Yorkshire's wild coast - the best walks in the north york moors

The 199 Steps at Whitby on the North Yorkshire coastline

Escape to Whitby on the edge of the North York Moors, whose handsome harbour and medieval streets are famously the setting for Bram Stoker’s Gothic horror story, Dracula, and home to the world’s best fish and chips, for a stay in Larpool Hall. It is a town of two parts, with the River Esk carving its way between a huddle of 18th-century fishermen's cottages along its East Cliff and a genteel Victorian suburb atop the West Cliff.

From our country house base, join a guided walking holiday to explore the North York Moors National Park. Alternatively, from the house itself, set out on one of our guided Tread Lightly Walking Holidays to discover the stretch where the North York Moors National Park meets the North Sea, and mixes dramatic clifftops with picturesque fishing villages and towns. The 26 miles of Jurassic Coast offer superb walking. From the clifftops it’s not hard to imagine small fishing boats being tossed about at the mercy of the sea. While inland lie haunting moorland, wooded river valleys, and ruined castles.

While on a walking holiday, you can look forward to exploring the evocative ruins of Whitby Abbey. History buffs can get inspired by learning more about the history of Robin Hood’s Bay and the region’s rich mining past. Foodies can add the catch of the day from Whitby harbour to their wish list. And those interested in wildlife, birds and flowers will be treated to an array of discoveries throughout the year. Read on for our top experiences and walks in the North York Moors.

Larpool Hall, Whitby
Larpool Hall, Whitby

Introducing Larpool Hall

This imposing Grade II listed Georgian mansion in Whitby has been part of the town for hundreds of years.It has evolved to offer an updated take on traditional hospitality. The Hall retains its original grandeur and styling, while offering guests the perfect mix of contemporary comforts to deliver a large amount of atmosphere and character. Sweep up the magnificent staircase, marvel at the impressive fireplaces, watch through the large picture windows and feel yourself transported. There are also 14 acres of attractive grounds and views over the Esk Valley; you couldn’t be better placed.

Our top five Experiences and Walks in the North York Moors

Robin Hood Bay

1. Robin Hood's Bay

Robin Hood’s Bay, with its maze of alleyways and cobbled streets, dates back to the 16th century. White-washed and stone cottages, topped with red roofs, tumble down to the harbour. It’s one of the most romantic locations on the Yorkshire coast, and was once a favourite haunt of smugglers. Walk to Boggle Hole along the beach and back to Robin Hood’s Bay via the clifftop path. But be warned, there is much to distract you along the way: rock pools, coastal erratics, and superb views of the sea. This stretch of Jurassic Coast is also the best place to spot fossils and dinosaur footprints in northern England.
Esk Valley Walk

2. The Esk Valley

The River Esk flows from its source high on the North York Moors to the coast at Whitby. The valley is rich in historical remains from prehistoric earthworks to medieval packhorse bridges. The waters are home to Atlantic salmon and sea trout, and kingfishers, dippers, otters and water voles all live along the river. As well as lovely riverside vistas, spreading heather moorland and narrow wooded gorges, take in the ancient parish of Sneaton – home to an award-winning ice-cream maker – the pretty village of Ugglebarnby and the small fishing village of Iburndale. Look out too for the disused Rigg Mill that used to belong to Whitby Abbey, which stands prominently on the headland above the harbour.
The Cleveland Way

3. The Cleveland Way

Experience the varied landscape of the North York Moors National Park on a journey across breathtaking heather moorland and dramatic coastline by walking a heart-soaring stretch of the Cleveland Way. Follow ancient roads, pass medieval crosses and a wealth of historical sites including Helmsley Castle, Rievaulx Abbey, Mount Grace Priory, Whitby Abbey and Scarborough Castle, and revel in a visual feast along the dramatic coastline to Filey, passing old fishing villages and lively coastal towns.
The Lawley, Shropshire

4. Roseberry Topping

Although short in distance, the ascent of Roseberry Topping is a bit of a challenge with a sharp incline for most of the ascent up Cleveland’s most photographed hill. With a unique, half-cone shape, this hill is perhaps the most notable in the area, offering rewarding views over all of the Cleveland plains on a sunny day. During the spring, when the slopes are quilted with banks of bluebells, sorrel and stitchwort, Yorkshire’s Matterhorn is a spring masterpiece.
North York Moors Dark Sky Reserve

5. Dark Skies

The big open skies of the North York Moors are breathtaking by day, and also by night when the dark sky panorama is revealed. In December 2020, they were officially designated an international Dark Sky Reserve, one of only 18 in the world. Because of the low light pollution levels and clear horizons, it's one of the best places in the country to see stars. The coastline’s dramatic cliffs and atmospheric viewpoints are the best front seats to witness everything from the Milky Way to the Aurora Borealis. Sit back and enjoy the show.
Peregrine, North York Moors
Wood Anemone

Wildlife and nature to look for in the North York Moors

  • Curlew breed in huge numbers on the North York Moors although they over-wnter in Scandinavia. They use their distinctive long bill to probe the sand for invertebrates, and can be spotted anywhere on the rugged shoreline.
  • Dippers nest alongside fast running streams You can spot them on the river Esk near to Whitby. Incredibly, they feed underwater on invertebrates; their bones are solid rather than hollow so they don't float back to the surface.
  • Fulmar glide effortlessly above the Jurassic Coast cliffs, and nest on ledges above the sea.
  • Oysercatchers with their orange bill and legs are unmistakable. Look out for them probing for mussels on any beach or rocky shore.
  • Wheatears arrive from Africa at the end of March and can be spotted zipping over rocky cliffs searching for insects.
  • Peregrine falcons can be seen all along the coast, soaring high above the cliffs and preparing to stoop for prey.
  • Edible Crabs can grow up to 25cm wide. Look out for them in large rockpools.
  • Squat lobsters also live in rockpools like those at Robin Hood's Bay, where they hide in crevices waiting to grab unsuspecting prey while hoping to stay out of sight of larger predators.
  • Wood anemone flower between March and May in old woodlands, creating beautiful carpets of colour.
  • Early Purple Orchid are the first orchids to appear, between April and June, flowering in woodland clearings or alongside clifftop trails.
  • Harebell are delicate, beautiful clifftop plants. Look out for them in grassland from July to September.