Visit the Kilburn white horse

If you’re spending some time in the North York Moors, you won’t want to miss out on a visit to the Kilburn white horse.

On the edge of the Hambleton Hills, you’ll find the 318ft long and 220ft high horse cut into the landscape. It’s so big, around 20 people could comfortably stand in the area of grass marking the horse’s eye!

It’s the most northerly of all the chalk figures to be found in the UK and is not a sight to be missed.

image of the kilburn white horse on the hill with real horses grazing in the foreground

What is the Kilburn white horse?

The Kilburn white horse covers just over an acre of Yorkshire landscape and was first cut into the hills in 1857. Kilburn village school master John Hodgson and a team of volunteers marked out the design and cut into the hills.

The horse hasn’t always been so well maintained. In 1896 it was badly damaged by a hail storm and fell into serious disrepair during World War I. Although it was given new life in 1925, World War II meant it needed to be covered up so enemy bombers flying overhead couldn’t target it or use it for navigation.

Once the war ended, the horse was uncovered again in 1946, only to be battered and almost destroyed by a storm in 1949. A fund was established to make sure the horse is always well taken care of, which is now a registered charity known as the White Horse Association.

The Yorkshire horse is unlike its Southern counterparts which are cut into chalk to give them the white colour that stands out for miles around and is self-sustaining. The Kilburn white horse is set in limestone. Work needs to be done regularly to make sure the horse is always clearly visible. This was originally done using gallons of white wash, now it’s covered in chalk chippings from the Yorkshire Wolds. The limestone is why you’ll sometimes see it looking more grey than white!

image of the kilburn white horse on the hill

Walking round the Kilburn white horse

There are lots of great walks in and around the Kilburn white horse that will take you right up to the figure, or send you away to help you get the best possible view on foot. Here are a couple you could set out on.

Sutton Bank and the White Horse

Boasting the finest view on England, you can take a stroll around Sutton Bank that will take you right above the limestone horse. The route is about 3 miles and starts at the Sutton Bank National Park Centre. There’s pay and display parking, a tourist information centre, and a children’s adventure playground.

Take a look at the North York Moors National Park route here.

White Horse and Kilburn Woods

This route comes to you from Dog Walks Yorkshire so is a great one for you to take your four legged friend on too. It’s around 2 miles and you’ll start below the horse for great views, before heading up close to it and taking a stroll through Kilburn woods.

Find the route here.

We hope you enjoy your time visiting the Kilburn white horse. Please get in touch to let us know how you found it.

Want to know more about different walking routes in Yorkshire? Check these out.