10 Best Otley Chevin Walks: Visiting Otley Chevin Forest Park

There’s a famous phrase, “I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees”. An Otley Chevin walk is the perfect antidote if you need a boost. Otley Chevin Forest Park covers an astounding 700 acres and is split into two main sections, divided by Chevin Road. This Otley park is predominantly beautiful woodland, with open moorland and crags occasionally jutting out from the undergrowth. Otley Chevin Forest Park has some of the prettiest walks in Otley – whether you fancy an easy circular loop or a sunset hike with a significant other. These are the best of the Otley Chevin walks, plus all the extra details you should know before visiting.

Top 5 Otley Chevin Walks 

Let’s cut straight to the chase with the best Otley Chevin walks, and we’ll cover the more general details after. Otley Chevin Forest Park is full of different walks, but these are the top Otley walks that you should prioritise if you only have time to complete one or two.

1. Sculpture Trail 

This 1.2-mile Otley Chevin walk is the best out of all the bunch for a family-friendly hiking experience. The route is easy, starting from Lower Shawfield Car Park and heading directly along Chippendale Ride. There’s even a helpful sculpture pointing you in the right direction once you leave the car park. While nicknamed the ‘Sculpture Trail’, its real name is the Heritage Time Trail. The draw for this Otley Chevin walk is the eight wooden sculptures that you spot along the way. The trail surface is also suitable for prams and wheelchairs, making it a perfect accessible addition to the Otley Chevin walks.

2. Otley Chevin Circular Walk 

The Otley Chevin Circular Walk is a 4.5-mile moderate hike that takes you along woodland paths in the largest Otley Chevin Forest Park area. This is ideal for anyone wanting an approximately 3-hour walk and a complete immersion in classic British woodland. You’ll be walking muddy trails and ducking under sycamore and oak trees while spotting beautiful wood-carving statues. And finally, you’ll end your hike at the Otley Chevin Surprise View.

This trail map starts and ends at the Chevin Country Park Lodge, but you can adapt it to start from any nearby car park in Otley. We’d recommend it for the most detailed instructions for the Otley Chevin Circular walk.

3. Surprise View 

The Otley Chevin Surprise View is a big deal. This is the most scenic Otley Chevin walk you can complete and one of the prettiest Otley walks. You start at Surprise View and embark on a 2.7-mile hike along a stunning ridge. You have beautiful views the entire way, sometimes seeing as far as the White Horse near Sutton Bank and always getting expansive views of Otley and its surrounding valley. If you want to impress someone with your elite knowledge of Otley walks, this is the most ‘wow factor’ Otley walk to pick. Make sure to bring a picnic, as there are many little benches along the way with romantic views over Otley.

4. Chevin Stone Maze 

Chevin Stone Maze is one of the most fun Otley Chevin walks – especially if you have young children. The highlight of this out-and-back hike is the massive dry-stone maze in the middle of picturesque woodland. The hike takes approximately 40 minutes and 2 miles to reach the maze from East Chevin Road, but once you do, you can enjoy a picnic and challenge yourself and any little ones to beat the maze.

Does that sound too long for some of your fellow hikers? Use our cheat card and park near Johnny Lane instead. From here, it is barely a 5-minute walk.

5. Geology Trail

This Otley Chevin walk is slightly more challenging than the other themed trails. However, if you can take a 2.5-mile hike through some steep sections of woodland and rough footing, it is massively rewarding. The geology trail showcases the best geographical features in Otley Chevin Forest Park, including tidal laminations and fossilised tree branches. A simple Google will bring up trail PDFs online – which we’d recommend so you can understand each geological feature you are looking at. Each feature is marked by a beautiful rock carving, so you shouldn’t miss them.

How to Visit Otley Chevin Forest Park  

A map displayed by Otley Chevin Forest Park.

Visiting Otley Chevin Forest Park is super easy. You can catch the bus into Otley town centre and walk 30 minutes up East Chevin Road to the main entrance. Or alternatively, you can drive and park at one of the five main car parks for free. Otley Chevin Forest Park is free to visit and park. However, you should remember that most car parks are small, so parking spaces can get competitive at peak times.

As another quick piece of advice, before you visit Otley Chevin Forest Park, we recommend downloading trail guides online. You could print them off for free beforehand if you want to be organised. This is because the trails can get quite confusing, and the main ‘Otley Chevin Walk Map’ boards by each car park only highlight which trails belong to walkers versus riders. If you don’t fancy just getting lost for a few hours (which can be fun, too), you’ll get more out of the experience if you plan your Otley Chevin walk beforehand and arrive with a map.

