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Esk Valley Walks and Villages

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There are so many Esk Valley Walks to enjoy and villages to discover that we just had to list them in an easy-to-follow article. So, if you’re visiting the area or live nearby, this guide will help you explore this part of the world on foot.

The Esk Valley is located in the North York Moors National Park in North Yorkshire. The area is a haven for nature enthusiasts, hikers, and history buffs alike. The valley boasts breathtaking landscapes encompassing lush forests, rolling hills, and the meandering River Esk, which runs through the valley’s heart. Visitors can explore charming villages and historical landmarks like the impressive Danby Castle. The Esk Valley Railway, a scenic railway route, offers travellers a unique opportunity to soak up the area’s natural beauty as they wind their way through the valley. In this article, you will learn about Esk Valley walks and villages.

Esk Valley walks and villages to explore

Beck Hole village in the Esk Valley
Ben Brooksbank, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Beck Hole

Beck Hole is a quaint hamlet in North Yorkshire. It is known for its rich history in ironstone mining. Visitors can still see remnants of the village’s industrial past, such as spoil heaps and blast furnaces. However, Beck Hole also offers plenty of natural beauty, with lovely walking paths and picturesque scenery. The village’s popular pub, Birch Hall Inn, is a gathering place for locals and tourists, offering a cosy atmosphere and delicious food and drinks.

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Not far from Beck Hole is the Mallyan Spout Waterfall; this waterfall is one of the most beautiful attractions in Goathland. This waterfall plummets 100 feet, it is an ideal spot for photography and walking enthusiasts; plenty of trails lead up to the waterfall.

Mallyan Spout Waterfall in the Esk Valley
Mallyan Spout Waterfall in the North York Moors

Mallyan Spout and Beck Hole Circular Walk

3 miles (4.8km) | 1 hour 30 minutes | Easy

This walk starts at Goathland car park; this is an easy route perfect for families to enjoy together. Embark on a 3-mile circular route that offers a glimpse of the Mallyan Spout. The trail descends into the wooded valley, leading you to the serene waters of West Beck before taking you back through a portion of the original Whitby-to-Pickering railway track bed. The walk promises to be a delightful journey, filled with breathtaking views and an appreciation of the natural beauty that has attracted visitors for generations.

There are steps during the descent into the wooded valley and gates and steps during the ascent. Note that all paths can become slippery and muddy after rainfall. The rocky path along West Beck to Mallyan Spout may pose a challenge, particularly after heavy rain, so exercise caution while traversing. It’s worth noting that the waters of West Beck can become fast-flowing after rain, so keep your dog under control and on a leash near livestock. Follow the entire route here.

Castleton is an Esk Valley Village worth exploring
© Copyright Mick Garratt and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.


Castleton is a lovely village near the Esk Valley. It is part of the civil parish of Danby. Known for its stunning natural scenery, including rolling hills and lush green forests, this village is steeped in history.

Castleton was the primary market and industrial town serving Upper Eskdale in times gone by. There were annual wool, cheese and cattle fairs, a cheese market and a silk mill. Today there is a show held at Castleton every September on the second Saturday. It is also the home to several ancient buildings, such as St. Michael’s Church and St. Georges Church, a grade II listed building, and the village has a Clapper Bridge that spans Danby Beck; this bridge was listed as Grade II in 2016. Visitors can explore the village’s quaint streets or hike through the nearby hills and valleys.

Castleton to Commondale Circular Walk

4.7 miles (7.6km) | 2 hours 18 minutes | Easy

This walk is widely regarded as an easy route, with an average completion time of 2 hours and 18 minutes. It’s an ideal trail for hiking, running, or walking; chances are you’ll encounter few other hikers while exploring. The hike, covering less than eight kilometres with minimal elevation gain, begins just south of Castleton Moor train station and follows Commondale Moor Road to the Commondale train station. The return journey offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside, with well-maintained trails to guide you along the way. Follow the entire route here.

Horseshoe Inn, Egton Bridge
The Horseshoe Inn, Egton Bridge | Andrew Bowden, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Flickr

Egton and Egton Bridge

Egton is known for its historic church, St. Hedda’s, and it is also home to the famous annual Egton Show, one of the country’s largest agricultural shows. Egton Bridge is a nearby hamlet on the River Esk, which runs through the heart of the North York Moors. The stone bridge that crosses the Esk here was rebuilt in 1992 after a flood destroyed it in the 1930s. The area around Egton Bridge is popular with hikers and walkers, as it offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside.

