Knaresborough, the Nidd Gorge and Old Bilton

Knaresborough, the Nidd Gorge and Old Bilton

Knaresborough, the Nidd Gorge and Old Bilton

22 Comments on Knaresborough, the Nidd Gorge and Old Bilton

Knaresborough, the Nidd Gorge and Old Bilton

Distance: 7¾ miles
Duration: 3 hours
Level of walk: MediumView Walks Key
Check latest weather
Download this walk onto your GPS or phone (.gpx file)

Why you should do this walk…

If your dog deserves an energetic romp – mostly off-lead, with some climbs and the added bonus of the opportunity of a swim in the quieter parts of the River Nidd, why not consider this walk?  The Nidd Gorge is stunning and a magnet for walkers, while the pretty market town of Knaresborough has many dog-friendly places to pop in to for refreshments when you have finished.

What else you need to know

How to get there – From the A59 Harrogate to York road, turn into the Conyngham Hall pay and display car park by the bridge over the River Nidd opposite the Worlds End pub.  By train – Knaresborough station is just 5 minutes’ walk away, along Water Bag Bank and Waterside. By bus – Harrogate and District busses operated by Transdev serve Knaresborough.

Suggested map – OS Explorer 289 Leeds – Harrogate, Wetherby & Pontefract

Car park – Conyngham Hall pay and display car park in Knaresborough

Start – At the car park

Length/time –7 ¾ miles, takes up to 3 hours

Terrain/difficulty – MEDIUM, mostly on grassy paths, tarmacked lanes and cycle tracks but also includes some steep descents and climbs by the river, which may be boggy and muddy after wet weather.

Dog friendliness – very much so, with plenty of opportunities for off-lead frolics and paddling in the river.

Food and drink – plenty of dog-friendly pubs and cafés in Knaresborough including; Blind Jack’s, The Mitre Pub, Marigolds Café and Boating, The Guy Fawkes Arms and the Riverside Café on Waterside. Please see Directories for details.

Public toilets – at the car park in Knaresborough

Other interesting info:
The ‘Knaresborough Bed Race’ has been run in the town every summer since 1966. Teams of six runners and one passenger, decorate special tube frame ‘beds’ for a parade through Knaresborough, before competing in a bed-push race. Most teams are local, however competitors have been attracted from Europe and the USA.

The Walk

  1. Turn right out of the car park and cross the bridge over the River Nidd. Take an immediate right opposite Mother Shipton’s Cave and follow the sign for the Ringway Footpath and Conyngham Hall Trail. Pass through the gate ahead into the park, with the river and car park to the right. Your pooch may be let off the lead here.  Stay ahead on the cycle track, ignoring the sign for Macintosh Park, and continue over a small bridge crossing a beck. Then follow the way-marked Ringway Footpath uphill.
  2. Keep ahead to a metal kissing gate next to a cattle grid and continue on the tarmacked path, keeping the tree line to the right and an open field to the left. Pass through another metal kissing gate with a cattle grid to an enclosed path bordered by trees to the right and a wire and post fence to the left. Cross a quiet road – the entrance to Bilton Hall, and continue ahead on the tarmacked Ringway Footpath/Beryl Burton Cycle Way, passing a house to the left as the track bears right then left.
  3. At a wooden footpath sign, turn right following the signs for Ringway Footpath and Knaresborough Round. Head along the track towards a way-marked gate with a stile on the edge of Nidd Gorge Woods. Even larger breeds of dogs will be able to slip through the stile with no problems! Continue towards a metal gate, but just before it follow the way-marker to the right, keeping a fence to the left as the undulating gravel/stone path winds its way towards the river. At a fork, take the right hand path and head down through the trees – towards the River Nidd below.
  4. Follow the steps down to the riverside – where there will be plenty of opportunities for your pooch to have a paddle or a swim – conditions permitting.  Continue along the path, with the river to the right. Near a footbridge, keep ahead using the duck-boards and following the Nidd Gorge footpath sign. This section passes over numerous duck-boards to make the path passable even when the river is high.
  5. The path turns away from the river then back again. Cross a footbridge made from two planks of wood, then continue on the path – there are more duck-boards to aid passage. Cross a stile next to the river, again – most dogs will be able to slip under. There are good possibilities for paddling and swimming here. Cross another stile – with a dog gap, towards more duck-boards. Keep ahead on the path – close to the river and ignore the bridleway heading off uphill to the left.
  6. Soon afterwards, just before a weir, and near to where some buildings – Scotton Mill, come into view on the other side of the river; follow a flight of wooden steps uphill to the left. At Milner’s fork, continue left towards Old Bilton – following the footpath sign for Gardeners Arms. Continue uphill, along the enclosed path – again duck-boards have been provided to help navigate the terrain. After emerging from the trees, the ‘Golf Balls’ of RAF Menwith Hill can be seen in the distance to the right.
  7. Follow the path along the edge of a field, keeping the hedge line to the left. The path becomes enclosed as it heads downhill, passing farm buildings to the left. Pass through a way-marked gate to a public bridleway sign pointing to the left, along the track leading from Woodside Farm.
  8. At the end of the track, turn left on to a quiet road, which passes in front of the Gardeners Arms pub – with its pleasant outdoor beer garden, where dogs on leads are welcome. The road passes through the village of Old Bilton. There is a pavement to walk on, and there are very few cars here. Continue ahead, passing a caravan park entrance to the left and the Bilton Pet Hotel to the right. The ‘no-through-road’ becomes a cycle track – the Beryl Burton Way.
  9. Keep ahead, passing the track taken earlier on in the walk towards the Nidd Gorge. At the entrance to Bilton Hall, cross the road and retrace your steps back to Knaresborough and the bridge across the river to the car park.

