Places to visit in the North York Moors

Culture and traditions are as much a part of the North York Moors National Park as the landscape itself. Its depth of cultural heritage make it important and distinctive on a national scale.

Cultural qualities are concerned with the intangible elements which go to make up the National Park. Dialect, local menus, traditional practices and celebrations, even artistic reactions to the area, are all important to our experience and appreciation of this special place. More obviously there are a range of heritage features unique to the National Park, which can be visited and explored, from castles to folk museums to archaeological remains.

The people and the villages they live in are the essence of local cultural heritage. Built in a unique style in response to local conditions, the villages give the area its unmistakeable character. Wandering around these places, speaking to local people, watching and listening, you can soak up the atmosphere of the National Park and discover what it is that makes the North York Moors the place it is.

Beautiful heather moorland lies at the very heart of the North York Moors National Park. Unenclosed and unsurpassed, this stunning landscape has a quiet drama all of its own.

Responding sensitively to the changing seasons, the moorland is a special place whatever time of year. The call of the moorland birds characterise the early summer and, as the summer evenings draw in, the flowering heather turns the moors into a purple carpet stretching for miles across the open vistas.

Esk Valley Theatre Company

Esk Valley Theatre is a non-profit making organization committed to bringing professional theatre to the Esk Valley in the North York Moors National Park. They put on a play every summer at the Robinson Institute in Glaisdale.

The Geall Gallery

Situated in the Steam Railway village of Grosmont, the Geall Gallery and Artisan Cafe sit opposite the Station car park. Woodland car park is also just 100 yards down the hill, opposite the Grosmont Cricket Club.

Shepherd's Hall Tea Rooms

Vintage, homespun and unusual items are on sale in the craft area of these tea rooms in Lealholm near Glaisdale. In keeping with the character and history of the building they have focused on genuine and traditional crafts; knitting, spinning, weaving and stitching as well as selling a delicious variety of handmade treasures from around the world. All of the products have been very carefully chosen for being something special, unique or individual and the majority will all be handmade with provenance and always something a little different. An eclectic mix of old and new, high quality and unusual goodies.

Family Attractions

Apart from the wonderful natural walks and beaches available in the area, there are a number of family days out centres, some of which appear below:

North Yorks Moors Railway

Based in Grosmont, near Whitby, the NYMR carries more passengers than any other heritage railway in the UK and may even be the busiest steam heritage line in the world, carrying around 350,000 passengers in 2009. The 18-mile railway is the second-longest standard gauge heritage line in the United Kingdom and runs across the North York Moors from Pickering via Levisham, Newton Dale, Goathland and terminating at Grosmont. Some heritage rail operations continue along Network Rail tracks to Whitby during the summer months. The railway is formed from the middle section of the former Whitby, Pickering and Malton line which was closed in 1965. The NYMR is owned by the North York Moors Historical Railway Trust Ltd and is operated by its wholly owned subsidiary North Yorkshire Moors Railway Enterprises Plc. It is mostly operated and staffed by volunteers.

Trains run every day from the beginning of April to the end of October and on weekends and selected holidays during the winter (with no service from 24-27 December). Trains are mostly steam driven; however in some cases heritage diesel is used. At the height of the running timetable, trains depart hourly from each station. As well as the normal passenger train running, there are dining services on some evenings and weekends. The extension of steam operated services to Whitby has proved very popular to visitors and residents alike.

(Courtesy of Trainline)

Flamingo Land

Situated between Pickering and Malton, Flamingo Land provides over 400 acres of family fun. There are many white-knuckle rides including Kumali, a suspended looping rollercoaster. There are many rides for younger children, five family shows and an extensive zoo with many rare and exotic species such as giraffes, hippos, lions and rhinos.

Sea Life Centre

Set against Scarborough's cliffs, the distinctive white pyramids of the Sea Life Centre offer a unique opportunity to experience marine wildlife from around the world - and none of you will get wet! Talks, feeding displays and demonstrations are presented each day. The centre also houses a group of seals in an outdoor pool which can be viewed through an underwater observation window.

Eden Camp

From Pickering, just as you get to the big roundabout before Malton, you come across Eden Camp which is housed in an original Prisoner of war camp. The award winning museum allows you to experience the sights, sounds and even the smells of World War Two. It is believed to be the most comprehensive display of British Second World War history in the world. Also covered are the First World War and post-1945 conflicts.

Danby Moors Centre

An excellent place to start your visit to the North York Moors National Park is the Moors Centre in Danby. There is a really good education centre, an adventure playground and lots of lovely walks and information points that can really help to steer you in the right direction to enjoy your visit. There's plenty of information at the Visitors Centre about:

  • Natural history of the Moors
  • Moorland wildlife
  • Maps and local walk leaflets and information
  • Local history about the Moors Centre and the Danby Estate
  • Local history
  • Tourist information

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Gardens

Situated near Ripon, this World Heritage Site, managed by the National Trust, has a good Visitor Centre and enough to see to take up an entire day. The site covers a large area so be prepared to do some walking to see all it has to offer. 

Castle Howard

One of England's real treasures with plenty to see, including the extensive grounds. There is opportunity to spend your money in the Castle Howard Farm Shop and Courtyard Cafe. Watch out for special open air concert events with world-renowned artists. 

City of York

The walled city of York is very popular, and has many attractions - the Minster, the stunning National Railway Museum, the ever-popular Castle Museum with its streets of yore and, of course, the Jorvik Centre. Many people come to the city for the fantastic shopping available and the wonderful eating places, perhaps pride of place going to the famous "Betty's" tea room.

Pickering Castle

Pickering Castle is somewhat like the castles we drew as children; thick stone outer walls encircling the keep, and great views of the surrounding countryside. Founded by William the Conqueror, it was added to and changed by later kings.

Ryedale Folk Museum

A brilliant chance to show children things, as they were in the, "good old days". There are full size models of houses dating back to the 15th century and examples of shops from the 20th century. During the summer, there are often displays from craftsmen such as blacksmiths.

The museum is open daily until mid-December. The museum is in the picturesque village of Hutton-le-Hole in the North York Moors National Park, 2 miles north of the A170 between Helmsley and Pickering. It is clearly signposted from the A170. The Ryedale Folk Museum has an excellent shop and a café serving refreshments, cakes and sandwiches. Disabled access throughout the site with all buildings having ground-floor access; disabled toilet.

Dogs on leads are welcome to join you when visiting Ryedale Folk Museum.

Address: Hutton le Hole, North Yorkshire, YO62 6UA. Tel: 01751 417 367

Beck Isle Museum

In the centre of Pickering, housed in a Grade II listed Regency Mansion, is the Beck Isle Museum of Rural Life. Fifty yards or so from the railway station, the award winning Museum stands in its own grounds with a picnic area, and a large display area to the rear.

The twenty seven Gallery Museum provides a time machine back to Victorian life. There is a Printers Shop from the turn of the century, with a magnificent Columbian Press of 1854, and cases of type, still producing posters for the Museum. In the next Gallery, models of farm carts and photographic images capture the atmospheric beauty of this rural area , and a way of life that was to disappear with the Second World War.

Further galleries, all set out as rooms or shops, include Dairy, Cobblers, Village Pub, Chemist's, Costumes, Nursery, Village Store, Gents Outfitter, Victorian Parlour, Hardware Shop, Blacksmith, etc. To the rear, there is a large collection of agricultural equipment, carts, ploughs, etc. After your visit rest or picnic on the lawn and look back on a visit to remember, as you return to the modern world.