Setting off from York on a chilly January morning we passed through the Yorkshire villages and towns towards Helmsley, it takes about 1 hours to get there. Helmsley is thought to be one of the oldest settlements in Yorkshire dating back 3000 years, this beautiful Yorkshire market town is the only market town in the North York Moors National Park. We stopped in Helmsley for about 30 minutes, just enough time for a coffee and a delicious fat rascal cake. Helmsley is also home to a medieval castle, Helmsley Castle built over 900 years ago as well as The International Centre for Birds of Prey, located in Duncombe Park.
From here our next stop was onto the historical town of Pickering to visit the 12th Century Saxon St Peters & St Pauls Church which has large 15th century wall paintings, the oldest in Britain. The beautiful church stands tall at the top of the town centre with guided tours available on request. Pickering Railway Station was built in 1847 and is the most southernly station in the North Yorkshire Moors, daily services run between Pickering and Whitby from March to November. Pickering is also home to a 13th century castle, Pickering Castle located about 1 mile from the town, this church was built under William the Conquerors rule.
On the road again, we travelled through the North York Moors National Park, famed for it’s heather moorland, the largest in England, blooming a magnificent purple colour from late June to early September. Join our North York Moors & Whitby tour between June and September and you’ll get the best chance of viewing the purple heather. The North York Moors National Park spans 554sq miles with 26 miles of coastline. The land is so flat and diverse making it perfect for farming, mining and fishing amongst other things. Standing on top of the moors you can see for miles across the land.
From Pickering we drove through the moors to the quaint Yorkshire village of Goathland, famous for being the location of Heartbeat the TV show for many years as well as the renowned Hogsmeade, platform 9 and ¾ in Harry Potter.
We then continued over the moors to Robin Hoods Bay, a stunning fishing village placed on the side of a steep cliff edge. The village is sloped on the side of the cliff and at the bottom you come to the North Sea. The winding streets of the village are home to delightful souvenir shops, cafes and traditional pubs.
It’s just a short drive from Robin Hoods Bay to Whitby taking in the heritage coastline. Once you arrive in Whitby you can’t miss the stunning Whitby Abbey placed on top of the cliff overlooking the North Sea. The 13th century Abbey ruins can be partly viewed from outside however to get a real feel of the abbey it’s £7.60 admission per person with entry to the visitor’s centre. From Whitby Abbey, the St Marys Church is just a few metres away where you can get fantastic views over the red roofed houses and the busy harbour below.
The Church of St Marys is perched upon the cliff side overlooking Whitby, the church was founded in the 11th century and the graveyard was used as the setting for fictional story of Dracula. St Marys church is unique in which it doesn’t have the typical pews it has boxes which families can buy, the church is said to seat up to 3000 people.
From St Marys Church there are 199 Church steps down to the cobbled alleyways of Whitby old town, church street is filled with traditional cafes, souvenir stores and local shops selling the famous Whitby jet. With plenty of opinions to choose from for lunch your spoilt for choice, fish and chips is high on the cards for most people, probably because it’s hard to find a bad portion anywhere.
It’s a short walk through the town to the bridge, the river Esk flows underneath, over the bridge the bustling harbour is still operating and fishing boats are coming in and out. From here there are fantastic views back towards the Abbey and church perched upon the cliff side with the old town below.
After leaving Whitby behind we travelled over the North York Moors again, through the Yorkshire villages over Fry up Dale onto the top of the moors. From there we headed back to York, it was a wonderful day exploring the moors, Yorkshire villages and the heritage coastline, I’d definitely recommend this tour to all.