One of the quieter and lesser-known of the UK's walks, the Yorkshire Wolds Way leads across the glorious rolling farmland and chalk landscapes of East Yorkshire, an unspoilt corner of England largely neglected by popular tourism.

UK Yorkshire Wolds

The understated Yorkshire Wolds are a peaceful alternative to some busier routes

Walking the Yorkshire Wolds Way

The Yorkshire Wolds Way

Distance: 79 miles (127km)

Duration: six days

Start point: Hessle, East Yorkshire

End point: Filey, North Yorkshire

Difficulty: Easy to medium

Suitable for: Relaxed walkers who prefer quiet rural exploration over star attractions at every turn

The route wends its way from the banks of the expansive Humber estuary, across the tranquil countryside and unspoilt villages of the Wolds to reach the spectacular headland of Filey Brigg on the North Yorkshire Coast.

There are no cities on the route and no serious hills either. Don’t imagine it’s dull though: this is rural England at its best. It’s an area that seems to have bigger skies with wide panoramic views. It’s easy to see why artist David Hockney spent years painting landscapes here.

Yet the Wolds Way is never crowded. In fact, this has been called ‘Britain’s least known National Trail’ by the BBC. Nevertheless, the path is generally well mapped, maintained and way-marked.

The Yorkshire Wolds Way sections

Day one: Hessle to South Cave (13 miles/21km)

The path starts on the foreshore next to the landmark Humber Bridge then leads up into the Wolds along leafy paths and through quiet historic villages.

Day two: South Cave to Market Weighton (12 miles/19km)

Walk across hills with wide estuary views and then choose between the main route, via the classic historic country town of Market Weighton, or a trail offshoot to the pretty village of Goodmanham.

Day three: Market Weighton to Millington (9 miles/14km)

Today’s highlight is one of Yorkshire’s great hidden secrets: the photogenic old village of Londesborough and its grand aristocratic parkland. It’s a good spot to look for circling red kites too.

Day four: Millington to Thixendale (12 miles/19km)

Follow the path through a series of gentle dry valleys, enjoying long distance views, leafy countryside and friendly village pubs.

Day five: Thixendale to Sherburn (19 miles/30km)

Near the romantic deserted medieval village of Wharram Percy, cross the highest point of the Wolds Way at (700ft/215m). Savour views from Settrington Beacon during a day that mixes old woods with rolling open country.

Day six: Sherburn to Filey (17 miles/28km)

Leave this Saxon village to pass Iron Age earthworks on the hills above, then descend from the Wolds to the classic seaside resort of Filey for the opportunity to paddle on its wide sandy beaches.

Ruined church at Wharram Percy

The ruins of St Martins church in the deserted medieval village of Wharram Percy.

Need-to-know

Hessle makes a good starting point: it’s just three miles west of Hull, at the northern end of the Humber Bridge, and road links couldn’t be better. Hessle also has regular rail and bus services.

At the other end of the walk, Filey has convenient road and rail links too. Some walkers celebrate by marching right out onto the spectacular headland of Filey Brigg, but even then it’s only a 20-minute walk back to the station.

For walkers planning a shorter version of the Wolds Way, public transport options are rather limited as this crosses a very rural area with no cities or rail links. The best option for a break is likely to be at Market Weighton, which offers buses to Beverley, Hull and York.

Rural East Yorkshire accommodation is generally unpretentious but welcoming in a cosy old-fashioned way. Expect homely inns, B&B’s and guesthouses, real ales and hearty traditional food.

It’s an all-year route but although winters are generally mild it can be bleak and windy up on the higher Wolds. Spring provides great wildflowers and the poppy fields of June are renowned. Don’t worry about summer crowds this far inland. The old broadleaved woodlands colour any autumn walk here too.

Hidden Gems

The Wolds Way passes the haunting remains of Wharram Percy, a deserted medieval village hidden among the trees on a grassy hillside. The ruined church, millpond and cottages are one of the biggest of the UK's 3,000 abandoned medieval villages and are now an English Heritage site. It’s open all the time and is free to enter.

About the author

The Yorkshire Wolds Way

Daniel McCrohan

Daniel is a prolific guidebook writer who divides his time between exploring Asia for Lonely Planet and Britain for Trailblazer. As well as writing close to 50 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, he has worked on more than a dozen Trailblazer walking guides, and has hiked and camped his way across many parts of the UK, China, Mongolia and India.

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