The Gallery


Walk Map

Related Posts


  1. pat greenwood  - 29/06/2012 - 11:09 am

    I did this walk in May when I was in the area after having a balloon trip for my birthday.
    I have 3 border collies and they had a marvelous day out playing in the river and exploring the woods.
    The walk made my treat day complete,as I love to see my “girls” having so much fun.
    Would recomend this to anyone who is reasonably fit and sure footed.

    • corina  - 02/07/2012 - 7:50 pm

      Thanks for your feedback, sounds like a wonderful day. We had lots of fun doing this walk too. Let us know if you do any more and what you think of them.

  2. paula  - 25/08/2012 - 10:41 am

    This is a fantastic walk. Lots of places for your dog to run free in the woods and play in the river. Great cheap pint at the gardeners Arms too – beware the grumpy landlord!

    • corina  - 25/08/2012 - 11:10 am

      Yeah, we love this one too because of the potential off lead opportunities. Is the Gardner’s Arms now dog-friendly inside the pub or still just outside in the beer garden? Thanks for your comments and hope to hear more reviews 🙂

      • helen237  - 29/08/2012 - 7:03 pm

        Dogs are NOT allowed in the Gardeners Arms only the beer garden – and as Paula says landlord is still grumpy !!

        • corina  - 29/08/2012 - 8:09 pm

          That’s a shame, but there are plenty of places in Knaresborough, which is good :). Thanks for the info. Will mind how we go with the landlord!! :0

  3. Rachel  - 28/08/2012 - 5:07 pm

    We did this walk on bank holiday Monday 27th aug. despite it chucking it down the whole time me my fella and our rescue dog Henry loved it! Henry loved exploring the woods and the water. Me and my fella had fun trying not to fall over in the mud as it was quite trecherous ! We stopped off at the gardeners arms for a drink and will deffinately be doing this walk again! Cheers!

  4. DogFather  - 01/06/2013 - 9:10 pm

    Really nice walk, but be careful with dogs who likes sheep. But just at the start. When your are at the river it is perfect and beautiful!! Very nice route. Thank you for the hint.

  5. Nikki  - 12/08/2013 - 3:50 pm

    Did this walk on Saturday (11/08/13) with my 2 goldies. Great for dogs as you can let them off the lead as soon as you cross the bridge and turn in to the park. They had a great time swimming in the river too. Although the bit where it says the buildings appear on the opposite side of the river – they were quite hard to see with the trees in full leaf! Will definitely be doing it again, although only took us just short of 2 hours even with photo stops.

  6. Danielle  - 16/09/2013 - 9:44 pm

    Did this walk last year after heavy rainfall and with a 7 year old in tow! Superb walk although the woods and river banks were very slippy which made the walk more difficult. Be careful of the strong current of the Nidd also which is deceiving for water loving dogs.

  7. Niki  - 12/01/2014 - 10:02 am

    Did this walk yesterday (11/1/14) with my border terrier Milo. Although very muddy in places we all loved it – milo could be off lead pretty much the whole way and he loved paddling in the river! The views along the river where very beautiful. Would definitely do this walk again.

