Travels and Tourism

Best of the Moors Yorkshire | A Place to Relax and Rejuvenate

With dense forests, meandering streams and vast swathes of heather moorland, the North York Moors National Park makes for a spectacular road trip. Although the journey from the market town of Helmsley to the seaside village of Staithes is short and sweet, you can stretch it out over a couple of days if you fancy an overnight stay in a village B&B.

Pass moss-covered drystone walls and grazing sheep as you take the A170 towards Pickering and Thornton-le-Dale. Then take the A169 for a scenic journey up to the coast through Goathland and Grosmont.

The Moors are one of the most dog-friendly regions to visit in the UK, with B&Bs, glamping and other accommodation options welcoming furry family members. Whenever your pet wants to explore there are plenty of canine-friendly pubs and beaches available too.
Yorkshire Moors road trip stop offs

Dalby Forest is a great place to stretch your legs or go for a bike ride if you have yours with you. If you stop off in Goathland you can go in search of Mallyan Spout, the tallest waterfall in the Moors.

Top tip: Take a map with you as sat-navs might not be 100% reliable due to the rural nature of the North York Moors.

Distance and ideal duration: 42 miles, 1-2 days.

Did you know? Goathland has featured in many TV shows and films, having doubled for Aidensfield in Heartbeat and Hogsmeade Station in the Harry Potter movies.

Things to do in the Moors Yorkshire

  • Go for a walk and witness the beauty of the North Yorkshire Moors.

Here’s our top three: A four-mile circular walk through Hutton le Hole and Lastingham, the six-mile circular route through Newtondale, with the chance of seeing a steam train whistle by, and Little Beck Wood with the Falling Foss waterfall.

  • View the moors from the window of a steam train on the North York Moors Railway. 

The train from Pickering to Whitby chugs through the heather-clad landscape and stops at lovely villages on the way, including Goathland, the setting for the popular TV series, Heartbeat.

  • Visit Rievaulx Abbey, a beautiful Cistercian ruin.

Set in the most spectacular location, browse the museum, wander the ruins, enjoy the views and pop into the teashop for refreshments.

  •  Explore the fishing villages that tumble down the cliffs on the North Yorkshire Coast.

Whitby, Robin Hoods Bay, Staithes and Runswick Bay all tell stories of explorers, smugglers, shipwrecks, and the trials and triumphs of life at sea.

  • Enjoy a more traditional day at the seaside in Scarborough.

Visit the castle, wander through Peasholm Park, play on the beach and enjoy the amusements. Finish the day with the obligatory fish and chips tea, overlooking the sea.

  • Visit the Moor to Sea Cycle Network.

Connecting Scarborough, Whitby, Dalby Forest, Pickering and Great Ayton in a series of loops the Moor to Sea cycle takes in views of moorland, coast and forest. With 150 cycling miles to explore, it’s an unbeatable way to see the North York Moors attractions.

  • Discover Flamingo Land

An award-winning theme park with thrills and adventures for everyone. A great family day out.

  • Explore Ryedale Folk Museum one of the best North York Moors places to visit.

Taking you through 4,000 years of history, it’s an immersive experience, offering a glimpse into a rural way of life that has now disappeared.

  •  Take a road trip through the moorland towns.

Start at Pickering, where you can spend some time at the delightful Beck Isle Museum as well as gazing at the medieval frescos on St. Peter and St. Paul’s church. Then meander through Helmsley, Hutton le Hole, Rosedale and Goathland, all with their own charms – and a great choice of pubs too.

  • Enjoy a day at Sutton Bank escarpment, one of the best North York Moors attractions

With one of the finest views in England, according to famous local vet, James Herriot. Stick around until night time because the dark sky view is just as breath-taking.

Moors Yorkshire Walks to Sightsee Like a Local

Coast to Coast Walk

One of the most well-known walks in the United Kingdom, Coast to Coast has a bit of a deceiving name. Starting at Cumbria at St Bees on the Irish shore, this walk stretches from the Lake District National Park on the west shore of England over to the North York Moors. The last third of this walk crosses through the national park itself. People tend to hike sections, usually in no more than 24 kilometers (15 miles) at a time. While it lacks the vistas you might expect, the Coast to Coast walk snakes through gorgeous scenery filled with mirrored lakes and lush hay meadows. The trail also takes you along historic villages and archaeological sites.

