The Otley Chevin Forest Park is a beautiful natural space that overlooks the historic market town of Otley. The forest park is comprised of stunning woodland, crags and open heathland. In this guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about visiting Otley Chevin Forest Park. To help you plan a trip away to Otley Chevin Forest Park, we’ll also cover accommodation options in the area, including the Chevin Country Park Hotel & Spa.
By the way, you’ll find that the locals simply refer to Otley Chevin Forest Park as ‘Otley Chevin’ or ‘The Chevin’. As they say, ”Do as the locals do”. So, we’ll sometimes use these terms throughout this guide, referring to the forest park as a whole.
Read our guide about nearby Ilkley Moor
Table of Contents
What Is Otley Chevin?
Otley Chevin Forest Park is a designated nature reserve located in Wharfe Valley, specifically on the ridge on the south side of Wharfedale. The forest park is 2.8 square km (1.1 square miles) and is mostly made of woodland and heathland. It’s positioned on either side of East Chevin Road. In effect, this means the forest park is split in two, with a west and east side of Otley Chevin.
Stay at Chevin Country Park Hotel & Spa
The Chevin Country Park Hotel & Spa is a highly-rated woodland retreat at Otley Chevin, offering comfortable rooms, cabins and lodges
Where Is Otley Chevin?
Otley Chevin is located in Lower Wharfedale in West Yorkshire, England. To get your bearings, please click on the map below.
Otley Chevin Main Attractions and Highlights
Otley Chevin is well-known for its woodland footpaths, human-made attractions and rocky outcrops, which provide excellent walks and vantage points. Below, we’ll tell you about all of the best things to do at Otley Chevin.
The most popular thing to do at Otley Chevin is to visit Surprise View. From Surprise View, you’ll enjoy the best views at the forest park. There are information boards around the viewpoint detailing what exactly you’ll be looking at. But, basically, other than seeing the town of Otley, you’ll enjoy far-reaching countryside views of Wharfedale – one of the Yorkshire Dales. Personally, Beck and I thought the views from Suprise View were breathtaking.
Otley Chevin Swings
One of the most popular things for kids to do at Otley Chevin is to ride on the woodland swings. The Otley Chevin Swings aren’t too far away from Suprise View, nearer the Yorksgate Quarry Car Park. From this car park, you’ll simply follow the trail leading down into the woodlands and find the swings. Personally, Beck and I didn’t explore the swings, but we headed to the Dry Stone Wall Maze.
Otley Chevin Dry Stone Wall Maze
The Otley Chevin Dry Stone Wall Maze is definitely a star attraction of the forest park. Located near the White House Cafe on the western side of Otley Chevin, the maze is delightfully set in the woodlands. So, even if you can manage to reach the middle of the maze, at least you can simply enjoy the picturesque woods.
White House Cafe
Unfortunately, the White House Cafe is now closed. Back in the day, the White House Cafe was a lovely cafe serving delicious tea and cake at the top of Johnny Lane.
The Chevin Steps
The Chevin Steps is the direct route that takes you from Otley up to the top of Otley Chevin. There are actually numerous stepped paths leading up the ridge. Each path that cuts through the woodland on the west side of Otley Chevin is steep and tough to climb. Enjoy the workout as you tackle these rustic steps up to the top of the ridge!
The Best Walks in Otley Chevin
Other than attractions and lookouts, there are plenty of fantastic Otley Chevin walks. Admittedly, most people visiting Otley Chevin don’t really have a walk in mind. Most visitors, including ourselves, simply wander around the woodlands, choosing trails at random to explore the area. After all, there are tonnes of trails throughout the park, so it can be confusing to follow a strict route or official walk.
Of course, there are some specific routes such as the Geology Trail and the Heritage Trail that require you to stay strictly on the path to avoid missing any attractions or sites. Otherwise, there are some rough routes to follow, even if you don’t follow them strictly and put your own spin on them in the name of exploration! Below, we’ll go through all of these walking options at Otley Chevin.
Suprise View Walk
- Type: Loop
- Distance: 1.4km (0.8 miles)
- Time: 30 minutes
- Trailhead: Suprise View Car Park
- Map: AllTrails
Most people visiting Otley Chevin Forest Park simply want to take in the views from Surprise View without doing an extremely long walk. Indeed, the Surprise View Walk is a short loop walk that’s perfect for a quick and easy stroll. Essentially, you’ll visit Suprise View, Jenny’s Cottage and Knotties Stone (a bronze age carved rock), then do a small loop around the immediate woodland area.
