Howardian Hills Walks

Region in England, United Kingdom

Situated in the north of England between North York Moors National Park, the Vale of York, and the Yorkshire Wolds, the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is a picturesque region that is well-suited for outdoor exploration. Geographically, this area features 79 square miles of terrain that is made up of rolling hills, high ridges, and swathes of woodland that overlook the surrounding countryside. This makes the Howardian Hills AONB an excellent option for a fun walking adventure through some undulating terrain.

Named for the Howard family, a noble house that was founded in 1483 and still holds lands in the area, this region features no towns, which helps the area retain its quaint and quiet nature. Instead, you will find charming villages and hamlets scattered amongst the tree-covered hills, as well as the ruins of several once prominent abbeys - such as Kirkham Priory - that were disestablished by King Henry VIII in 1538.

While tourism infrastructure in the Howardian Hills AONB might not be the strongest, the proximity of several larger towns nearby, namely Malton and Helmsley, make the area an easily accessible place for exploring the natural beauty of the outdoors. If you are looking for somewhere with a laid back atmosphere and beautifully scenic terrain for your next adventure, then why not try planning a weekend away in the Howardian Hills.

10 Great Walks In the Howardian Hills AONB

Although the region may be small, the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty features a wide range of walking routes that will allow you to explore the local history and picturesque landscape of the surrounding area. Absent of any towns, the Howardian Hills are a quiet area that will allow you to leave the chaos of the city behind to slow down and reconnect with the outdoors. From charming village walks to open swathes of farmland and magically atmospheric woodlands, there is sure to be a walking route in this lovely place that will suit all of your needs. Check out this list of our favourite Howardian Hills AONB walks below:

  • Yearsley Woods Circular Walk: This is an exceptional walking route in the Howardian Hills AONB that will allow you to experience the beauty of the serene forests and charming lakes of the region, all while doing so with your canine companions!
  • Hovingham and the Howardian Hills Walk: Featuring some truly characteristic Howardian Hills terrain, this walk offers an excellent opportunity to leave the village behind and get out onto the trails to explore the undulating hills and picturesque forests of the region.
  • Welburn and the Castle Howard Circular Walk: If you are looking to explore the grounds of an extravagant estate in addition to the beauty of the Howardian Hills, then you will want to check out the Welburn and the Castle Howard Circular Walk. This well-manicured estate has been in the hands of the Howard family for 300 years, making this a fascinating walk steeped in local history.
  • Westow and River Derwent Walk: This is a fantastic adventure in the Howardian Hills Area of Natural Beauty that will showcase the beautiful countryside as you walk along the winding banks of the River Derwent.
  • Appleton le Street to Malton Walk: A fantastic one-way route with a variety of scenery, this walk will enable you to experience views of charming villages, grand estates, and the Howardian Hills, before ending in the market town of Malton.
  • Castle Howard Walk: This amazing walk in the Howardian Hills will showcase the estate of the Howard family that has held lands in the area for 300 years. In addition to the well-maintained estate, you will also enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding hillscape.
  • Norton and Auburn Hill Walk: Situated on the edge of the Howardian Hills AONB, this walk will take you through the town of Norton-on-Derwent to experience its historic streets and the natural beauty of the surrounding countryside.
  • Malton and Saint Mary's Priory Walk: This is an exceptional journey along the edge of the Howardian Hills that will take you to visit a number of interesting historical sites within the town of Malton. Additionally, you will also have some amazing views as you stroll along the banks of the River Derwent, making this a splendid walk for nearly all ages and skill levels.
  • Stamford Bridge and River Derwent Walk: Located just to the southwest of the Howardian Hills AONB, this trail follows an amazing route along the River Derwent that will expose you to some interesting historical sites, including that of the famous 1066 CE Battle of Stamford Bridge, where the Norse army of Harald Hardrada was defeated and drive out of England.
  • Wharram le Street and Wharram Percy Walk: Another fantastic walk just outside of the Howardian Hills AONB, this trail will lead you across the picturesque Yorkshire countryside to visit the location of a Medieval village that was abandoned sometime around the turn of the 16th Century.

Scroll down to find all the best walks in the Howardian Hills.

When is the Best Time to Walk in Howardian Hills AONB

The best time to visit the Howardian Hills AONB is during the warmer months of the year (June-September), as the trails will be dry and the weather will be the most favourable. While this might make for great walking conditions, it will also mean that more visitors will flock to the region to explore its natural beauty. Luckily, the Howardian Hills are accessible year-round; so if you want to avoid the crowds and don’t mind flirting with the potential of walking in some wild North Yorkshire weather, then you can plan your trip for the time of year that best suits your needs.

Other Outdoor Activities in Howardian Hills AONB

Due to the undulating landscape, open fields, and swathes of woodland terrain that can be found within the Howardian Hills, walking is overwhelmingly the most popular activity here. Other activities that can be done in the region include cycling and stargazing from atop the area’s many hills, as well as horseback riding, canoeing, fishing, and shooting.

Adventure Tours Near the Howardian Hills AONB

If the thought of planning your own walking adventure seems like a daunting task, but you really want to take on a challenging and unique experience, why not leave the logistics to professional outdoor enthusiasts and check out the most amazing adventure tours in Yorkshire.

Frequently Asked Questions About Howardian Hills AONB

Where are the Howardian Hills?

The Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty can be found in the north of England, between the Yorkshire Wolds, Vale of York, and North York Moors National Park.

Why are they called the Howardian Hills?

The Howardian Hills take their name from both the undulating landscape of the region, as well as the Howard Family that is a prominent group of landholders in the area.

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Best Hikes in Howardian Hills AONB

Open details for Yearsley Woods Circular Walk

Yearsley Woods Circular Walk

Moderate
6.6 km
198 m
1.5-2.5h

The Yearsley Woods Circular Walk is a fantastic family-friendly adventure in the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that features a tranquil forest and peaceful lakeside setting. While out walking the trail, you will meander through the forest amongst the mature trees, before walking near the shores of a lake with wooden piers that you can use to gaze out across the calm surface.. This is a dog-friendly trail, so make sure to bring along your canine companions for a good bit of exercise!

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Open details for Hovingham and the Howardian Hills Walk

Hovingham and the Howardian Hills Walk

Moderate
7.7 km
243 m
2-3h

The Hovingham and the Howardian Hills Walk is a pleasant journey across the North Yorkshire countryside that will allow you to experience the charming villages and undulating landscape of the Howardian Hills. While out on the trail, you will leave behind the quaint village of Hovingham in order to explore the open fields and serene woodlands of the surrounding area. While the majority of this walk is dog friendly, the last portion of the trail is not and will require you to walk around the property.

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Open details for Welburn and Castle Howard Circular Walk

Welburn and Castle Howard Circular Walk

Moderate
9.0 km
258 m
2.5-3h

Walking the Welburn and Castle Howard Circular route is a fantastic excursion that will showcase the beauty of the Howardian Hills. While out on this walk, you will traverse the open countryside to reach the grounds of the Castle Howard Estate, which has been the home of the Carlisle branch of the Howard family for 300 years. This is a truly wonderful walk with spectacular views.

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Open details for Westow and River Derwent Walk

Westow and River Derwent Walk

Moderate
5.5 km
142 m
1.5-2h

The Westow and River Derwent Walk is a beautifully scenic walking route on the edge of the Howardian Hills AONB that will expose you to the picturesque countryside of the region. While out on the trail, you will make your way through open farmland and walk along the banks of the River Derwent, while taking in stunning views of the surrounding landscape. Make sure to wear proper footwear, as portions of this trail can be quite muddy at times!

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Open details for Appleton le Street to Malton Walk

Appleton le Street to Malton Walk

Moderate
11.1 km
353 m
3-4h

The Appleton le Street to Malton Walk is a fantastic adventure in the Howardian Hills AONB that will expose you to a variety of terrain and beautiful views within the region. While out walking the trail, you will leave the charming village behind and traverse the open fields and woodlands of the Howardian Hills, taking in views of the Castle Howard Estate before making your way into the market town of Malton. Walkers should take note that this is a one-way adventure that will require you to take the bus for the return leg (the bus runs Monday to Saturday).

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Open details for Castle Howard Walk

Castle Howard Walk

Easy
8.5 km
281 m
2.5-3h

The Castle Howard Walk is a fantastic adventure in the Howardian Hills AONB of North Yorkshire that will lead you around the grounds of an extravagant country house. While out on the trail, you will walk around the stunning Castle Howard that has been the home of the Howard family for 300 years, before looping around the grounds to visit several other buildings on-site. This is a great trail that is suitable for lovers of history and nature.

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Open details for Norton and Auburn Hill Walk

Norton and Auburn Hill Walk

Moderate
9.5 km
130 m
2-3h

The Norton and Auburn Hill Walk is a laid back adventure just outside of the Howardian Hills that will allow you to experience both city and countryside walking. While out on the trail, you will pass through the town of Norton-on-Derwent, before looping around the countryside for views of the Howardian Hills. Make sure to keep your dog on a lead and keep an eye on children, as the city portions of the walk can be busy.

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Open details for Malton and Saint Mary’s Priory Walk

Malton and Saint Mary’s Priory Walk

Easy
4.7 km
86 m
1-1.5h

The Malton and Saint Mary’s Prior Walk is an amazing city adventure that will take you to a number of interesting highlights in this riverside town. While out on the trail, you will visit the historic churches of St Michael and St Mary’s Priory, in addition to exploring the market area and visit an ancient Roman fort along the banks of the River Derwent. What a fantastic way to spend an afternoon!

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Open details for Malton and Swinton Walk

Malton and Swinton Walk

Moderate
9.8 km
218 m
2.5-3.5h

The Malton and Swinton Walk is a fun excursion that will lead you from the market town of Maton to the small village of Swinton. While out walking the trail, you will explore the historic streets of these two fine places, traversing the picturesque countryside terrain in between while experiencing beautiful views across the landscape. As there will likely be a fair number of people about, make sure to keep your dog on a leash.

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Open details for Kirkham Priory and River Derwent Walk

Kirkham Priory and River Derwent Walk

Moderate
7.4 km
161 m
2-2.5h

The Kirkham Priory and River Derwent Walk is a fantastic adventure in the Howardian Hills AONB that will showcase the beauty of the landscape and visit interesting historical sites. While out walking the trail, you will pass by the 12th Century Kirkham Priory, before traversing the undulating terrain to the south to walk along the banks of the River Derwent. This is a great trail that can be enjoyed by nearly everyone, although there are some steep climbs throughout.

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