The Sutton Bank Walk, also known as the White Horse Walk is a lovely short walk in the North York Moors National Park. On this bite-sized stroll, you’ll walk along the impressive Sutton Bank Hill, which provides spectacular views over North Yorkshire. From Sutton Bank, you’ll make your way to the incredible Kilburn White Horse, which is another highlight of the walk.
In this guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about the Sutton Bank Walk, AKA the White Horse Walk. After talking about the walk itself, we’ll cover information about other popular walks involving Sutton Bank. We’ll then answer a bunch of FAQs about the walk. 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 this walk.
We hope you find this guide helpful. For information about other great walks in the North York Moors, read our guides on the Robin Hood’s Bay to Whitby Walk, Roseberry Topping Walk and the Hole of Horcum Walk.
Table of Contents
About the Sutton Bank Walk (White Horse Walk)
If you’re after an easy access walk with outstanding views and a popular landmark in North Yorkshire, then this trail is perfect. Just to clarify, the Sutton Bank Walk and the White Horse Walk both refer to the same walk. Basically, the walk takes place on Sutton Bank Hill and leads you to the Kilburn White Horse. So, you can see why the walk is referred to as both the Sutton Bank Walk and the White Horse Walk! The walk is also known as the Kilburn White Horse Walk, for obvious reasons.
Also, just so you’re aware, you won’t actually get to see the gorgeous whitestone cliff of Sutton Bank during the walk. Instead of enjoying views of the hill, you’ll enjoy marvellous views from the hill.
Before we talk about the trail itself, let’s look at a GPS-guided map and some basic trail stats for this walk. Hopefully, this will help you get your bearings!
Sutton Bank Walk (White Horse Walk) Map and Route Information
- Type: Out & Back with Loop
- Distance: 5.5km (3.4 miles)
- Time: 1.5–2 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 110m
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: Sutton Bank National Park Centre
- Map: Wikiloc
Sutton Bank Walk (White Horse Walk): Trail Overview
In this trail description, we’ll talk about the main highlights of the walk, which leads to the Kilburn White Horse. The walk starts at the Sutton Bank National Park Centre.
Trailhead: Sutton Bank National Park Centre (Sutton Bank Visitor Centre)
Once you’ve parked at the Sutton Bank National Park Centre, AKA the Sutton Bank Visitor Centre, it’s time to get ready for the walk. Of course, feel free to wander around the Sutton Bank National Park Centre for more information about the area before you set off. The Sutton Bank Visitor Centre has great amenities. So, if you need refreshments or to use the toilets before the walk, go for it!
Otherwise, initially, the walk involves crossing a busy main road. Please be careful as you cross the road. You’ll then find a path leading you onto and along Sutton Bank Hill. Almost immediately, you’ll enjoy stunning views over the escarpment edge above North Yorkshire. Be mindful, you’ll approach an unfenced cliff edge at times as you walk along Sutton Bank to the Kilburn White Horse. So, again, take care.
Best View From Sutton Bank Hill
As you walk along the escarpment, you’ll arrive at the Sutton Bank Viewpoint. There’s an information board, which tells you more about the history of the area. It was said, by celebrated author James Herriot, that the view on offer from this vantage point on the walk is the ‘finest view in England‘. Yes, the best views in the whole country of England. Debatable, yes. But, there’s no denying that the views of the Yorkshire countryside during this part of the White Horse Walk are absolutely stunning. In particular, you’ll get a good look at the Vale of Mowbray and Vale of York.
Vale of Mowbray and Vale of York
From the Sutton Bank Viewpoint, you’ll see both Vale of Mowbray and the Valley of York. So, what are these two places? The Vale of Mowbray is a stretch of flat low-lying land between the North York Moors National Park and the Hambleton Hills to the east and the Yorkshire Dales to the west. Similarly, the Vale of York is another flat low-lying part of the land, that stretches from the River Tees in the north to the Humber Estuary in the south.
Kilburn White Horse
After soaking in these lovely countryside views, continue south. You’ll soon see lots of planes to your left, which are all associated with the Yorkshire Riding Club. Eventually, you’ll reach a fork in the trail. You’ll proceed on the main trail, leading to the left. You’ll then follow a bend on the escarpment trail, which leads you to the top of the Kilburn White Horse. Also known as, the White Horse at Kilburn and the White Horse of Kilburn, it’s essentially a horse-shaped figure that’s cut into the hillside. It was created in 1857 by Kilburn Village Schoolmaster John Hodgson and his pupils.
By doing this walk, you’ll pass around the top of the Kilburn White Horse and then descend some steps, passing a car park. You’ll then arrive at a small park where your views looking up at the Kilburn White Horse are fairly limited. Certainly, your best views of the Kilburn White Horse are from the sky. No wonder the Yorkshire Gliding Club is located right next to the Kilburn White Horse!
After you’ve explored the Kilburn White Horse, it’s time to return to the Sutton Bank National Park Centre. We recommend taking the woodlands trail back up to the Sutton Bank escarpment. It’s a lovely natural wooded trail. You’ll eventually re-join the same outbound trail, leading you by the Yorkshire Gliding Club and back to the Sutton Bank National Park Centre.
