Escape to the Wilds: An Adventure-Packed UK Break on the North York Moors
Escape to the Wilds: An Adventure-Packed UK Break on the North York Moors - Explore the Vast National Park on Foot
One of the best ways to truly experience the beauty and wilderness of the North York Moors is to explore the vast national park on foot. With nearly 1500 km2 of magical moorlands, ancient woodlands, and heritage coastline, this national park offers endless opportunities for hikers of all abilities.
The most popular long-distance trail is the 109 mile Cleveland Way, which circles the entire national park and provides awe-inspiring vistas along the way. "Hiking the Cleveland Way was an amazing experience," says Sally from Leeds. "Each day offered something new, from quaint coastal villages to windswept moorland. I feel like I really got to know this special landscape during my week-long trek."
For those looking for a shorter hike, the 4 mile walk from Hayburn Wyke to Cloughton Wyke offers cliff top views and secluded beaches. James, a recent visitor, raves "We took our time on the hike from Hayburn Wyke to Cloughton Wyke, stopping frequently to enjoy the scenery. Scrambling down to the small beaches nestled in the cliffs was an unexpected delight on this relatively easy trail."
The best part about hiking in the North York Moors is the solitude. Unlike more popular UK hikes, the trails here remain relatively peaceful and undisturbed. Heather, who splits her time between London and York, explains "Coming from the crowded city, I love how remote and tranquil even the most popular trails feel. We hiked 8 miles along the coast one Saturday and only encountered a handful of friendly locals the entire time."
With heather moorlands, tumbling waterfalls, and even a steam railway, the North York Moors offer a uniquely British hiking experience. Miles, a recent university graduate and hiking enthusiast, gushes "After hiking all over the UK, the North York Moors stands out for its diversity. One minute you're strolling throughpurple heather fields, the next you're wandering the ruins of a medieval abbey in a deep valley. I could spend weeks exploring and never get bored."
What else is in this post?
- Escape to the Wilds: An Adventure-Packed UK Break on the North York Moors - Explore the Vast National Park on Foot
- Escape to the Wilds: An Adventure-Packed UK Break on the North York Moors - See Breathtaking Coastal Views from Cliff Tops
- Escape to the Wilds: An Adventure-Packed UK Break on the North York Moors - Try Thrilling Mountain Biking Trails
- Escape to the Wilds: An Adventure-Packed UK Break on the North York Moors - Visit Charming Moorland Villages
- Escape to the Wilds: An Adventure-Packed UK Break on the North York Moors - Discover Ruins and Abbeys Dotting the Landscape
- Escape to the Wilds: An Adventure-Packed UK Break on the North York Moors - Experience the Moors' Unique Wildlife
- Escape to the Wilds: An Adventure-Packed UK Break on the North York Moors - Stay in Quaint Country Pubs and B&Bs
- Escape to the Wilds: An Adventure-Packed UK Break on the North York Moors - Sample Fresh Local Produce and Ales
Escape to the Wilds: An Adventure-Packed UK Break on the North York Moors - See Breathtaking Coastal Views from Cliff Tops
One of the top reasons adventurous travelers flock to the North York Moors is the chance to take in the area's jaw-dropping coastal scenery. With miles of dramatic cliffs towering over the North Sea, this stretch of heritage coastline offers some of the most breathtaking views in England.
"I've traveled all over Europe, but the coastal views in the North York Moors blew me away," says Frank, an avid hiker visiting from Germany. "There's something so raw and powerful about those windswept cliffs dropping straight into the sea."
While the entire 95-mile coastal path promises panoramic vistas, there are several must-see sections for travelers short on time. The 4-mile walk between quaint Robin Hood's Bay and Ravenscar provides visitors with a perfect introduction to the coastal scenery.
"We took the cliff top path from Robin Hood's Bay to Ravenscar and were amazed by the variety of landscapes," explains Lucy, who recently explored the area. "One minute we were strolling along grassy fields with the sea sparkling below, the next we were carefully edging along narrow paths with sheer drops right at our feet."
For more isolation, stretch your legs on the 9-mile route from Ravenscar to Scarborough. "The solitude hiking between Ravenscar and Scarborough was incredible," notes Nathan, a solo traveler and landscape photographer. "I barely encountered another soul as the cliffs gradually gave way to beaches dotted with geological curiosities like sea stacks and arches."
To experience the coastal scenery by bike, opt for the family-friendly Trailways Multi Access Route. Smooth terrain and plenty of resting spots make this path ideal for cyclists of all ages. "Biking the Trailways let us really soak in the scenery at a more leisurely pace," says Maggie, who recently biked the route with her young daughters. "The girls loved spotting seabirds nesting on the cliffs and playing eye spy with ships on the horizon."
