Way back along the dusty, cobwebbed corridors of time, for my 100th article I reviewed my favourite place in the world, the Yorkshire Dales. Relevance and quality, not niche and quantity is my aim. At the conclusion of that article, I said that for my 200th, I would review my second favourite place in the world, the North York Moors and true to my word here it is, and just in time for planning 2020’s holidays.
I may be preaching to the already converted as this area has been a National Park since 1952 and due to worldwide coverage of it’s scenery by programmes such as All Creatures Great and Small, Heartbeat, the 2014 Tour de France Grand Depart, the Tour de Yorkshire cycle races and more recently, The Yorkshire Vet and Our Yorkshire Farm, over seven million visitors currently visit this area annually.
The area is so vast, however, that you can find lonely, peaceful and picturesque spots to explore at any time of year. It contains many claims to fame, including England’s largest expanse of heather moorland, the steepest road in England (Rosedale’s Chimney Bank), the oldest Christian monument (Lilla Howe), and Britain’s tallest lime tree (Duncombe Park), among many, many others.
There are so many places within it’s 554 square miles which are fully deserving of individual reviews of their own but just to give you a flavour of some of them, here are a few of my favourites:
Staithes, Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay are three historic, small but beautiful seaside resorts within the Park and they are augmented by the U.K.’s first resort of Scarborough, which is actually just a couple of miles outside the Park’s boundary.
All are charming and so picturesque.
The view from the top of Sutton Bank is claimed to have the finest view in the country or so claimed Alf Wight a.k.a.James Herriot, and I have to concur.
Lake Gormire, far below, is said to be bottomless whilst the views over the Vale of York melt away into the far, hazy distance.
Close by is the 318′ x 220′ White Horse of Kilburn. This is not an ancient monument but actually carved into the hillside by a local schoolmaster and pupils in 1857.
Members of the public may see this incredible view from aloft by taking a pre-booked and piloted glider trip from the Yorkshire Gliding Club at the top of the Bank.
Having seen this and felt hunger pangs, you could visit The Black Swan at nearby Oldstead, Michelin starred and in 2018, named as Britain’s best restaurant. The only drawback to this outstanding place is that you now have to book almost a year in advance to get a table at peak times.
If abbeys and priories are your thing, the Park has Whitby’s of course, which was the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel. Byland, Mount Grace, Rievaulx, Rosedale and Kirkham complete the set. All of these ethereal sites are beautiful and well kept.
In late autumn, some of these are illuminated in multi-colours at night. If you can catch the moon rising behind them, they make for spectacular photographs.
For walking enthusiasts, the 42 mile Lyke Wake walk from Osmotherly to Ravenscar in one go is a mighty undertaking, as my knees will testify (16.5 hrs of unrelenting punishment in my case, since you ask).
The 110 mile Cleveland Way is, bar a few miles, entirely within the Park too and thankfully does not call for non-stop completion.
The 104 mile White Rose Way from Leeds to Scarborough (my own creation – www.whiteroseway.co.uk) enters the park at Thornton le Dale where you will find the beautiful, stream-side thatched cottage that is reputedly the most photographed private house in Britain. The walk passes through the magnificent Dalby Forest where rare orchids may be seen, and on to the coast at Cloughton.Nearby, dinosaur footprints may be observed in an ancient riverbed down on the beach, after which, the walk continues along the cliff-tops to Scarborough.
There are hundreds of gorgeous shorter walks throughout the area. Three of my favourite short walks are the 2 mile circular of May Beck and Falling Foss, which has stunning waterfalls and a superb tea-garden halt, whilst the 6 mile Newtondale Circular gives wonderful moorland and forest views. Wordsworth would have been lost for words at Farndale’s annual Spring display of daffodils in their many thousands. These have to be seen to be believed and can be viewed on an easy, 3.5 mile circular walk, again with a halfway tea-room halt. In 2019, Yorkshire Tea, produced by Taylor’s of Harrogate, became the U.K’s favourite and biggest selling tea in the UK. Slurp away!
