Stuck for things to do this summer? The beautiful North York Moors is overflowing with fun activities for grown-ups and children, and a great place to start is the beautiful adventure setting of Dalby Forest.
Dalby Forest is a great place to try if you are looking for something to do with the kids during the summer holidays. Not only are there lots of activities to keep children busy but there are also plenty of miles to explore in this large forest, set within the North York Moors National Park.
Where better to start your visit to Dalby Forest than at the visitor centre? Here you will find useful maps and guides along with helpful staff to answer your queries and questions - the trails start from the visitor centre and there are miles of forest tracks and country lanes to explore. The Treetops restaurant (complete with terrace) is an ideal spot to stop for refreshments and you will also find a shop to purchase some souvenirs of your day out.
This eco-friendly building was also one of the Forestry Commission’s first centres to be built with a focus on sustainability. The location's rural setting benefits from dark skies, depending on the time of year and lunar cycle so it's a great place to visit for many reasons. Head here first, grab some maps and then settle down with something to eat before heading into the forest.
Go Ape is one of the top attractions at the forest and has become an increasingly popular activity in recent years. Older children and adults can choose between the original Treetop Adventure (which has daring zip slides and Tarzan-style swings) or the slightly more sedate Segway experience. Segways are a fun way to travel through the various forest trails and you can take in all the stunning scenery as you go. Smaller children (under tens) won’t be left out of the fun as there is a mini version of the treetop adventure especially for them.
Why not ramp things up a bit, take the Treetop Challenge Xpress where you can enjoy all the thrills of the Treetop Challenge course but in half the time. The Challenge course is quite high up so only do this one if you have a head for heights! You'll soon be 35 metres up in the air, ready to fly across the forest - it is really good fun, however, so it's definitely worth the effort, just make sure that you eat afterwards!
The children’s play area at Dalby Forest has a great name and theme – Grandfather Oak and the Curious Forest. Using various tree characters, this new wild play area will help children to understand the forest and, on top of this, there are plenty of things that they can climb up and generally explore. All children love running around playing areas, having fun and making new friends and this is an amazing way to do it.
An alternative play area, Adderstone Field, has a range of adventure play equipment and is a great open space that is ideal for playing ball games or having a BBQ. Get the kids involved and make a picnic packed with local Yorkshire produce and then set up a blanket ready to sit back and watch the children enjoying themselves. Bring rounders and frisbees and enjoy an afternoon of good old-fashioned fun - all ages will love this. Other activities to get children involved in the forest include helping to build shelters and hunting for mini-beasts!
Discover more of this exciting county in our guide to Yorkshire - find out the best places to visit in the North York Moors, beautiful beaches to uncover and unmissable foodie places to eat.
There are lots of trails throughout the forest which are suitable for all ages and abilities. Look for local wildlife and flowers or simply enjoy the great outdoors. With several wonderful forest routes to pick from, you’re sure to find a trail to suit you – one of our favourites is the Ellerburn Family Cycle Route, a trail suitable for disabled cyclists, walkers, and wheelchair users. For a longer trip, follow the Dalby Forest Route a 14.5-mile circular cycling and walking trail.
Things to watch out for include views of the Dalby Dales, grazing deer at Sneverdale Rabbit Run and the pretty Staindale Lake which is a great place to stop for a picnic! Hire a bike and pick one of the colour coded trails - choose an easy family route if you have little ones with you, or if you are a more experienced mountain biker, take one of the more challenging trails - the 21-mile red route is a single track trail great for those who want to go that extra mile. The area of the North York Moors is ideal for cycling as well as walking, with plenty of mountain bike trails, and climbs to fantastic viewpoints from the nearby Wykeham Forest. Check out more walks below:
The North York Moors is one the best places in the UK to go stargazing because it has naturally clear skies and low levels of pollution. Low Dalby within Dalby Forest is a dark skies site and also where the observatories of the Scarborough & Ryedale Astronomical Society are located. The annual Starfest takes place here in the summer and is a great opportunity to stargaze. You can also enjoy a hog roast, guest speakers and rocket building amongst the activities on offer.
Any other time of the year, it's a beautiful natural site where you could go for a romantic starlit walk with your partner or as a family and see if you can spot a few of the constellations - check out the stars, planets, nebulae and galaxies and find out from the family-friendly "Why stars matter" to discover why Dalby Forest has been awarded the Milky Way Class by Dark Sky Discovery. Take a snuggly blanket or two and a flask of warming hot chocolate for when the mood takes you to sit down and gaze up - there is nothing more beautiful than a star-speckled sky above so make the most of it by settling down and discovering it all for yourself.
Find out more about Dalby Forest on the Forestry website and let us know some of your favourite things to do there. We also have lots of cottages available in the North York Moors.