Dotted throughout the North York Moors are bustling market towns and picturesque villages with warm welcomes and intriguing local tales from smugglers to industrious monks.

Timeless stone-built villages nestling in peaceful dales score highly on charm while also being living records of human habitation. Hutton le Hole is a big favourite, with wandering sheep on its pristine green and tinkling streams, Thornton le Dale is pretty as a picture, while Goathland is probably our most famous (the ‘Heartbeat’ village).

On the Yorkshire Coast, undisputed best day-out for beachcombing is Runswick Bay, explore the old smugglers’ haunt and fishing village of Robin Hood’s Bay, and get creative in arty Staithes, which may seem more than a touch familiar to those whose children are fans of CBeebies’ Old Jack’s Boat.


The picturesque market town on the banks of the River Rye has a gracious setting, sheltered beneath the remains of a medieval castle. There’s a fine market square and ancient market cross – market day is Friday – as well as some delightful alleys and independent shops in town.

The beautiful ruins of Rievaulx Abbey are just a short walk away, while Helmsley is the gateway to the western side of the National Park with its stunning dales and moorland walks.

More Information on Helmsley

Malton and Norton


Malton and neighbouring Norton, on the banks of the River Derwent, have been settled since Roman times and have been associated with the training of thoroughbred racehorses for 300 years. Now billed as ‘Yorkshire’s food capital’, the thriving market town of Malton is making a new name for itself as a foodie destination. Lively market days, and a growing number of artisan producers and places to eat and drink, make the towns a great base for the North York Moors and the nearby Yorkshire Wolds.

More information on Malton and Norton


Pickering is a busy market town on the edge of the North York Moors, set between castle, church and river, with handsome streets, tucked-away alleys and quiet corners to explore. It’s best known for its heritage railway, but also has lots of other local attractions, from history museum to nearby Roman site. Market day is Monday, and there’s a farmers’ market on the first Thursday of each month.

More information on Pickering

Rosedale Abbey

Steep and winding routes on either side of the dale lead down to the village of Rosedale Abbey, a popular target for country walks. Despite its name, there never was an abbey here – just a small Cistercian nunnery, of which only a stone turret or belfry remains in the village churchyard. Although quiet now, a flourishing ironstone industry transformed Victorian Rosedale – see the massive stone kilns and other relics on the line of the former mineral railway, above the village.

More information on Rosedale Abbey

Robin Hood’s Bay and Boggle Hole


The old fishing and smuggling village of Robin Hood’s Bay has a reputation far wider than its size suggests, and if you spend some time here you’ll soon see why. Stupendous views from the top of the village, atmospheric alleys down by the quayside, and a sweeping bay and soaring cliffs beyond – there’s a sense of history and grandeur that impresses every visitor.

Please note: there is no access by car down into the old village. There are car parks at the top of the bank, and it is a steep walk down… and up!

More information on Robin Hood’s Bay and Boggle Hole


Visitors flock year-round to the most atmospheric town along the Yorkshire coast. The famous abbey ruins on the clifftop, and cobbled Georgian old town below, form a beautiful backdrop to days on the sandy beach or strolls around the vibrant harbour.

Captain Cook learned his trade here in the 18th century, while in the 19th century Whitby expanded with the arrival of the railway. Steam trains still serve the town, on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway from Pickering and Grosmont, while the Esk Valley Railway offers a scenic trip through the heart of the beautiful Esk Valley.

More information on Whitby

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