How to hike the Coast to Coast trail

You’ll need to be an intermediate hiker to do the entire walk, but smaller parts can be hiked by beginners. The total Coast to Coast thru-hike crosses England for around 300 kilometers (190 miles) from the Irish Sea to the North Sea. Most people hike an average of 20 to 23 kilometers (12–14 miles) per day. Word of the wise, hike the Coast to Coast in the warmer months when it’s more likely to have clear sunny days.

Coast to Coast Walk – Good to Know

Skill level:Intermediate

Length:192 miles

Terrain:Light strolls on meadows

Guidebook:Hiking the Coast to Coast‬: Digitally Enhanced Trail Guide for Walkers by Roy D McKee

Nice to know:Warmer months bring more sunny days

Typical walk length:People walk in sections of 14 miles per day

How long does it take to hike its entirety?You’ll spend 16 days on average hiking the entire Coast to Coast

Cleveland Way

The Cleveland Way route might be ideal if you’re looking for a multi-day trail. The full Cleveland Way walk is 175 kilometers (109 miles) starting in the town of Helmsley, follows a horseshoe shape, and heads to Filey Brigg past fishing villages and coastline. The full walk will take about seven to 10 days. It’s a national trail in England and Wales that starts on the western part of the North York Moors National Park. Cleveland Way enters the western gateway of North York at Sutton Bank, then links up with the coast.

Cleveland Way offers ample opportunity for sightseeing

Cleveland Way is quite a nice walk in Yorkshire, not too strenuous or mountainous. Since it’s a national trail, it’s well-maintained, and most of the walk travels over a pretty good track. There are more variations in the trail along the coast, meaning elevation changes and a few challenging sections. The rest is set on easy, doable terrain.

One of the highlights of the Cleveland Way National Trail is the market village called Helmsley with a medieval castle. From there, you walk to the Sutton Bank with a great viewpoint begging to be photographed. If you’re happy to walk 16 kilometers (10 miles) a day, this walk will reward you greatly with sweeping coastal vistas and hidden fisherman villages for you to discover.

Camping is also an option while you’re hiking Cleveland Way. Most people prefer to stop at locations along the way. Pubs and guesthouses are an important part of walking the Cleveland Way route. Baggage transfer options also allow hikers to avoid hauling their gear. If you prefer to be one-on-one with nature, you have to stick to the designated campsites. Wild camping is prohibited.

Skill level: All hikers welcome

Length:109 miles

Terrain:Undulating hills along the seaside

Best time to visit:To see the heather in bloom, visit from August to early September

How long does it take to walk the Cleveland Way?It takes 7-9 days to walk the entirety of Cleveland Way

Nice to know:Stop at as many abbeys and castles as you can, especially in Helmsley

Cleveland Way trail information:Helpful trail info including an interactive Cleveland Way route map from National Trails UK

Good to know:Avoid wind blowing in your face, hike it clockwise from Helmsley

Rosedale Railway Walk

Rosedale Railway Walk is a gentle day tour in the North York Moors. The subtle beauty will leave you breathless. Today, it looks like your typical beautiful North Yorkshire countryside. Rosedale used to be a bustling centre for processing and mining iron 150 years ago at the start of the industrial revolution. It was no easy feat to build, and was integral for the workforce that mined the ores and kept the kilns alight. You can still see the remains of the town that once had an important role in keeping the area well-equipped. Rosedale’s historical railways were turned into a very relaxed eight-mile circuit trail and takes about five hours to complete.

Take a full day to enjoy the Rosedale Railway walk

My advice is to give yourself the day to enjoy the Rosedale Railway trail properly. The walk itself follows the lower part of the old railway, taking you through old farmlands. You’ll discover the ruins of those iron mines and kilns that stood the test of time on the line above. Look for plenty of gates and a stile to ensure you’re on the right path. It’s difficult to get lost in this section of the North York Moors. It’s laid on flat terrain and perfect for immersing yourself in its history. On top of that, you’ll find authentic tea rooms just in time for tea and cake breaks.