For car drivers I can point towards one of the best kept secrets in Yorkshire. A drive that must rank as one of the world’s finest scenic routes.I do not exaggerate. Take the minor road out of Pickering past the railway station and continue over the level crossing at New Bridge. From there the road becomes largely single track with passing places and soon crosses undulating moorland.Pass through Newton on Rawcliffe and Stape to Key Green and then either along the Esk Valley or turn right through Goathland (Aidensfield in Heartbeat), and left through Beck Hole. Both ways end up in glorious Whitby. You will encounter 360 degree panoramic views of a rolling inland sea of purple heather (at it’s best from mid July and into September),stretching from horizon to horizon.You will pass tinkling streams with rock pools, hidden valleys, fords, plenty of sheep and towards the end of this magnificent drive, superb sea views. What you will not encounter are crowds of people or lots of traffic.
In 2018, the bus ride from Leeds to Whitby and in particular the stretch from Pickering to Whitby across the North York Moors was voted the most attractive bus route in the whole of the UK. The route winds past impressive geological features like the vast glacial bowl of the Hole of Horcum (120m deep and 1.2km wide!), over spectacular open stretches of purple heather clad moors and through gorgeous Yorkshire stone, red-roofed villages, before dropping down to the sea and Whitby’s famous abbey.
It is easy to spot steam engines as they chug their way along the North York Moors heritage railway line in the valley bottoms.
Rail enthusiasts, Harry Potterists and Heartbeat fans will all be drawn to this heritage railway, based at Pickering. The 24 mile journey was opened in 1836, closed by Dr. Beeching in 1965 and rescued by rail enthusiasts in 1973.The railway passes through wonderful scenery on it’s way to Whitby. Rail festivals are held throughout the year with differing themes.The line and it’s steam trains have featured in dozens of film and tv productions over the years. Goathland station is familiar to Potterists as Hogsmeade, whilst to Heartbeat fans it will always be Aidensfield. Other recent films set here include Dad’s Army (2016) and the BBC’s ABC Murders, which was screened at Christmas 2018, whilst not forgetting Downton Abbey (2019). I hope you were not taken in by tv trickery. In ABC, Pickering station stood in for Doncaster, whilst Grosmont station doubled for Ashford in Kent. In Downton, Pickering was King’s Cross.
Don’t expect to find the bright city lights however, for there are no cities whatsoever within the Park’s boundaries. Dark skies abound for star-gazing.Special Dark Sky guided walks and events are arranged from time to time. Of particular note is the Dark Skies Festival, held every February to March.This event features over 100 activities nationally. Locally, these include star-gazing, photography workshops, planetariums, astronomy walks and talks, exhibitions, film shows, owl prowls, geo-cache events, astro-treasure hunts, dark runs and in the Dalby Forest, even a pitch-black night zip wire experience. To enhance the experience, download any of quite a few free stargazing apps to your phone. Just point your phone at the sky and the app identifies stars, constellations, planets, satellites and even the International Space Station.
On the NASA app you can view the Earth from the ISS. Just amazing. Great fun as well as educational. (see www.darkskiesnationalparks.org.uk).
What you WILL find however, are delightful Yorkshire stone towns, villages and small hamlets surrounded by the most beautiful scenery imaginable, with some fantastic hotels, pubs, B&B’s and restaurants scattered across the area.
For all explorers to this magnificent area, I would recommend a start point at the National Park Centre at Danby in the fabulous 8,000 acre Dalby Forest, where you will find all you need to know in the form of leaflets and guide books.(www.forestryengland.uk/dalby-forest).
Here you will find bike hire and where, if an experienced rider, you can undertake the World Cup MTB Trail, or the family friendly Adderstone Cycle Trail and many other off-road routes. For the more adventurous there is the amazing tree-top adventure provided by a Go-Ape rope walk and zip-wire course, or try a Segway trip on forest tracks.These are sensational and truly memorable activities for all the family.
Alternatively, for research in advance, there is the comprehensive web-site offered by Welcome to Yorkshire (www.yorkshire.com) which has much more information, including an accommodation guide.
A warm Yorkshire welcome and hospitality await wherever you venture, often making the trip so memorable for many visitors.
This whole area is indeed, Very Moorish.
Now, as for review number 300??