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Ideas for rainy days

Thomason Foss by Colin CarterThomason Foss by Colin Carter

There’s no such thing as bad weather…

…only the wrong clothes! But even a drizzle can dampen spirits if you’re not dressed for the weather. Proper walking shoes, waterproofs, wellies, a brolly – they’ll all help keep the rain off and let you enjoy your day more. 

Chances are you’ll be fine anyway – did you know that this National Park is the driest of Britain's uplands owing to our easterly position? But what to do if the clouds do roll in? Rain, rain, go away, come again another day? Or you could simply go with the flow and make the best of the weather, whatever the forecast. 

Here's ten ways to revel in the wet weather in the North York Moors. 

1. The wetter the better when it’s a waterfall

Think of it this way – the more it rains, the more it pours, straight over the edge of the National Park’s wonderful waterfalls. In spate, Mallyan Spout and Falling Foss – to name just two – are even more impressive than usual. The gushing waters, rain-dashed rocks and dripping trees are ample reward for a wet walk, and if the clouds clear you might see magical shafts of light dancing on the falling water and playing across the glistening boulders. Download our Mallyan Spout and Falling Foss waterfall walks. 

2. Muddy? That’s mountain biking for you

The bike trails at Dalby Forest range from family friendly to world class, and no-one minds a bit of mud when the going is this good. The trails start right outside the door of Dalby Bike Barn, where there’s bike hire for all ages and abilities. For a thrilling tour of the forest tackle the 21-mile Red Trail – the longest ‘red’ in the country. There’s a handy bike wash back at the centre and a wood-burner to dry you out too.

3. The rain’s all right for amazing pictures

No blue skies for perfect pics? Don’t worry, you can still take great pictures on rainy days. Keep your camera or phone covered by shooting from inside a cosy pub, a sheltered doorway, under a tree or even from your car window. A small folding umbrella works well too – for an unusual framing device, tilt the umbrella down into the top of a wide-angle or panoramic picture. Rain drops on leaves and branches can form fascinating close-up patterns. Look for reflections from windows or puddles, or capture the delight in the faces of puddle-splashing children. Finally, try shooting in black and white, and turn a dull day into a moody, dramatic one.

4. All aboard!

It’s a romantic trip at any time on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, but with mist in the gorge at Newtondale and brooding clouds over the surrounding moorland, the steam train ride can turn seriously atmospheric. Or shelter from the elements during a day out on the Esk Valley Railway, which travels through pretty villages and spectacular moor and dale scenery en route from Whitby to Middlesbrough all year round. At places like Egton Bridge, Grosmont and Lealholm, it’s just a short dash from the station to a café, pub or tea room!

5. Wild in the wet

Brave the weather and be rewarded with a glimpse of our wonderful wildlife. Yorkshire’s finest salmon river, the Esk, for example, becomes a veritable salmon highway in the autumn and winter rain – these amazing fish need the river in full flow to be able to leap weirs on their way upstream. Dippers also thrive on fast-flowing rivers, bobbing in and out of the water to feed, whatever the current. Otters are more elusive, but a good tip in rain is to seek shelter under a bridge, where you might find their footprints or spraints (droppings) preserved from the elements – it’s one of the ways that our ecologists record the presence of otters in the National Park.

A good storm on the North York Moors Coast is not to be missed either, especially during high tides, nature at its wildest! We recommend watching the waves from the safety of a cosy sea-view restaurant or pub.

6. Under cover

Our local museums are an obvious port of call in poor weather, and all have a distinctive tale to tell. Pickering’s Beck Isle Museum is always a great bet, with no fewer than 27 themed rooms and courtyards shining a fascinating light on 200 years of local history (closed Dec/Jan for maintenance). Or head to Palace Cinema Malton, an art deco gem with three screens showing the latest blockbuster movies to live streaming cultural performances.

7. Water, water everywhere

Rain doesn't stop play at East Barnby Outdoor Centre – their ‘Canoe the Esk’ sessions and ‘Sea Kayak Adventure Days’ go ahead in most weathers, giving you a closer look at two very different National Park landscapes. Rough sea conditions and high river water levels occasionally mean a postponed trip, but otherwise, getting wet is half the fun when you have a paddle in your hand. For activity dates, see our calendar of events.

Similarly a Real Staithes foreshore experience will go ahead regardless of the weather. Their advice? Wear suitable clothing so you enjoy being out in the rain, it can be really invigorating!

8. Explore the moors from the inside

Get to know the National Park from the inside at The Moors National Park Centre in Danby. From the call of the curlew to the sheep on the moor, you’ll discover all about moorland wildlife without leaving the shelter of this old hunting lodge. Add children’s activities every school holiday, an indoor climbing wall, locally made crafts and gifts, a fabulous art gallery and a café – that’s a weatherproof day out in any season. 

9. Behind the scenes

Rain or shine, there’s always something to see at Hutton le Hole Craft Workshops, where artisans are hard at work daily between April and October, and most winter weekends. See chocolatiers in action, get the lowdown on hand-spun wool and felting, learn about lavender and moorland crafts, or watch the artists create unique pieces in glass, wood and ceramics.

10. Drip, drip, splash, splash

As any five-year-old knows, rain is simply nature’s way of providing purpose-built puddles for jumping in. Wellies on and off you go for a forest walk in Cropton, Newtondale or Broxa – the tree canopy will keep the worst of the weather at bay, while you splash along the paths and trails. With your hood up, standing under a dripping tree becomes a source of delight – how many different sounds can you hear in your own personal echo chamber?