To the north are the North York Moors, and to the east the hills flatten into the plain of Holderness.
On the western edge the wolds rise to an escarpment which then drops sharply to the Vale of York. The highest point of this is 200 metres above sea level at Garrowby Hill, 8 km north of the town of Pocklington.
Administratively the area is part of the East Riding of Yorkshire; the largest town in the wolds is Driffield.
One of nine National Trails in England, the Wolds Way is a long-distance footpath which runs the length of the wolds from the Humber Bridge at Hessle to Bridlington on the coast. It is funded by the Countryside Commission.
The writer Winifred Holtby described the wolds as "fold upon fold of the encircling hills, piled rich and golden."