Where to Start?
But if you are touring, or just spending a few days, you could easily waste a lot of time dashing from one end of this vast landscape to the other without actually seeing and doing the best that the park has to offer during the season that you happen to be visiting.
A better way is to narrow down the possibilities at one of the National Park visitor centers. Besides providing lots of information to steer you in the right direction, as well as restrooms, snack facilities and shopping opportunities, several of the centers are attractions in their own right, with exhibitions, nature trails, climbing walls and other adventures suitable for a full, family day out.
The Moors National Park Centre
The flagship center for the park is cleverly concealed in what looks like a terrace of York stone cottages - complete with chimneys. It has several play areas, a shop, a café and a very good gallery, Inspired by that features the work of artists inspired by the life and landscapes of the park and northeast coast of Yorkshire. Exhibitions change and, during the holiday season there are usually Christmas crafts and gifts.
Be inspired yourself with a short film about the park and the area. Then take one of the five easy-to-follow, circular walks that start and finish at the centre. The Crow Wood Walk is a short, accessible walk. There's a full schedule of activities, guided walks, workshops and events that add up to lots of fun family days out.
- Schedule: Open all year round (weekends only in winter) to help you gear your activities to the season. Hours and activites vary so it's best to check the website to plan a visit.
- Find it: On Lodge Lane in the northeast corner of the park, near the village of Danby, not far from the coastal town of Whitby (where Count Dracula came ashore in England). Find it on a map.
- Stay: Try The Black Swan in Helmsley, a traditional inn with a good restaurant in a lovely village. Read a review.
- Dine: Look for oysters in Whitby on the Northeast coast.
Sutton Bank National Park CentreNear Thirsk, this centre is located on the Whitestonecliffe area of Sutton Bank overlooking what author James Herriot called, "the finest view in England." It's an area known for very good and sometimes challenging walks as well as cycle routes along quiet country lanes in the Hambleton Hills. Here's where you'll find well thought out self-guided walks that explain the geologically fascinating landscape. Before heading out, stop to watch a new CGI film about one million years on Sutton Bank. There are also interactive games for kids, a good gift shop with Yorkshire products. The center has free WiFi so you can catch up with your Facebook pals while you have a snack and a cuppa in the tea room.
- Schedule: Open all year round (weekends only in winter). Hours and activites vary so it's best to check the website to plan a visit.
- Walk: A new, free iPhone app,Lime and Ice launched in 2012, details four walking routes near the center. If you don't have an iPhone or iPad, you can access the app on tablets at the Sutton Bank center.
- Find it: The center is on the A170 at the top of Sutton Bank, about six miles east of Thirsk. Find on a map.
- See it: Watch a video about Sutton Bank