Somewhat smaller than the Yorkshire Dales, the North York Moors still cover an area of almost 600 square miles and like the Dales you can easily find yourself miles from anywhere relatively quickly. But there is something quite different about the North York Moors. In place of limestone cliffs and dramatic peaks you’ll find gentle rolling hills of heather, ancient woodland and lazy rivers winding through lush green valleys. There is a sense of wilderness, particularly on top of the high central moorlands, but its cast in comforting soft focus.
Gorgeous things to see and do in the North York Moors…
With so much going on here, from the busy market towns to the attractive coastal resorts, it’s sometime easy to forget that the simplest of all pleasures is just sitting back and enjoying the view. Home to England’s largest expanse of heather, the North York Moors are truly unique and should be savoured with appropriate measure. Some particularly stunning countryside can be found at Sutton Bank – said by some to be the finest view in all of England, Roseberry Topping – a well-loved and mythical peak, the Hole of Horcum – a quite remarkable amphitheatre carved out of the moor and high up on Castleton Rigg – experience panoramic views of the moorland and dales below.
The North York Moors are teaming with historically important sites and landmarks. From the Vikings to the Romans, this ancient landscape has been shaped and imprinted by those who’ve settled here. The Christian faith, perhaps above all others, has played a particularly important role across the Moors and the evidence of this is everywhere. Try not to miss the Christian crosses dotted across the moors; Ralph’s Cross is perhaps the most renowned standing 9 feet tall atop of Blakey Ridge. There are also several wonderfully atmospheric ruined abbeys, including Rievaulx Abbey, Byland Abbey and the gothic delight that is Whitby Abbey.
Running along one of the most scenic railways in the country, the North York Moors Railway (NYMR) is an absolute delight. Making its way slowly from Whitby on the coast 18 miles south to Pickering along the southern fringes of the Moors, the steam train stops at several charming stations along the way. Experience the grandeur of rail travel from yesteryear as the old fashioned carriages draw you lazily through this stunning landscape, huffing and puffing steam along the way.
There are countless attractive and well heeled towns and villages peppered about the North York Moors, where honey-coloured sandstone cottages lend warm contrast to the deep purple and green of the surrounding landscape. Some are particularly gorgeous including the picture postcard Hutton-Le-Hole, upmarket Helmsley with its fabulous Verbena Spa, the spellbinding Coxwold just North of York and anywhere along the NYMR line.
Lights, camera, action!
Not surprisingly, the North York Moors has been something of a magnet for film crews big and small over the years. Walk on set by visiting some its best loved locations including the beautiful Castle Howard where Brideshead Revisited (film & series) were filmed. Or you could tootle along to the archetypical moors village of Goathland or ‘Aidensfield’ as it’s known on Heartbeat. The train station here also doubles as Hogsmeade Station on Harry Potter’s famous Hogwarts Express.