14.88 ha (36.77 acres)

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Explorer 2
OS Landranger 103

Next to one of Britain’s most popular medieval castles, Skipton Castle Woods is a rare, ancient woodland straight off the high street.

With a fascinating history that dates back a thousand years, stunning seasonal displays, amazing wildlife and a central location, Skipton Castle Woods is a must – visit if you’re in the area.


  • Parking nearby
  • Public access
  • Spring flowers
  • Broadleaved woodland

How to get to Skipton Castle Woods

Skipton Castle Woods lies in the heart of Skipton, next to Skipton Castle on the northern fringe of the town.

From the M1 (northbound) take the M62 west, then the M606 to Bradford, A650 to Keighley, and A629 to Skipton. From the M6 (northbound) take the M65 to its end, then the A56 to Skipton. From the M6 (southbound) take the A65 to Skipton.

The nearest train station is Skipton, around 1.2km (0.8 miles) from the wood. Services include trains to and from Leeds, Bradford, Carlisle, Lancaster and Morecombe.

Visit National Rail for more information.

Skipton Bus Station is 0.8km (0.5 miles) from the wood.

Visit Traveline for more information.

Access and facilities

There is no step free access into Skipton Castle Woods. However, there are routes where the number of steps are limited. Public access on foot is available throughout the site, while permissive paths follow the Eller Beck (a tributary of the River Aire) and other watercourses, along with the eastern and north-western boundaries. All pedestrian, formal routes within the woodland are surfaced and in good condition. This includes a picturesque circular walk accessed via the Old Sawmill entrance, which is unsuitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs due to steep slopes.

Other surfaced paths run along the north-western and eastern boundaries and exit the woodland at The Bailey. They offer excellent views over and along the wooded valley, but are narrower and have moderate to steep slopes and a flight of steps.

In wet weather or in instances of high water levels, some areas can become muddy.

There are a number of benches around the woodland, with the closest ¼ mile from the Old Sawmill entrance.

The surfaced paths and newly reinstated bridges allow access for all the family to enjoy the features that this wonderful wood has to offer.

There is a pay and display car park at Skipton Castle, BD23 1UA, with 193 car spaces. This surfaced car park is located on a steep short incline.

Two other pay and display car parks, at the High Street and Coach Street, are a short distance from the wood and town centre.

The nearest toilets to Skipton Castle Woods are at the High Street car park behind the town hall, including a RADAR-key accessible toilet. A small charge applies.

Visitors to Skipton Castle have access to public toilets on site, including disabled facilities (an admission charge applies).

Wildlife and habitats


Look to the skies for a glimpse of the many birds of prey soaring overhead in search of food, including buzzards, red kites and sparrowhawks, while kingfishers, herons and dippers can be spotted fishing in and around the water.
As night falls, the wood comes alive with four species of bat: common pipistrelle, Natterer’s, Daubenton’s and noctule.

Around some areas of the site, you might see grazing livestock from neighbouring farmland.

Look out for:

Trees, plants and fungi

Walk around this ancient semi-natural woodland and admire the many broadleaved trees which stand tall here. Red oak, ash, beech, sycamore and a scattering of hornbeam and sweet chestnut – some of which are over 250 years old – can be found here, as well as more than 160 species of flowering plants. Rare orchids, stunning bluebells, striking white wood anemone and sunny buttercups all bloom in Skipton Castle Woods.

Look out for:


Skipton Castle Woods supports a rich diversity of wildlife from butterflies and bats to mammals and birds.


Skipton Castle Woods have been leased by the owners of Skipton Castle to the Woodland Trust for 75 years and under our management the public has full access at all times.

About Skipton Castle Woods

Providing many of the necessities of life, including water, fuel, building materials and hunting, the woods were essential to survival during the castle’s early existence.

Skipton Castle Woods is also part of the town’s industrial heritage, and once provided timber, stone and, most importantly, water. During the 18th and 19th centuries, water from Eller Beck was damned and fed to a series of dams and sluices to provide water for the woollen, saw and corn mills that made up the town’s industry. This water also fed into the Springs Canal which in turn supplied the iconic Leeds Liverpool Canal.

Early purple orchid with blurred background

A lasting legacy

This wood is just one of many to have been protected by gifts in wills, securing it for generations to come. Your legacy gift could also make a real difference to woods, trees and wildlife.

Learn what your gift could mean

Things to do at Skipton Castle Woods


Set in a river valley with both upper and lower paths covering just over 3km (1.9 miles), there are lots of ways to explore Skipton Castle Woods. Follow the river-valley route, ideal for spotting birdlife by the river; an upper path extension, allowing you to discover brilliant views over neighbouring farmland; or the Earl of Thanet trail, where you can discover the industrial history of the woods.

Why not visit Skipton Castle as part of your walk?

You may see grazing cattle from adjoining farms on your walk. Please do not approach or feed livestock and keep dogs under close control.

Children's activities

Embark on the world’s largest treasure hunt with geocaching, play the Skipton Castle woodland board game or watch out for bats on the exciting bat trail. However your little ones choose to explore the woods, they are sure to have a fantastic time.

Our top three things to try

  1. Take the Sougha Gill Challenge: with over fifty steps from the valley floor to the paths above, this climb will get your heart pumping and your pulse racing.
  2. Immerse yourself in the tree canopy on the upper path on The Bailey side of the woodland.
  3. Spot seasonal highlights: in spring, the whole woodland is full of wild garlic, while in October through to November don't miss the reds and golds of autumn. 

Download the Skipton Castle Woods map

Download the Skipton Castle Woods app

For guided walking trails, wildlife guides, accessibility information and more, get the Skipton Castle Woods app for Android or Apple.

Discover more things to do at Skipton Castle Woods


Skipton Castle Woods Management Plan

PDF  (135 KB)