If you are planning to visit the North Yorkshire Moors, check out these top 7 attractions!
Nestled in the northeastern corner of England, the North Yorkshire Moors National Park offers a landscape of vast heather moorlands and verdant valleys. With its stunning scenery, the park is a haven for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. This expansive area provides an array of activities that cater to all interests, whether you’re out to explore historic sites, traverse challenging trails, or simply enjoy the majestic views and wildlife.
Embarking on a journey through the North Yorkshire Moors, you will find charming market towns and picturesque villages dotted along the rolling hills. Here, history and nature intertwine, presenting opportunities to visit ancient abbeys, steam railways, and stately homes. For those with a penchant for outdoor pursuits, the park’s extensive network of footpaths and bridleways invite you to discover its beauty on foot, by bike, or on horseback.
The diverse offerings of the North Yorkshire Moors make it an ideal destination for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. Whether you’re indulging in the tranquility of a woodland walk, casting a line in one of the park’s serene rivers, or capturing the perfect photograph from a stunning vantage point, your experience here is bound to be unforgettable.
Let’s look at some of the best things to do in the North Yorkshire Moors!
Best Things To Do In The North Yorkshire Moors
1. Whitby Abbey
The magnificent Whitby Abbey is a 7th-century Christian monastery that later became a Benedictine abbey. This hauntingly beautiful and historic ruin stands atop the East Cliff, overlooking the town of Whitby. You can explore the soaring Gothic ruins and take in the stunning sea views.
Perched atop the cliffs overlooking the North Sea, Whitby Abbey is celebrated for its dramatic gothic grandeur. Established in 657, its current form dates back to the 11th century and has been an inspiration to many, including Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula. As you explore, notice how history and legend blur, with the Abbey’s haunting beauty echoing centuries of cultural heritage.
The origins of Whitby Abbey date back to the 7th century when it was founded by St. Hilda, an influential Anglo-Saxon abbess. The abbey played a significant role in early Christianity and later became a Benedictine monastery.
One of the most important events associated with Whitby Abbey is the Synod of Whitby, which took place in 664 AD. The synod was a key moment in the history of the English Church, as it resulted in the adoption of Roman practices over Celtic ones.
During the Viking raids in the 9th century, Whitby Abbey was destroyed. The site remained in ruins for centuries until it was re-established as a Benedictine monastery in the 11th century.
The abbey underwent various architectural changes over the centuries, reflecting different styles such as Romanesque and Gothic. The existing ruins primarily represent the Gothic style that was prevalent during the 13th to 15th centuries.
Perched on top of the cliffs, Whitby Abbey commands stunning views of the North Sea and the town of Whitby below. The dramatic setting contributes to the abbey’s picturesque and evocative atmosphere.
Whitby Abbey gained literary fame through Bram Stoker’s classic Gothic novel, “Dracula.” Stoker visited Whitby in 1890, and the eerie silhouette of the abbey against the night sky is said to have inspired the setting for Dracula’s arrival in England.
The site includes a modern visitor center that provides detailed information about the history of Whitby Abbey. Visitors can learn about the abbey’s religious significance, architectural evolution, and its role in literature.
The visitor center features interactive exhibits, displays, and artifacts that help bring the history of Whitby Abbey to life. There are also educational resources for a deeper understanding of the abbey’s cultural and historical context.
Visitors can enhance their experience by taking audio tours, which are available in multiple languages. These tours guide visitors through the ruins, providing insights into the abbey’s history and its impact on the surrounding region.
Throughout the year, Whitby Abbey hosts various events, including historical reenactments, open-air theater performances, and special family activities. These events offer a unique way to engage with the abbey’s history and atmosphere.
English Heritage, the organization responsible for managing Whitby Abbey, has undertaken extensive conservation efforts to preserve the remaining structures and protect the site for future generations.
Whitby Abbey stands as a testament to centuries of history, spirituality, and cultural significance. Its commanding presence on the cliffs, combined with its literary connections, makes it a must-visit destination for those exploring the rich heritage of the North Yorkshire coast.
When you are visiting the abbey, make sure also to explore the wonderful seaside town of Whitby.
Whitby is a popular destination known for its rich history, stunning coastline, cultural attractions, and associations with literature and folklore. Here’s an overview of what makes Whitby a notable and vibrant town.
Whitby is closely linked to Captain James Cook, the famous explorer. Cook’s ship, the HMS Endeavour, was built in Whitby, and the Captain Cook Memorial Museum provides insight into his life and voyages.
