Some of my favourite times have been spent walking in the North York Moors. The unique feeling of space and big skies has always attracted me and when you are high on the moors you can walk for miles without seeing a soul (another attraction in my book) with only birds and grouse as company.
What I love about the area is that you can visit and take in completely different walks in contrasting scenery either within the same walk or by travelling only a few miles. It makes for an excellent walking holiday. Cutting deeply in to the high moors are some pretty green valleys, full of interest and history and largely untouched by the tourist. Travel to the coast and the walking offers some of the best coastal scenery in the country (particularly north of Whitby) whilst to the south there are the dry valleys of the chalk landscape of the Yorkshire Wolds.
In many way this is encapsulated in the excellent Cleveland Way long distance walk which starts in a pretty market town before heading up to the moors for a few days airy walking. The small peak of Roseberry Topping interrupts the moors and leads to the pretty Esk Valley before the undulating coast is met and is the constant companion for the last stage of the walk. Neither the moors or the coast means this is easy walking though, the undulating landscape gives just as an exhausting day as one in the Lake District but the miles will be longer.
The Wolds are separated from the Moors by a change in geology and a marked change in look and feel. Whereas the moors are harsh and unforgiving the Wolds are gentle and welcoming, easy walking on good well maintained paths and full of history – the folk at Downton were based not too far away. The Wolds are hidden from public view but well worth a few days potter.
My favourite walk in the Wolds: Dry Valleys of Thixendale
The Coast has some hidden gems; Staithes and Runswick Bay are two and Whitby is the popular centre but it is the coastal scenery that stands out. Perched high above the sea the main coastal path climbs steeply above the cliffs before dropping again to a hidden bay or not so hidden beach. For us bred on mountains the change is surprisingly satisfying, any trip to the moors should take in at least 1 coastal walk.
My favourite walk on the Coast Whitby to Runswick Bay
Inland, and under the backdrop of the high moors, are a selection of pretty valleys with easy walking, often quiet but always full of interest. The Esk Valley is generally wooded but the others are a farmers paradise; Farndale, the Fryups and Rosedale, green and attractive with working farms dotted along their fringes. Take the steam railway across the moors and stop in Goathland or Grosmont, just two pretty villages in the area or stay in the popular market towns of Osmotherley, Helmsley or Pickering. They can be busy but go off season and they’re not; alternatively take in the quieter villages of Rosedale Abbey,Chop Gate, Levisham or Hutton le Hole in the summer months and a few metres from the door enjoy peace and tranquility..
My 2 favourite walks in the North York dales: Goathland & Grosmont and Discovering the Fryups
However it is the Moors which are the showcase of the area, a vast plateau of brown moorland with miles of walking. Follow the old railway tracks past Bloworth Junction or take to the escarpment near Osmotherley to give the walk a ‘purpose’ . You will be assured of miles of excellent walking; wide paths stretching in to the distance and be accompanied by even wider views (if the cloud is down don’t bother or at least be able to navigate well with both map and compass!). It is a unique walking area (aside from Dartmoor) with moorland walking at its very best.
My 2 favourite walks on the high Moors: High Blakey Moor and Captain Cooks Adventure
Busy or quiet, village or town, moor or valley, coast or inland, sheep or fields the North York Moors does variety as well as anywhere. Finishing a lovely day on the moors with a pleasant pint in the Lion Inn is one of the must do experiences of any walker.
Enjoy your walking
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