The Beautiful North York Moors
Visitors to North Yorkshire, England’s largest county, often include the historic city of York and the popular Yorkshire Dales as part of their itinerary, but further east lies a real jewel in Yorkshire’s crown: the North York Moors National Park.
Resplendent with purple heather in late summer, the North York Moors are perfect for walking, cycling or simply touring around. Picturesque villages lie hidden in the valleys, with red-roofed stone cottages huddled around duck ponds and greens, while steam trains puff across the moors throughout the summer months. The pretty village of Hutton-le-Hole is home to the Ryedale Folk Museum, an open-air site containing historic buildings from the area and a good starting point for learning about the history of the North York Moors. There are also a number of ruined castles and abbeys that are open to the public.
The moorland stretches across to Yorkshire’s east coast, where visitors can find both family resorts such as Scarborough and Filey, with their long, sandy beaches, and smaller fishing villages with narrow lanes and alleyways. The popular village of Robin Hood’s Bay clings precariously to the cliff top, with houses seeming to clamber over each other as the single road winds down to the sea. An exploration of its narrow lanes is well worthwhile, with small cottages perched in seemingly impossible locations. Other fishing villages worth visiting include Runswick Bay and Staithes, further north along the coast. The whole coastline can easily be walked, with clearly signposted paths running along the cliff tops.
The harbour town of Whitby is not to be missed. The ruined abbey on the cliff top can be seen from miles away, and can be reached from the town centre by climbing 199 steps and walking through the churchyard. Whitby is still a fishing port today, but many of its boats now take tourists out on trips. The town is also famous for Bram Stoker’s Dracula and for being the town where the explorer Captain Cook spent his time as an apprentice.
Road connections to the North York Moors are very good, while for visitors wishing to use public transport there are regular trains to the towns of Malton, Scarborough and Whitby, with buses serving the moorland villages. During the summer months, walkers have the opportunity to leave their cars behind and use the Moorsbus service, which connects many of the more remote places in the area. Visitors are spoilt for choice in terms of accommodation, with options ranging from farm stays and bed and breakfasts to traditional seaside boarding houses and larger hotels. It is recommended to book ahead in the summer months, but good value deals can often be found in the winter.
The North York Moors offer plenty of opportunities for a peaceful break. While Scarborough, Robin Hood’s Bay and Whitby can be extremely busy in summer, it requires only a little effort to leave the crowds behind and find a quiet valley, cliff top path or small village where the hustle and bustle of modern life seem a whole world away.