Activities in the North York Moors
Updated: Jan 8
As part of our Green Traveller's Guide to the North York Moors, Paul Bloomfield picks out a selection of walks and cycle routes as well as wildlife and adventure activities in this glorious National Park in the north of England.
With the diverse and numerous calorific specialities of the region – fish and chips, flatcakes, cream teas, moggie cakes, seafood, beer cakes, cakes and more cakes – clamouring for your attention, getting active isn’t just an enticing opportunity, it’s a necessity. Fortunately, the heather-clad moors, dramatic coastline and verdant hills are laced with trails begging to be explored on foot, bike or horseback.
The rivers are slick with fish, offering varied challengers to anglers, and there’s kayaking and sailing to be enjoyed inland and offshore, too. For those with a head for heights, gliding and microlighting can offer a different perspective on the moors. Crags inspire rock-climbers, and the open moorland, rivers and ancient woods harbour merlins, dippers, and red grouse.
There’s a dizzying range of walking trails to tackle, from gentle day strolls to multi-day epics. We’ve rounded up the best rambles to help you discover the beauty of the moors.
Walking in the UK - North Yorkshire Villages
Follow wooded riverside paths, green lanes and moorland tracks to reach some of Yorkshire's prettiest villages nestling almost unnoticed in secluded corners. From Pickering, take the historic steam train north and walk back over the moors. inntravel.co.uk/walking-holidays/uk
Big Bear Bikes
This popular and friendly bike shop in the centre of Pickering provides a number of bike services, from bike servicing workshops to bike skills sessions. They also run bike hire and have a range of bikes available, from mountain to road bikes. bigbearbikes.co.uk
This cycle hire place is located alongside the Cinder Track, the Whitby to Scarborough old coastal railway, a great family-friendly route which which meanders through quaint villages and past remote beaches. Trailways has over 100 bikes for bike for all ages, mountain bikes to tag-alongs to tamdems. It also has bikes for sale. trailways.info
Dalby Bike Barn
A top of the range cycle shop providing all you could need to get out and explore the surrounding Dalby Forest and wider North York Moors by bike, Pace Cycles offers servicing, accessories, and of course high quality bicycles. All this, in lovely countryside surroundings – you’ll be itching to get in the saddle, and if you need a place to crash after a hard day’s cycling, they offer self-catering accommodation, too. pacecycles.com
Blue Giraffe Bicycles Ltd
Whether you need to get your bike looked at, or learn how to do it yourself, the friendly mechanics at Blue Giraffe are there to help – with workshop classes starting from £35 per person. They also offer hire, bike parts and accessories, and everything else you could need for a holistic cycle experience! They also organise regular sportives that venture out into the Moors. bluegiraffebicycles.co.uk
Gone Mountain Biking
Gone Mountain Biking will help you to do just that – go mountain biking! In the charming town of Pickering, they’re easily accessible and right next to the dappled shade of lush Dalby Forest and the windswept open moorlands. Offering holidays and accommodation as well as guiding and instruction, Gone Mountain Biking covers all your needs for a cycling break: take a guided tour around some of the best trails in the region, or simply hone your skills on a short training session. gonemountainbiking.com
Discover the life and soul of this historic fishing village on a day at sea catching mackerel, or learning how to create your own paint palette from natural ingredients, or maybe a longer arts or crafts course… Discover the fossils, food and ancient traditions of this Yorkshire Coast gem, with knowledgeable locals keen to share their passion with their savoir-faire. realstaithes.com
Hawk & Owl Trust at Fylingdales Moor
Rugged Fylingdales Moor is a 6,800-acre Conservation Area close to Whitby, with wonderful coastal views. The site is now managed by the Hawk and Owl Trust to help preserve and nurture its wildlife, through the use of environmentally sustainable traditional moorland management techniques. A range of self-guided walks and trails will take you across the moor, perhaps giving the opportunity to see some of its rare wildlife. hawkandowltrust.org
Carlton Lodge Activity Centre, Thirsk, North Yorkshire
North Yorkshire Youth, (NYY) based at Carlton Lodge Activity Centre near Thirsk, North Yorkshire has programmes for schools, scout groups, youth clubs, corporate packages and at weekends and school holidays for families. The programme includes Activity Days and Adventure Skills in the May half term and during the Summer school holidays. The activities are designed to boost self-confidence and team working skills by focusing on communication, planning and creative thinking. Prices from: £150 per week. At weekends a two-day/one night option is available from £99. carltonlodge.org.uk
Yorkshire Gliding Club
Based at dramatic Sutton Bank, how better to take in the glorious panoramas of moor and vale than by gliding? With a fleet of modern gliders and a full-time staff of professional instructors, you can choose to take a course, or sample a trial lesson – they even offer special tuition (and reductions) for young people. Conditions are perfect for soaring way above the North York Moors at heights of up to 33,000 feet! ygc.co.uk
Scaling Dam Sailing Club
Behind Scaling Dam is a beautiful, peaceful reservoir in the midst of the North York Moors – the perfect place to spend time sailing. If you don’t yet know how to sail, the Scaling Dam Sailing Club runs training courses in sailing, windsurfing and dinghy training, including for children and disabled people. scalingdam.org
Flow Surf School
It’s not just the cliffs of the North Yorkshire coast that are dramatic – there are some pretty impressive waves out there, too. Whilst the pretty seaside town of Saltburn may not seem the obvious choice for surfers, it’s actually a fantastic spot to learn the sport: Flow Surf School’s BSA qualified coaches (they’re also lifeguards) offer lessons for beginners and intermediate learners, with all equipment provided. flowsurfcoaching.com
Bilsdale Riding Centre
In a remote moorland location, Bilsdale Riding Centre offers the opportunity to discover the wonderful North York Moors landscapes at a gentle pace. Criss-crossing the terrain by bridlepath or green lane, there is a wide choice of horses and ponies to suit people of different size, age, taste and ability. Whatever your level, help and guidance is at hand – so you can take it easy for the first time, or enjoy the freedom and exhilaration of a ride across the open moors in the fresh air. bilsdaleridingcentre.co.uk
Saltburn Surf School
Proudly boasting to be the only surf school approved by Surfing Great Britain on the East Coast, Saltburn Surf School takes full advantage of the great waves (and lovely beaches) of the area as a safe playground to learn or improve your surfing. The centre offers surf hire, as well as a surf club, and professional coaching for surfers of different levels. saltburnsurf.co.uk
For information on local food and drink, nearby visitor attractions and activities, see our Green Traveller's Guide to the North York Moors