The North York Moors National Park is one of the UK’s most extraordinary places, established in 1952 to protect 554 square miles of fabulous countryside, open heather moorland and rugged coast.
Top to bottom: Ana Cross above Rosedale © Ebor Images. Helmsley Castle © Ebor Images. Fossil hunting on the Jurassic coastline © Tony Bartholomew. North Yorkshire Moors Railway © Graham Staples/NYMR. Beautiful forest walks at Roseberry Topping.
From rolling panoramas and big skies to enchanting forests and idyllic dales, there’s a sense of peace and tranquillity here that’s hard to beat – and all this just 20 miles or so north of York. Head to the National Park to experience one of the largest continuous expanses of heather moorland in England which turns a magnificent shade of purple in late summer. Listen out for the call of the red grouse and look out for other moorland birds such as golden plover or merlin at dramatic moorland sites including Levisham Moor and the Hole of Horcum. Why not take an unforgettable wildlife trip? North York Moors Wildlife Photography Tours promise a memorable day out, join whale spotting adventures from Staithes, or go on a nature safari or rock pooling expeditions with the Hidden Horizons team. Exploring the National Park’s 26-mile Jurassic coastline – from historic, picture-postcard fishing villages like Runswick Bay to hideaway coves and soaring cliffs with breathtaking views, is an absolute must. The atmospheric cobbled alleyways of Robin Hood’s Bay are yearning to be discovered and you can even follow a set of clues to uncover its ancient smuggling secrets. The Moors National Park Centre near Danby offers ideas aplenty for adventure play areas, woodland and riverside trails (complete with a five-metre long dragon!), family events and activities, and Inspired by… a beautiful contemporary art gallery with regularly changing exhibitions. From spring 2019, experience the dramatic story of Victorian ironstone extraction and the ingenuity of the moorland railways in the brand new, fully immersive ‘Land of Iron’ exhibition; part of a £4m Heritage Lottery Fund project. At Sutton Bank National Park Centre, soak up ‘England’s finest view’ from the spectacular panoramic viewpoint. Let the kids go wild in the natural adventure play area and investigate the many hands-on exhibits, crafts and activities available. The beautiful valleys in this area have inspired monastic communities for centuries – see why with a visit to the haunting ruins of Rievaulx Abbey, Byland Abbey and Mount Grace Priory, House and Gardens where you can discover your own place of contemplation. Other heritage gems include Helmsley Castle and Pickering Castle and Helmsley Walled Garden (a key location for a new film adaptation of ‘The Secret Garden’ starring Julie Walters and Colin Firth). Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019, the 109-mile Cleveland Way National Trail is a walkers’ delight. Free downloadable route guides on the National Park website take you on step by step adventures to tumbling waterfalls, timeless stone villages, moorland crags and historic monuments. Follow the Moor to Sea Cycle Network, the National Park’s flagship long-distance bike route, which connects