  8. Debra Jenkins  - 23/02/2014 - 4:04 pm

    So nice to have a walk where the dogs were off lead for the whole way!! It is a lovely walk – even in soggy muddy February and will definitely trying some of your other walks, Couldnt download the map, but the directions were spot on and easy to follow. Have two very tired but happy Labradors now 🙂 Thankyou!!

  9. Kev  - 24/03/2014 - 5:48 pm

    Did this walk yesterday and it was extremely enjoyable although very muddy mid river. Directions were easy to follow. One thing not mentioned was that the Pub opposite the car park called “The Worlds End” had a big sign saying dogs welcome inside and out. So we had a pint and a bite to eat in there in the warmth with the dogs.

  10. Andrea  - 08/06/2014 - 8:39 pm

    Nice walk but very muddy although our dog, Poppy, didn’t seem to mind. I think the mileage may be a little wrong though, I estimate nearer 6 than 8 miles. Really good instructions, so easy to follow- couldn’t go wrong!

    • Amanda  - 09/08/2014 - 7:52 pm

      I agree I measured it using the Walk4Life distance calculator on a OS base map and it measured 6 miles. This is not a criticism of the author at all – just the 7 and 3/4 might put some people off. I also agree written instructions were great and no need for a map.

  11. Amanda  - 09/08/2014 - 5:54 pm

    Did the walk today , had a fabulous time. So great for the dogs to have freedom to romp almost all the way around .. And scenic too Thanks so much!

  12. Annie  - 12/04/2015 - 11:15 pm

    Lovely walk with the dog. Brilliant photo opportunities and a very nice pub towards the end.

  13. Matt  - 29/05/2015 - 9:21 pm

    This is the first walk I’ve done from this website and it was great, the information provided is so informative and accurate. Had a brilliant time doing this walk today, very wet and muddy but the sun came out in the end. My Beagle, Benji, loved it too and enjoyed paddling in the river along the way.

  14. Craig  - 03/04/2016 - 11:04 pm

    Completed this walk today with our labrador, who had a great time on the tracks, in the river and (mostly) covered in mud. It’s been particularly wet (April 2016) and the amount of mud, even with duck boards is tough, so definitely need proper footwear for this.

    Really enjoyed the varied route, as the constant change from bike path to forest to river, kept the walk interesting.

    Only point to note is that is is not as long as the description suggests. I tracked this at just under 6miles for the full loop. Enjoyed going back through the car park and looping around the field and river to tack on an extra mile and a half though. Excellent day out and great instructions! Thanks.

  15. Clare  - 12/04/2016 - 8:47 pm

    Lovely enjoyable walk, first one we have tried from this site, the directions were easy to follow. Our Labrador had a great time in and out of the water, and we enjoyed the varied track. It was a very wet day and the trail was extremely muddy so good footwear is a must for this walk.

  16. Clare  - 12/04/2016 - 8:47 pm

    Lovely enjoyable walk, first one we have tried from this site, the directions were easy to follow. Our Labrador had a great time in and out of the water, and we enjoyed the varied track. It was a very wet day and the trail was extremely muddy so good footwear is a must for this walk.

  17. Eileen Taylor  - 25/04/2017 - 2:57 pm

    Just got back from doing this lovely walk. It was very windy and a bit of hailstones around when we left the car park at conningham hall but as we got going through the trees we had no wind at all.We were a bit disappointed when we reached the gardeners arms as we had planned to have some thing to eat there only to be told they don’t do food only crisps. We asked for cheese and onion but they only had plain or salt and vinegar so not much to choose from. We didn’t let this spoil our lovely walk, just make sure you eat before setting off or take food with you as there are benches to sit dotted around this walk.

Leave a comment

Back to Top

Walking on mostly flat terrain, little walking up hill and few styles or dry stone walls to negotiate. Distance from 1 to 5 miles.

Some walking up steep hills over rugged terrain, negotiating dry stone walls. Distance from 3 to 6 miles.

A lot of walking up steep hills over rugged terrain, and some scrambling up rocks. Distance from 6 miles upwards.

An updated version of this walk is available on the iFootpath Android and iOS App. Please visit Get iFootpath

Get iFootpath

iFootpath App

And the iFootpath Website