5 Must See Places on a Weekend Road Trip to the North York Moors
What do you think of when you think of Yorkshire and the North York Moors?
Before setting off on a trip to Yorkshire, my mind wanders off to images of a landscape filled with luscious green rolling dales, neat little fields separated by crumbling rows of dry stone walling.
I could see myself sipping on a steaming mug of Yorkshire tea while the view out of the van window frames sheep and cattle grazing in the distance under an early morning mist, shrouding the mountains of the north in a cloak of mystical, swirling patterns.
For lunch I could foresee shoveling down heaps of roast dinner complemented by a large Yorkshire pudding and a refreshing pint of Yorkshire Gold. All this, whilst the world carries on outside of the fogged up pub window oblivious to the tranquility within.
What we however weren’t expecting to find was a large, bleak expanse of moorland, an awe inspiring coastline dotted with old fishing villages. While the Yorkshire Dales is what most people, ourselves included, envisage when they think of Yorkshire – the north west area of this county offers something entirely different, yet well worth a visit in its own right.
These are our top 5 things to see and do in this incredible landscape.
#1 City of York
While not technically on the Moors, York is an absolute gem of Northern England and not to be missed. You will easily fill a day here and we recommend at least two days.
The streets are packed with independent shops, restaurants and pubs towering over narrow, cobbled streets that snake through the old town.
The river Ouse splits the city into East and West and you can rent a power boat to cruise up and down the river or take a guided river tour on a larger vessel.
- River Tour – find out some local history while cruising on the river Ouse and seeing all the sites visible from the water. (dog friendly by the way!)
- City Wall Walk – another great way to see the city and stretch your legs all at once
- Shambles Market – a vibrant and historic market including great street food, fresh food stalls to stock up your van and everything Harry Potter to be found down the twisting cobbled side streets
- Rowntree Park – a lovely park to spend an hour two relaxing in
- The York Roast Co – get a full roast dinner inside a Yorkshire wrap – need we say more!?
- The Kings Arms – an iconic York pub – built on the riverfront this is a great place to relax and enjoy a cold drink. Inside the pub you’ll notice that everything is made from brick or massive slabs of stone – this is because the pub often floods and anything made from wood would simply not survive.
- York Minster – not really our sort of thing but impressive nonetheless – if you’re into big old buildings and architecture then this should give you your desired fix.
We will be writing a post dedicated to York in its own right so keep an eye out for that and subscribe to make sure you don’t miss out on anything.
#2 Malton Market
Two for two. Malton is again not technically on the Moors. We’re off to a bad start here right! We’re going to recommend it anyway as it’s a really great little market town with a bustling highstreet and an outstanding monthly market.
The town offers a variety of independent bakers, green grocers and butchers to stock up for the weekend ahead. If you’re lucky and you’re visiting on the 2nd Saturday of the month then Malton Market will be in full flow serving up stalls from independent butchers, fishmongers, brewers offering wine, ciders and beers, picklers (is that a thing, what we mean is stalls with local pickled products!), a scotch egg stall (personal highlight was the mac’n’cheese/chorizo scotch egg – completely silly) as well as a smattering of clothing and accessory stalls.
#3 Robin Hoods Bay
This was probably our highlight of the trip. Robin Hoods bay is a really unique village on the Yorkshire coast and definitely not to be missed.
The village itself is at the bottom of an extremely steep road and is pedestrianized save for service vehicles and, we guess, local residents.
There are a number of car parks at the the top of the hill for you to park up but these can be quite tight and narrow and fill up fast. So if you’re visiting in a campervan we advise getting here super early to ensure you get a good spot and you won’t get blocked in.
Highlights include paddling in the harbour, eating fish and chips from Mariondale Fisheries sat in the square listening to local musicians and having a drink at the Smugglers Inn. The Smugglers Inn apparently do the best pizza outside of Italy – unfortunately they weren’t cooking when we visited but if you can, definitely try and get a pizza from this atmospheric little shanty bar (kid you not – we think there was a real life pirate sat quietly in the corner of the bar when we visited).
#4 Whitby & Whitby Beach
Whitby was a tale of two halves for us. The pier area was very much a family oriented affair with rides, cheap gift shops and the arcade – not our sort of thing. But the half on the Abbey side of the river was home to narrow streets lined with independent retails, bars and restaurants and was far more appealing. In addition, take a walk up the one hundred and ninety nine steps and find Fortunes Kippers for the most ridiculous smoked kippers wrapped up in newspaper for you – delicious with a poached egg for breakfast in the van the following day.
Park up by the Abbey if you have a larger van as Whitby is not built to accommodate large vehicles.
#5 North York Moors Walks - the Hole of Horcum
You can’t come to the North York Moors, and not actually visit, the North York Moors.
Whilst there are hundreds of outstanding places to explore here – the Hole of Horcum provides an outstanding mix of moorland scenery, woodland, rivers and even a small village with a pub to stop for a refreshing pint. You can traverse the route by foot, mountain bike, trail run, gravel bike or whatever your preferred mode of exploration is.
This really is a route to take in the true scale and beauty of the largest expanse of moorland in the UK.
Parking is easy for this one, there is a large gravel car park right at the start of the route which often features an ice cream van or food struck – ideal refreshments after a long day on your feet! Bare in mind that it’s cash only.
Where to Stay when camping in the North York Moors
- We’d fully recommend Hobground Campsite (pictured below) for access to the Moors. The site is ideally situated for access whilst not suffering from the changeable, unpredictable weather found up on the moors. Multiple times during our stay in August, we descended off the moors after a day of chilly hill fog to find the campground bathed in a very pleasant dose of afternoon sun. Perfect for enjoying an evening beer and as the chill of night closes in, campfires (raised in a firepit) are encouraged to take the edge off the cold – and really, is there anything better than being sat around a campfire under the stars. Next to our pitch was a friendly horse enjoying a large paddock and plenty of attention from the campsites younger residents.
- York Caravan and Storage, whilst not our usual type of haunt but provides a comfortable and safe place to pitch up, with a regular and reliable bus service in and out of York City. And the shower cubicles are pretty luxurious and bigger than our house!