Where to Park for Otley Chevin

Surprise View Otley Chevin Car Park 

Address: York Gate, LS21 3DG

Best For: Parking near Surprise View.

This car park gets super busy because it is the closest point to one of the most popular walks in Otley Chevin Forest Park. However, if you are visiting out of peak seasons and times, this is one of the most convenient places to park near Chevin.

Yorkgate Quarry Car Park

Address: Pleasant View Farm, York Gate, LS21 3DG

Best For: Access to the quarry and peak-time parking near Surprise View.

Yorkgate Quarry Car Park is just seconds from Surprise View Otley Chevin Car Park. Also located on York Gate Road, it is just closer to the quarry and ideal during peak times as it tends to be quieter.

East Chevin Quarry Car Park 

Address: East Chevin Road, LS21 3DD

Best For: Parking in between the two main areas.

East Chevin Quarry Car Park is one of the most convenient car parks if you want to enjoy an Otley Chevin walk that incorporates both areas of this Otley park. This is because it is located smack bang in the middle of the two and off East Chevin Road. It is also one of the largest car parks in Otley if you need to be near the Chevin – a definite bonus.

Upper and Lower Shawfield Car Park 

Address: Farm York Gate, East Chevin Road, LS21 3DD

Best For: Access to the larger area of Otley Chevin Forest Park.

These two smaller car parks are located the furthest along East Chevin Road. They are ideal for those wanting access to the largest and busiest section of Otley Chevin Forest Park. This is where you’ll find the easiest access to the Sculpture Trail, main bridleways, and bike paths. These two car parks are smaller, so be prepared for them to fill up on busy days. If this does happen, just head down to East Chevin Quarry Car Park and walk back up along the pavement.

Visiting Otley Chevin: FAQs

Feeling excited ahead of your Otley Chevin walks? You should be. The whole of Otley Park is stunning, and it’s amazing being up close to so many impressive geological features and well-preserved wildlife. Before you go, though, here are some common FAQs.

How many deer in Otley Chevin?

At least a few dozen deer live in Otley Chevin Forest Park. The real barrier that stops you from seeing them is noisy crowds – roe deer are notoriously shy. To maximise your chances of spotting deer on your Otley Chevin walk, aim to visit as early in the morning as possible. Dawn and dusk are the ideal times to spot wild deer.

How to get to Otley Chevin?

The easiest way to get to Otley Chevin is to drive, as it is set a 30-minute walk out of Otley town centre on a rather large hill. However, if you feel fit, you can walk to Otley Chevin Forest Park after catching the bus to Otley.

Is there anything to look for at Otley Chevin?

Look for geographical features like tidal laminations and fossilised tree branches. You should also watch out for wildlife like deer and beautiful wooden sculptures carved by local artists.

How high is Otley Chevin?

The Otley Chevin reaches a maximum of 280 metres above sea level, providing stunning views over the valley.

Is the Otley Chevin cafe open?

The White House Café was a tiny café in the middle of the smaller area of Otley Chevin Forest Park. It is currently closed and has not run properly since COVID-19. Fingers crossed, it makes a return, and if not, head to the Cheerful Chilli on East Chevin Road for refreshments instead.

What is the Chevin Forest Park Run?

The Chevin Forest Park Run is a free weekly 5km event at 9 am each Saturday. Anyone can join, and it is designed to encourage the community to get running. Just register online before attending and meet at the Shawfield Car Parks.

Where to stay near Otley Chevin Forest Park

The Chevin Country Park Lodge is the most popular place to stay near Otley Chevin Forest Park. Or you can stay in the Otley town centre and travel up to the Otley Chevin Forest Park, located on a hill above the town.

To Conclude: Otley Chevin Walks

Any of these Otley Chevin walks are a real treat to complete. It is worth mentioning that Otley Chevin Forest Park isn’t just open to walkers either; cyclists, horse riders, and dog walkers are welcome. If you cycle or ride a horse, the larger area of Otley Chevin Forest Park is where you can enjoy riding access. While walkers and dog walkers are allowed on every Otley Chevin walk (Otley Chevin dog walks have quickly caught on with local dog walking businesses).

And, if you feel like extending your walk, complete the Dalesway link. The Dalesway is one of the greatest hikes in the Yorkshire Dales, and the Leeds link is a 17-mile hike that cuts through Otley Chevin Forest Park to get you to the starting point.

After all that food for thought, we hope you find the perfect Otley Chevin walk. The 700 acres of hiking trails and stunning scenery are special, so take your time and soak up the atmosphere.

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