North York Moors: Thornton-le-Dale Walk

I’m finally finishing off my May 2022 Yorkshire series, following on from my previous posts on York, Ripon, Whitby and Rievaulx. Yorkshire is such a wonderful part of the UK. As our largest county, North Yorkshire has loads to offer, not least its namesake – York itself. But there is so much more to the area, from stunning coastline, to historic towns and wonderful National Parks. One such National Park is the North York Moors, a beautiful area spanning from just north of York itself all the way to the coastline.

During a stay in a wood cabin in Griffon Lodge, on the outskirts of the National Park, I headed for a solo walk in the Moors. I picked a simple route between Thornton-le-Dale and Ellerburn, and boy was it beautiful!

Hike Information

Location: I parked in the Thornton-le-Dale carpark, which is a pay & display open all day. It’s just through the village centre and has ample parking being an official National Park carpark.

Hike distance and time: The hike distance is only 3km, so it’s really more of a walk than a hike – taking around 1-1.5hrs depending on how many times you stop to take photos.

Terrain: The walk is largely flat and there are no difficult parts at all so it’s suitable for all abilities.

You can find the route I followed HERE.

The Route

A. Thornton-Le-Dale

Regarded as one of the prettiest villages in the National Park, with a picturesque river running through it and lots of bridges and perfect houses, Thornton-le-Dale is a great choice for a walk. Starting at the carpark, follow the signs in to the village, through the little nature reserve. Be sure to enjoy the little cottages lining the streets as you arrive at the village green.

B. Thornton-Le-Dale to Thornton Mill

Once you arrive at the village green, turn right and go past the almshouses. These houses were founded in 1670 to house 12 poor people in the village. After walking past the almshouses, turn left as you’re going over the bridge, past the stunning Beck Isle Cottage.

Beck Isle Cottage

Continue following the path round until you reach a road, where you turn left and follow alongside the stream again until it passes under a road, where you turn right between the stream and the hedgerow and head in to the woodland and fields.

The pathway shortly after turning

C. Thornton Mill to Ellerburn

Follow the path alongside the river, through the woodland and with views out over to the fields. Visiting in Spring meant there were lots of lambs just being born as I visited so they added a super cute touch to the walk! The path is quite long, running through a number of gates varying between wooded path and open field.

A curious lamb

Eventually you will come out in a farm yard, where you turn left and head to Ellerburn church. The church of St Hilda is dedicated to the first abbess of Whitby Abbey and the building dates from 1050 (and earlier) so is a very special (nearly 1,000 year old) church.

St Hilda’s Church

D. Ellerburn to Thornton-Le-Dale road

From the church, take the minor tarmac road slightly uphill until you reach a fork in the road, where you veer right and then shortly afterwards left through a gate by the Public Footpath sign. I really loved the flowers lining the way on this section of the walk.

Stunning Moors views along the way

E. Thornton-Le-Dale road to carpark

On the final leg of the walk, follow the path down until it meets the road, where you turn right on to Brook Lane and then left on to the Whitby road, ending up back on Thornton-Le-Dale village green and back to the car park. You definitely deserve an ice cream after that!

What do you think of this lovely little walk? I thought it was the perfect choice for a quick stroll on a mild evening in May. Thanks for reading – stay safe and happy travelling.


  1. The Beck Isle Cottage is wonderful and the roof is so cool! Lovely vintage structures, greenery, streams, livestock, and the nearly 1000 year old St Hilda church – wow!! A lovely countryside to enjoy a walk in North York Moors ~ thanks for sharing, Hannah πŸ™‚

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  2. Never having been to England, this is exactly what I’ve always considered quintessential! I love the β€œgreen” of the surroundings, the water, the sheep, and of course the amazing cottages. Definitely want to see it in person someday. Thank you for sharing your walk.

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    1. You’re right, it’s totally quintessential with thatched cottages, rolling fields, newborn lambs, ancient churches and cute villages. I really hope you do come and visit England one day, we have lots to offer πŸ™‚ Thanks so much for reading and have a great day.

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  3. Again, another easy, flat walk that I could get on board with (as opposed to strenuous hikes, haha!). The walk between Thornton-le-Dale and Ellerburn is too stunning, and the scenery of mossy green and pristine-white lambs are truly something you’d see in paintings– but in real life is so much better! Thanks for sharing yet another wonderful walk in your neck of the woods (quite literally)!

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  4. I very much enjoyed your Yorkshire series, Hannah! From the undulating, sheep-flecked landscape of Swaledale to the wild and rugged natural beauty of Ilkley Moor, it is one of the most beautiful regions in the country. Thanks for sharing and have a good day πŸ™‚ Aiva xx

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    1. Thanks so much Aiva, I agree that Yorkshire really is a beautiful part of the country and there is just so much to do there you could easily spend weeks amongst the historic towns, country houses, vast expanse of national parks and coastline. Thank you for reading and have a great Friday πŸ™‚ xx

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  5. Ice-cream … that’s how one should start a hike 🍦🍦. I like the views of the river while you were doing this hike – oh, and the pretty flowers along the road and the green-green fields … ah Hannah, your hiking trails don’t have to stand back for any other hike in another country!

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  6. It’s neat that there are these villages nestled within the National Park. This looks like a lovely trail that gives the best of both worlds in terms of seeing all the greenery through the countryside and the historic buildings in the villages. How cute to even see some sheep and baby lambs!

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    1. Yeah it’s really nice that our National Parks are large areas including towns and villages often, and many of the footpaths go through people’s gardens, fields and land. Very different to other countries. I agree the baby lambs were adorable πŸ™‚ Thanks for reading, hope you’ve had a great weekend.

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  7. Looks like a great walk! I was really surprised by the North York Moors when I did the coast to coast walk. People tend to think all the best buys are in the Lakes but I actually preferred Yorkshire. Maybe that’s just because it rained all the time we were in the Lakes though πŸ˜‚

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    1. Ahh amazing that you did C2C – my dad did it last year and absolutely loved it as well. Haha yes, rain in the Lakes isn’t the best way to sell it that’s for sure, but I agree that Yorkshire is such an amazing place and there are so many stunning walks. Thanks for stopping by Karl πŸ™‚


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