Whitby’s Old Town is a charming area with narrow, cobbled streets, historic buildings, and a mix of shops, cafes, and pubs. The streets are lined with unique boutiques, antique shops, and art galleries.
The picturesque harbor is a focal point of Whitby, surrounded by traditional fishing boats and offering opportunities for boat trips and leisurely walks along the waterfront.
The famous 199 Steps lead from the Old Town to St. Mary’s Church and Whitby Abbey at the top. Climbing these steps provides stunning views of the town and the harbor.
At the top of the 199 Steps is St. Mary’s Church, known for its ancient churchyard and panoramic views of Whitby and the North Sea. The churchyard is said to have inspired Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.”
Whitby is associated with Bram Stoker’s classic Gothic novel “Dracula.” The author visited the town, and it is believed that Whitby’s atmospheric surroundings and the abbey inspired the setting for parts of the novel.
Whitby has a long history as a fishing town, and its seafood is renowned. Visitors can enjoy fresh fish and chips, crab sandwiches, and other seafood delicacies from the numerous fish and chip shops and seafood restaurants.
The town is a gateway to scenic coastal walks, including the Cleveland Way National Trail, offering breathtaking views of the North York Moors and the coastline.
Whitby’s combination of history, natural beauty, and literary connections makes it a captivating destination for visitors. Whether you’re interested in exploring historical sites, enjoying the seaside atmosphere, or immersing yourself in literature, Whitby has something to offer for everyone.
3. Robin Hood’s Bay
A short drive from Whitby is Robin Hood’s Bay, a small fishing village and a bay. The views of the village are not to be missed!
Robin Hood’s Bay is a picturesque fishing village wrapped in legend. Named with echoes of the famed outlaw, although tenuously connected, the village is a labyrinth of tiny streets and cottages. It’s reputed to have been a hotbed for smuggling centuries ago. You’ll feel the weight of history in its cobbled streets and can ponder the truths behind the legends.
Robin Hood’s Bay is situated approximately five miles south of Whitby and within the boundaries of the North York Moors National Park. The village is nestled on the rugged coastline of the North Sea.
The village has a rich history, dating back to the medieval times. It was a thriving fishing and smuggling community with a network of narrow, winding streets that smugglers used to evade customs officers.
The village is renowned for its stunning coastal setting. The picturesque bay, surrounded by cliffs and rocky shores, provides breathtaking views of the North Sea. The landscape is dramatic and ideal for those seeking natural beauty.
The village is characterized by its narrow, cobbled streets that wind their way down to the sea. The historic architecture, with charming cottages and buildings, adds to the quaint and timeless atmosphere of Robin Hood’s Bay.
The village has a sandy beach that is revealed during low tide, expanding the area for exploration and relaxation. Visitors can explore tide pools and enjoy a walk along the shore.
You can visit the local museum that provides insight into the history of Robin Hood’s Bay, including its maritime heritage, smuggling past, and the lives of its residents.
The cliffs around Robin Hood’s Bay are part of the Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Fossil hunting is a popular activity, and visitors can find ammonites and other prehistoric treasures along the shoreline.
Robin Hood’s Bay serves as a starting point or endpoint for various coastal walks, including the Cleveland Way National Trail. The paths along the cliffs offer stunning views of the coastline and the North Sea.
Robin Hood’s Bay is not only a place of natural beauty but also a living testament to its rich maritime history and the resilience of its community. Whether you’re interested in history, coastal walks, or simply enjoying the scenery, Robin Hood’s Bay offers a unique and memorable experience.
4. Falling Foss Waterfall
Not far from Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay, you’ll find Falling Foss – an impressive 30-foot waterfall surrounded by magical woodland. There is a tea garden too!
Falling Foss is a picturesque waterfall located in the North York Moors National Park. It’s situated near the village of Sneaton, not far from Whitby. The waterfall is part of the Falling Foss Tea Garden estate, which is a popular destination for visitors exploring the North York Moors.
The waterfall is easily accessible, and there’s a well-maintained trail leading from the Falling Foss Tea Garden car park to the waterfall. The trail is relatively short and suitable for a pleasant walk.
Falling Foss is surrounded by lush greenery, creating a serene and idyllic setting. The wooded area around the waterfall adds to the charm, providing a peaceful escape into nature.
One of the unique features of Falling Foss is the tea garden located nearby. The Falling Foss Tea Garden is a quaint tearoom set in a rustic building and offers a delightful place to relax and enjoy refreshments after exploring the waterfall.
Midge Hall, an old building near Falling Foss, adds a touch of history to the site. It is often said to be haunted, contributing to the folklore and intrigue surrounding the area.
