Yorkshire Wolds and Howardian Hills

Jonathan’s View

The Area

South of the North York Moors the landscape changes. A chalk bedrock of the Yorkshire Wolds and Howardian Hills delivers a rolling landscape unique in the north of England. The higher plateau resisted the effects of glaciation and created deep, steep sided valleys, often dry (due to the porous nature of the chalk) Anyone walking tin the wolds will certainly bear witness to the steep sides, a walk along the Wolds Way brings many ascents and descents. It is not easy. Bizarrely the landscape has effected the way farmers use the land; animals to the bottom and crops to the top!

Further west limestone starts to predominate with more woodland and the formation of a second spine of hills, the Howardian Hills. However the effect is the same, easy walking and great views.

Yorkshire Wolds

North Grimston
North Grimston

Roughly occupying an area south of the Vale of Pickering and north from the Humber Estuary and York and west of the North Sea the Yorkshire Wolds is an area of rolling hills, wide views and picture perfect villages and towns. I thoroughly enjoyed the walking in the often dry chalk valleys. It is walking in which it is a delight to look around and enjoy the views that seem to stretch forever.

Driffield, Beverley and Malton are the largest of the towns in Wolds and they make a good base to explore. However it is the villages that that give the area its character. Thixendale and Millington stand out for me but I have not yet visited them all so I may be still missing some little gems. They have an air of freshness and tidiness that I have not always found in other villages in the north, it may be affluence. They have not lost their character though, particularly in the many pubs and cafes. The feeling of affluence is exemplified by the country houses that pepper the area, Sledmere and Staveley being the most noteworthy.

Hambleton Hills and further east

Byland Abbey
Byland Abbey

The Hambleton Hills lie to the west of the wolds and south of the western fringes of the North York Moors. The chalk landscape of the Wolds has been replaced by a predominately limestone landscape of scars, woodlands and rolling hills. Old railway lines and canal tow paths make the walking easy and their is some excellent routes over the hills themselves. On the fringes of the hills this is a land of abbeys and country estates. Kirkham Priory, Byland Abbey and the better preserved Ampleforth Abbey are worth a visit as are the splendid houses and gardens of Castle Howard, Nunningham Hall and Hovingham Hall.

Maybe it is simply because the area is ‘young’ in terms of tourism (and trying to encourage more) that the area seems so friendly. Move on to any of the paths and bridleways and it is unlikely you will see more than a few walkers all day, outnumbered often by farmers and certainly by their sheep and cattle

The Best Walks

My favourite walks are described below, just click on the name of the walk for full details.

The Yorkshire Wolds

Dry Valleys of Medieval Cottam.  Near Driffield this pleasant walk takes in a medieval village & peaceful scenery.

Thorpe Bassett Wold from North Grimston. Malton is part of the excellent views from the chalk escarpments.

Dry Valleys of Thixendale. Splendid walking and a lovely village make up an excellent day’s outing.

Pocklington & the Wolds Way.  Village of Millington is just one of the highlights of this varied walk.

Sledmere House & Estate. A walk through the grounds and wider estate of this grand old house.

Hambleton Hills and nearby

Grounds of Castle Howard. Enjoy the vast estate lands of this famous country house near Malton.

Kirkham Abbey & the Derwent. Great variety of woodlands, riverside, attractive villages and the abbey ruins.

Terrington & the Vale of Pickering. Farmland and woodland dominate the scene away from Terrington.

Castle at Sheriff Hutton. A spectacular castle albeit in ruins and great views are the highlights of this Howardian walk.

Stonegrave & the Rye A gem of a walk with attractive riverside walking combining with great views from the higher lands.

Coxwold & Beacon Banks . A walk through abbey country with great views from Beacon Bank.

Weather Forecast



Other Things to do

Visit a gallery and view the excellent landscape photography of of Lucy Saggers, (owner of Ford End B & B in Ampleforth), at Cotton House in Helmsley or Gallery Beyond at Nunnington


Places to Stay

Cottages in the Dales
1 Comment
  • Sue Lilly says:

    I also have a small B&B of 1 room with twin beds i let out. How can i get my B&B on your listing. I’m right on the wolds in beautiful East Yorkshire.

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