There’s a reason why people flock to Knaresborough year after year. Stepping into this spa town feels like going back in time, with its cobbled streets, famed viaduct, and stunning well-preserved medieval buildings. In fact it’s often termed ‘England’s most beautiful town’, so it’s little surprise that Knaresborough has some of the country’s most spectacular walks too.
After visiting this lovely town on many occasions, we had to share with you some of our favourite Knaresborough walks.
Each one has something that makes it special and unique – be that spectacular views, wildlife spotting opportunities, or the chance to visit places where myths were born.
So grab your walking boots and a healthy dose of enthusiasm, as we show you seven exceptional walks around and near Knaresborough.
Knaresborough walks: The trails you have to try
Nidd Gorge Loop
It would be hard to begin any Knaresborough list without the iconic Nidd Gorge walk. This six-mile loop trail will take you over stiles, up ancient stone staircases, and have you traverse the banks of the River Nidd before going under the iconic Knaresborough Viaduct. You’re not allowed to walk on the viaduct – it’s an active train line – but this walk will take you as close as possible to what is regarded as one of Yorkshire’s best architectural gems.
The walk starts just outside Knaresborough (you can see a map of the path here) and meanders into the countryside by partially following the winding River Nidd. Around three miles in there’s a river beach which is the perfect place for a quick swim on a warm day. Keep an eye out for colorful kingfishers and herons – many make this river home.
You’ll go through woodland too, and there’s many opportunities to spot wildlife as the forest you pass through has over 80 species living in it! In particular, look out blue tits and flame-headed goldcrests.
All in all this is probably our favourite Knaresborough walk. It can get busy at times, and you have to be careful of slippery mud in places, but this relaxing 2 hour walk is worth every minute.
Mother Shipton’s Well
This 1.5 mile walk starts at High Bridge in Knaresborough (you can park at Conyngham Hall Car Park), and will see you walk south to a cave where a mysterious prophetess – Mother Shipton (who predicted the internet and cars!)- was born in 1488. On your way you’ll pass under the famous viaduct.
You’ll also visit the Purifying Well – a well where mineral-laden water has turned hats, teddies and other objects into stone. A little further on you’ll reach the Mother Shipton Inn, a worthy place to stop for a quick drink or bite to eat.
Following that you’ll cross over the river and head northwards back to the starting point, but on the way will pass medieval buildings and old quaint shops.
This is another one of our favourite Knaresborough walks, and can be completed in around 1.5 hours. You can see a map of the path, and great step by step directions, here.
If you’re feeling energetic and a little adventurous, then this 20 mile walk will take you through some of the best countryside that North Yorkshire has to offer! Expect lakes, rivers, centuries-old woodland and quaint chocolate-box villages as you circle anticlockwise around England’s most beautiful town using little roads, walking paths and farming tracks.
The trail starts near Knaresborough Castle and takes you eastwards towards Goldsborough – where you can make a short detour to the historic Goldsborough Hall. Then you will pass through woodland and several quaint villages – many of which have some lovely pubs where you can get a bite to eat. After around 3-4 hours you should have reached Coneythorpe – The Tiger Inn near the village green has some great food options.
You’ll then pass through gentle hills and rolling fields north of Knaresborough before reaching Scotten – which also has some good pub options. From there you make your way south, going through the spectacular Nidd Gorge with viaduct views as you follow the river on the way back to the starting point.
This walk is a great way to spend a day, and should take around 8-10 hours to complete – and that’s with a lunch stop on the way. To see a printable map of the trail, click here.
Knaresborough Castle walk
This three mile walk will take 1.5-2 hours, including time to stop and admire the scenery. That scenery includes medieval buildings, woodland sculptures, caves, the River Nidd, and finally Knaresborough Castle. That’s a lot of things to see in just a three mile loop trail!
The walk itself is easy going and accessible for all abilities. You’ll also pass by a couple of pubs on the way so there’s opportunities to grab a drink. You can see a map of the trail, and a walkthrough of what you will see, alongside pictures, here.
Harrogate to Knaresborough (and back if you have the energy)
This walk starts and ends in arguably North Yorkshire’s two prettiest towns. Starting in the center of the famous market town of Harrogate, this trail will have you follow the River Nidd through the pretty Nidd Gorge to Knaresborough. See a map of the trail here.
It’s a walk that has a variety of landscapes on show – forests, riverside, fields, and more – and you’ll be walking through areas where roe deer, woodpeckers and herons live.
The walk should only take 1-1.5 hours one way, and is a gentle stroll more than anything else. There’s plenty of food options in both towns, so we recommend walking one way then grabbing a well deserved lunch or pint, and then walking back. You can also take the train from Knaresborough back to Harrogate.
Knaresborough to Bilton
This five mile loop trail should take around two hours to complete and starts beside the River Nidd with stunning views of the famous viaduct.
From there you will make your way westwards through field and forest on a decent path (albeit some parts are overgrown) before passing by Bilton Caravan Park, and then The Gardener’s Arms – a lovely historic pub.
From there the path begins to take you back to Knaresborough through an old barely-used lane. All in all it’s a lovely walk with some great views, and is the perfect way to build up an appetite before grabbing a pub lunch at the end.
This is a popular walk with dog owners, but sometimes there are cows in the fields that you walk through – so make sure your dog is on a lead for those parts, especially when there’s calves. You can see a map of this trail here.
Knaresborough Circular Via Bilton Greenway
This scenic seven mile circular walk goes in a similar direction as the trail above, however you will follow the River Nidd for around half the walk. It’s seven miles well spent though as you head through Nidd Gorge, enjoy views of the viaduct, have countless bird-watching opportunities, and even the chance for a dip in the quieter sections of the river.
The trail also takes you through woodland for much of the first 3-4 miles, and while the second half of the walk is mainly through fields, the view out across the North Yorkshire landscape is lovely.
You’ll then follow the trail back to High Bridge in Knaresborough – where the path started. From here you have a wonderful photo opportunity of the viaduct.
When starting this walk you can park in Conyngham Hall Car Park. To see a map of the path, click here.