The Falling Foss area is a starting point for various walking trails, providing opportunities for longer hikes in the surrounding moorland and woodlands. The Falling Foss to May Beck circular walk is a popular choice, allowing visitors to enjoy more of the scenic landscape.
A short walk from the Falling Foss there is a cave called The Hermitage carved out of an enormous boulder. It dates to the 18th Century, and it was once a secluded home of a hermit.
The natural beauty of Falling Foss and its surroundings makes it a prime location for photography. The cascading waterfall, combined with the greenery and possibly the play of sunlight, offers excellent photo opportunities.
The area around Falling Foss is rich in biodiversity. Visitors might encounter various plant species, birdlife, and other wildlife while exploring the trails and enjoying the waterfall.
Falling Foss is a hidden gem within the North York Moors, offering a tranquil escape for those seeking a blend of natural beauty and a touch of local charm.
5. Rievaulx Abbey
Explore the picturesque ruins of Rievaulx Abbey, a historic Cistercian monastery set in a peaceful valley.
Rievaulx Abbey is a testament to the spiritual history of the North Yorkshire Moors. This Cistercian monastery was once one of the wealthiest in England. Its impressive ruins evoke a sense of medieval monastic life, highlighting the architectural skill of its builders. Sweeping arches and the Abbey’s tranquil surroundings offer you a profound glimpse into the past.
Rievaulx Abbey is a remarkable and well-preserved medieval Cistercian monastery located in a secluded valley near Helmsley in North Yorkshire, England.
Rievaulx Abbey was founded in 1132 by a group of monks led by St. Bernard of Clairvaux. The Cistercian order, known for its emphasis on simplicity and self-sufficiency, established Rievaulx as its first monastery in the north of England.
Situated in the Rye Valley, the abbey is surrounded by the picturesque scenery of the North York Moors National Park. The location was chosen for its tranquility and natural beauty, creating an ideal setting for the contemplative life of the monks.
Rievaulx Abbey is renowned for its impressive architectural features. The abbey complex includes a church, chapter house, dormitory, and cloister. The Gothic architecture of the church and the elegant design of the cloister showcase the skill and artistry of the medieval builders.
Like many monastic institutions in England, Rievaulx Abbey fell victim to the Dissolution of the Monasteries initiated by King Henry VIII in 1536. The monks were dispersed, and the abbey’s valuable assets were seized.
After its dissolution, Rievaulx Abbey fell into ruin, with its stones repurposed for other buildings in the area. The site remained in private hands for centuries until it was acquired by the Duncombe family in the 19th century.
The Duncombe family played a crucial role in preserving and showcasing the abbey ruins. Today, Rievaulx Abbey is cared for by English Heritage, and ongoing conservation efforts ensure that visitors can appreciate the architectural and historical significance of the site.
Visitors to Rievaulx Abbey can explore the extensive ruins, including the soaring arches of the church, the intricate details of the chapter house, and the serene atmosphere of the cloister. Information panels and audio guides provide insights into the history and daily life of the monks.
The Rievaulx Abbey Visitor Centre includes a museum and exhibition space. Here, artifacts from the site are displayed, and visitors can learn more about the Cistercian order, medieval monastic life, and the abbey’s history.
The abbey is surrounded by walking trails that lead through the Rye Valley and the North York Moors. These trails offer breathtaking views of the abbey ruins and the scenic landscape.
Rievaulx Abbey stands as a testament to medieval religious life and architectural achievement. Its serene location and well-preserved ruins make it a captivating destination for history enthusiasts, architecture lovers, and those seeking to explore the cultural heritage of North Yorkshire.
6. The North Yorkshire Moors Railway
Enjoy a nostalgic steam train journey through the picturesque moors, starting from Pickering and ending in Whitby.
The North Yorkshire Moors Railway (NYMR) is a heritage railway that runs through the stunning landscapes of the North York Moors National Park.
The North Yorkshire Moors Railway operates on a historic railway line that runs for approximately 18 miles through the heart of the North York Moors. The journey takes you from the market town of Pickering to the picturesque coastal town of Whitby.
One of the highlights of the NYMR experience is the use of steam locomotives. The railway is renowned for its well-maintained, vintage steam engines that provide a nostalgic and scenic journey through the moors.
The railway passes through several charming stations, each with its own unique character. Some notable stations include Pickering, Levisham, Goathland (famous as the filming location for Hogsmeade station in the Harry Potter movies), and finally, Whitby.
