A quiet stroll along a countryside stream, a waterfall amble, a city center river walk or a seaside adventure. Yorkshire ticks all the boxes when it comes to water walks. With 25 major rivers, a 127 mile canal, 54 lakes and reservoirs, countless streams and some of the best beaches in the country you’re never to far from a calm, water walk.
There is no denying the advantages of walking beside water, even Victorian doctors used to prescribe the "sea air" as a cure for an assortment of ailments. Recent studies show that taking short, frequent walks along blue spaces appears to have a positive effect on people’s mental health, mood and vitality.
This year why not embrace one of these walks and let the stresses of life drift away. Here is our round up of some of the best water walks in Yorkshire.
What is it about water running over rocks that makes you feel instantly relaxed? Well, waterfalls are considered giant ion generators that give off negative ions that subsequently produces serotonin in our bodies. We don’t specialise in positive energy and science, but we can tell you that 30 seconds alongside Aysgarth Falls is all it takes to transport you into a tranquil world away from everyday stress. The poet Wordsworth loved it there, as did painters Ruskin and Turner, who dropped by on their travels back in the 19th century. The triple flight of waterfalls spreads out over a mile, carved out by the River Ure. Enjoy a circular, riverside walk linking the Upper, Middle and Lower Falls each one more powerful than the last.
Canals and rivers are the perfect places to boost your mood and improve your mental health. Even in busy towns and cities, they provide special spaces where you can relax, recharge, or get your body moving to improve your physical health. The Leeds & Liverpool Canal is the longest canal in Britain built as a single waterway. Leaving Liverpool, the canal passes through East Lancashire and then crosses Pennine countryside and picturesque villages on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales before reaching Leeds. Walkers love the canal, and thousands of visitors come every year to marvel at the impressive Bingley Five Rise Locks and the historic salt town of Saltaire.
The River Wharfe is a waterway of dramatic contrasts and beauty, rising high up in the hills that separate Dentdale from Wharfedale as a busy little steam, burbling over a series of flat limestone ledges. It’s considered an area of peace and tranquility and a good spot to sit and connect with nature. Try the River Wharfe and Bolton Priory walk which takes in the inspiring Bolton Abbey ruins and Stridd Wood. Many people who enjoy solitude find total silence uncomfortable. Taking a walk along a river with its natural sounds of running water and wildlife is possibly the calmest soundtrack there is.
The 5-mile stretch of golden sand in Filey sweeps along the rocky peninsula of Filey Brigg to the fantastic RSPB reserve at Bempton. At low tide a quarter-mile width of sand is exposed making it large enough for walkers to enjoy peace and solitude alongside the many families and dog walkers that also frequent the area. Seaside walks can have a calming effect without us even noticing. The atmosphere alerts our senses and makes us feel present in the moment. The sound of crashing waves, the flight of sea gulls, the salty air and the feeling of sand between our toes all contribute to a complete feeling of mindfulness.