Glaisdale and Egton Bridge Circular Walk

5 miles (8km) | 3 hours 30 minutes | Moderate

This 5-mile circular walk between Glaisdale and Egton Bridge is full of history and romance, highlighted by the stunning Beggar’s Bridge and the ancient stone trods that wind through the enchanting bluebell woods near both settlements. As you ascend to the upper stretches, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the surrounding high farmland while the babbling River Esk flows nearby in the valley sections. Glaisdale and Egton Bridge stations are stops on the Esk Valley Railway, allowing you to embark on the entire journey from either station.

The walk mainly follows field paths and woodland tracks, with some caution advised on the occasionally slippery stone trods. Additionally, a few miles of walking are on minor roads, so please be vigilant. Finally, expect to see farm animals on this walk, so keeping your dogs on a short lead is best. Follow the entire route here.

Beggar's Bridge Glaisdale
Beggar’s Bridge can be found near Glaisdale in the Esk Valley.


Glaisdale is situated in a valley between steep hills and is surrounded by lush countryside; it is a popular destination for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. In addition, Glaisdale is known for its historic railway station, which dates to the 19th century and is now a popular attraction for visitors.

Glaisdale offers many hiking opportunities, making it an ideal destination for nature enthusiasts. You can explore numerous trails that suit your interests, ranging from the challenging 192-mile Coast-to-Coast Walk, which includes a stop in Glaisdale, to a local circular route. Regardless of your preferences, Glaisdale’s hiking routes will satisfy your wanderlust. It is also where the legendary Beggar’s Bridge crosses the Esk.

The village is also home to several pubs and restaurants, offering traditional Yorkshire fare and a warm welcome to visitors. Overall, Glaisdale is a charming and picturesque village that offers a taste of rural Yorkshire life.

Glaisdale Rigg, Esk Valley Walk
Big view from Glaisdale Rigg by Colin Grice, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Glaisdale Rigg Walk

8 miles (12.8km) | 3 hours | Moderate

Begin by strolling through the village before embarking on a steep ascent up Glaisdale Rigg, which offers breathtaking panoramic views. The trail then leads to the head of Glaisdale, with a return journey along the valley floor. Although the latter section involves some walking on the tarmac, the scenery is still spectacular, showcasing stunning vistas of the Esk Valley and the North Sea. As you make your way back, you’ll get a unique perspective on hill farming, and the tranquillity of the countryside surrounding you is delightful. Eventually, the road will lead you back to Glaisdale village, where a brief but steep walk will bring you to the Arncliffe Arms. A perfect place to stop for a refreshment! Follow the entire route here.

Grosmont Village
Grosmont Railway Station


Grosmont is a small village in the North York Moors National Park. The village is known for its historic railway station. The railway offers visitors the chance to travel through the stunning countryside of the North York Moors on a steam train, and the station itself is a popular attraction for railway enthusiasts. In addition, the village homes significant historic buildings, including the 19th-century Esk Villa, Rose Cottage, The Station Tavern Public House, and the post office dating back to 1835. All of these are well worth a visit.

Grosmont to Beck Hole

4.8 miles (7.75km) | 3 Hours | Moderate

This walk begins at the National Park car park, Grosmont and runs along Stephenson’s’ original railway line from Grosmont via Beck Hole and Goathland. If you’re lucky enough to be there in May, the local woods have a fabulous display of bluebells.

Except for the initial steep climb up the road, the first half of the walk is a gentle stroll through wooded areas and fields. You’ll encounter stiles, gates, and a stone trod in the woods along the way. Be aware that parts of the route may become quite muddy after rainfall. Upon reaching Beck Hole, the return journey follows the old railway line, which boasts a level, compact, hard surface. However, the final section at Grosmont involves a climb and a descent. The route takes you through various habitats, including woodland, farmland, a farmyard, and along the River Esk. To minimise disruption to local wildlife, including those residing in the forest and river, please always keep your dog under control and on a short lead in areas with livestock. Follow the entire route here.

