The Hole of Horcum Circular Walk is a fantastic walk in the Tabular Hills of the North York Moors National Park. Starting at the lovely Levisham Moor, you’ll initially make your way through the serene moorland. You’ll then pass through the quaint village of Levisham, before heading up through the stunning Hole of Horcum.

In this guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about the Hole of Horcum Circular Walk. After talking about the walk itself, we’ll cover information about other popular walks in Levisham. We’ll then tell you about the best pub and accommodation in Levisham. Anyway, before you read this guide, feel free to watch our North York Moors hiking video (coming soon). For your convenience, when you press play below, it’ll start at the section showing the Hole of Horcum Circular Walk.

We hope you find this guide helpful. For information about other great walking routes in the North Yorkshire Moors, read our guides on the Robin Hood’s Bay to Whitby Walk, Roseberry Topping Walk and Helmsley Castle to Rievaulx Abbey Walk.

About the Hole of Horcum Circular Walk

The Hole of Horcum Circular Walk is one of the most impressive walks in the North York Moors. During this walk, you’ll enjoy varied landscapes and terrains of moorland, woodland and village exploration. Of course, the crowning glory of this walk is the well-known Hole of Horcum. Also known as Yorkshire’s Grand Canyon, the natural amphitheatre is truly a sight to behold during the walk. Specifically, the Hole of Horcum is a natural bowl, which is around 120 metres deep and 800 metres wide.

So, how was the Hole of Horcum formed?

Aerial shot of Levisham Moor
Levisham Moor

How Was the Hole of Horcum Made?

The Hole of Horcum is formed by a process called spring-sapping. This is a combination of geomorphological processes that erode a hillside around a site where a natural spring emerges. Because of spring-sapping, a valley will slowly erode over time, widening and deepening, which can lead to a cauldron-like shape of the land. That’s exactly what’s happened and is still happening to the Hole of Horcum. Well, that’s the answer based on science. What about the answer based on legend?

The Hole of Horcum was once nicknamed the ‘Devil’s Punchbowl‘. Legend has it, that the Hole of Horcum was formed when Wade the Giant scooped up a handful of earth to throw at his wife during a fight. Sure, it’s plausible. So, either spring-sapping or Wade the Giant made the Hole of Horcum – you choose!

Anyway, before we describe the walk, please find a Hole of Horcum map below.

Dan walks on a narrow trail

Hole of Horcum Circular Walk Map and Route Information

  • Type: Loop
  • Distance: 11.6km
  • Time: 3 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 200m
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead: Saltergate Car Park
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Hole of Horcum postcode: YO18 7NR

Hole of Horcum Circular Walk Elevation Profile

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Hole of Horcum Circular Walk: Route Description and Highlights

In this route description, we’ll talk about the main highlights of the Hole of Horcum Circular Walk, which all starts at Levisham Moor.

Levisham Moor

After you’ve parked at the Saltergate Car Park, cross the road. You’ll then walk around 500 metres north to enter Levisham Moor. Looking across Levisham Moor over the late summer or early spring time is certainly ideal. You’ll have a purple-carpeted ground floor to explore and enjoy.

For the next 3km or so, you’ll have splendid moorland to explore. The path heading through Levisham Moor is flat and easy to navigate. As you continue through the moorland, you’ll pass archaeological remains stretching back thousands of years! Some of the remains found at Levisham Moor are Bronze Age barrows and Iron Age boundary dykes. Indeed, other than the tremendous Hole of Horcum, exploring Levisham Moor is a highlight of the circular walk.

Dan walks thorugh Levisham Moor on the Hole of Horcum Circular Walk

At around 4.3km, you’ll reach Dundale Griff, which is a gorgeous narrow side valley that leads down from Dundale Pond to Levisham Beck. Some foundations of stone buildings from medieval times are also located at the head of Dundale Griff. Personally, Beck and I didn’t follow through Dundale Griff to Levisham Beck. We continued on a path heading south, past farmlands, to the village of Levisham.

Levisham, the Hole of Horcum Circular Walk
Levisham

After passing through the quaint village (why not stop at the best pub in Levisham), you’ll turn left to head through the dense Levisham Woods. Beck and I enjoyed some speed hiking as we passed the serene Levisham Beck. The woodlands eventually open up and you’ll be heading directly towards the Hole of Horcum.

What’s speed hiking? It’s hiking at a fast speed for whatever reason you like. Find out more about it here.

Dan walks from Levisham to the Hole of Horcum

The Hole of Horcum

Having the Hole of Horcum right in front of you is truly a treat on this circular walk. With Levisham Moor to your left, you’ll soon enter and steeply walk up the incredible natural amphitheatre. Take your time to admire the splendid views of the inner walls of the natural bowl. You’ll also have more far-reaching views of the North York Moors to enjoy.

Climbing up and out of the Hole of Horcum will definitely get your heart pumping. After all, you’ll gain around 165 metres in a relatively short distance. But, by the time you reach the top, you’ll have more magnificent views. From there, you’re just a short walk away from the car park. Well done on completing the Hole of Horcum Circular Walk!

