the wood, especially when he can be let off his lead," said Dr Atherden.

Dr Atherden has released a book of her 16 favourite woodland walks

"Bertie doesn't like going to the same place all the time, so my research was perfect for him.

"Yorkshire has some of the best countryside in England for walking and there is something for everyone. It has low land and then you have the pennines - there is just so much variety and it is just lovely.

"This book has some of our favourite walks, where you can get away from the bustle, discover archaeological sites, wildlife, fungi and rustic tranquillity."

Included is a complete step-by-step walker’s guide to places like Skipwith Common, near Escrick, Riccaldale Wood, near Helmsley, a hotspot for wildflowers and birds like green woodpecker and nuthatch and Goathland Wood, with its remains of old ironstone workings.

Dr Margaret Atherden and her border terrier Bertie on a walk

“Walks are a variety of lengths so there’s something for most people and each has a clear theme," Dr Atherden said.

"Trees often conceal treasures like signs of industries which have long since vanished, but which still offer a fascinating glimpse into the past. Often rich in wildlife, woods are the perfect place to de-stress in these troubled times.”

Walkers have long sung the benefits of a good walk describing it as the best tonic for mental health well-being. Regular walking has been demonstrated to improve moods, relieve depression and ease anxiety - something which has been needed more than ever during the Covid19 pandemic.

Dr Atherden said: "The nation's favourite habitat is woodland, especially this year. There is something very calming about trees and the whole outdoors, plus it is great exercise.

Woodland walking in Yorkshire

"The minute I step outside, my mood lifts. There is nothing like going out in the fresh air, even if it is not bright sunshine. It makes such a difference to people's feelings.

"The walks in the book are suitable for people of all ages and can be made longer or shorter, depending on a person's preference.

"Some are also suitable for wheelchair users and pushchairs for a younger audience.

"The longest walk is around seven miles and the shortest about three."

Dr Atherden has previously written or co-authored other successful books, including one on winter walks and another dedicated to North Yorkshire’s wildflowers.

She said: "I have always enjoyed walking, but my job also entailed a lot of field work so I was always out in the open air. Then when I got Bertie in 2013, the walks obviously increased.

"We had dogs when I was young, but Bertie is the first dog I have had as an adult. I got him partly for the exercise, but also because I love animals. For the last seven years he has been a godsend."

Illustrated with colour pictures the book costs £12 including post and packaging.

"I hope those who purchase the book learn something new about areas they may have been to before or visit somewhere completely different for the first time," Dr Atherden said.

"I am really happy with the finished product. It took three years in total to produce from start to finish but it has been such an enjoyable experience for Bertie and I.

"The first national lockdown gave me plenty of time to get my head down and just get on with it and it really occupied me for those first few months.

"It is extremely rewarding to see the finished product."

The book is available by emailing [email protected] or by sending a cheque make out to PLACE to Dr Margaret Atherden, PLACE Office, c/o York St John University, Lord Mayor's Walk, York YO31 7EX.