Skill level:All levels

Terrain: Ex-railways turned into a walk

Grab a bite: Take a break and have a quick bite to eat in Rosedale Abbey

Nice to know:Stay on the lookout for landmarks dating back to the Victorian industrial age

When to visit:Visit in the summer as the railway is pretty exposed to the elements

Rosedale walk time: Walk takes 5 hours to complete


The walk is part of the Cleveland Way and is eight miles in total. It won’t be too strenuous even for beginners, and the sights you’ll get are more than worth it. The tour itself takes about an hour to complete. No one can pass up the opportunity to discover Rievaulx Abbey, not even the robots from the Transformers movies.

Skill level: All levels

Terrain: Gentle uphill walk


Helmsley to Rievaulx Abbey walk time:The abbey is an 1 hour away

Length: 7 miles

When to visit: Helmsley to Rievaulx Abbey is a must-see no matter the season

Helmsley route map: Helmsley and Rievaulx Abbey

How far is Rievaulx Abbey from Helmsley?Rievaulx Abbey is about 3 miles away from Helmsley

Sutton Bank

Sutton Bank, located in the Hamilton Hills, is the trailhead for one of my favorite walks complete with a proper, traditional farm. This 12-mile loop will take you up gentle hills offering amazing, panoramic vistas.

The Sutton Bank walk links up with the Cleveland Way. After you pick your jaw off the floor, you’ll head down the Garbutt Woods to the gorgeous Gormire Lake, which was formed during the last ice age. Not quite old-English style, but High Paradise Tea Rooms is a must-stop spot. Their pizza oven and overall food is amazing. Any walk that features the gorgeous countryside and involves pizza can’t be that bad walk. The walk from the Sutton Bank is my go-to location for watching the sunset and rise, as well as for stargazing.

Skill level: All levels

Terrain: Gentle uphill walk through the woodlands

Trailhead: Sutton Bank

Sutton Bank trail map:Sutton Bank OS map

Length:12 mile-loop walk

Other activities: Sutton Bank is one of the spots for MTB in North York Moors, as well as the home of Dark Skies Festival

Where to stay:Blacksmiths Arms is one of my favorite places to grab a bite to eat and for accommodation

Sutton Bank walk time:Half-day walk

Goathland to Grosmont Rail Path

The Rail Path is a almost six-kilometer (3.5 mile) trail between Grosmont and Goathland. This heritage rail-to-trail path, which is a name for all walks which used to be railway tracks, is easily one of the most gorgeous of its kind in England. The Goathland to Grosmont Rail Path is a linear walk great for families due to its low difficulty and upkeep. If you pick Goathland as your trailhead, it’s pretty much a downhill walk! It will take you and your little ones about one hour to reach one town or the other, following its old cinder tracks.

From Harry Potter to Downton Abbey, explore famous TV sites

One of the stops was used as a set for Hogwarts, the famous wizarding school in the Harry Potter franchise. Its beauty seems to amaze filmmakers — it became a backdrop for the TV show Downton Abbey, as well. Depending on the time of the visit, you might come across a bustling wildlife that calls this area its home.

Local birds draw in a lot of birdwatchers. Expect gentle gradients and rolling hills that won’t distract you from the surrounding vistas. From an activity point of view, it’s known for lots of walking among the ruins and thrilling mountain biking. It’s especially gorgeous in the springtime, when the wildflowers paint the woodlands in a rainbow of colors.

6. Goathland to Grosmont Rail Path – Good to Know

Skill level:All levels

Terrain:Easy walk through the woodlands

Other activities:Feel like you fell back through time on the magical train ride

Length: 3.5-mile walk

Trailhead: Start in Grosmont or Goathland

Bring your bike:If you like a dose of adventure with your vistas, go on an exciting MTB tour in the area.

Advice for Planning North York Moors Walks

When is the best time to visit the North York Moors?

May, September and October are really good months to plan your visit to the North York Moors because the crowds thin out. English weather will be what it is. There is no way to know what to expect. Since it’s on the east coast, the North York Moors National Park is one of the driest in the country. You won’t be as rained in as in other parts of the UK. It’s easier to find accommodation and those months are actually ideal months for walking in England.

Where to stay during the walk in the North York Moors?

In England, national parks are lived-in areas, so you’ll find lots of towns just on the outskirts of the park. If you’re planning to stay in the North York Moors for a couple of days, Whitby is a pretty good option to make your homebase. If you find it too crowded or would prefer to have alternatives, opt for Pickering or Helmsley. Whitby should be your go-to if you plan to stick to the coast and the other two towns are closer to the moors. The park is not particularly large, it only takes an hour to drive from one end to the other. If you plan to do a lot of exploring, Pickering is a great place to stay as it’s in the heart of the park.