The journey offers breathtaking views of the North Yorkshire Moors, including expansive, heather-covered landscapes, dense woodlands, and scenic vistas. It’s a fantastic way to appreciate the natural beauty of the region.
The train journey concludes in Whitby, a historic seaside town known for its Gothic Abbey, cobbled streets, and maritime heritage. Visitors have the opportunity to explore Whitby before taking the train back to Pickering.
The NYMR often hosts special events throughout the year, including themed train rides, dining experiences, and even “Santa Specials” during the festive season. These events add an extra layer of enjoyment to the overall experience.
The North Yorkshire Moors Railway is not just a transportation route; it’s a living museum. The well-preserved carriages, stations, and infrastructure provide a glimpse into the region’s railway history.
Pickering and Whitby stations have visitor centers where you can learn more about the history of the railway, the steam engines, and the surrounding area.
The NYMR is largely operated by a dedicated team of volunteers who contribute to the preservation of this historic railway. Their passion and commitment enhance the authenticity of the experience.
The North Yorkshire Moors Railway offers a nostalgic and scenic journey, making it a must-visit attraction for both railway enthusiasts and those seeking a unique way to explore the beautiful North York Moors.
7. The Majestic Landscapes Of THE MOORS
The North Yorkshire Moors offer a plethora of activities set against a backdrop of stunning scenery, from rolling heather moorlands to clear night skies. Whether on foot, by bike, or through the lens of a camera, these landscapes and the diverse wildlife residing in the moors are waiting for you to discover their treasures.
The dramatic scenery of the North Yorkshire Moors looks spectacular in any season of the year. Here are some of my snapshots of the moors covered in snow.
It’s fascinating to witness the seasonal changes on the moors, especially the transformation during autumn when the moorland heather blooms. It’s a sight to behold, with hues of purple and pink painting the landscapes, providing a rich tapestry of color for nature enthusiasts.
The moorlands of the North York Moors are characterized by their dramatic and untamed beauty, offering a rugged and captivating landscape. Here are some key features that contribute to the dramatic beauty of the moorlands:
One of the most iconic features of the North York Moors is the vast expanse of heather that blankets the hillsides. During late summer, the moors transform into a sea of purple as the heather blooms, creating a breathtaking and vibrant landscape.
The moorlands are characterized by undulating terrain, with rolling hills and deep valleys. The constantly changing topography provides stunning vistas, offering panoramic views across the landscape.
The moorlands are punctuated by rocky outcrops and formations, adding a rugged and wild aspect to the scenery. These natural features contribute to the sense of untamed beauty and create interesting contrasts with the softer heather-covered slopes.
Numerous streams and rivers meander through the moorlands, creating picturesque scenes as they wind their way through the hills. These water features add to the overall beauty and provide a sense of tranquility.
Scattered across the moorlands are ancient stone crosses and boundary markers, reflecting the region’s long history and adding a sense of mystery to the landscape.
The moorlands are known for their vast, open skies and expansive horizons. The sense of space and the ever-changing play of light contribute to the dramatic and atmospheric quality of the landscape.
The moorlands support a diverse range of flora and fauna, including birds of prey, heathland plants, and grazing animals. The sight of free-roaming sheep or the call of a curlew adds to the sense of being immersed in a truly wild environment.
Ancient ruins, such as prehistoric burial mounds and medieval structures, dot the moorlands. These historical features not only contribute to the cultural richness of the area but also create a sense of timelessness against the backdrop of the landscape.
The moorlands offer a sense of remoteness and tranquility. Away from urban noise and surrounded by the natural elements, visitors can experience a peaceful and rejuvenating escape in the heart of nature.
The North York Moors experience a range of weather conditions, from misty mornings and moody skies to clear, sunny days. The changing seasons also bring varied colors and moods to the moorlands, ensuring that each visit offers a unique and dynamic experience.
Numerous walking and hiking trails crisscross the moorlands, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the dramatic beauty on foot. Exploring the moors on these trails provides an intimate and rewarding experience of the landscape.
Overall, the dramatic beauty of the moorlands in the North York Moors stems from a combination of natural features, historical elements, and the ever-changing interplay of light and weather. It’s a landscape that evokes a sense of wonder and connection with the untamed forces of nature.
So these are the top 7 things to do in the North Yorkshire moors.
When you’re in the area, I recommend The Fox and Hounds Inn in Ainthorpe for its excellent food and accommodation.
If you’re interested in more UK travel destinations, check out the posts below.
Explore More UK Travel Destinations
Thanks for stopping by!
If you enjoyed this post featuring the top things to do in The North Yorkshire Moors, please pin it on Pinterest to help it reach more readers!