The Hole of Horcum
The Hole of Horcum

Skelton Tower

The Skelton Tower is a possible historical attraction to visit during the Hole of Horcum Circular Walk. It was built around 1830 by Robert Skelton, rector of Levisham and was once used as a lodging option for shooters on the moors. The grassy headland where Skelton Tower is located provides great views of nearby Newton Dale. Personally, Beck and I didn’t visit Skelton Tower; but, it’s worth a shout!

Map of Skelton Tower add-on to the Hole of Horcum Circular Walk

Overall Review of the Hole of Horcum Circular Walk

Overall, Beck and I really enjoyed the Hole of Horcum Circular Walk. If anything, the walk exceeded our expectations. To that end, we highly recommend doing this walk and exploring the underrated Hole of Horcum.

Aerial shot of Dan and Beck at Levisham Moor
Levisham Moor

How to Get There: Hole of Horcum Car Park

The easiest and quickest way to get to the trailhead for the Hole of Horcum Circular Walk is to drive there yourself. Simply, park at Saltergate Car Park and start the walk from there.

Hole of Horcum Car Park Charges: it’s £2 for up to 2 hours or £3.80 for all-day parking. To do this walk, you’ll want to pay for all-day parking.

If you don’t have your own set of wheels, we recommend hiring a car using Rentalcars.com. You’ll find a wide variety of cars on Rental Cars, which are very easy to book online.

It’s possible to get to the trailhead for the Hole of Horcum using public transport. The 840 Coastliner operates from Leeds to Whitby via the Saltergate Car Park in Saltergate. For the latest information about the 840 Coastliner service, head here. All in all, we don’t recommend using public transport as there are limited departure times, which would really limit your options for doing the walk.

Starting at Levisham Station House

It’s possible to do the Hole of Horcum Circular Walk, starting from the famous Levisham Railway Station. It’s a well-known heritage station and historical attraction. As part of this remote Yorkshire Moors Railway Station, the Levisham Station House (former Station Master’s house) has been beautifully restored. By visiting the Levisham Railway Station and Levisham Station House, you can truly take a step back in time to experience railway travel as it was in the early 1900s.

Because of all of this, some people like to start and end their Hole of Horcum Walk at the Levisham Railway Station instead of the Saltergate Car Park. Please find a map of the Hole of Horcum Circular Walk from the Levisham Railway Station here.

Other Levisham Walks

There are some other great Levisham walks other than just the Hole of Horcum Circular Walk. Certainly, you could choose another Levisham walk to do after exploring the Hole of Horcum. We’ve handpicked the three other best Levisham walks below.

1. Levisham Station Circular Walk

2. Levisham and Newton Dale Walk

3. Levisham and Lockton Walk

For more information on the Levisham and Lockton Walk, including a map, head here.

Levisham Hotels

Looking for a place to stay before or after doing the Hole of Horcum Circular Walk? When it comes to Levisham hotels, there isn’t much in the way of options. There are a few lesser-known cottages, which look nice and quaint enough. But, thankfully, there’s one stand-out choice for accommodation in Levisham. Step forward – The Horseshoe Inn.

The Horseshoe Inn is a fantastic bed and breakfast, with high-quality rooms, whilst serving great food. You’ll walk right by the Horseshoe Inn during the Hole of Horcum Circular Walk. So, why not base yourself there for the weekend and start the walk from there?

Pubs In Levisham (Including the Best Levisham Pub)

As you may have guessed, The Horseshoe Inn is the best pub in Levisham. So, even if you’re not staying at the rustic bed and breakfast, why not stop in for a pint during the walk? Admittedly though, The Horseshoe Inn is the only pub in Levisham! Although, close by, in Lockton, there’s the highly-rated The Fox and Rabbit Inn. In addition, you’ve got the White Swan Inn at the nearby Newton-on-Radcliffe. So, plenty of boozers to choose from!

Weather Forecast For Levisham, Pickering

It’s possible to get the weather forecast, specifically for the Hole of Horcum, using Met Office! Otherwise, for a general idea of the weather in the area, you can check the forecast for Pickering, again, using Met Office.

Hiking Essentials

These are our five hiking gear essentials for this walk.

Hiking Essential


Why do you need this?

See it in action

These walking boots are very comfy and a great choice for walks in the North York Moors


This camera is the best compact digital camera on the market. Lightweight, compact and durable, the Sony Cybershot RX100 VII takes high quality photos and 4K videos

North Yorkshire can get wet and windy, so pack a waterproof and windproof jacket!

This is a great backpack for day hikes. It has plenty of space to store everything you'll need

You can't beat a GoPro Hero when it comes to action cameras

Make sure to also pack water, snacks, sunscreen and a hat! For a longer hiking gear list, read our 66 Travel Items You Must Travel With. For a list of everything else you’d need for travelling, read our Packing Checklist.

Insider Hints

  • Explore more of Dundale Griff: this unknown and underrated valley is a hidden gem next to Levisham, that we didn’t explore in its entirety. It’ll be worth spending a little extra time scoping out the valley.
  • Visit in August or September: to enjoy the beautiful purple heather at Levisham Moor, head there in August or September. Personally, we visited in September and really enjoyed visiting at that time of year.
  • Why not try Get Your Guide? if you’re looking for great tours in the North York Moors, head to Get Your Guide below.

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