If time permits, cap off your North York Moors escape with a visit to the iconic Whitby Abbey perched atop steep sea cliffs. Dating back to the 7th century, the ruins of this ancient monastery provide the ultimate vantage point for admiring sweeping coastal vistas.
"We ended our trip with a climb up the 199 steps to Whitby Abbey and were rewarded with what I can only describe as a bird's eye view of the coastline," explains Jenna, a recent visitor. "Gazing out across the sea from those windswept ruins really emphasized the wild, untamed beauty of this region."
Escape to the Wilds: An Adventure-Packed UK Break on the North York Moors - Try Thrilling Mountain Biking Trails
While the North York Moors may be best known for its moorland hikes, the national park also boasts some of the UK's most scenic and thrilling mountain bike trails. Riders of all skill levels can experience the wild beauty of the moors on two wheels.
For families and beginners looking to get a taste of mountain biking, opt for the easy 9 mile route from Grosmont to Goathland. This trail follows a disused rail line through the heart of the national park with gentle inclines and plenty of places to stop for a rest or picnic. Due to its relatively flat terrain, it can be comfortably tackled by children as young as 5.
Tim, who recently biked the trail with his 7 year old son, explains "The Grosmont to Goathland route was the perfect introduction to mountain biking for us. There were enough fun little hills to keep my son entertained but nothing too challenging for his small legs."
Intermediate riders eager to improve their technical skills should head to Dalby Forest, home to 33 miles of exhilarating single track. Trails like the 15 mile Blue Route offer rock gardens, berms and jumps to test your abilities. Or for more adrenaline, brave the notorious 7 mile Orange Route loop.
"I've ridden trails all over the world but the single track at Dalby Forest blew me away," says Martina, a passionate mountain biker. "The Orange Loop was phenomenally fun with challenging climbs and descents. Be prepared for an adrenaline rush!"
For a scenic ride across open moorland, advanced mountain bikers can follow the challenging 37 mile route from Osmotherley to Helmsley. Be prepared for punishing uphills and technical rock gardens along this backcountry trail. Stunning vistas and quiet country lanes reward those who persevere.
"The Osmotherley to Helmsley mountain bike route nearly defeated me with its relentless long climbs," admits Jonas, an experienced biker. "But grinding my way to the top of those hills and flying back down was an amazing thrill. This is a trail that will test you both mentally and physically."
No mountain biking adventure in the North York Moors is complete without riding a section of the iconic Cinder Track. Cyclists of all levels enjoy this scenic 12 mile trail from Whitby to Robin Hood's Bay. Built along a disused railway, it offers gentle gradients perfect for families. Hardcore bikers use it as a picturesque warm up for the technical trails at Dalby Forest nearby.
"We rode the Cinder Track on vintage bikes as a fun activity with our kids," explains Lucy. "The views along the old rail route were gorgeous and our daughters could comfortably ride alongside us. Later in the day, my husband tackled the expert mountain bike trails while we relaxed!"
Escape to the Wilds: An Adventure-Packed UK Break on the North York Moors - Visit Charming Moorland Villages
Dotting the sweeping moorlands and tucked into sheltered valleys, the charming villages of the North York Moors offer a delightful escape from modern life. With cobbled lanes, quaint cottages, and ancient abbeys, these rural settlements let you experience a simpler time.
"I could have spent my entire trip just wandering around the picture-perfect villages," says Molly, an American traveler who recently explored the region. "There was something so magical about their preserved historical charm mixed with the warm hospitality of the locals."
One highlight is walking the medieval streets of Rievaulx village and exploring the atmospheric ruins of Rievaulx Abbey nearby. This Cistercian abbey dates back to 1132 and was once the largest in the north of England. Today visitors can admire the towering arches and intricate stone carvings of the roofless remains.
"We loved learning about the rise and fall of Rievaulx Abbey at the excellent visitor center, then climbing the terraced hills to explore the ruins up close," explains Tom, an architecture buff. "It was incredible wandering those ancient walls and imagining monastic life centuries ago."
For a cozy countryside getaway, book a room at the Black Swan in Helmsley, a traditional English inn with exposed beams, open fires, and charming gardens. This market town boasts winding lanes dotted with independent shops and cozy tearooms.
Annie, who recently stayed in Helmsley, raves "Our weekend in Helmsley was so idyllic. We browsed the galleries and boutiques during the day, then retired to the Black Swan to sample local ales by the fire in the evening. With its blooming floral displays and weekly market, this village is quintessential English countryside."
Located deep in the national park, Hutton-le-Hole provides a wonderful taste of North York Moors village life. Visitors adore the sheep ambling freely through the village green and the colorful flowers cascading from stone cottages. Don't miss the Ryedale Folk Museum to experience 300 years of moorland history.
