The market towns in and around the North York Moors each have their own character and personality, with independent shops and interesting nooks and crannies to explore.
In our villages and rural areas, you'll find general stores and farm shops stuffed with local food and seasonal produce as well as galleries full of beautiful art made by Yorkshire artists and makers. Our National Park visitor centres at Sutton Bank and Danby, and Village Information Points are good places to pick up local maps and guides as well as gifts from the area.
It's always worth making a detour to our towns and larger villages for a spot of shopping whether it's market day or not, here's a very brief flavour of them.
Helmsley is a haven for galleries, antiques, independent shops, delis and coffee shops, plus boutique bolt holes with fine dining restaurants. Hunt for something quirky at Room for Antiques or admire contemporary creations at Helmsley Galleries, the in-house galleries of the Black Swan Hotel & the Feversham Arms Hotel. Discover something a little different at specialist shops such as Homeworks, Helmsley Wines (a gin specialist), Libby Butlers, Hunters of Helmsley and Saltbox Gallery and if your wardrobe isn’t up to scratch you don’t have to look far to find country casuals and fancy wellies. Treat yourself to afternoon tea and cake at the Black Swan Tearoom awarded the ‘Tearoom of Excellence’ four times no less.
Pickering is one of the area’s oldest towns, founded in 270 BC with a wide variety of cafés, pubs, traditional butcher's and bakeries, specialist independent shops, galleries and Pickering Antiques, stocking all your vintage and vogue desires. Trailblazer Outdoors friendly, knowledgeable staff can kit you out with all your outdoors needs. A lively Monday street market and first Thursday farmers’ markets are a good source of local produce.
The pretty market town of Malton on the edge of the Howardian Hills is Yorkshire's Food Capital, a real magnet for foodies. The Talbot Hotel tops the list of must-visit places for local and visiting gastronomes. Artisan units at the Talbot Yard Food Court include a gin distillery, gelateria, butcher, baker, coffee roaster and a macaron maker. Combined with top delis, bakeries, butchers and fisheries, the Malton Food Lovers Festival and Monthly Food Market, you’ll need a hearty appetite. Summer al fresco dining and street food in the market place adds a European flavour to eating and drinking.
And it's not just about food, have a stroll down Malton's own Shambles, home to antique shops, Rickshaw Bazaar, for all things fair trade, eco-friendly and colourful – and Selina Scott's goat socks. Or saddle up with a new bike from Northern Ride. There's also two hours free parking in the town centre (Market Place, Chancery Lane, Shambles Car Park, Wells Lane and Navigation Wharf).
Hutton le Hole
Hutton le Hole nestles beside one of the many streams flowing south towards the river Rye where sheep roam at will. Wander around the craft workshops selling and making handmade chocolates, glass, ceramics, furniture and prints. The Gallery at Ryedale Folk Museum is also worth a detour.
The market town of Guisborough lies at the northern edge of the National Park. The ruined 12th century priory dominates the top of Westgate, the town's thoroughfare where you'll find Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday markets. In fact traditional and specialist markets have been held along the broad cobbled streets for over 600 years. Potter along Westgate, Church Street and Chaloner Street to find independent specialist shops, great galleries, and bistros.
Stokesley may be one of the most elegant of market towns, peppered with impressive Georgian and Victorian buildings, and Roseberry Topping as a stunning backdrop, but it’s also a bustling shopping town too, with a wide cobbled main street. It's home to FARMA's National Farmers’ Market of the Year 2014 (first Saturday of the month, don't miss it), along with delis, butchers, award-winning restaurants, pubs, tearooms and independent stores.
Whitby's not your average coastal town and there’s much more to it than fish & chips (though you’ll want to sample those too). Unique to the area is Whitby Jet, the petrified remains of an ancient tree similar to the monkey-puzzle tree and you’ll be able to pick up bespoke jet jewellery in any number of shops, including W Hamond, the town's oldest surviving Whitby Jet jewellery shop. The narrow cobbled medieval streets on the east side are full of yards and alleyways to explore with plenty of traditional souvenirs to be found including ganseys (thick fishermen's jumpers), while across the river Esk, West Cliff has a more Victorian and Georgian feel, along with boutiques, music shops, galleries and delis.
Saltburn by the sea
Saltburn has maintained much of its original charm as a Victorian seaside resort. And now not just Victoriania, but vintage vibes too, including Sleepers for retro collectables. The town prides itself on its independent shops too so head for the ‘Jewel Streets’ to discover gifts and other finds. Along with delis, fish restaurants and coffee shops, at weekends, don’t miss Saltburn Studios & Gallery, at the heart of the town's artistic revival, hosting work and exhibitions by more than 15 resident artists and makers. When you’re done with shopping, go retro in Surfs Up, ice cream parlour and coffee shop with a distinctive 1950s feel, where you can watch surfers catch the waves. Saltburn's fabulous farmers' market was a worthy runner up to Stokesley at the 2014 FARMA National Farmers' Market of the Year, if you need any more proof of the area's passion for good food.