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A complete guide to North York Moors National Park, England

Updated On 3rd July, 2021

North York Moors National Park is without a doubt one of the best places to visit in England, it’s even a strong contender for the best places to visit in the UK.

North York Moors National Park is one of ten National Parks in England, and covers more than more than 1,430 square kilometres (554 sq mi) of stunning landscapes in north-east England. It’s also very close to the Yorkshire Dales National Park if you fancy doing two English National Parks in one UK road trip!

If you’re the type of traveller that seeks long countryside walks with cozy pubs and cute market towns, North York Moors National Park is going to be right up your street. The very English weather I’ve experienced there (rain), has not taken away from the beauty and fun I’ve had in this UK National Park. Home to one of the largest areas of heather moorland in the United Kingdom, it’s a great place to go walking in England.

In this North York Moors National Park travel guide I am going to share with you the best places to stay in the North York Moors, the best things to do in North York Moors National Park and my favourite adventures so far.

From seeing the famous Robin Hood’s Bay to mountain biking in the Dalby Forest, from witnessing the Farndale Daffodils in spring to seeing the stunning Falling Foss waterfall, from long countryside walks to eating amazing local food, my time in Yorkshire has been nothing short of adventurous! 

North York Moors National Park: my complete guide

Where is North York Moors National Park?

If you came here wondering ‘where is North York Moors National Park’, ‘where is  North York Moors’, or ‘what does a map of North York Moors National Park look like’ you’re in the right place.  North York Moors National Park is in the north-east England, on the North Sea Coast. The equally beautiful, but separate Yorkshire Dales National Park is just an hour’s drive away.

To drive to North York Moors National Park, it’s about five hours from London and the South East, 2 hours from Manchester or the Lake District National Park, 1 hour from Leeds, and just 40 minutes from York. If you’re using a Sat Nav, pop in the postcode of your accommodation or one of these car parks.

If you want to take public transport to North York Moors National Park, you’re best bet is getting to one of the main towns or cities nearby the park. There are rail and National Express links from all over the country to stations in the towns surrounding the National Park – York, Malton, Scarborough, Middlesbrough, Saltburn by the Sea, Redcar, Whitby, Northallerton and Thirsk – and bus links from the stations. Book your train tickets online on thetrainline.com. 

Check out this map of North York Moors National Park to see where in England it is:

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Where to stay in North York Moors National Park:

Where to stay in North York Moors National Park really depends on what type of accommodation you’re looking for, and where you want to be based.

For example, if you want to stay in a hostel in North York Moors National Park, there are five YHA Hostel locations within the North York Moors National Park: YHA Whitby, YHA Helmsey, YHA Boggle Hole, YHA Dalby Forest & YHA Osmotherley. These are the perfect option for budget accommodation with close access to various locations across the North York Moors. Book your stay at a YHA in Yorkshire here.

If you’re looking for a hotel in the North York Moors National Park, I’ve heard good things about: 

Check out booking.com or Airbnb for more hotels or apartments in the area, or get inspiration and recommendations directly from the North York Moors National Park website here.

There are also lots of campsites in North York Moors National Park for camping. Check out my camping packing list here.

If you’re looking for campsites in North York Moors National Park (for tents and caravans), check out the list of campsites on the North York Moors National Park website here.

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The best things to do in North York Moors National Park...

1. Visit some of the most beautiful beaches in England

Perhaps one of the most famous things to do in North York Moors National Park, and even one of the most popular things to do in England, is to enjoy the beauty that the English seaside. There are many beaches in North Yorkshire that will take your breath away and make you think that you are abroad! 

Some of the best beaches in North York Moors National Park include: 

  • Whitby Bay (also good for surfing!)
  • Runswick Bay
  • Robin Hood’s Bay
  • Staithes Beach

Don’t forget your swimmers if you’re down for a dip in the chilly North Sea!

Planning a trip to Cornwall soon? Here are the best beaches in Cornwall.

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2. Take on one of the many walks and hikes in North York Moors National Park.

There are so many walks and hikes in North York Moors National Park… it really is one of the best places to go walking in England and even in the UK. with breathtaking views of the rolling English countryside, it’s enjoyable come rain or shine! 

