North Yorkshire has beaches to rival the south – here’s the best spots to visit this summer

Robin Hood’s Bay (known locally as Baytown) lies to the south of Whitby, then comes the arguably more pretty Staithes, with its cliffs screaming with kittiwakes, piles of lobster cages and colourful boats with flirty names like ‘Gypsy Rose’ and ‘Sweet Promise’. It was here, as I sat perched on the wobbly cobbles outside Dotty’s Tearoom – with its vintage china and humongous freshly-baked scones – at the end of my journey that I felt warm and content enough to remove my two coats. The beaches of the south might get all the love, but those of North Yorkshire have the soul. 

20 things to do in North Yorkshire this summer

1. The mellow moors

If your only experience of moorland to date has been the looming uplands of the Pennines or the bare hump of Dartmoor, then the Cleveland Way beckons. This 109-mile horseshoe-shaped national trail cuts across some of the most alluring sections of the North York Moors National Park. Its start/end points – the historic market town of Helmsley and coastal Filey – are linked via Rievaulx Abbey, the Kilburn White Horse, Mount Grace Priory House and Gardens, Gisborough Priory, Whitby Abbey and Scarborough Castle. The route follows ancient drovers’ paths and coastal trails used by pilgrims (yes, saints as well as vampires came this way), and while the boulder fields and rocky coves are impressive, it’s the swathes of waving heather – which blooms mid to late summer – that make the Way so special.

2. Crafty in nature

Thirteen walking trails, six cycling routes and four bike paths open up this magnificent forest at Thornton-le-Dale near Pickering, where glaciation has left a unique “rigg and dale” landscape in the south, while the northern section sits on an upland plateau. During summer, Dalby Forest is an open-air exhibition space for art and crafts by celebrated sculptors, stained glass-makers, photographers, musicians and other performers.

3. The romance of rail

The 18-mile North Yorkshire Moors Railway, connecting Grosmont with Pickering, is once again offering Pullman coach lunches, afternoon teas and evening dining on board. Opened in 1836 and built by George Stephenson, the heritage line passes through beautiful countryside and operates a range of lovingly restored and maintained diesel and steam locomotives; on non-dining services you can choose between hop on/off and scheduled return journeys. Passengers can combine the ride with a stay in a former station house or adapted carriage. Hop on/off adult ticket from £30. Pullman evening meal, £149 for a table for two (journey lasts 2hrs 45mins). 

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