Did you know that there’s a beach in York? And we don’t mean that scruffy patch of sand under Ouse Bridge, home to the city’s goose population who are clearly dreaming of more tropical climes. Nope, we’re talking about the much loved but surprisingly little known beach on the Beningbrough river walk. Since we discovered it, it’s fast become one of our favourite family walks. Here’s why we like it, and what you need to know if you’d like to try it for yourselves.
About the Beningbrough river walk
This popular circular river walk is very popular with families in York, especially if they have older children and ideally a dog for company! It’s just outside the grounds of Beningbrough Hall and Gardens, so there is no need to pay for admission to do the walk – it’s entirely free. It’s a really pretty route that’s slightly undulating but mostly flat. With stiles and other obstacles along the way, unfortunately it’s not one for buggies or wheelchairs. It’s best suited to slightly older children who enjoy a longish walk with plenty of interesting things to see along the way. Handily there’s a cafe at the end if you need to encourage them to keep going! There’s nothing like the promise of an ice cream to speed things up.
Beningbrough river walk essentials
Here’s what you need to know about the walk:
- Address – Beningbrough, York YO30 1DD
- Parking – Small free car park just outside the gates to Beningbrough. It can get busy, so if you have a National Trust membership, you might want to park in the Beningbrough Hall car park for free and walk from there.
- Walk length – Approx 3.5 miles
- Time – 1.5 to 2 hours plus, depending on whether you stop along the way
- Route map – There is a handy map on the Beningbrough Hall website, along with instructions for the route – Find it here
- Loos – None in the car park or along the route. The closest ones are within Beningbrough Hall and Gardens (admission applies) or at Home Farm Cafe.
Things to see along the way, and Beningbrough beach!
There’s plenty of lovely things to see along the Beningbrough walk, from the pretty river to wonderful woodland, beautiful carved benches, thousands of bluebells in spring and carpets of conkers in autumn. One of the highlights is Beningbrough’s very own ‘beach’, which is an unexpected highlight.
When the weather’s right, this sandy little cove is just the place to sit for a while and pretend you’re in a far-flung land. It’s a good place to paddle, but the jury’s out on swimming (there are mixed opinions on whether it’s safe to swim here – we’d err on the side of caution and stick to careful paddling, keeping a close eye on younger children/non-swimmers). Take a towel if you predict sandy paws or feet. You can even catch the Nun Monkton ferry boat – hilariously named Bryan Ferry – across the water on certain days of the year. There’s another treat in store around the beach too – tansy beetles galore!
Where to find the tansy beetles
It’s always so exciting to spot York’s very own tansy beetles, and there are loads of them down by the Beningbrough beach. It took us a few minutes to spot them, but once we found the first few we got our eye in and found hundreds of them! Tansy beetles are unique to York – okay, there’s some debate about that, but that’s our line and we’re sticking to it – and they’re beautiful. Look out for their distinctive green jewelled shells shining in the light. Read more about York’s tansy beetles here.
Where to eat and drink
We’re big fans of a picnic and a flask of tea, but sometimes it’s nice to let someone else put the kettle on and provide the calories. There are plenty of places to stop for a picnic along the way, from the beach to benches. If you can hold off until the end of the walk, Home Farm Beningbrough is a good option. We stopped off for a coffee and some big slabs of caramel shortbread, but they also do lunches with children’s choices too. It’s a lovely place to stop and refuel after your walk, and maybe plan your next walk! Have a look at our guide to more family walks around York for inspiration.