THERE are plenty of books about walks in North Yorkshire. But how many of them are suitable for the winter months, when the winds blow, the roads and paths are icy, and dusk sets in at 3.30pm?

Probably not that many. Geographer Margaret Atherden, chief executive of Yorkshire culture and conservation charity PLACE, has decided to do something about that.

She’s been out and about in all weathers with her faithful terrier Bertie, compiling a selection of 13 walks through some of North Yorkshire’s most spectacular countryside which you very much can do in winter. In fact, that’s the whole point of them.

“There are scores of books about summer walks, but few with specifically selected routes for winter,” she says. “Together with Bertie I have spent the last three years on the trail and the walks we have chosen are pretty weather resilient.”

The walks include one on the banks of the River Foss from Old Earswick, and others to Sutton Bank and Upper Nidderdale. All should be manageable in all but the very worst weather, says Margaret. “The 13 chosen walks are on paths which are normally passable in all weather conditions. If there are stretches of a walk liable to be muddy in very wet weather, this is indicated in the introduction.”

All but one of the walks is circular, so you don’t have to worry about getting back to the car afterwards.

The walks vary in length from just over four miles to almost seven miles (with options forming short cuts or extensions) and there’s a map and directions for each one. And Margaret brings a trained geographer’s eye to the walk descriptions, pointing out features of interest along the way.

Each walk has a theme - you’ll be able to search for 4,000-year-old neolithic remains near Boroughbridge, or the Rievaulx beetle in the shadow of the monastic ruins near Helmsley, or explore the remnants of alum mining at Ravenscar.

Here are a couple of suggestions from the book:

l The Foss: its ‘navigation features’ - including stretches of towpath, locks and landing - form the main focus of this walk, running for 4.4 miles from Old Earswick to Strensall High Lock.

The Foss rises in the Howardian Hills before flowing south to join the Ouse. An Act of Parliament was passed in 1793 to make the river navigable between York and Stillington Mill, but money ran out before the project could be completed, Margaret writes. So the navigable section finished near Sheriff Hutton.

In all, six locks were built along the river - only one of which still operates today (Castle Mills lock in central York). You’ll pass three on this walk - Haxby Old Lock, Strensall Low Lock and Strensall High Lock - plus a number of bridges, including a lovely old red brick one known as ‘Old Humpy’ built by the Foss Navigation in 1798, spanning the remains of Strensall Low Lock.

l Sutton Bank and the White Horse: An archaeology-themed walk of nearly seven miles beginning with a steep climb but is otherwise flat, and takes in archaeology from the late prehistoric period to modern times.

The White Horse, where the walk starts and ends, was cut in 1857. It may not be ancient, but it’s a landmark visible for many miles. Walk up the steps beside the horse, turn left at the top and follow the curve of the hill. At this point, Margaret says, you’re ‘walking just above or along the earthworks of an enormous Iron Age hillfort, constructed in about 400BC’.

The walk winds along to Whitestone Cliff, and back via Dialstone Farm and the former Hambleton Inn, Upper Nidderdale.

l The PL ACE book of Winter Walks in North Yorkshire is available from the PLACE Office, York St John University, Lord Mayor’s Walk, York YO31 7EX, email