Information about walking, horse riding and cycling in North Yorkshire and the associated health benefits.
When setting out on a ride or a walk, ensure you have a map, suitable clothing and food and water. Check the weather and let someone know your plans. For a safe and responsible experience, follow the countryside code.
Why not take photos to record your North Yorkshire memories and also to log any issues affecting rights of way. To report issues head to our rights of way maintenance page.
Horse and bike rides
North Yorkshire has more than 10,000km of public rights of way and offers off-road routes for cyclists and equestrians.
These routes cater for all abilities. They use mainly bridleways, green lanes and some unclassified roads. Some routes are rugged and hilly. Most of the routes are suitable for both horse riding and biking, but please read individual route guides for detailed information.
Horse rides Bike rides Suitable for horse or bike rides
The following routes are promoted by organisations other than the County Council.
Le Tour Yorkshire - The Grand Depart
Distance: 242 miles
Stage 1: Leeds to Harrogate
Stage 2: York to Sheffield
Find more information about riding all or part of the route at Le Tour Yorkshire.
Yorkshire Wolds cycle route
Distance: 146 miles
Time to cycle: 18 hrs
Time to walk: 48 hrs
Start: numerous start points - Beverly, Malton, York
The route takes in country houses, nature reserves, historic priories and fascinating landmarks, using parts of the national cycle network. Find more information at Yorkshire Wolds Cycle Route.
Walney Island to Sunderland or Whitby - Sustrans cycle route
Distance: 179 miles to Whitby
Time to cycle: 13 hrs
Time to walk: 36 hrs
This challenging route starts at Walney Island on the south western tip of Cumbria's Irish Sea coast. At Barnard Castle, the route splits and you can follow National Route 165 to Whitby via the Esk Valley through the North York Moors. Find more information about the Walney Islands route.
Way of the Roses - Sustrans cycle route
Distance: 170 miles
Time to cycle: 22 hrs
Time to walk: 59 hrs
Finish: Bridlington via York
This spectacular coast to coast route passes through North Yorkshire. Highlights include the Yorkshire Dales National Park, Nidderdale AONB, the Vale of York and Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal World Heritage Site near Ripon. Find more information a Way of the Roses.
York to Beningbrough - Sustrans route
Distance: 9 to 11 miles each way
Time to cycle: 1.5 hrs each way
Time to walk: 3 hrs each way
This ride starts from York and wends its way north towards the National Trust property, Beningbrough Hall. Find more information about the York to Beningbrough route.
Moor to Sea cycle trail
Distance: 80+ miles
Time to cycle: 3 or 4 days
Start: multiple start points
Crossing the North York Moors National Park, the route links Scarborough, Pickering and Whitby. It uses forest tracks, green lanes, minor roads and the dismantled railway from Whitby to Scarborough. The route is suitable for family cycling, although it does pass through remote countryside. Directions are provided in stages that can be cycled over several days or as shorter rides. Find more information at Moor to Sea trail.
Local circular walks
Many short walks and day walks are available throughout North Yorkshire. The county includes two national parks, two areas of outstanding natural beauty, wild moors, rolling hills and rugged coastline.
Long distance walks
The long distance trails below are promoted by external organisations so we have provided links to external websites.
National trails are long-distance routes for walking, cycling and horse riding. There are 15 in total and three walking trails pass through North Yorkshire. They are shown in green on the map.
The Cleveland Way National Trail
Distance: 109 miles
Duration: 9 days
Finish: Filey Brigg
The Cleveland Way crosses the North York Moors and makes its way along the North Yorkshire coast. It passes many historical points of interest, including Whitby Abbey, Scarborough Castle, Rievaulx Abbey and Mount Grace Priory. A good level of fitness is needed to walk the whole route in one go, but shorter stretches can be done in a day. Find out more about the Cleveland Way.
The Yorkshire Wolds Way National Trail
Distance: 79 miles
Duration: 6 days
Start: Hessle, East Yorkshire
The Yorkshire Wolds Way travels through some of the most tranquil and gentle countryside in Yorkshire. From the Humber estuary, along wooded slopes and through serene valleys, the walk climbs gently to the tops of rolling hills. The final section finishes on the headland of Filey Brigg. This route is a big undertaking in one go, but it is possible to walk shorter stretches. Find out more about the Yorkshire Wolds Way.
The Pennine Way National Trail
Distance: 268 miles
Duration: 16 days
Start: Edale, Derbyshire
Finish: Kirk Yetholm, Scottish Borders
The Pennine Way starts in the Peak District and heads over the Pennines into North Yorkshire for a short distance between Thornton-in-Craven and Eshton before continuing into the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the Howgills. It finishes in the Scottish Borders. Find out more about the Pennine Way.
A great variety of long-distance leisure trails use North Yorkshire as their backdrop. The leisure trails are shown in blue on the map.
Long-distance walks completely in North Yorkshire
Centenary Way (North Yorkshire)
Distance: 83 miles
Finish: Filey Brigg
This route celebrates the 100th anniversary of North Yorkshire County Council. It runs across the Howardian Hills and Yorkshire Wolds via Castle Howard and Wharram Percy, linking York and the Foss Walk with the Yorkshire Wolds Way and Cleveland Way National Trails. Meeting the Derwent and Foss, it combines riverside walks in deep valleys with forest tracks.
We have published a new 48 page guide to the Centenary Way. You can purchase a hard copy for just £4 (free postage and packing) from your local library, Amazon or by telephone on 01609 532512 or download the Centenary way it as an e-book here.
The Nidderdale Way
Distance: 53 miles
Start: Pateley Bridge
Finish: Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire
The Nidderdale Way is a circular walk mostly within the Nidderdale area of outstanding natural beauty. The route follows the river Nidd and leads up the valley above Scar House Reservoir before heading back down and through the village of Ripley. Find out more about the Nidderdale Way.