Yorkshire Gliding Club
As mentioned, you’ll pass the gliding club landing area of the Yorkshire Gliding Club during the Sutton Bank Walk. Indeed, you may see planes taking off and landing during your walk. Fun fact: the club altitude record stands at 10,000 metres (33,000 feet), such is the favorability of the land to flying there!
How to Get There: Sutton Bank Car Park
The easiest and quickest way to get to the Sutton Bank National Park Centre for the White Horse Walk is to drive there yourself. Simply, park at Sutton Bank Car Park at the visitor centre and start the walk from there. It’s £2.20 for up to 2 hours or £4 for all-day parking. It’s certainly possible to do this walk in under two hours. But, so you’re not rushed and can explore the Sutton Bank Visitor Centre, it may be best to pay for all-day parking.
Free parking tip: if you’re lucky, there’s free lay-by parking opposite the Sutton Bank National Park Centre. But, there are only a few spots available and they’re usually taken early.
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.
There’s not much in the way of public transport to the Sutton Bank National Park Centre. The closest railway station is in Thirsk, which is about 11km away. From there, you’d need to jump in a taxi, which would take around 10 minutes.
Other Sutton Bank Walks
When it comes to Sutton Bank circular walks, the White Horse Walk described in this guide would easily be the best one to choose from. But, there are other walks around Sutton Bank, or at least, that involve Sutton Bank, that you may want to consider. The other most popular option is the Gormire Lake Walk, which we’ve written a section about below. Otherwise, we’ve handpicked the other best Sutton Bank walks.
- Sutton Bank Walk to Rievaulx Abbey: it’s possible to walk from Sutton Bank to Rievalux Abbey or vice versa. This follows the multi-day Cleveland Way. But, we don’t personally recommend this walk. Instead, we recommend doing the Helmsley Castle to Rievaulx Abbey Circular Walk and the Sutton Bank Walks separately.
- Sutton Bank to High Paradise Farm Walk: using the multi-day Cleveland Way, it’s possible to walk from Sutton Bank to High Paradise Farm.
- Sections of the Cleveland Way: the 175km (109 mile) multi-day trail starts in Helmsley and ends in Filey. The first section of the walk is from Helmsley to Sutton Bank and the second section is from Sutton Bank to Osmotherley. It’s possible to just do either of these first two sections of the Cleveland Way, as standalone walks.
Gormire Lake Walk
Also known as the Sutton Bank Gormire Lake Walk or Lake Gormire Walk, the Gormire Lake Walk is the second most popular walk involving Sutton Bank. Starting from the Sutton Bank National Park Centre, you’ll basically do a 5.3km (3.3 miles) circular walk, which takes in Gormire Lake at around the halfway mark. The walk gains around 200 metres of elevation and take around two hours to complete.
Another option is to combine both the Sutton Bank Walk with the Gormire Lake Walk. By doing so, you’ll get to explore Sutton Bank, the Kilburn White Horse and Gormire Lake. Check out a GPS-guided map for this combined walk.
Sutton Bank MTB
Other than walking, mountain trail biking is a popular activity at Sutton Bank. Starting from the visitor centre, there are five interwoven Sutton Bank MTB routes to explore. It’s even possible to rent bikes from the visitor centre. So, there’s really no excuse for not taking on the fun Sutton Bank MTB routes. Head here for more details.
Below, we’ve answered the most frequently asked questions about the Sutton Bank Walk.
Where Is the Sutton Bank?
It’s in the Hambleton District of the North York Moors National Park in North Yorkshire, England.
Can You Walk Up Sutton Bank?
Yes, you’ll walk up and along it during the Sutton Bank Walk.
How Long Is the Sutton Bank Walk?
The Sutton Bank Walk is 5.5km (3.4 miles) long, which takes around 1.5–2 hours to complete.
How Many Steps Are There At Sutton Bank?
From the Sutton Bank National Park Centre, there are no steps that you’ll need to climb to reach Sutton Bank. But, there are 151 steps, located next to the Kilburn White Horse, which you’ll descend during the walk.
How Much Is it to Park at Sutton Bank?
At the Sutton Bank National Park Centre, it’s £2.20 for up to 2 hours or £4 for all-day parking.
These are our five hiking gear essentials for this walk.
- Merrell Moab Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots: these hiking boots are super comfortable and lightweight.
- The North Face Venture Jacket: a fantastic windproof/waterproof jacket.
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack: a great backpack for hiking, which has plenty of space to store your gear.
- The North Face TKA Glacier Fleece Jacket: an excellent warmth:weight ratio fleece jacket that’ll help keep you warm.
- Columbia Convertible Trousers: a value for money pair of water-resistant convertible trousers.
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.
Bonus Tips and Information
- Sutton Bank National Park Centre is dog friendly: bring your pooch along!
- Sutton Bank Observatory: if you’re looking for other things to do at Sutton Bank after the walk, why not head to the observatory? The Sutton Bank Visitor Centre is a Dark Sky Discovery Site, which means it’s officially recognised as a fantastic place for stargazing.
- Why not try Get Your Guide? if you’re looking for other great activities in the North York Moors, head to Get Your Guide below.
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