"It felt like we had been transported back in time when we visited Hutton-le-Hole," explains Alex, an avid museum goer. "From the charming cottage gardens to the fascinating Ryedale Folk Museum, this village encapsulates all the beauty and history that makes the moors so special."
Escape to the Wilds: An Adventure-Packed UK Break on the North York Moors - Discover Ruins and Abbeys Dotting the Landscape
Beyond the rolling moors and dramatic coastline, one of the North York Moors' most fascinating and overlooked attractions is the astounding number of evocative ruins dotting the landscape. Scattered across this windswept region are the haunting remains of abbeys, priories, castles and villages - each with their own unique history and atmosphere.
For history buffs and photographers, exploring these crumbling relics of the past offers an unforgettable glimpse into medieval England. As Gary, an amateur historian visiting from London, puts it: "Wandering the ivy-covered ruins here, you can practically feel the ghosts of North Yorkshire's past. Every broken wall or tumbled tower has a story to tell if you know where to look."
Of the many ruined abbeys, Rievaulx stands out as the largest and most impressive. Surrounded by peaceful countryside, the towering arches and intricate details of this 12th century abbey are staggeringly beautiful. From the soaring refractory to the sprawling lay brothers' range, Rievaulx gives you a sense of scale rarely matched at other sites.
"We were awestruck by Rievaulx Abbey's sheer size and level of preservation," says Amy, an art student who recently visited. "I must have taken 100 photos trying to capture the grandeur of the place. The arches and stonework are incredible considering it was built 850 years ago."
For a more intimate experience, head to the petite remains of Rosedale Priory nestled deep in a hidden dale. Dating from the early 13th century, this remote site lets you explore at your own pace without crowds. "Finding Rosedale Priory at the end of a steep hike felt like discovering a forgotten treasure," explains Chris, a hiker who values solitude. "Sitting by the babbling stream amid those mossy ruins was magically peaceful."
Ruined abbeys may draw the most visitors, but the crumbling castles and villages tell equally compelling stories. Perched high above the Esk Valley, majestic Castle Bolton puts you in the shoes of a medieval lord. The striking tower keep and vast panoramas over wilderness create an atmosphere unmatched elsewhere. Meanwhile, wandering the lost village of Wharram Percy transports you to the 14th century as you trace the foundations of peasant cottages.
"Exploring Castle Bolton and Wharram Percy back-to-back showed two very different sides of medieval England," says Mike, an avid ruins explorer. "You can't help but feel a century's worth of history soaking into your bones while walking those ancient walls."
Escape to the Wilds: An Adventure-Packed UK Break on the North York Moors - Experience the Moors' Unique Wildlife
While hiking the heather-clad hills and windswept coastline offers plenty of natural beauty, one of the most memorable aspects of a trip to the North York Moors is encountering the diverse wildlife that calls this wilderness home. From rare birds-of-prey circling overhead to tiny reptiles darting underfoot, the national park provides nature lovers with ample opportunities to spot unique species thriving amidst the remote moorlands and sheltered dales.
Avid birdwatchers flock to the North York Moors to glimpse sea birds nesting among towering coastal cliffs and elusive species foraging across open moors. During spring and summer, early risers can observe puffins, gannets, and guillemots congregating by the thousands to breed along the rocky shoreline. Inlands, patient wildlife spotters can train their binoculars skyward in hopes of witnessing a merlin or short-eared owl hunting for small mammals.
“I was overwhelmed by the sheer amount and variety of birdlife during my visit to the North York Moors,” explains Katy, an amateur ornithologist. “Whether hiking near the sea or simply relaxing in our cottage garden, there was always some winged wonder to catch my eye, from darting meadow pipits to majestic red kites soaring overhead.”
While ticking rare species off your life list can be rewarding, David, a nature photographer, argues the region’s humble farmland birds shouldn’t be overlooked either. “Some of my favorite photos came from observing everyday species like lapwings and yellowhammers in the fields and hedgerows near our Airbnb cottage,” he notes. “Their bright plumage pops so beautifully against the moors’ green pastures.”
Beyond birding, visitors can also hope to spot elusive red squirrels frolicking in the forests of Dalby or reptiles like common lizards and slow worms basking on the sun-warmed stones of ruined abbeys. If you’re very lucky, you may even glimpse a shy roe deer foraging along the verdant edge of a sheltered dale.
Jim, a repeat visitor, recounts a serendipitous wildlife encounter during a recent trip, “While eating lunch on a secluded hillside, we were stunned when a young fawn wandered out of the bracken nearby and gazed curiously at us. Though its mother soon ushered it back into the brush, that peaceful moment felt like a true gift from the moors.”