There are loads of walks and hikes in North York Moors National Park for you to try, no matter whether you’re a beginner hiker or if you’re looking for a bigger challenge. (If you’re a beginner hiker, check out my hiking top tips here!).

North York Moors National Park is also home to a variety of landscapes, so whether you want hills or moorland, waterfalls or a coastal route, there’s something for you here. With so much on offer, it’s no surprise that walking and hiking are some of the best things to do in North York Moors National Park.

Some of the best places for hikes and walks in North York Moors National Park include: 

  • Cleveland Way from Lord Stones Country Park. 
  • Robin Hood’s Bay to Boggle Hole
  • Grosmont to Goathland circular railway walk
  • Littlebeck to Falling Foss waterfall 
  • Staithes to Port Mulgrave. 
  • Sandsend to Runswick Bay
  • Hutton-le-Hole to Lastingham. 
  • Hole of Horcum & Levisham Moors
  • Helmsley Castle to Rievaulx Abbey. 
  • Sutton Bank to Kilburn White Horse.
  • Roseberry Topping & Newton Wood
  • Farnfale Daffodil Walk

Check out some of the best walks and hikes in the UK here.

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3. Take the North York Moors steam railway.

If you’re looking for a unique experience in the North York Moors National Park, why not take the steam railway? Take the 24 mile journey from Pickering to Whitby, going through Levisham, Goathland (the original Hogsmeade station for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone) and enjoy stunning views of the National Park countryside. The trains run from April through to November, making it one of the best things to do in the North York Moors National Park in summer. 

Check out my experience on the Windsor steam railway here.

4. Marvel at the beautiful Falling Foss waterfall in North York Moors National Park.

One of my best things to do in North York Moors National Park has got to be seeing the waterfalls. They’re absolutely gorgeous!

One of the most popular waterfalls in North York Moors National Park is Falling Foss. The walk down is pleasant and not too challenging, through a magical woodland, and when you get to the bottom you can marvel at the waterfall, paddle, or enjoy a cuppa in the Falling Foss Tea Garden.

5. Go mountain biking in the Dalby Forest.

If you’re looking for active things to do in North York Moors National Park, why not try mountain biking in the Dalby Forest?! 

With a variety of trails that go from being family-friendly to very challenging, the Dalby Forest is a great place to go mountain biking. One of the best things to do in the North York Moors is to rent mountain bikes for the day and take on the trails! Whether you want to chill in the bike park, try an easy green trail, medium level blue trail or a more challenging black trail, there’s something for every mountain biker here. Even the famous red route, which is 34.3km long, can be split into smaller sections with green and blue trails to take you back to the start point.

The Dalby Forest is also a great place for walking, and also hosts outdoor concerts when the weather gets better in summer. 

If you’re looking for more places to go mountain biking in the North York Moors, Sutton Bank also has a fantastic trail centre. 

See all the best things to do in England here.

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6. Have a drink in The Lion Inn, the highest pub in the North York Moors.

The Lion Inn is a 16th century cozy, local pub, with low beams, and range of ales and an extensive lunch and dinner menu.  Located at the highest point of the North York Moors National Park, Blakey Ridge, it stands at an elevation of 1,325 feet offering breathtaking views over the valleys of Rosedale and Farndale.

One of the best things to do in the North York Moors is to enjoy the walk/hike up to the pub, and then reward yourself with a pint at the highest point of the North York Moors National Park!

Check out unique things to do in England here.

7. Enjoy a Michelin star dinner at The Star at Harome.

If you’re looking for something a bit fancy to add to your North York Moors itinerary, book yourself in for dinner at The Star at Harome, a one Michelin star restaurant. 

The 14th century thatched building has a lot of character and a cozy but luxurious feel – think low beamed ceilings and log fires burning. And even with the luxury, it still feels ‘local’ and you’ll see many locals coming in for a pint of ‘Two Chefs’, the bespoke beer.

The food is locally sourced, with fish from Whitby, game from the Yorkshire Moors and vegetables from the kitchen garden, and the menu is full of classic dishes with modern twists.

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8. Take a day trip to Malton, the food capital of the north.

The historic market town of Malton is the gateway to Yorkshire’s stunning coastline, the ancient city of York and breath-taking North York Moors.

