As the harsh English winter slips away into spring, people turn to the great outdoors to melt-away indoor fatigue. Not only does sunshine and fresh air relieve the gloominess that grips us during the winter months, but a group walk across Northern England’s beautiful countryside allows space to marvel at the impossible beauty of one of Earth’s most extraordinary regions.
With London drawing all the attention, Northern England remains a fairly well-kept secret in the traveling community. Walking in the lush northern English countryside is a window back into thousands of years of rich English history. From remnants of the Roman era to the sleepy country pubs that provide shelter to weary travelers, there is nothing quite like taking a walk with friends in “God’s Own Country.”
While solo walking has many amazing benefits, participating in a group walk is an opportunity to communicate face to face, rekindle lost relationships and relieve the stress of isolation. Here are 6 incredible group-friendly walks in Northern England that will help you kick the winter blues:
Location: 300m (0.6mi) north of Malham, North Yorkshire UK.
Difficulty: Easy (from Malham Village to the foot of the cove), Hard (via Gordale Scar trail)
One of the most impressive walks in England, Malham Cove Malham is a massive amphitheater-shaped formation of limestone rock.
This majestic curved-limestone cliff towers nearly 80m (260ft) over a lush landscape of unique vegetation. A narrow waterfall cascades from the face of the cliff to form a peaceful stream that meanders south alongside the path from Malham Village.
Groups looking for good walking in England must explore this impressive geological feature which has attracted visitors for generations. For Harry Potter fanatics, you will get a chance to get up close and personal to a location featured in several scenes of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
The 300m (0.6mi) path from Malham Village to the foot of the cove offers an easy walk for groups of all ages. From there, steps lead up to the limestone pavement at the top of the cliff which features a breathtaking view of Malham Village and the surrounding dale.
If your group seeks a little more adventure, take the trail through Gordale Scar. This route is mostly easy going, but long – around 12.14km (7.7mi). The trail vanishes into rougher terrain with a short, potentially slick scramble up a minor waterfall. However, this trail leads to the top of the cliff and the sights along the way are well worth it!
For more information on Malham Cove, visit malhamdale.com.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Location: West Bretton, Wakefield WF4 4LG, United Kingdom
Art enthusiasts and families alike will adore a stroll through the well-manicured grounds of Yorkshire Sculpture Park. With something fascinating to see around every curve, YSP is the perfect place to organize a sculpture scavenger hunt with your group or enjoy a relaxing stroll with the family.
Arising out of Bretton Hall College in the late 1970s, Yorkshire Sculpture Park manages a sprawling 500-acre estate and is committed to inspiring and encouraging emerging artists. They hold a multitude of events, workshops and exhibitions throughout the year that are open to the public.
The Park has available on-site amenities for food and drink. Park officials ask their visitors to review the current guidelines posted on their website before booking a ticket to the grounds.
To learn more about their sculptures and upcoming events, or to book a ticket, you can visit their website at ysp.org.uk.
Location: Crag Lane, Huby, N Yorkshire, LS17 0ER
Difficulty: Easy (3.2km/2mi round trip)
Your walking group will thoroughly enjoy following the well-worn footpath from North Rigton up to the 700 foot tall millstone grit formation that is Almscliffe Crag. This short hike is easy to travel, but be aware of the long and sharp drops off the rocks on its north and west sides.
Wind your way to the top of the Crag on a beautiful evening to enjoy a stunning sunset over the Wharfe Valley. The Crag is a popular site for rock climbers, photographers and nature enthusiasts alike.
Longer hikes are available, which take you on a nostalgic tour through the neighboring villages of Huby, Weeton and Castly. The route is also dog friendly, but make sure you keep your pet on a leash as sheep and other livestock roam freely on the grounds.
Read more about Almscliffe Crag at Visit Harrogate.
Location: Pendle Hill, Nelson BB9 6LG (nearest to Barley in Lancashire)
Difficulty: Hard (8km/5mi that involves a lot of climbing)
This magic hill beckons for an intrepid group to make the climb to its peak. At 577m (1,893ft) it overlooks Lancashire for miles. This is the view that inspired George Fox to begin the Quaker Movement in 1652.
The area around Pendle Hill is saturated with history and intrigue as the site of the Pendle Witch trials of 1612. Pendle Hill continues to enchant and bewitch visitors to its hiking and biking trails. The peak overlooks open moorland, rolling hills, sprawling villages and the famous Blaskpool tower.
Expect a thorough workout from a medium length walk that bears a few steep climbs and rugged terrain. The circular hiking path typically begins in Barley, where the friendly residents and great accommodations will be waiting upon your return.
Learn more about the history and surroundings of Pendle Hill at www.visitpendle.com.
Location: Castleton, UK. Park in the National Trust Mam Nick Car Park
Difficulty: Easy (4.5km)
The 4.5 kilometer Mam Tor walk is one of the most iconic walks in the Peak District. Mam Tor means “Mother Hill” due to its propensity for landslides and subsequent creation of smaller hills surrounding it. With an incredible vantage point in the south of the Dark Peaks, walkers are offered marvelous views over the White Peaks and the Winnats Pass gorge.
History buff can appreciate the centuries-old history of Mam Tor. Humans have been building on the hill since the Bronze Age and at the very top rests remains of the late Bronze Age settlements – including a fort.
The relatively easy walk is friendly for all levels of walkers, although you can expect some short, steep climbs throughout the 4.5km walking loop. Mam Tor is great for your four-legged friends, although you will need to keep them on a leash through the livestock-filled pastures!
Read more information about Mam Tor here.
Location: Catbells, Keswick CA12 5TU, United Kingdom
Difficulty: Easy – Moderate (5.8km/3.6mi round trip)
Located in the north western part of the Lake District in Cumbria, the Catbells is a picturesque fell elegantly rising to a peak elevation of 451m (1,480ft). The wide trail that leads up the fell from Hawse End is easy enough for all ages to navigate.
The path rises sharply near the peak and a little scrambling is involved. The awe-inspiring, panoramic view of the surrounding hills, the valley below and Derwent Water more than compensate for the added exertion.
Members of your walking group can bring their dogs along, too! Pack a lunch and bring a camera – Catbells is a famous spot for a leisurely picnic and a prime photo opportunity.
For more information on this miniature mountain, visit WalkLakes.
What are you waiting for? Time for a group walk!
Northern England boasts breathtaking beauty and remarkable history that much of the traveling world has yet to discover. If you want to beat the crowds that you’ll find down in the South, a quick two hour train ride will open your eyes to a world that will shatter all expectations.
There has never been a better time to organize a group walk. Sunshine, fresh air and the companionship of friends and family are the exact remedy we need in these difficult times. Nature has a way of lifting spirits and what better way to enjoy it than on a beautiful walk with those we love.
Feeling inspired to go on a beautiful walk? Check out our article on the UK’s national trails!
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