The North York Moors National Park is an extremely special place. Where else do you find stunning moorland next to golden beaches? Picturesque fishing villages set amid wildflower meadows? Ancient ruins next to bustling harbors? There is nowhere quite like it.
From the glorious coastline—an example of the British seaside at its best—wild moorland erupts proudly before giving way to lush meadows and farmland. Three quarters of all the world’s heather moorland is in Britain and North Yorkshire boasts the largest expanse in England.
In winter, the moors have a rugged and melancholy charm. In the summer, they erupt in glorious purple blossom as the heather flowers. At any time of year, you will find them a welcome escape from the hustle-and-bustle of modern life.
With such a rich variety of scenery and things to explore, there is something for everybody in the North York Moors and the routes in this Collection represent that. Whether you want to hike up hills and through empty moors, saunter through ancient ruins and churches, relax on sandy beaches, paddle in the sea, swim in freshwater lakes, admire cliff-top views, or explore hidden coves, there will be something to fall in love with in this glorious part of England.
This Collection will show you the many different sides of this national park. With routes of varying lengths, for all ages and abilities, you will be taken to some of the best known—and best kept secrets—of the North York Moors on these glorious routes.
Whitby is a fantastic choice to stay when visiting the area. A fascinating town to explore in its own right, the ancient port boasts a huge range of accommodation, plenty of food and drink options, a glorious beach, history, nightlife, museums, and more. There is an abundance of classic countryside and coastal walks straight from Whitby, too, and fantastic bus links from the town to inland honeypot towns and villages. Whitby has a train station, too, with decent connections from all over the country.
If you opt to stay somewhere a little more off the beaten track, there are also train stations in the nearby towns of York, Malton, Scarborough, Middlesbrough, Saltburn by the Sea, Northallerton and Thirsk, with good bus links from the stations.
For more information about the North York Moors, where to stay, visit, eat and drink, transport advice and much more, visit: northyorkmoors.org.uk.
For local bus timetables and information, visit: yorkshiretravel.net.
For train timetables and tickets, visit: thetrainline.com.
This delightful circuit is an absolute classic. Taking you along the cliff tops from Robin Hood’s Bay to Maw Wyke, and back down an old railway line, you are treated to heart-melting views; out to sea in one direction, over the rolling hills to the other, and over hidden coves and picturesque fishing villages below.
You begin by following part of the England Coast Path, which will be the longest of its kind in the world when completed in 2020. As you leave Robin Hood’s Bay, you will see Ness Point below soon after. One of the most treacherous headlands along this coastline, its jagged rocks have claimed many ships through the ages.
When you reach the Maw Wyke—being sure to admire the views and wildlife from above the sheltered cove—you return via the Cinder Track, a smooth and well-maintained mixed-use path that follows the route of the old Scarborough to Whitby railway.
While this route can be completed in three hours, it is definitely worth allowing more time to complete it, especially if the weather is good. If you put aside a few extra hours, it leaves ample time to explore Robin Hood’s Bay and its golden sands, soak in the panoramas, admire the hedgerows and wildflowers, while allowing the bracing sea breeze reinvigorate your senses.
While this route is classed as ‘intermediate’, it is definitely leisurely with gently undulating paths that are smooth and well-maintained. If you have average fitness and walking ability you will find this circuit easy. Walking boots or sturdy shoes are advisable.
The coastline of North Yorkshire is so charming and beautiful, it is easy to ignore the inland delights. This spellbinding circuit ensures you will not miss-out, though, showing you another side of this glorious area.
The starting point for this route is Helmsley. With a bustling market square, dramatic castle ruins, charming tea rooms, inviting inns, and surrounded by magnificent countryside, it is the perfect little English market town.
Once you have had your fill exploring Helmsley, this route takes you along one of the best parts of the iconic 109-mile (175-kilometer) Cleveland Way. As you saunter through immensely picturesque countryside, you will pass the magnificent ruins of Helmsley Castle and Rievaulx Abbey before wandering through the lush beauty of Nettle Dale.
While this route can be undertaken in one summer’s afternoon, it is advisable to put aside a full day or, indeed, as much time as you can afford. As well as Helmsley Castle, the ruins of Rievaulx Abbey are an absolute must-see: breathtakingly beautiful and packed with history.
It is worth visiting Rievaulx Terrace, too. A pleasure in itself, the wonderful 18th-century landscape garden also boast a breathtaking view over the abbey surrounded by rolling Yorkshire hills.
Get recommendations on the best single tracks, peaks, & plenty of other exciting outdoor places.
If you are looking for the ultimate coastal walk in North Yorkshire to complete in one day, this route is just that. For nearly 14 miles (23 kilometers), there is never a dull moment: breathtaking cliff-top views over fishing villages, hidden coves, golden beaches, wildflower meadows and rolling hills every single step of the way.
The great thing about this one-way route is that you are either right on the edge of the cliffs or you are walking on the sands almost the entire way from the sleepy village of Staithes to the wonderful town of Whitby. And, once you arrive in Whitby, there are regular buses back to the start (more on that later).