Lealholm in thew Esk Valley


Lealholm is known for its historic packhorse bridge, which dates to the 17th century and is a popular spot for visitors to take photographs. The village is also home to a pub, a village shop, a post office, and a small church. There are lovely walking routes surrounding Lealholm, and it’s a peaceful place to stay and enjoy nature. Many people visit for the Lealholm Show, an annual event on the first Saturday in September. It is a popular farm produce, horticultural and agricultural show.

Lealholm Circular

3.5 miles (5.6 km) | 1 Hour 35 Minutes | Easy

Embark on this lovely circular walk that takes you through the dales and hills surrounding Lealholm, beginning with a picturesque amble along the banks of the Esk. The route eventually leads you onto the hillside, affording breathtaking vistas of the dales. While this walk is rated as “Easy,” it’s worth noting that there is one segment where navigation may prove challenging. To stay on track, consider using a map, compass, or GPS device. Follow the entire route here.

Larpool Viaduct in Ruswarp
Acasson, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Ruswarp is a charming village located in North Yorkshire. It is situated on the banks of the River Esk and is a popular destination for North York Moors National Park visitors. The village has a rich history dating back to the Viking era. One of the most popular attractions in Ruswarp is the miniature railway. The river also provides opportunities for boating, fishing, and riverside walks.

Whitby to Ruswarp Circular Walk

3 miles (5km) | 1 hour 20 minutes | Easy

Begin your journey at Whitby Train Station and pick up the Esk Valley Walk. As you walk, you’ll be tracing the initial stretch of the Esk Valley Railway. You will come across the impressive Larpool Viaduct, which rises 120ft high and was initially built to carry the now-defunct Scarborough to Whitby railway. The viaduct now serves as part of the Cinder Track, a shared cycling and walking trail that runs to Robin Hood’s Bay.

After exploring the village, cross the railway line and follow country lanes to reach the viaduct. You can enjoy spectacular countryside views from here as you cross the structure. The route then loops back to Whitby, following the same path. You can stop for refreshments at The Bridge Inn in Ruswarp, which offers a charming garden area by the river. The pub serves excellent food and boasts a fine selection of ales. This trail is a perfect option for dog walkers, and The Bridge Inn is also dog-friendly. Follow the entire route here.

Sleights Train Station
Maniac Pony at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Sleights and Briggswath

Sleights is a picturesque village home to several pubs, cafes, and local shops. Briggswath is a smaller village located just a short distance from Sleights, and it is known for its stunning countryside scenery and rural charm. Visitors to Briggswath can enjoy hiking, cycling in the surrounding hills and valleys, and exploring the local shops and cafes. Both Sleights and Briggswath offer a peaceful and relaxing escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life. They are the perfect destination for anyone looking to explore the natural beauty of North Yorkshire.

Sleights to Whitby Walk

4 miles (6km) | 1 hour 30 minutes | Easy

This 4-mile walk takes you along the historic Esk Valley Railway. It begins at Sleights train station, which serves both the village of Sleights and the hamlet of Briggswath across the River Esk. Starting on the southern side of the station, the trail leads you eastwards towards Hagg House and Ruswarp, where you’ll find another station. After crossing the river, you’ll head into Whitby and finish at the iconic Whitby Abbey on the coast. You can retrace your steps or catch a train back to Sleights from Whitby. You can follow the entire route here.

Esk Valley Train Line
The joy of all things, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Esk Valley Line

You can experience the beauty of the North York Moors National Park through the scenic Esk Valley Railway. Enjoy the 35-mile journey from urban Middlesbrough, passing through charming villages like Lealholm to the historic fishing port of Whitby. Admire the ever-changing rural landscape and relax throughout the journey. With early morning and later evening services available from Mondays to Saturdays, travellers have ample time to explore the picturesque countryside. Or you could follow the 37-mile Esk Valley Walk from Castleton to Whitby. In Whitby, visit the Captain Cook Memorial Museum or Pannett Park Museum, enjoy delicious fish and chips, or comb the coastline for jet and fossils. The station is conveniently located in the centre of the town by the harbour.

Check the full timetable at www.eskvalleyrailway.co.uk/timetable/

We hope this article has inspired you to get out and explore the Esk Valley and its villages on foot! Whether you’re looking for a challenging trek or a peaceful stroll, these Esk Valley walks offer diverse landscapes and well-maintained trails that will surely provide a memorable experience. Remember to let us know in the comments if you have tried any of our suggested walks. We love to hear what you think.

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