It would be a shame to visit the park without staying at one of the many authentic pubs, guesthouses and cottages. Great ale, cozy atmosphere and amazing food — what’s not to love? One of my favourites is the Croft House.

What gear do you need to pack?

You don’t have to have a complicated packing list for hiking in North York Moors. Your regular hiking gear, daypack and lots of layers will suffice. There are so many tearooms and pubs all around, you’re not likely to go hungry or thirsty. Pack a light lunch if you’re heading out for the day and don’t want to worry about missing the sights.

Do you need a permit for the North York Moors?

Everything in the park is free. All you need to pay for is parking by an hourly fee, if you arrive by car. Almost all of the car parks have toilets. Any fees you pay are put toward maintaining the park. You are also able to pay for parking on your phone without even having to leave your car or leave the views you were admiring.

Best walks in North York Moors National Park

  • Along the Cleveland Way from Lord Stones Country Park
  • Robin Hood’s Bay to Boggle Hole
  • Hermitage and waterfall walk from Littlebeck
  • Staithes to Port Mulgrave
  • Hutton-le-Hole to Lastingham
  • Helmsley Castle to Rievaulx Abbey
  • Sutton Bank to Kilburn White Horse

Best Places to Visit in the Moors Yorkshire

  • Roseberry Topping
  • Sutton Bank and Kilburn White Horse
  • Mount Grace Priory
  • Osmotherley
  • Cod Beck Reservoir
  • Rievaulx Abbey
  • Helmsley
  • Byland Abbey
  • Farndale
  • Chop Gate and the Wainstones
  • Hutton-le-Hole
  • Rosedale and Rosedale Abbey
  • Castleton Rigg
  • Danby and Danby Beacon
  • Lealholm
  • Goathland
  • Thornton-le-Dale
  • Hole of Horcum
  • Staithes
  • Whitby
  • Robin Hood’s Bay

How To Get Around the Moors Yorkshire

There’s no way around it: a rural area like the North York Moors requires a car. With your own transportation, simply put you can get to see more places. You may drive on lots of very narrow, single-lane roads. I always recommend to drive very cautiously, especially around corners and up/down blind hills. There are passing places on these roads where cars can safely pass one another, but keep in mind you might need to reverse into one.

While you do need a car to really get the most of the national park and this area, there are quite a few places accessible by public transport if you’re based around York. Whitby, Grosmont, Lealholm, Danby, Castleton, and others can be accessed by train through the Esk Valley railway (running from Middlesborough to Whitby). I always use Trainline for booking my trains. Goathland is a great stop if you’re taking the North York Moors Railway from Pickering to Whitby or vice versa. The 31X bus runs from York through Coxwold and Byland Abbey to Helmsley. Hutton-le-Hole is serviced by the 174 and 176 buses going from Pickering to Kirkbymoorside. Whitby can be easily accessed from Leeds or York by the Coastliner buses, and it’s easy to get from Whitby to Robin Hood’s Bay by bus X93.

If you’re flying to the UK, the nearest airports for the North York Moors National Park are Leeds-Bradford, Newcastle, and Doncaster Sheffield. Manchester is the largest nearby airport (and best for international flight options), with direct trains running to York and Middlesborough from the airport. I recommend using Skyscanner to book flights.

Where to Stay in the North York Moors

There is so much of the North York Moors to see. Where you want to stay and what kind of experience you want to have is really up to you! If you don’t have your own transportation, I’d strongly recommend visiting somewhere with good transport links, like Whitby. If you’re looking for a beachy seaside getaway, Staithes, Whitby, and Robin Hood’s Bay have huge numbers of holiday cottages you can rent for a weekend or a week! I loved staying in this rural Airbnb not far from Lealholm in Great Fryupdale. There are lots of YHA locations throughout the Moors which have both dorms and private rooms. You can find country hotels and B&Bs too. Basically, you’ve got lots of options! You can search for hostels on Hostelworld here, or look for hotels and apartments on here! You can also sign up to and search for accommodation on Airbnb. The North York Moors is one of my favorite national parks in the country, and has so much to see. I have loved exploring this amazing place, and can’t wait to see even more as time goes on! I hope you enjoy these best places to visit in the North York Moors