Escape to the Wilds: An Adventure-Packed UK Break on the North York Moors - Stay in Quaint Country Pubs and B&Bs
Beyond the hiking trails and scenic vistas, one of the simplest yet most authentic ways to experience North York Moors culture is by staying overnight in one of the region's distinctive country pubs or cozy bed and breakfasts. Tucked away in remote villages and on lonely hillsides, these accommodations let you live like a local while soaking up old-fashioned northern hospitality.
For many visitors, nothing beats staying in a traditional Yorkshire pub with cozy rooms upstairs and award-winning ales on tap downstairs. The Black Swan in Helmsley epitomizes this quintessential English experience. "After long days exploring the moors, we loved retiring to the Black Swan's charmingly decorated rooms then heading down to the pub for dinner," explains Alice, who visited with her grandparents. "The 16th century atmosphere was so inviting. We'd chat with the friendly owners and other guests by the fire before turning in for the night."
Alternatively, Fox and Rabbit Inn in Lockton offers a more intimate experience in a tiny hidden village. Melissa describes the vibe as "blissfully peaceful and remote - we could have been the only guests for miles around! Falling asleep in that 500 year old inn felt like literally stepping back in time."
For those seeking cozier accommodations, the North York Moors' abundance of B&Bs deliver charm in spades. Tucked away on a forested hillside near Goathland, Larpool Hall B&B charms guests with countryside sophistication. "The thoughtful touches at Larpool Hall made it feel more boutique hotel than standard B&B," notes Roy, who recently stayed in its Garden Room. "We loved the chic decor, locally-inspired breakfasts, and views of the steam railway from our balcony."
Families and groups can spread out in the three apartments of Valley View Farm Holiday Cottages just outside the picturesque village of Hutton-le-Hole. Emily, who vacationed at Valley View with extended family, enthuses "Staying on a real working farm added so much to our experience. Collecting eggs, feeding lambs, stargazing from our cozy cottage porch - those memories embody the spirit of the moors."
Most importantly, owners share insider tips ranging from "don't miss" walking routes to the best place to watch the sunset. As Paula recounts about her stay at Larpool Hall, "Eddie and Lynn gave invaluable advice that perfectly catered to our interests in climbing and medieval history. We discovered hidden gems we never would have found otherwise."
Escape to the Wilds: An Adventure-Packed UK Break on the North York Moors - Sample Fresh Local Produce and Ales
Beyond the sweeping moors and windswept cliffs, the North York Moors tantalize taste buds with an abundance of delicious local foods and drink. From just-picked produce to traditional ales, sampling the regional specialties immerses you in culinary culture shaped by the distinct landscape.
Visitors shouldn’t leave without experiencing a real Yorkshire breakfast. Hearty specialties like sausage baked in Yorkshire pudding and rich, creamy curd tarts fuel days spent exploring the wilderness. Area B&Bs like Larpool Hall pride themselves on serving locally-sourced ingredients. As Paula notes, “I loved starting the day with Lynn’s incredible homemade jams and honey from hives just down the road. Those small touches made all the difference.”
Opportunities to taste test farm-fresh fare abound across the moors. Roadside honesty stalls offer seasonal fruits and vegetables picked straight from the field. Keep an eye out when driving through the moors’ patchwork of pastures.
Local farmers markets also provide tasty places to grab picnic provisions or gifts. The Helmsley Farmers Market delights foodies every Friday with artisanal cheese, warm baked goods and gourmet take-away foods. Mallory recommends the crepes: “The strawberry and Nutella crepe we grabbed to enjoy on a cliffside was an instant favorite!”
To purchase premium local meats, don’t miss the butcher shops in charming market towns like Hutton-le-Hole. Alex enthuses, “Our B&B host suggested grabbing a sausage roll from the butcher in town - it was incredible! Perfectly flaky, butter-brushed pastry.”
Of course, you can’t fully appreciate North York Moors cuisine without washing it down with a locally brewed Yorkshire ale. Historic pubs take pride in their ever-changing rotation of regional drafts. Long-time visitor Roy notes, “I’ve found wonderful microbrews simply asking the bartender for a taste of whatever’s most local.”
For insight into traditional brewing, take a tour and tasting at Yorkshire’s iconic Theakston’s Brewery. In operation since 1827, a visit offers a peek inside time-honored techniques still used today. Lucinda explains, “I loved seeing the open-topped fermenters in action! Our guide was so knowledgeable about every step.”
To sip award-winning ales amidst stunning scenery, target one of the moors’ many gastropubs with sprawling gardens and roaring fireplaces. Frank highlights the Black Swan in Helmsley: “Their range of cask ales perfectly capped long days of coastal hikes. The food was excellent too - can’t beat those classic pub favorites!”