Wild, purple moorlands, craggy grey Jurassic rocks, dense green forests, tumbling white rivers and meandering blue streams; if you want to discover a vast and colourful array of landscapes you don't need to travel abroad. The North York Moors National Park offers a beautiful combination of environments, history and activities to suit everyone.
With so much on offer, it's a good idea to have a plan to follow - or even a track. Whether you are an avid cyclist or not, you can use the Tour de Yorkshire (28 - 30 April) as your inspiration and your guide. In Stage 1 of the race, competitors will cycle from Bridlington to Scarborough, passing through the heart of the North York Moors and some of the most stunning scenery en route.
A giant mystery at the Hole of Horcum
Take, for example, the Hole of Horcum, a short distance from Levisham. A huge natural amphitheatre, reputed to be caused by the giant, Wade, scooping earth from the land to throw at his wife, the Hole is perfect for spectators hoping to watch the Tour. The 5-mile walk around the edge of the valley is perfect for ramblers while nature lovers will discover plenty of rare bird species.
Magical moments with North Yorkshire Moors Railway
If you prefer a less strenuous way to explore the course, hop onto the North Yorkshire Moors Railway at Levisham. A heritage steam railway, the NYMR runs through the moors, giving you a magnificent sample of the landscapes on offer, before picking up the Tour route through to Goathland. Harry Potter fans will want to disembark here! Step down from the carriage in a cloud of steam and you’ll find yourself transported to the magical station of Hogsmeade.
A small but beautiful village deep in the moors, Goathland was also the set of police drama, Heartbeat. It's also close to some stunning waterfalls including the famous Mallyan Spout, and the tiny hamlet of Beck Hole, home to the small but popular Birch Hall Inn.
Fact and fiction along the coast
The most northern point of the Tour reaches the ancient sea port of Whitby before turning back down the coastline to Robin Hood's Bay. Surrounded by the highest cliffs in England, Whitby is a decidedly active fishing port that embraces the unusual. Known as the inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula, Whitby will be hosting the Whitby Goth Weekend on 21 - 23 April. Those looking for a more factual history may be inclined to explore the stunning cliff top ruins of Whitby Abbey.
Robin Hood's Bay has its own enticing history as the home to smugglers and is rumoured to be hiding a network of smuggler passages under the homes. Legend says that Robin Hood helped fight off pirates and saved the village. Visitors can discover more about Robin Hood and smugglers in the museum, or spend the day on the beach, perfect for rock-pooling and fossil-hunting.
Discovering a tamer wilderness
Although the Tour de Yorkshire leaves the National Park here, there is still a huge amount to discover and do. It's time to leave the cycle route and strike out on your own, as you head inland to the market town of Helmsley. Here, discover nature in a more tamed style, in the restored Victorian Walled Garden.
Don't miss out on one of the impressive views of the national park from the landscaped garden of Rievaulx Terrace, looking over the ruined Rievaulx Abbey.
And, from the tamed to the untameable, there is one more view you have to see. Look up - and enjoy the panorama of the night sky from Dalby Forest, a Dark Sky Discovery Site.
Catch the Tour de Yorkshire when you stay at Forest Holidays!
Throughout the North York Moors National Park, there is a combination of ancient landscapes and modern engineering, incredible geology and simple, natural fun. It's the perfect place for everyone, young and old, to explore and discover natural England. Book your cabin at Cropton or Keldy now and you will be perfectly placed at the gateway to all the moors have to offer. And the Tour de Yorkshire? It passes through Pickering, our nearest town, on Friday 28 April.