Lovely Things to Do in North Yorkshire

Climbing around the moors and dales of North Yorkshire

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Whitby Abbey Ruins, England, UK

Whether you call it a moor or a dale, much of North Yorkshire is basically made up of a bunch of picturesque hills and valleys. This vast and traditional northern county shows off a stunning countryside, evoking images of misty valleys that have inspired literature for years: just ask the Brontë sisters. They’ve been dead for eons, so the words on their pages will have to do as far as a response goes.

And then, when tired of hiking through this bucolic hinterland (those achy knees will be ticking away after a good few minutes, we’d wager), it’ll be time to visit the city of York, one of England’s proudest gems. The cathedral is larger than any moor or dale (sort of), while its meandering alleyways evoke the realms of Harry Potter in a city at once quaint and majestic. The question is: are you and your family or travel partners suitably quaint and majestic for the city? Only time will tell. For now though, here’s the Plum Guide list of things to do in North Yorkshire.

Dally up the dales

Now, we’ve finally gotten onto the crux of the earlier statement about dales and moors. Nobody knows what those words really mean, but they give off a vague sense of ‘hills and stuff’. So, get on down to your first hills and stuff area, the Yorkshire Dales, one of the most beautiful places to visit in Yorkshire. Encounter the small towns, as you go, such as Hawes and Settle, stopping in for some Yorkshire tea, a Yorkshire ale and a Yorkshire pudding at somewhere like the Black Bull in Paradise Visitor Centre in Masham or the Wildings Tea Room and Riverside Terrace in Pateley Bridge. The latter town is particularly charming, and has the Oldest Sweet Shop in the World.

The Oldest Sweet Shop in the World, Pateley Bridge, Yorkshire | Image by RoyP2012 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Oldest Sweet Shop in the World, Pateley Bridge, Yorkshire | Image by RoyP2012 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Enough tea and sweets, continue hiking – tummy full of sugar and whatnot – through the countryside. You’ll stumble across the crumbling vestiges of castles and long-forgotten once-great ramparts reduced to bits of stone sticking out of the grass. Do watch your step; you don’t want to hurt yourself tripping over some historic remnant. Barns and drystone walls mark the rest of the dales, which comprise myriad green hills and lakes. On a fine day, stop for a picnic by the water. Dallying up the dales is a truly lovely option when it comes to things to do in North Yorkshire.

Time for some moor countryside

You’ve not even begun to explore the bucolic scenery that North Yorkshire has to offer. Actually, that’s a little unfair; you’ve just trekked the entirety of the Yorkshire Dales. OK fine, you’re doing well. But now it’s time to take on the North York Moors. Just so you know, the ‘Moors Murders’ carried out by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley were nearer Manchester, rather than here.

But what you will find in these moors is a whole range of historic and pastoral highlights. Exploring the area is one of the most interesting things to do in Yorkshire. The ruins of the Whitby Abbey are among the main attractions, said to have inspired parts of Bram Stoker’s Dracula setting. If you’re tired from all the walking (we’re tired just writing this, so we understand), hop aboard the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, to see the moving countryside appear to chug past your window. And hey, since you’re in the area, bring your little ones to the Flamingo Land Resort, with its zoo and roller coasters. It makes for a nice break from all the ‘scenic terrain’ stuff, which was getting a little too serious. 

Back in that serious wilderness, marvel at the vestiges of the Rievaulx Abbey and spend an age trying to work out how to pronounce it. It was hard enough before they shoved an x onto the end of the name. Wander along the Cleveland Way, snap photos of the vista of the lake, and rent bikes to cycle through the Dalby Forest. After all that exhausting fun, retire to Plum Guide lodging Daisy Chain, a lovely family cottage on the outskirts of the Moors.

Daisy Chain, Plum Guide home in Yorkshire, UK

Daisy Chain, Plum Guide home in Yorkshire, UK

York

The city gets its own section on our guide of things to do in North Yorkshire, because it’s simply one of the loveliest part of England. That’s right, we’ve gone all complimentary; we’re in a good mood. Walk down The Shambles, an open-air corridor of an alleyway, with overhanging awnings, a cobbled lane and rickety old timber houses. It supposedly was the inspiration for Diagon Alley from the Harry Potter books (yes, they were indeed books before the movies, we were as surprised as you). Check out York Minster, which is simply enormous and would take about a millennium just to walk around. Relax with hot beverages at Bettys Café Tea Room and then choose from the JORVIK Viking Centre and the York’s Chocolate Story. We know which one we’d choose. Or just do both.

West of Eden, Plum Guide home in Yorkshire, UK

West of Eden, Plum Guide home in Yorkshire, UK

While we don't have any Plum Guide homes in York just yet, you could do worse than driving to the rather incredible West of Eden in nearby Cumbria.

See the sea

Head to Scarborough for its array of sandy beaches on the North Sea. And yes, Simon & Garfunkel were singing about a fair in this very town. Although, the song itself was written several centuries before their version, and the fair itself is now long defunct. That said, there’s still much to do in Scarborough, known for its Grand Hotel edifice and the clifftop Scarborough Castle that dwarfs the town. Head to the towns of Sandsend, Filey and Whitby for more historic attractions by the sea.

Scarborough Harbour, Yorkshire, UK

Scarborough Harbour, Yorkshire, UK

Now you know the best things to do in North Yorkshire, book yourself a stay in an expertly vetted Plum Guide home. Our fastidious home critics have tried and tested every lodging, so you know you're in for a great night's sleep.

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