The Ripon Rowel
Distance: 50 miles
Start and finish: Ripon
The route travels through the villages of North Stainley, Mickley, Masham, Dallowgill, Grantley, past Fountains Abbey and then Markington and back up to Ripon through South Stainley and Bishop Monkton. Find out more about the Ripon Rowel.
Distance: 28 miles
The walk follows the river Foss from where it meets with the Ouse in York to its source at Pond Head, four miles from Easingwold. The walk passes through Strensall, Sheriff Hutton, Crayke and Oulston. Find out more about the Foss Walk.
Distance: 20 miles
Start and finish: Harrogate
A trail encircling the spa town at a radius of three to four miles on country lanes and river paths. Can be divided into shorter stages or linked with Knaresborough Round to form a 36-mile route. Find out more about the Harrogate Ringway.
Distance: 20 miles
Start and finish: Knaresborough
The route runs along the river Nidd then follows country lanes through villages to the north and east of Knaresborough. It can be divided into two stages or linked with the Harrogate Ringway to form a 36-mile route. Find out more about the Knaresborough Round.
Long-distance walks that start in North Yorkshire
Distance: 76 miles
Finish: Ilkley, West Yorkshire
The Ebor Way (named after the Roman name of York, Eboracum) heads south through the Howardian Hills area of outstanding natural beauty, taking in York before heading west to Ilkley. Find out more about the Ebor Way.
Distance: 247 miles
Start and finish:Settle
A challenging circular walk based on a 1938 route walked by Alfred Wainwright. It heads north through the Yorkshire Dales along the eastern side of the Pennines and crosses the moors of County Durham to reach Hadrian's Wall. After following the wall, it returns south along the western side of the Pennines through the Eden Valley. Find out more about the Pennine Journey.
Long-distance walks that end in North Yorkshire
The Coast to Coast Walk
Distance: 192 miles
Duration: 14 to 21 days
Start: St Bees, Cumbria
Finish: Robin Hoods Bay
Devised by Alfred Wainwright, the Coast to Coast walk takes in stunningly varied countryside and crosses three national parks - the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors. 2013 was the 40th anniversary of the publication of Wainwright's guidebook. Find out more about the Coast to Coast.
The Ribble Way
Distance: 73 miles
Start: Longton, Lancashire
Finish: Gayle Moor
The Ribble Way starts on the estuary west of Preston and follows the River Ribble through Lancashire into North Yorkshire to finish at its source at Gavel Gap near Horton-in-Ribblesdale. The walk takes in ancient abbeys and landmarks from the industrial revolution and incorporates tidal marshes, open moorland and limestone gorges. Find out more about the Ribble Way.
The Six Dales Trail
Distance: 38 miles
Start: Otley, West Yorkshire
The trail covers the length of the Nidderdale area of outstanding natural beauty to Middleham. It crosses five watersheds, separating in turn Wharfedale, Washburndale, Nidderdale, Colsterdale, Coverdale and Wensleydale. It also passes the ruins of Jervaulx Abbey and Middleham Castle. Find out more about the Six Dales Trail.
Long-distance walks which run through North Yorkshire
The Trans Pennine Trail
Distance: 215 miles
Coast to Coast route
Start: Southport, Merseyside
Finish: Hornsea, East Riding
The Trans Pennine Trail is an exciting route for walkers, cyclists and horse riders linking the North and Irish seas, passing through the Pennines, alongside rivers and canals and through historic towns and cities. It is signposted all the way, mainly traffic-free and surprisingly level. Easy gradients and surfaced paths make many sections suitable for families, gentle exercise and people using wheelchairs and pushchairs. Find out more about the Trans Pennine Trail.
The Dales Way
Distance: 78 miles
Start: Ilkley, West Yorkshire
Finish: Bowness-on-Windermere, Cumbria
The route goes through the Yorkshire Dales National Park and Howgill Fells and the south-eastern part of the Lake District. It passes over Cam Fell, into Dentdale and follows the River Dee to Sedburgh then the River Lune and River Kent. The section over the watershed at Cam Fell is steep and exposed and can be challenging. Find out more about the Dales Way.
Pathways to health
Inactivity is bad for people's health, with experts describing it as a 'silent killer'. Many adults spend more than seven hours a day sitting down and for people aged 65 and over this can rise to ten hours or more.
Being more active can reduce the risk of major illnesses and walking is a great way to start. Walking is also good for reducing stress and fatigue, increasing your energy levels and improving your concentration.
To help people get out and about walking in their local communities we've created 'pathways to health' walks in Selby and Scarborough. You can find details of the walks on the Selby Trails and Scarborough Trails websites.
Exercising regularly can reduce the risk of major illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some cancers, helping you to live well and for longer.
People who do regular physical activity have up to a 50 per cent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes and regular exercise can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by up to 35 per cent.
Going for a two-mile walk four times a week can reduce weight by one pound a month and people who do regular physical activity also have up to an 83 per cent lower risk of osteoarthritis.
Walking is a low impact form of exercise, so it's great for people who haven't been active for a while. It doesn't cost anything and you don't need any special equipment to do it.
As well as reducing the risk of many major illnesses, going for a walk every day can be as effective at treating mild cases of depression as taking medication and people who walk regularly report feeling less stressed and nervous.
Walking also provides a rush of endorphins, which can help to relieve pain and boost the immune system. By being outside your body also produces more vitamin D.
People can walk alone or with friends, the most important thing is to give it a try and get moving at a pace that suits you. If you haven't been active for a long time or have any health issues talk to your doctor first.