East Otley Chevin Forest Park Walk
- Type: Loop
- Distance: 4.3km (2.6 miles)
- Time: 1–1.5 hours
- Trailhead: Upper Shawfield Car Park
- Map: AllTrails
The East Otley Chevin Forest Park Walk is a longer loop walk around the eastern section of the forest park. It explores the Caley Deer Park, Caley Crags and varied wooded areas.
For a slightly longer walk of this area, consider this route.
Otley Chevin Forest Park Walks
- Type: Loop
- Distance: 7–11km (4–7 miles)
- Time: 2–3 hours
If you want to do a longer walk, it’s possible to do a circular walk around both the west and east parts of Otley Chevin. There are numerous routes and possible trail options. Basically, there are two trail options that we recommend.
This trail option explores both West and East Otley Chevin but focuses more on the west side of the park. Whereas, this trail option also explores West and East Otley Chevin but focuses more on exploring the east side of the park.
The Otley Chevin Geology Trail
- Distance: 3km (1.8 miles)
- Time: 1.5–2 hours
- Trailhead: Surprise View Car Park
This walk was established to explain how the rocks and fossils at The Chevin were formed. By following this leaflet or audio guide, you’ll learn about how the landscape has been formed over the last 300–350 million years. This walk takes place on the western side of the forest park.
The Otley Chevin Heritage (Sculpture) Trail
- Distance: 3km (1.8 miles)
- Time: 1.5–2 hours
- Trailhead: Lower Shawfield Car Park
The Otley Chevin Heritage Trail (AKA the Sculpture Trail) includes a number of historical features and modern sculptures. This walk mainly takes place along a bridleway, so it can actually be accessed by cyclists and horses too. The aim of this trail is to provide details about the history of The Chevin. Certainly, if you want to learn more about the history of the area, then this will be the walk for you!
FYI – this trail is located on the east side of the forest park.
Other Walks at Otley Chevin
So, there you have it – above, we’ve listed all of the best walks at The Chevin. But, there are actually so many other walks and trails to do at the forest park.
Admittedly, if you’re a first-time visitor to the area, we don’t necessarily recommend doing the walks listed below. Instead, these walks listed are ideal for locals or those who frequent the area regularly. Otherwise, these trails are especially good if you want to learn more about the history of the area.
- West Chevin Historical Trail
- East Chevin Historical Trail
- Guiseley Gap Circular Walk
- Otley Woodcock Walk
- Otley Chevin and the River Wharfe
For more information about these walks, head to the Friends of Chevin Forest website.
How to Get to Otley Chevin
The easiest and quickest way to get to The Chevin is to drive there yourself. That’s because there is no public transport directly to the forest park.
If you don’t have your own car, you should hire one using Discover Cars. Personally, we use Discover Cars and highly recommend them for finding your ideal car hire at an affordable price. Booking online is super easy and the free cancellation policy is great.
Parking at Otley Chevin
There are actually five Otley Chevin car parks. Below, we’ll list all of these car parks and the attractions or walks near them. Basically, the list below will help you decide where to park based on what you want to see in the forest park.
- East Chevin Quarry Park: East Otley Chevin walks
- Lower Shawfield Car Park: East Otley Chevin walks, including the Heritage Trail
- Upper Shawfield Car Park: East Otley Chevin walks
- Surprise View Car Park: West Otley Chevin walks, Surprise View, Suprise View Walk, Dry Stone Wall Maze and Geology Trail
- Yorkgate Quarry Car Park: West Otley Chevin walks, Chevin Swings
Public Transport: Buses and Trains
Unfortunately, there is no public transport to Otley Chevin itself. But, it’s possible to get a local bus to Otley Bus Station. From the station, you could either walk to or get a taxi to the forest park. For information about local buses, we recommend heading to the West Yorkshire Metro website.
Otherwise, depending on where you’re travelling from in the UK, you may need to use a combination of trains and buses to get to Otley.
Trainline is one of the best online platforms for booking trains. By using Trainline, you can easily find the best available prices and times for your journey. We always use Trainline to book our train journeys in the UK and in Europe.
Accommodation Near Otley Chevin
There are plenty of excellent accommodation options near Otley Chevin Forest Park. Undoubtedly, the standout accommodation option is the Chevin Country Park Hotel & Spa, which is located on the doorstep of the forest park. We’ll talk about Chevin Country Park Hotel & Spa in a little more detail below.
