The Yorkshire Wolds Way is a 127-kilometre National Trail that traverses the chalk landscape of the Yorkshire Wolds.
A popular introduction to long-distance walking, the route winds through some of the most tranquil and gentle countryside in England. The area straddles North Yorkshire and the East Riding of Yorkshire.
It is so enthralling that the BBC made a two-part television documentary in 2017, featuring a journey along the Yorkshire Wolds Way, in which presenter Paul Rose described the trail as “arguably Britain’s least well-known national walking trail”.
Even after media acknowledgement, it is one of the least frequented trails, meaning that it remains unspoiled by crowds.
Impressive from the get go, hikers will pass the mighty Humber Bridge, once the world’s largest single span bridge, along wooded slopes and through dry valleys, before heading up onto rolling hills with views over the wide open fields. The final section of the Way finishes on the dramatic headland of Filey Brigg.
It was this landscape that inspired world-renowned artist, David Hockney, and you can appreciate the artworks dotted along the way from the WANDER project.
Note that a section of the Yorkshire Wolds Way will be closed from April 2020 from the Hessle foreshore section through to North Ferriby.
The closure is due to works needed to stabilise the bank alongside the railway line and will take a few months – so check it has reopened before planning your trip.
- Peace and quiet of the Yorkshire Wolds brings a respite from city life.
- A great introduction to long distance walking.
- Delightful dales, wonderful woodlands and an array of agriculture.
Regardless of which direction you travel, the Yorkshire Wolds Way has good rail links at both ends of the walk. Hessle and Filey have train stations with almost hourly trains.
Hessle is on the railway line between Sheffield and Hull, both of which are well-served by routes from London, Manchester, and York. Filey is also served by trains to Hull and by travelling one stop north to Seamer you can take onward rail links to Manchester, York, Leeds and Liverpool.
Hessle, Hull and Filey are also served by intercity coach services, but links around the country are likely to be slower than train options.
For European visitors arriving at Hull on the ferry, there is a bus to take foot passengers to Hull Rail Station, from where you can catch a frequent train through to Hessle. On finishing the walk you can catch either a bus or train from Filey back to Hull.
Unfortunately, once on the trail there are only a handful of public transport services – meaning that doing sub-sections of the route can take a fair amount of planning.
The fastest time to complete the route was Cees Van Der Land in 2018, taking just 12 hours 23 minutes and 13 seconds.
However, don’t rush through the 127 kilometres.
Completing the walk in six days will allow you to savour the beauty and interest of the route.
Due to the fact that accommodation is usually a small way off the trail, many tour groups will offer options ranging from five to eight days.
Grade and difficulty of the walk
The Yorkshire Wolds is a relatively flat area with no steep climbs or mountains to clamber up.
There are of course hills involved, but they are gentle in gradient and once you’re up them, the views are outstanding and well worth the climb.
The paths are also well-maintained and there is plenty of signposting to keep you headed in the right direction.
This National Trail is one of the most gentle, subtle routes and is therefore suitable for almost all abilities. As a result, many people choose it as a great introduction to long-distance walking.
However, if you’ve never done a long hike before, it is important to still get some practice walks in before setting off as six consecutive days of trekking is still hard work – even if it is on flat land.
As it is a designated National Trail, the Yorkshire Wolds Way is a public path and there are no permits needed or fees to pay to walk the route or any subsection therein.
The entire route follows a series of defined Rights of Way along which you have a legal right of access.
Guided or Self-Guided
Throughout the route is the classic acorn symbol that is typical of the National Trails, found at regular intervals.
Along the way and on connecting paths there are also series of coloured arrows that indicate which paths can be used by vehicles, horse riders, cyclists or walkers.
Thanks to the waymarking, combined with the official Yorkshire Wolds Way National Trail Guide, the route is easy enough to take on self-guided.
The guidebook includes high scale Ordnance Survey mapping of the trail, and a host of historical and background information as well.
However, if this is your first long-distance hike it can be tricky knowing where to start with arranging accommodation and baggage transfers.
There are lots of companies that can help, many of which are tailor-made but self-guided packages (a good middle ground, allowing you some autonomy still), whilst others provide a guide to lead you on the walk.
The paths and conditions of the trail mean it can be walked all year around. However, due to the amount of farmland on the trail, it certainly looks its best during spring and summer when the crops are growing.
May and September are the most popular months, with warm walking weather but fewer crowds. If you want a chance to see the vibrant poppy fields you will need to walk in June and early July.
In terms of direction, most people opt to hike from Hessle to Filey, but it is sometimes easier to find accommodation if completing it in reverse.
A typical six-day itinerary would be:
Hessle to South Cave – 21km
South Cave to Market Weighton or Goodmanham – 19km
Market Weighton or Goodmanham to Millington – 13.5km
Millington to Thixendale -19km
Thixendale to Sherburn – 30km
Sherburn to Filey – 28 km
It is possible to split out days one, five and six into more manageable chunks but ensure that your break point has accommodation options nearby before committing.
One of the key challenges of the Wolds Way is that there is limited accommodation on or close to the trail, making planning your walk that much more difficult.
This means that at times you will need to travel to or from the trail by motor transport in order to get to your accommodation for the night. Local bus services aren’t great but many B&Bs offer a pick-up service, or you could pre-book a taxi.
For those on a tight budget, there are no hostels or bunkbarns on the Yorkshire Wolds Way itself, with the only nearby one being the YHA Beverley (near High Hunsley Beacon).
There are a number of campsites on the trail but all north of Market Weighton. The route passes through many fields, but you can only wild camp with permission of the landowner and note that water sources are scarce.
Due to the limited amount of accommodation it’s well worth booking in advance. If you’re really struggling to find options, try walking the route in reverse from Filey to Hessle, or start out on a midweek day rather than the weekend.
At the start of your adventure, add in a day in Hull – an impressive port city that was awarded the UK City of Culture in 2017.
Wander its free museums and galleries or follow the city’s famous Fish Trail, an impressive piece of public art comprised of 41 pieces of sculpture set into the pavements.
If you have time, take up to eight days for your trip. Along the way you will discover so much in the Yorkshire Wolds, from the parkland of Londesborough to the deserted medieval village of Wharram Percy, from abundant wildlife of hares and red kites to incredible starry nights.
Many people also choose to deviate from the trail at times to visit some of the local villages and points of interest. The historic market town of Pocklington (near Millington) has a 15th century church, boutique shops, Burnby Hall offer gardens and a museum. From here you can also take a bus to the historic city of York – only an hour away.
At the end of the hike, Filey is the perfect place to kick off your boots and go for a paddle. The town has a stunning beach with views of the long black finger of Filey Brigg in one direction and the chalk headland of Flamborough Head and Bempton Cliffs in the other.
For bird-lovers, the RSPB reserve here is home to around 200,000 nesting birds including gannets, guillemots and kittiwakes
Just a small way further down the coast is Flamborough Head – home to the oldest complete surviving lighthouse in the UK.
|Skills Required||Hiking, Walking|
|Difficulty||1/5 - 2/5|
|Starts at||Hessle, UK|
|Finishes at||Filey, UK|
|Length of route||127 Km|
|Average time to complete||5 - 7 Days|
|Possible to complete sub-sections||Yes|
|Highest point||246 metres|
|Equipment needed||Poles if preferred, Trekking gear, walking boots|
|Countries visited||England, UK|