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North Yorkshire - a guide for visitors to the moors and coast

Kilburn white horse North Yorkshire is an amazing area of unspoilt beauty that can stand comparison with anywhere else in the country. If has the marvellous combination of moors and coast providing amazing variety for visitors. The moors provide great upland walking, and the dales lovely picture postcard villages, while the wonderful mediaeval towns offer excellent standards for both food and accommodation.

The moors have neen a national park since 1954, one of the earliest, and covers an area of over 500 square miles, being about 40 miles at its widest.

As yet I haven't covered too much of the moors, though I hope to remedy that this Summer, providing time allows. The coast has been done in some detail and can be found in its very own section. So until I get round to covering the rest, here's a one-page guide to the major attractions and towns.

What to see on the North York Moors

Lake Gormire

Sutton Bank

Sutton Bank is the steep hill that for many is their introduction to the moors. An incredible climb, it goes from the Plain of York to the top of the moos twisting and turning as it goes. Most people just pass through, but it should be teated as a destination in its own right as there's fabulous walking around the escarpment, through the forests, and around the beautiful and peaceful Lake Gormire


In the middle of the North York Moors, Rosedale is an amazing hidden place. Originally an Iron Ore mining community, it's now a picture postcard little village, but the real joy is in the surrounding countryside. Running along the sides of this incredibly steep dale are two old railway tracks, allowing a fabulous walk around the dale. Totally unspoilt. Unfortunately the wonderful Rosedale Chimmney that used to dominate the landscape was destroyed in the 1970's in an act of unforgiveable vandalism. Nowadays the chimney is just a memory but the road up to it is still one of the steepest in the UK.  
Mount Grace Priory

Mount Grace Priory

Located on the very edge of the North York Moors, and not quite on the Cleveland Way,  it's easy to overlook Mount Grace Priory. That's a great mistake, as these are the most interesting monastic remains in the North. A Carthusian monastry, the monks had a unique, and rather luxurious lifestyle. It's also the best place in Yorkshire to see a Stoat, as they use the mediaeval drains to sneak about hunting rabbits. If you don't see one in the abbey grounds, try the woods behind.
Newburgh Priory

Newburgh Priory

Hidden away between Sutton Bank and Ampleforth, Newburgh Priory, is one of the great estates of North Yorkshire, and fortunately it's still in private hands. This is the place where Olver Cromwell's headless corpse is supposed to be buried - and as one of my great historical heroes that makes it well worth a mention. Very limited opening times.
Byland Abbey

Byland Abbey

Tucked away near Ampleforth, there's not an awful lot left of what was one of the richest Abbey's in the North. It doesn't have the idyllic setting of Reivaulx either, but it is in nice gentle walking country, and is also within spitting distance of two excellent pubs; the Wombwell Arms at Wath and the Abbey Inn, which is directly opposite the gates. The Abbey's in the care of English Heritage, who seem to spend more money building fences round their properties than conserving them.
Helmsley Castle


On the edge of the moors, Helmsley is one of the historic gateways, complete with a lovely ruined Norman castle and a great market place. It's also the start (or end) of the Cleveland Way, and has a selection of the best eateries and pubs for miles. Ideal walking country (Rievaulx and back being a great little walk) and a great place to spend a weekend.
Pickering Station


Another traditional gateway to the moors, Pickering is another delightful mediaeval town with a ruined castle, a market square and great pubs and shopping. It even has a shop selling nothing but "green men", a very large example of which adorns my kitchen wall - it's opposite the railway station and is well worth a visit. It's also the Southern terminus of the North York Moors Railway, which is the best private railway in the UK. And now they even run trains all the way to Whitby. Fantastic.
Rievaulx Abbey

Rievaulx Abbey

The most beautiful, peaceful setting for any abbey in the UK, Rievaulx is an absolute gem. Apart from the abbey itself, there are the splendid Rievaulx terraces above which are well worth a visit - but they're not walkable from the abbey. Do go during proper opening hours, as the absolute highlight of the terrace is the inside of the Ionic temple. Ideally the abbey is best visited by walking from Helmsley, which is a fantastic place to visit or even stay for a weekend.
Hole of Horcum, North Yorkshire

Hole of Horcum

The Hole of Horcum, also known as "The Devil's Punchbowl" is an amazing geological feature just off the Whitby to Pickering Road. It's a great place to break a journey with fabulous views down into it, and it's a really great place to walk into, either from the top, or far better down the valley heading to Newtondale.
Levisham, North Yorkshire

Newtondale, Levisham, Cropton and Newton-on-Rawcliffe

The area around Newtondale is one of the very best walking areas in North Yorkshire. It's bisected by the North York Moors Railway, but offers both great lowland and upland walking. Throw into the mix some quite deligtful villages, great pubs, the odd historic remain or two, and you have an ideal area to visit.

photos of Pickering and Helmsley courtesy of freefoto.com

Comments (2)
this part of the world is truely gods own county i will love it forever
posted by julie tetley 19/03/2009 19:47:14
We spent our summer holidays at Lealholm during the 50's and 60's and I learned to fish for trout in the Esk. Later I used to roam North Yorkshire on my Motorbike and saw many interesting sights and had many a pint in friendly country pubs.
What I most remember about my youth is having to get out and help push my Dads old Ford Prefect up the hill at Glaisdale, - happy days !!
posted by Toby 28/07/2009 08:30:06
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