Otherwise, if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, we’ve listed the best accommodation options in and around the town of Otley, which are just a stone’s throw away from the forest park.
Chevin Country Park Hotel & Spa
The Chevin Country Park Hotel & Spa is hands-down the best accommodation option in Otley. Located on the outskirts of the forest park near Surprise View, Chevin Country Park Hotel & Spa offers sublime views of the forest park and Wharfedale. Plus, the country park itself is situated next to a stunning lake and surrounded by stunning birch forest.
The dog friendly hotel is actually the UK’s largest log cabin with 16 bedrooms, 28 cabins and 4 lodges.
On-site, you’ll find the award-winning Lakeside Restaurant (AKA Otley Chevin Restaurant) and several leisure facilities including a swimming pool, hot tub, steam room, outdoor hot tub, beauty rooms and a fully-equipped gym.
FYI – Chevin Country Park Hotel & Spa goes by many names such as the Chevin Park Country Hotel, Otley Chevin Hotel, Chevin Lodge, Chevin Lodge Spa, Chevin Park Hotel, Otley Spa and Otley Chevin Spa.
What to Wear and Pack
These are our gear essentials for exploring The Chevin.
Osprey Skarab 30
The Osprey Skarab 30 is our go-to hiking backpack for day hikes. This well-designed unisex backpack is comfortable and spacious, so you’ll have plenty of space to pack everything without feeling the strain on your upper back.
Osprey Ultralight Raincover
A waterproof backpack cover is an absolute must when you’re adventuring outdoors. The Osprey Ultralight Raincover Medium is a high-quality waterproof cover that’ll keep your backpack bone dry.
GRAYL Reusable Water Bottle
The GRAYL GeoPress is the best water filter bottle that allows you to purify 710mL (12 ounces) of water. This bottle will make water safe to drink wherever you’re hiking.
BUFF Original Ecostretch
The BUFF Original Ecostretch is a great option when it comes to multifunctional headwear. We use the Ecostretch as a neck gaiter to keep the sun off our necks and it helps us keep warm in cooler climates.
To find out more about all of the gear that we use and recommend, read our guides about our favourite hiking gear, travel gear and camera gear. Otherwise, read our comprehensive travel packing checklist.
Accessibility at The Chevin
You’ll find that the Surprise View is wheelchair accessible. Otherwise, the Heritage Trail, accessed from Lower Shawfield Car Park, is also accessible to those using mobility scooters or electric-powered wheelchairs.
Volunteering: Friends of Chevin Forest Park
The Friends of Chevin Forest Park are a group of volunteers who work with Leeds City Council to maintain the park. If you’d like to volunteer and help care for the park, feel free to join the group.
Below, you’ll find frequently asked questions about the forest park.
What Are the Opening Hours?
There are no opening hours as it’s a woodland.
How Long Is the Walk Around Otley Chevin?
To walk around both East and West Chevin, depending on the route, you’re looking at around a 7–11km (4–7 miles) walk.
Where to Park For Otley Chevin Walks?
This depends on what exact walks you want to do at the country park. Please read the Car Park section for more information.
Is Parking Free at Otley Chevin?
Yes, all the car parks are free.
How Steep Is Otley Chevin?
It’s very steep. Surprise View is 282 metres above sea level. So, walking directly through the forest park from Otley to the top of the ridge is quite steep as you climb more than 200 metres over a relatively short distance.
How High Is Otley Chevin?
The highest point of the forest park is 282 metres above sea level at Surprise View. That’s why you can expect the best views from Suprise View.
Who Owns Otley Chevin?
Leeds City Council Parks & Countryside Service own and manage the nature reserve.
- Pubs near The Chevin: the best nearby pubs are The Royalty and The Chevin Inn. Personally, Beck and I headed to The Chevin Inn and enjoyed a pint with lovely views of Wharfedale. But, we’ve also heard good things about The Royalty too.
- Have a rough plan and don’t worry about the exact trail: as mentioned, following trails in the forest park is difficult as there are tonnes of interconnecting trails and plenty of random side trails. Rather, it’s best to have a rough idea of the area you want to explore and then pick and choose trails to follow to freely explore the glorious woodlands.
- Explore the Yorkshire Dales and Nidderdale AONB: the Yorkshire Dales are close by, especially the Nidderdale AONB. Make sure to visit Brimham Rocks, Stump Cross Caverns, How Stean Gorge, Fewston Reservoir, Swinsty Reservoir, Swinton Estate, Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal.
Please leave us a comment below – we’d love to hear from you!