When one day just won't do... it's time to rise to the challenge of a long-distance walk. Your reward? Journeys on foot that you'll never forget, through some of the most stunning landscapes in Britain.
Completing a long-distance walk in one go means a certain amount of planning and a decent level of fitness. However, you can break most of the routes down into shorter, day-walk or weekend sections.
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Esk Valley Walk
A mid-distance 'Regional Route', designed for a long weekend or short walking holiday, the 37-mile (60km) Esk Valley Walk explores this beautiful stretch of the National Park. It traces the source of the River Esk, high on the moors, and then follows the whole valley from Castleton to the coast at Whitby.
The Esk Valley Walk is fully waymarked with a leaping salmon - and is shown on OS Explorer maps. Yellow arrows mean a footpath and blue denotes a bridleway.
Route: From Castleton, the route runs up Danby Dale and across the moorland to the source of the River Esk, before descending Westerdale and back to Castleton. Then it traces the Esk Valley all the way to the North Sea at Whitby, via Danby, Lealholm, Glaisdale, Egton Bridge and Grosmont.
Duration: The whole route takes three to four days to walk, or it’s easy to split the Esk Valley Walk into shorter, day-walk sections. We've devised one circular walk (from Castleton) and three linear walks (between Castleton and Whitby), but other options are possible.
Transport: All sections of the walk are accessible on the Esk Valley Railway which runs between Whitby and Middlesbrough, calling at Castleton, Lealholm and Grosmont stations. Grosmont is also a stop for the heritage services on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.
Before you go: Read our advice on staying safe while walking, and check any recent changes to rights of way.
Download the Esk Valley Walk
Each full-colour route guide comes with a map, complete walking instructions, and information about the sights, places and facilities you'll pass along the way.
EVW1: Danby Dale, Blakey and Westerdale (16 miles) - coming soon
EVW2: Castleton to Lealholm (7.3 miles)
EVW3: Lealholm to Grosmont (5.8 miles)
EVW4: Grosmont to Whitby (8 miles)
The Esk Valley is full of surprises, with some stunning scenery and landscapes to enjoy. Don't miss:
Did you know?
The name, Esk, stems from an ancient Celtic word ‘Isca’, meaning water or stream, and the valley is rich in historical remains from prehistoric earthworks to medieval packhorse bridges.
Tabular Hills Walk
This 48-mile (77km) 'Regional Route' takes you from the coast at Scarborough and along the Tabular Hills to the delightful market town of Helmsley. On its own, it takes four days to complete – but combine it with the Cleveland Way National Trail and you'll have walked around the entire perimeter of the National Park in around 2 weeks!
Try a taster route: Levisham Moor and the Hole of Horcum
The Inn Way to the North York Moors
Starting and finishing in Helmsley, the Inn Way promises 89 miles of National Park walking in 6 days – and, more crucially, 31 pubs along the way! The route passes through classic moor and dale countryside, including Rosedale and the Esk Valley.
Read about the route and buy the guide from the Inn Way website.
Lyke Wake Walk
The most famous – some would say notorious – challenge walk across the North York Moors is the Lyke Wake Walk, a 40-mile route from west (Osmotherley) to east (Ravenscar). You are invited to walk it in under 24 hours, and thousands have completed the challenge since the 1950s.
The name? An old dialect song tells of a 'wake (ie, a watching over) for a 'lyke' (a corpse) – an apt thought for such an arduous route – and the walk emblem is a coffin.
It's essential to be properly prepared and supported if you intend to attempt the walk. There's plenty of useful information on the website of the New Lyke Wake Club.
Other walks and trails
The White Rose Way is a long-distance trail that runs for 104 miles from Leeds city centre to Scarborough's South Bay, passing through the Howardian Hills and via Malton, Thornton le Dale and Dalby Forest.
Another route starting in Helmsley is the 70-mile Ebor Way through the Howardian Hills and Vale of York to Ilkley in Wharfedale (thus connecting the North York Moors to the Yorkshire Dales).
St Hilda's Way runs for 43 miles in a loop from Hinderwell, near Staithes, to Whitby Abbey, designed as a pilgrimage to celebrate the life of St Hilda, who was the first abbess of Whitby. A special guide is available from Dales Court Press.