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10 perfect picnic spots

Wish Dragon at The Moors National Park Centre, credit Dan PrinceWish Dragon at The Moors National Park Centre, credit Dan Prince

Make the most of the summer sun and find the perfect place to unroll your picnic blanket. Pack up the hamper and enjoy celebrating the long hot days with friends and family in the North York Moors. We have some unbeatable spots - amongst the ruins of Rievaulx Abbey, the open vista at Hole of Horcum or for somewhere completely different, try the secret cove at Hayburn Wyke.

We know you’ll love these places as much as we do, so we ask you to leave them as you find them for the next group to enjoy. Please ensure you take all your picnic food and rubbish with you, particularly removing disposable BBQs and sandwich wrappers, which often get left behind. No one likes a litter bug.

1. Sutton Bank

Do you want to see “England’s finest view”? According to author and vet James Herriot, Sutton Bank is the place! Not only that, it has a world class cycling centre, the start of the classic walk to Kilburn White Horse (the largest white horse in the country) and is home to our National Park Centre. There’s also a wild adventure play area for kids and gift shop and café to rest the weary legs after a day of activity. There are picnic tables in the grounds, or head to the western side of the National Park to see the all-important view.    

Please check opening times before visiting.

2. Hayburn Wyke

If it’s the coast you want, head to Hayburn Wyke. Tucked at the end of a wooded valley in a secret cove, this is paradise for families. Adults can relax and enjoy the dramatic cliff backdrop, with the picturesque waterfall plunging onto the beach, whilst the kids explore and play in the pebbles.

3. Lealholm, Esk ValleyLealholm, credit Chris J Parker

For river lovers, there’s only one place, Lealholm in the Esk Valley. A short walk around the village will reveal some of its history before heading to the river to tackle the stepping stones. Don’t forget to stop in the aptly named Stepping Stones Bakery to stock up on baked treats before heading to the river for an idyllic picnic setting.

4. Hole of Horcum

Some of the best-loved beauty spots in the National Park are located on the Levisham Estate, most notably the Hole of Horcum. For breathtaking moorland scenery stand at the vantage point near Skelton Tower for picture perfect views and sights and sounds of the steam trains below. It is Open Access Land, which means you're free to walk, run, climb and picnic where you like. Access the estate from our Saltergate car park, Levisham village or Levisham station on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.

If you want to make a day of it, stride out on our 5 mile Hole of Horcum walk taking in the stunning viewpoint of Skelton Tower, and the rocky ravine of Dundale Griff.

5. Rievaulx Terrace  

Pick up a selection of gourmet sandwiches and sweet treats from Helmsley’s delis before making your way to Rievaulx Terrace for a picturesque picnic spot. Perched high above Rievaulx Abbey, the National Trust managed attraction is a half mile long terrace with a Doric Temple at one end and an Ionic Temple at the other. Decked with wildflowers in spring and summer, its lawns offer the perfect spot to sit and admire the view of the Abbey ruins below.  

6. Robin Hood’s Bay  

An old favourite is the coastal village of Robin Hood’s Bay. The majestic cliffs and sheltered harbours make this village hard to beat for unbeatable views. You could picnic down on the beach, but to avoid the crowds head to Sledgates Car Park for one of the best views of the coast. Take the Flyingthorpe road accessed off the A171 (Whitby to Scarborough), and as the road starts to drop down the hill look for the blue sign for car park and picnic area on the right.

7. The Moors National Park Centre, Danby

For a family day out with views to match, a picnic in our National Park Centre grounds will suit. The Centre is set in a peaceful spot on the banks of the River Esk, near Danby, with spectacular views of the moors and dales. For kids, there’s an outdoor adventure play area, mud kitchen and indoor climbing wall. There are also interactive exhibits, a gift shop and our Inspired by… gallery. And, if you forget the picnic, don’t worry there’s also a café on site.  

Please check opening times before visiting.

8. Ravenscar

Another one for coastal lovers is Ravenscar. Situated at the southern end of Robin Hood’s Bay, the National Trust Visitor Centre is a great spot to head for walks, cycling routes, events, wildlife watching and geocaching. Make a day of it and visit the nearby remains of the Peak Alum Works and a WWII radar station. Rest and refuel outside the Visitor Centre at one of the picnic tables, or pick up a hot or cold drink and snack from the shop.  

Free entry. Open daily, Easter until the end of November, 10am - 4.30pm.

9. Cod Beck reservoir  

Just north of the village of Osmotherley is a popular picnic spot near the picturesque Cod Beck Reservoir. Sheepwash is a fantastic spot for lunch and offers stunning views of the moorland. Pick up an appetite by combining it with an easy two mile stroll around the Reservoir and surrounding woodland. This route is fully accessible over the new disabled access footbridge.

10. Dalby Forest

A nature lover and adventure lover’s playground, Dalby Forest is the place to come for world class mountain-bike routes, Go Ape, Highway Rat activity pack, dark skies and more. If activity is what you want, unpack the picnic up at the visitor centre to be in the adventure epicentre. Or, if you’re looking for tranquillity and space, escape to Staindale Lake for superb views and a warm welcome from the resident ducks. There are fantastic picnic bench options right on the water’s edge.  

Entrance to Dalby Forest is by toll road (admission charged) – follow the signs on the Forest Drive to Staindale and park in the High Staindale car park, at the eastern end of the lake.