While it’s not quite in the National Park, taking a day trip to Malton is certainly worth it if you’re a big foodie. With famous local produce, award-winning monthly Food Markets, and an annual Food Lovers Festival, one of the best things to do when visiting North York Moors is to take a day trip out to the food capital of the north. 

Heading to London soon? Check out the best markets in London here.

9. Admire the architecture of the beautiful abbeys.

The North York Moors are home to some stunning architecture, in particular the abbeys.

Whitby Abbey is located on a stunning cliff top with views across the coastline, and it’s one of the best places to visit in the North York Moors National Park. These well-known ruins are a site of literary inspiration, religious devotion and pilgrimage. 

Rievaulx Abbey is secluded within the North York Moors National Park in a valley. At the abbey ruins, you’ll learn more about one of England’s most powerful Cistercian monasteries and the monks who called it home. One of the best things to do in the North York Moors is to take the scenic walk from Helmsey Castle to Rievaulx Abbey, so you can enjoy a day full of history and nature!

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10. Enjoy the Farndale daffodils in spring.

If you’re looking for things to do in the North York Moors National Park, visiting the Farndale Daffodils will be right up your street! The linear walk along the River Dove is perfecting for a spring walk surrounded by the glorious wild daffodils. The daffodils are protected within the Farndale Nature Reserve which was established in 1955 to safeguard the valley’s famous flowers.

11. Visit the cute market towns and villages in the North York Moors.

If you’re looking for places to visit or places to stay in the North York Moors, make sure you don’t miss out on the cute villages and market towns. Soak up a bit of English culture as you wander around the streets, grab a cup of tea or a pub lunch, and chat to some of the locals.

The best market towns and villages in the North York Moors to visit include…

  • Staithes-on-coast (a seaside fishing village)
  • Goathland (pretty village with great walking routes)
  • Pickering (beautiful market town)
  • Thornton le Dale (one of the cutest villages in the National Park)
  • Helmsey (a market town with a stunning castle. Grab a sandwich at the Hunters of Helmsey while you’re there!)
  • Levisham (quaint village)
  • Hutton le Hole and Lavisham (one of the most picturesque villages in the North York Moors)

Planning a trip to Cornwall soon? Here are the best towns and villages in Cornwall.

12. Walk up Roseberry Topping.

One of the most iconic things to do in the North York Moors is to walk up Roseberry Topping, a hill with a very distinctive shape and a cool name! Its summit has a distinctive half-cone shape with a jagged cliff, similar to the Matterhorn, one of the best things to do in Switzerland.

Though it’s short and not the highest peak in the North York Moors (that’s Urra Moor), it’s a little challenging, so be ready to get a sweat on!

Check out the best walks in England here.

13. Marvel at the Hole of Horcum.

The Hole of Horcum is one of the best places to visit in North York Moors National Park, and one of the most stunning features within the park. With grand landscapes, stunning views and the dramatic panorama from Saltergate over the Hole of Horcum, the 5-mile circular walk across Levisham Moors is one of the best things to do in the North York Moors. 

The Hole of Horcum is one of the most famous places to visit in the North York Moors National Park. It’s a huge natural amphitheatre 400 feet deep and more than half a mile across. There are legends aurround the ‘Devil’s Punchbowl’ (as it’s also known), the most famous saying that the hole was formed when Wade the Giant scooped up a handful of earth to throw at his wife during an argument.

If you’re into history, myths and legends as well as walking and hiking, this is one for your to-do list! 

Check out all my hiking top tips here.

14. Visit the seals at Ravenscar.

Visiting the seal colony at Ravenscar is one of the best things to do in the North York Moors National Park. The colony of about 300 grey seals and common seals is based at the foot of the cliff farthest from the beach. If you don’t mind a bit of a climb down, spending some time watching these animals makes for a great afternoon. Don’t forget to stay the recommended distance from them (10m).

The high vantage point of this town also treats you to a stunning panorama of Robin Hood’s Bay. If you like walking, try the Ravenscar to Robin Hood’s Bay walk.

What are your favourite things to do in North York Moors National Park?

Where are your favourite places to visit in North York Moors National Park? Anything you’d add?

Love as always and happy adventuring,

Mollie.

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A complete guide to North York Moors National Park, England
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