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The best walks around York

Alan Sharp is a professional tour guide, conducting historical walking tours in York and Edinburgh, and is the proprietor of White Rose York Tours.

York is such a walkable city. Running a walking tour company in the city means that I spend much of my time out and about on the streets, but our tours are mostly confined within the city walls. It doesn’t take much time to step away from these familiar areas and find how much more the city has to offer.

One remarkable thing about the city is just how much open green space is contained in such a compact area. From the well laid out and landscaped greenery of Rowntree Park, the Museum Gardens or the Hull Road and West Bank Parks, to the open fields of the Micklegate Stray or Hob Moor.

On top of this there are plenty of riverside paths allowing you to wander alongside the Ouse and the Foss, the two rivers that meet in the city. You can even find yourself exploring woodland in the St Nicholas’ Nature Reserve.

There are plenty of surprises in store as well. In Osbaldwick, one of my favourite parts of the city, you feel like you are in a quaint little village even though you haven’t left the city. Similarly, the Holgate Windmill takes many visitors by surprise, standing on the crest of a hill in the middle of urban housing, it is the oldest five sailed windmill in the country and still produces flour that can be bought at its regular markets.

One of my favourite walks within the city is to head out to New Earswick Folk Hall. Built as the focus of a model garden village built by Joseph Rowntree in the early 20th century in order to improve the conditions of his workers, it remains a popular community meeting point to this day. The walk out takes you across an expanse of untamed marshland and the return journey is along the bank of the River Foss. The walk is best done in good weather as the conditions can become very muddy after heavy rainfall, but at the right time of year some wonderful flora and fauna can line the route.

 

York's surrounding villages


The surrounding villages are well worth exploring. When developing these walks, I was particularly determined to take the visitor out to Askham Richard, a village South-West of the city that has, in my opinion, one of the finest village greens in the entire country.

The Hagg Wood in Dunnington is a reminder that the area surrounding York used to be ancient forest land. Walking through the still untamed woodland is an atmospheric and enjoyable experience at any time of year, but in summer when the foxgloves are in bloom it can also be a riot of colour.

The final walk in the book takes you on a circuit around Beningbrough Hall. This magnificent Georgian mansion North-West of York is often overshadowed by Castle Howard and Newby Hall, but is equally worth a visit for its imposing architecture, landscaped grounds and collection of portraiture. Sitting in a bend in the River Ouse, the walk can be included in a visit to the hall or just enjoyed for itself, and also takes in the nearby picturesque village of Newton-on-Ouse.

A-Z York Hidden Walks is the perfect way to explore the city in a new light. It features 20 walking routes in and around the city, including lesser-known gems and popular circuits.