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Wrap up warm and wellies on! Five stunning places for a winter family walk in and near York

Askham Bog York winter

We’ve all learned to love (or at least tolerate) spending more time at home recently, but a walk does wonders for everyone’s moods. Even if the weather’s uninspiring, getting outside and letting the little ones run free is the perfect antidote to too much sofa time (for them or the grown-ups). Whether they’re tiny or tweenie, they’ll all benefit (even if they aren’t exactly enthusiastic about the idea). Here are five places within easy reach of York with child-friendly, circular routes that don’t require too much planning or effort. That said, the parent who sets off on a family walk without plenty of snacks and bottles of water is playing with fire…

Spectacular views at Sutton Bank

Sutton Bank Visitor Centre

Home to ‘the finest view in England’, it’s no wonder that Sutton Bank is a very popular spot for a family walk in Yorkshire. Parking at the Sutton Bank National Park Centre is plentiful, and the fact you can pop to the loo or pick up a route map or the snacks you forgot (nightmare!) at the cafe before you set off is a bonus. The most popular route is the iconic Kilburn White Horse route, a circular walk that’s long enough to feel challenging but not so long as to feel impossible for younger children. It would be very difficult with a buggy, so it’s one for a baby carrier if you have a very little one. The views are, as promised, stunning.  Sutton Bank National Park Centre, Sutton Bank, Thirsk YO7 2EH (01845 597426)

Walking and cycling trails (and the Gruffalo) at Dalby Forest

Dalby Forest Gruffalo Spotters Trail

Dalby Forest remains one of our top recommendations for anyone looking for excellent family walks near York. At around 40 minutes from York, Dalby is a jewel in the crown of the North York Moors and, with dramatic seasonal changes and so much to do, no two visits are the same. There are plenty of walking routes, with many specifically designed for families: the new Gruffalo Spotters Trail is excellent (read our review of the Dalby Gruffalo Spotters Trail here), as is the Gruffalo Orienteering route. Find a handy summary of each of the Dalby Forest walking routes here. If your kids are happier on two wheels, there are specific cycling trails to explore as well. Here’s what’s available at Dalby for cyclists. 

If that’s not enough to convince you, there are two excellent play areas and a visitor centre selling drinks, snacks and light meals too. There’s no admission fee to visit, just pay to park, making it an excellent value family day out. If you’re planning to visit a few times during the year, it’s worth considering an annual membership. Dalby Forest, Dalby Visitor Centre, Low Dalby, Thornton-Le-Dale, Pickering

Easy exploring at Askham Bog Nature Reserve

Askham Bog York

York’s well known for its heritage, but there’s some wonderful nature and wildlife to discover too. Grab your binoculars and head to Askham Bog to embark on the short circular walk and see what you can spot. More adventurous explorers can head over the stiles and into the long grass: make a den, look for secret gardens, count the butterflies and see what birds call Askham Bog home. The path is boarded, making it accessible for most buggies and wheelchairs. Parking is free and there’s no admission free. No loos! Read our five reasons to visit Askham Bog here Askham Bog, just off the A1036, York YO23 2UB

A treehouse and more at Moorlands Nature Reserve

Moorlands Nature Reserve

One of York’s best-kept secrets, Moorlands Nature Reserve is one of our top spots for a short family walk. Run by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, it’s a pretty, well-maintained place with plenty of wildlife to spot. There’s a clear circular trail that takes us around half an hour (more if the children spend ages playing in the fab treehouse halfway round). Top tips: if it’s been raining recently, make sure you’re wearing the right shoes as it can be muddy. There’s no admission fee and on-street parking is free (but can get busy at times). No loos! Read our five reasons to visit Moorlands Nature Reserve here – Moorlands Nature Reserve, Moor Lane, York YO32 2RE

A stroll around York’s city walls

Walk York City Walls with Children

No collection of walks around York is complete without a mention of York’s famous city walls. The iconic medieval bar walls are the longest in England, but that doesn’t mean they’re off-limits for little legs: there are numerous points to hop on and off, so just choose a section, enjoy the views and head down to the street when it’s time for a coffee and cake stop. For wonderful views of York Minster, join the walls at Bootham Bar, opposite York Art Gallery. If you have a baby, leave the buggy at home or in the car: the walls are accessed by steps, and there isn’t much in the way of handrails. For that reason, you’ll need to hold on tight to the hand of lively toddlers, too! There’s no charge to enjoy the city walls, making it one of our favourite things to do in York for free.

More places for a family walk near York

Hagg Wood

Need more inspiration? These places are also lovely for a family walk in York or within an hour’s drive:

Riverside walk along the Ouse from York city centre to Rowntree Park

Hagg Wood, Dunnington

Yorkshire Sculpture Park (admission fee)

Castle Howard (admission fee)

Beningbrough Hall, Gallery & Gardens (admission fee)

Bolton Abbey (pay to park)

Fountains Abbey (admission fee)

Falling Foss near Whitby

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