Skipton Walks: Top 10 Walks in Skipton

So close to the Yorkshire Dales National Park, Skipton might be an obvious base to explore further-afield national park hikes. However, the little market town and its surrounding area have plenty of its own walks to offer. The hiking terrain and number of walks in Skipton are staggeringly diverse. Skipton is surrounded by moorland and woodland trails, including a circular loop past the 900-year-old Skipton Castle. Not to mention that Skipton is sliced in half by the beautiful Skipton Canal.

There are tons of walks around Skipton. And in this guide, we’ll cover the best walks near Skipton, all of which are either accessible on foot or within the radius of a 20-minute drive. Don’t be too quick to rush off from Skipton; try some of these Skipton walks first.

1. Skipton Castle Woods Walk

Highlights: Woodland and wildlife, including kingfishers and herons. 

Miles: 2 miles

Distance from Skipton: 0 miles (in the town centre)

 We’ve already got a complete guide to visiting Skipton Castle, which you can view here. However, if you are looking for the top walks around Skipton, combine a castle visit with a walk around Skipton Castle Woods. The 37-acre site has two miles of scenic hiking trails, mostly tarmacked, making it an easy hike. Skipton Castle Woods walk is one of the most common walks in Skipton for locals, especially among families and elderly hikers. It is also a popular dog walking spot. So, you can expect it to be cheerfully busy throughout the day.

Skipton Castle Woods is situated at the top of Skipton high street, just to the left of the medieval castle. The ancient woodland is atmospheric, and walking next to the little stream is a peaceful way to spend an hour. Keep your eyes peeled for native wildlife like kingfishers, herons, and even birds of prey like red kites.

2. Aireville Park

Highlights: Paved and pram friendly with children’s playpark 

Miles: N/A

Distance from Skipton: 0 miles (town centre)

Aireville Park is one of the best spots for leisurely walks in Skipton. The 20-acre park stretches out from the Gawflat Swing Bridge on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal to Craven College – right on the outskirts of Skipton. Paved, pram-friendly trails loop around the park between huge grassy meadows and patches of woodland. And towards the park’s western end, you’ll find a play and kids’ skate park. Aireville Park is perfect for a 30-minute to 40-minute walk and has a brilliant community feel. 

If you don’t feel like a traditional hike and would prefer a gentle stretch of your legs, Aireville Park is an excellent spot to do so. The fact it is accessible for wheelchairs, mobility scooters, and prams is also fantastic.

3. Tarn Moor Memorial Woodland

Highlights: Self-reflection spot

Miles: N/A

Distance from Skipton: 3 minutes by car, 30 minutes on foot

 When someone says to visit a graveyard for a walk, your first thought is probably, “no way”. However, Tarn Moor Memorial Woodland is one of the prettiest walks near Skipton. Tarn Moor is a sustainable, green burial ground – meaning as little impact as possible is made on the habitat. This means no gravestones and instead tracking burial spots through plottings and recordings. The open field and woodland mixture is the perfect spot for a quiet walk and some self-reflection. Allow around 20 to 30 minutes to walk through Tarn Moor Memorial Woodland. It is a fascinating spot for spirituality and appreciation of nature. 

Once you’ve enjoyed your walk, you can stop by the iconic Yorkshire gastropub, the Craven Heifer. Grab some pub grub and a drink and, if the weather allows, eat outside on the benches with views over Skipton’s surrounding farms and moorland.

4. Skipton Canal

Highlights: Canal boats and industrial and agricultural scenery

Miles: 3 miles

Distance from Skipton: 0 miles (starts from the town centre)

Skipton Canal cuts right through the market town centre and carries a considerable amount of its heritage, dating back to transporting industrial goods to Skipton’s mills and factories. Don’t miss out on taking a canal boat tour when visiting Skipton; we’ve already written a complete guide to visit Skipton Canal for a boat tour. But to visit on foot, here’s what you need to know.

Skipton Canal runs for miles, so for an entry-level taster, we’d suggest this 3-mile out-and-back trail. Start at the Coach Street bridge in central Skipton and take the steps next to the quirky-looking shop From The Source. This takes you down to the dock and Skipton Canal gift shops. Carry on walking past the Boathouse Bar – a traditional spot for a pint along the canal’s edge – and all the boat trip ticket offices. Cross Belmont Bridge and then keep to the small towpath along the canal. From here, it is one route and one route only.

You walk for approximately 30 minutes past colourful canal boats and repurposed mills. The leafy towpath is a really peaceful walk, and you have a constant drift of canal boats passing by. Carry on until you reach your endpoint – the white-painted Niffany Swing Bridge – then turn around to head back to Skipton. This section of the canal is one of the prettiest walks in Skipton.

5. Skipton to Gargrave Canal Walk

Highlights: Agricultural and industrial scenery

Miles: 10 miles return 

Distance from Skipton: 0 miles (starts from the town centre)

The Skipton to Gargrave Canal walk is an extension of the basic Skipton Canal walk and one of the top walks from Skipton. You walk along a pleasant, leafy towpath past lines of colourful moored canal boats and wildlife. On a sunny day, it is an idyllic walk. And if you stay alert, you can sometimes spot otters and herons along Skipton Canal’s banks. The Skipton to Gargrave canal walk is five miles each way, making this a brilliant mid-length walk in Skipton. There’s a complete guide to the hike here.

You share the route with cyclists, dog walkers, and regularly passing barges. Walking alone during daylight hours is safe because of how busy the route is, which is a nice touch for solo female hikers. We’d allow 1-2 hours to walk from Skipton to Gargrave, stopping there for a café or pub snack. Then complete the Gargrave to Skipton canal walk section – hiking the towpath in reverse to get back to Skipton town centre. 