In between Staithes and Whitby, this route takes you to Runswick Bay, one of the prettiest coastal destinations in Yorkshire and culminates with a 3.6 mile (4.8 kilometer) beach walk all the way from the glorious shores of Sandsend to Whitby Beach.
Be aware, however, that it is not possible to walk the entire beach walk stretch in high-tide so check tidetimes.org.uk/whitby-tide-times for information on the best time to attempt it. You can always follow the cliff-top path for this stretch, too.
Once you arrive in Whitby, this route takes you all the way to the bus station where you can catch very regular buses (typically hourly or half-hourly) back to Staithes via the X4 service. The entire journey takes around 30 minutes. For full timetable information, visit arrivabus.co.uk/globalassets/documents/north-east-services-documents/x44-whitby-to-middlesborough/service-timetable/rrx4_170217rev.pdf.
When you visit Whitby, it is easy to understand why generation-after-generation falls in love with the town.
The ancient and picturesque sea port boasts Blue Flag beaches with golden sands and clean waters, a bustling harbor overlooked by the striking Gothic ruins of Whitby Abbey and is surrounded by magnificent countryside. It truly is British seaside at its best.
As you stroll through the winding, cobbled streets of the town and peer into its ancient taverns, it is easy to imagine sailors and smugglers walking in your footsteps hundreds of years ago. In fact, Captain James Cook, the legendary sailor acquired his maritime skills in Whitby. The town is also the inspiration behind Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’.
This route takes you to the must-see sights of Whitby in one short route. From the town centre, you head over the Swing Bridge and up the 199 steps to the haunting ruins of Whitby Abbey. Then it is back down, via St Mary’s Church, to learn more about Captain Cook at the memorial museum, in the house where he lodged.
After working up an appetite with all the walking and learning, why not get some traditional fish and chips from one of the best places in town? Then, it is a brief stroll to the beautiful beach where you can enjoy your food looking into the North Sea.
This is an easy-going route on paved surfaces. Unfortunately, 199 steps is not an exaggeration. As such, it might not be suitable for people with mobility issues.
A young James Cook spent many days exploring the countryside of this route. Perhaps the tantalizing views of the North Sea from the summit of Roseberry Topping set something alight in his heart; paving the way for his iconic maritime adventures.
This spectacular circuit takes you through some beloved sights in the North York Moors. You begin from the pretty village of Great Ayton, which is well-worth exploring, too. Perched on the banks of the River Leven, the village has ancient origins and several Neolithic sites.
From Great Ayton, you wander through the ancient Newton Wood. With parts more than 400 years old, the woodland has a distinctly magical atmosphere and is especially beautiful during Bluebell season.
This hike takes you to the summits of Roseberry Topping, known locally as the ‘Yorkshire Matterhorn’, and Easby Moor, where a monument to Captain Cook stands. From these two peaks you are afforded some of the best views in the North York Moors.
While Roseberry Topping is slightly smaller than Easby Moor, it is considerably steeper and a good level of fitness is required to climb it. There are a few different routes to the top, though, of varying difficulties. Walking boots are a must. Other than that, grab your camera, hope for good weather and have a fantastic day exploring.
This superb route treats you to some of the finest views in the North York Moors national park. From the heady heights of Cold Moor to the rugged Wainstones and through the purple heather-covered Urra Moor, this short but challenging circuit makes for a rewarding day’s hike.
The first attraction you reach is Wainstones. The impressive sandstone crags are the largest such group in the North York Moors and are very popular with hikers and climbers. Cracks in the rocks have been sculpted by centuries of weathering to leave jagged joints and fissures between the blocks.
As you hike onto Cold Moor, you can observe how the landscape has been sculpted by Bronze Age civilizations who populated the area thousands of years ago. Keep an eye out for Three Howes, too, a mass grave from this period.
After this, you climb up onto the highest moor in the national park. At 1,454 feet (454 meters) above sea level, you will find Urra Moor to be an atmospheric, beautiful and very peaceful place to be, especially when the purple heather blooms in the late summer months.
From one of the area’s most famous landmarks, to the best wild swimming spot, and including majestic woodland and breathtaking cliff-top views, this route is a hidden gem of the North York Moors.
You start by exploring Kilburn White Horse. Carved into the bank, the 314 feet (96 meter) long and 220 feet (67 meter) high horse is one of the most famous landmarks in the North York Moors and can be seen for miles around. From the cliffs above the White Horse, too, you are treated to stunning views.
Form there, it is a steady hike to Gormire Lake; truly one of the area’s best-kept secrets. Surrounded by the majestic woodland of Garbutt Wood Nature Reserve, the lake is unbelievably clean, surprisingly warm and is a spectacular place for a wild swim.
If the weather is fine—or, if it is cold and you are very brave—be sure to bring some swimming gear and get in for a dip. Marking the halfway point of this route, it is a great opportunity to cool down and get refreshed before you continue the hike.
After a steep climb through the nature reserve, you are rewarded with a spellbinding view over Gormire Lake and miles beyond from high up on Whitestone cliff.
While this route can be completed in under four hours, in glorious summer weather it is well worth dedicating an entire day and taking plenty of time to explore all the highlights.