It’s one of the largest expanses of heather moorland in the UK, and its total expanse is 554 square miles. The North York Moors has been a National Park since 1952, and along with its moorland are picturesque villages, a rugged coastline and distinctive buildings of historical and archaeological interest.

As a UK holiday destination, the North York Moors offers a great range of sights, attractions and activities, and it’s an ideal if you’re thinking of staying in a self-catering holiday cottage.

Explore a Diverse Landscape

There’s no single apt description for the landscape of the North York Moors, because it encompasses moorland, woodland, rivers and a coastline.

Amid this generous expanse of heather moorland, it’s easy to forget that on a worldwide scale it’s a rarity – by some estimates there’s less of it than there is tropical rainforest. It is a quietly spectacular sight, and most of it is open access land, which means visitors can roam freely across it.

There are three types of heather growing here: bell heather, cross-leaved heath and ling, along with a variety of moorland plants and wildlife, including many species of wild bird.

The North York Moors is also heavily wooded, with woodland and forest covering some 22% of the National Park. It covers many of the valley sides too, and adds drama and character to the landscape.

Rivers in this landscape range from trickling streams and small becks to deep, torrential gorges and more peaceful waters running through level valleys.

Choose Your Outdoor Experiences

The National Park is great walking and rambling country, from easy access walks to long distance treks. On foot, you can experience the beauty of the Esk Valley, running 37 miles from the North York Moors to Whitby. Or tackle an ascent of Roseberry Topping, a distinctive half-cone shaped hill, known as the Yorkshire Matterhorn.

This is also fantastic cycling terrain, with routes ranging from the family-friendly to more ambitious mountain-biking challenges.

Routes include the scenic trails high on Sutton Bank, the superb off-road biking at Dalby Forest and the valley of Great Fryup Dale, a major hub for mountain-bikers.

For people with the energy and enthusiasm for it, there are plenty of routes for fell runners and road runners throughout the North York Moors, including the old coastal railway route, known as the Cinder Track. Most of these trails are well-defined with relatively quiet rights of way – ideal for runners.

Other outdoor activities available in the area include horse riding, kayaking, rock climbing and even husky trekking!

Market Towns You Must Visit

When you want a break from your outdoor experiences, there are plenty of market towns dotted across the North York Moors for to explore.

Helmsley feels like the quintessential English market town. It’s got a lovely old market square, pubs and tea rooms, and its own castle ruins. It’s also the starting point for both the Ebor way and Cleveland way walking routes.

At the north of the River Derwent is Malton, known as something of a foodie destination. It has a monthly food market, and holds a notable food festival every autumn. It’s also home to a cookery school and several good quality food shops.

Pickering is the gateway to the moors, and the southern terminus of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. Bustling and vibrant, Pickering has plenty to offer, from cafés and tearooms to restaurants, pubs and intriguing, independent shops. Also, the railway puts on frequent special events, such as an annual Steam Gala, featuring a range of steam locomotives.

Plan Your Stay

Experience the North York Moors and surrounding area for yourself. Visit our website, or email