6. Gargrave to Malham

Highlights: Riverside views of the River Aire and quaint villages

Miles: 14.25 miles

Distance from Skipton: 7 minutes by car

Skipton is so close to the Yorkshire Dales National Park that it is too tempting to hike across the border. If you fancy one of the best walks near Skipton, hike from Gargrave to Malham. Malham is home to the famous limestone pavement used in the final Harry Potter movie. It is an iconic spot in the Yorkshire Dales. This route takes you on a full-day hike through little villages along the River Aire. Easily one of the most geographically exciting walks around Skipton, it is perfect for those wanting a bit more challenge.

Allow 4.5 hours for this Skipton walk. While not the longest of the Skipton walks you can take, it does leave you in one of the national park’s best hiking towns. We suggest saving some time and energy to complete the Malham Cove hike so you can see the limestone pavement up close or hike for a dip in Janet’s Foss waterfall pool. You can catch the 864 bus between Skipton, Gargrave, and Malham – so don’t worry about leaving a car at each end or catching a taxi to complete this hike.

7. Embsay Crag

Highlights: Panoramas and incredible sunrise or sunset spot

Miles: 3 miles

Distance from Skipton: 9 minutes by car

Embsay Crag is one of the most famous natural landmarks near Skipton. The gritstone rockface hunches over a sheer drop – creating a unique vantage point from which to admire sweeping views of Skipton and its valley. And this almost-3-mile hike is one of the best Skipton walks if you fancy getting that ‘summit feeling’ and appreciating some panoramic views. Embsay Crag is one of the top walks near Skipton for a feeling of accomplishment. You start from the Craven Sailing Club and spend around two hours on the trail. 

There’s a complete hiking guide here by the brilliant Ostrich Trails. It is also worth noting that this is one of the most rewarding sunrise and sunset walks near Skipton, so keep it in mind if you plan these extra-special hikes.

8. Bolton Abbey

Highlights: 12th-century priory and 33,000 acres of meadows and woodland

Miles: 7.2 miles 

Distance from Skipton: 11 minutes by car

Bolton Abbey is a brilliant spot to visit, and we’ve got a pre-written guide here. It is a massive network of hiking trails through 33,000 acres belonging to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. The estate has everything from a 12th-century priory to a riverside café and fun stepping stones across the River Wharfe. However, the best Bolton Abbey walk is its 7.2-mile circular via the Strid and the estate’s prettiest riverside paths. You start near the priory, too – allowing you to explore its 12th-century ruins before walking.

There is an in-depth route guide here. You start at the Bolton Abbey car park, located off the B6160 just after the Tea Cottage. You pass the Cavendish Memorial, The Strid and can detour to Barden Tower. If you want to tick everything in Bolton Abbey off in a few hours, this is one of the top Skipton walks.

9. Dalesway

Highlights: Iconic Yorkshire scenery and cross-county exploration

Miles: 80 miles

Distance from Skipton: 12 minutes by car to Ilkley

This is one of the most iconic hikes in the UK. The Dalesway slices the Yorkshire Dales National Park in half, and despite starting from the nearby town of Ilkley, it is one of the best walks near Skipton. Finishing in the Lake District in the beautiful Bowness-on-Windermere, this 80-mile multi-day hike is not for the faint-hearted. But if you fancy a long-distance challenge for your Skipton walk, the Dalesway is one of the most traditional and naturally inspiring routes. You’ll cross national parks and counties, walking from Yorkshire to Cumbria.

You can click here for all our Ilkley resources or here for an in-depth Dalesway route guide. The Dalesway is a fantastic way to explore some of Skipton’s nearby small towns and villages without rushing straight to the national park. Despite being a busy trail, it offers a much more authentic and slow immersion into Skipton’s surrounding culture and scenery. 

10. Pennine Way

Highlights: Yorkshire culture and national park attractions

Miles: 268 miles

Distance from Skipton: 9 minutes by car to Edale or 1.5 hours by car to Edale

Finally, we have the king of all Skipton walks – the mighty Pennine Way. At 268 miles one-way, this is no walk to scoff at. This is one of the longest walks near Skipton that you could possibly tackle. And while it narrowly bypasses Skipton, it does pass through the town next door, Gargrave. You could start the route from Gargrave or journey down to Edale, the official starting point in the Peak District. If you choose to journey down to begin from Edale, you’ll be hiking for over 12 days and stopping off at hotels in the towns and villages en route. It is easily one of the most exciting and demanding walks near Skipton. 

So, what will you see along the way? The hippie town of Hebden Bridge is a firm favourite stop, as is Haworth for the Bronte Parsonage Museum. You’ll pass through beautiful Malham with its Harry Potter-made-famous limestone pavement and, if you can persuade your knees to cope with a steep detour, the stunning Malham Cove. You’ll even pass Tan Hill, which is a huge statement considering it is one of the most remote pubs in the entire UK and officially the highest pub in Britain. The Pennine Way is a real adventure.

To Conclude: What Are the Best Walks Near Skipton?

Skipton walks are far from limited. The market town has a massive network of beautiful walks, whether you want Skipton Canal walks or moorland trails. For those wanting a short walk, the best walks near Skipton are the Skipton Castle Woods walk and the basic Skipton Canal walk. While for those wanting longer walks, the Pennine Way and Dalesway are demanding – but equally rewarding – multi-day hikes near Skipton.

As you can see, these walks in Skipton and its surrounding areas are well worth trying. Skipton is brilliant for doggie holidays, too, with plenty of dog-friendly pubs to stop at to break up your hiking efforts. As an active break, you can’t get much better than Skipton. 


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