Seven amazing accessible experiences

Roam through vibrant heather moorland, discover hidden sandy beaches, or explore ruined abbeys and magnificent gardens-there's plenty of accessible places to visit across the North York Moors. Uncover more with our handy guide to seven accessible things to do…

1. North Yorkshire Moors Railway

Imagine looking out across heather-clad hills and woodland, all while sitting on a classic steam train, from the comfort of your accessible carriage. This is what the North Yorkshire Moors Railway offers aboard its vintage locomotives taking you all the way to the gorgeous coastal town of Whitby. The 1930s-style Pickering Station – your departure point – has disabled parking spaces and entry by ramp from the car park. The trains have access ramps and guide and assistance dogs are welcome.

Man and woman at Grosmont Station, watching a heritage train pass, man using a wheelchair (c) Visit Britain/Peter Kindersley

Check out the full Pickering Station Accessibility Guide and Whitby Station Accessibility Guide.

Book your trip on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway

2. Whitby Abbey

Marvel at the atmospheric ruins of Whitby Abbey that inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel, perched on a clifftop with cracking views of the North Sea. The grounds of this Gothic wonder are made up of level paths, making it easy to explore on foot or with wheels. Check out their excellent pre-visit video.

A fascinating exhibition, accessed by a lift from the shop, tells the tale of 3,000 years of history and how the town inspired Bram Stoker.

Woman and man looking at the ruins of Whitby Abbey, woman using crutches (c) VisitBritain/Peter Kindersley

If you wish to skip the 199 steps from the town up to Whitby Abbey, the yellow Open Top Tour Bus will drop you outside the entrance or you can arrive by car. There are a small number of accessible parking bays close to the Abbey entrance.

Discover Whitby Abbey

3. Helmsley Walled Garden

A hidden, horticultural gem among five beautiful acres! Helmsley Walled Garden has stunning floral displays, including a Clematis Garden, Physic Garden, Kitchen Garden, Cottage Garden, not to mention the double herbaceous borders, which featured in the 2020 film The Secret Garden.

Two women walking through Helmsley Walled Garden, with Helmsley Castle in the background, woman using a wheelchair  (c) Visit Britain/Peter Kindersley

Give yourself a few hours to discover every nook and cranny of the garden, before rounding off your trip in the Vine House Café. The garden is all on one level and is almost completely step free. There’s ramp access in parts and some disabled parking spaces. Free wheelchair hire (booking essential).

Get back to nature at Helmsley Walled Garden

4. Sutton Bank National Bank Centre

Look to the horizon and experience ‘the finest view in England’ from the dramatic heights of Sutton Bank! After taking in the stunning scenery, head to the free National Park Centre to learn about the area’s natural beauty and have a nose around the shop before refuelling at Park Life Café. From here there’s lots to explore, including miles of easy-access paths, whether on foot, by bike or hiring a Tramper (booking necessary).

Couple walking at Sutton Bank, woman is using a walking stick (c) VisitBritain/Daniel Wildey

Discover our Nature Hub for a spot of bird watching. It also doubles up as Star Hub for stargazing – learn how to explore our night sky and look out for stargazing events.

The grounds offer a lot of scope to find a quiet space too – we recommend outside of school holidays, or first thing in the morning. Please talk to the Centre staff to discuss further.

Experience the finest view in England

5. Dalby Forest

Immerse yourself in the depths of Dalby Forest's 8,000 acres and its miles of accessible trails, by foot or Tramper (booking necessary). Explore the easy-access riverside Ellerburn Trail through woodland and meadows while a short detour will take you to a bird hide and bat hibernaculum (a man-made cave where resident bats spend the winter). Or why not stop by Dalby Forest Cycle Hub to hire one of their many adapted bikes and e-bikes ?

Woman in purple top and man in red top cycle an recumbent trikes along wide forest track in Dalby Forest (c) Visit Britain/Peter Kindersley

You can also look out for different sculptures dotted around the forest, from Nissen Hut by Turner Prize winner Rachel Whiteread to the Gruffalo. And when you’re in need of refreshment, head to the eco-friendly visitor centre.

Plan a day out in Dalby Forest

6. Yorkshire Coast Nature

Get back to nature with a wildlife safari led by a team of experts. Whether you’re into your wildflowers or whales, you can choose from a selection of guided nature experiences to suit your interests.

Man in checked shirt with telescope is telling two people, a woman and a man using a wheelchair, about bird song that can be heard in Dalby Forest (c) Visit Britain/Peter Kindersley

Start with a one-day Birding Discovery Day for a chance to get up close and personal to European Honey Buzzards, Turtle Doves or Common Kingfishers. These tours, suitable for beginners and avid birdwatchers, will take you through a mosaic of ancient woodland and commercial forest spotting native forest and river birds.

They also run a range of accessible adventures, such as their Bird Sound Safari, celebrating the bird sounds of the forest. This immersive forest walk is with wildlife guide Richard Baines, who shares his passion and knowledge of birds, and is particularly suited for anyone with visual impairments. Learn new deep listening skills and how to identify sounds as varied as the sneeze of a Marsh Tit to the purr of a Turtle Dove.

Connect with nature

7. Ryedale Folk Museum

Ryedale Folk Museum is a six-acre open-air museum that transports you back to the Iron Age and then takes you on a journey through time up to the 1950s.

Man using a wheelchair and woman, leaving a restored Victorian cottage with thatch roof in Ryedale Folk Museum, an open air museum (c) VisitBritain/Peter Kindersley

Learn about 4,000 years of history through more than twenty wheelchair-accessible, historic buildings, from an Iron-Age Roundhouse to a vintage chemist. Accessible toilets are found in the entrance building and in the High Barn Exhibition building and assistance dogs are welcome to explore the museum too.

Step back in time at Ryedale Folk Museum

Need to know

The attractions and activity providers included here took part in VisitEngland’s North York Moors Accessibility Project to develop their access for all.

Key staff members have completed disability awareness training and businesses have a detailed online accessibility guide. Each one has been audited by a professional access advisor and many have received a mystery visit from guests with accessibility requirements.

While these attractions have achieved good levels of accessibility, please be sure to make your own checks and enquiries directly before travelling to ensure your individual accessibility requirements can be met.

Find accessible places to stay in the North York Moors.

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