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Sutton Bank National Park Centre

Family on path at Sutton Bank by Chris J ParkerFamily on path at Sutton Bank by Chris J Parker

Vet and author James Herriot declared the tremendous view from the dramatic Sutton Bank escarpment over the Vale of Mowbray and the Vale of York, the "finest in England". So why not stop at the top of the bank, visit the shop and blow away the cobwebs with a walk or cycle ride? It's an official Dark Sky Discovery Site too, one of three in the North York Moors.

Entry to the Centre is FREE. For directions and opening times for the National Park Centre and Sutton Bank Bikes, go to Planning your visit.

Keep up with the latest news at the Centre by liking the Sutton Bank Facebook page.

Cycle trails | England's finest view | Adventure play | Battle of Byland | Star and Nature hub | Nature lab | Essential information

Bike, run, walk, climb, glide - find out about the amazing world of adventure awaiting for you at Sutton Bank in our film.

We have family treasure hunts and plenty of fun educational activities for children to do throughout the school holidays. Drop in any time to find out more and pick up a trail.


Sutton Bank Bikes and cycle trails

The view over Lake Gormire on Sutton Bank's Cycle Tracks Credit Ebor Images

Bring your own bike or hire one on site and enjoy the fantastic cycling facilities at Sutton Bank, developed by PACE cycles and the National Park Authority. It's a great place to get your family cycling, providing access to many miles of bridleways, roads and tracks across the North York Moors.

Our cycle trails use a mixture of natural and man made trails similar to those found in a purpose built trail centre. Using the same style of trail marking, the mountain biking trails available are:

  • Cliff - family friendly 3 mile 'green' circular off-road cycle trail, mostly level, part of which follows the famous cliff edge.
  • Fort - 7.5 mile 'blue' trail with 361m ascent/descent (70% stone, 30% natural surface) runs out past the site of the Iron Age fort at Boltby Scar. A shorter loop of 5.5 miles avoids the ascent/descent and is suitable for families. The Fort route also includes part of the Cliff Trail along the cliff edge.
  • Drovers - add a little more distance and variety without increasing the difficulty on the 'blue' 10 mile figure of eight trail which passes High Paradise Farm for refreshments.
  • Paradise - a 17-mile 'red' trail for experienced mountain bikers, through some of the most breathtaking scenery in the National Park. Expect a few technical features and a steep climb or two.

We also have two new purpose-built all-weather cycling tracks: a pump track offering the thrills of riding a loop of banked turns and rollers; and a family-friendly cycle trail that doubles as a cyclocross track for some competitive events during autumn and winter. The family cycle trail, a 2.5km figure-of-eight, provides a longer and wider start to the existing Cliff Trail enabling families to ride side-by-side through woodland, as well as providing better access for disabled cyclists who are using hand crank cycles.

Unlike a trail centre, large parts of our routes make use of existing bridleways that are shared with walkers and horse riders. Please consider other users, and expect to come across some gates too.

There is also a purpose-built bike skills area and bike wash.

Sutton Bank Bikes

The independently operated Sutton Bank Bikes is open Thursday - Monday (10am-5pm) for training and skills courses, repair and servicing, and a fully stocked cycle shop. Please note, opening times do differ to the National Park Centre. Bike hire is also available (10am-4.30pm) but please call 01845 597759 to make a booking. Please follow any procedures they have in place. For more information please see their website.

Experience England's finest view

A stroll along the wheelchair-accessible path from the Centre to the sensational viewpoint is a must or go south along the dramatic escarpment to the famous Kilburn White Horse.

Walking around Sutton Bank

The booklet Walks around Sutton Bank has five glorious walks from the Centre. The guide will help you unearth the deeper story of the rich landscapes beneath your feet. Available to purchase in the Centre.

Wheelchair loan and Tramper hire

For those with limited mobility, we offer wheelchair loan (no need to pre-book) or you can hire out a Tramper (pre-booking essential), an electric all-terrain mobility scooter from the Centre.

To hire the Tramper, you must be an existing member of the North York Moors Mobility scheme. Members can currently hire it on Monday - Friday on a pre-booked basis (one slot is available daily from 11am-3pm). Non-members can sign up and receive training on Mondays to Fridays too (pre-booking also required). To make a booking, please calling 01845 597426 or email.

Sutton Bank adventure play area

Natural play area (c) Chris J Parker

There's a fabulous play area outside, using natural landscape features to provide a place for adventure and fun for younger children.

Come and enjoy our quirky treehouses, stone castle, three magical stone roundhouses, the large sandpit with a 'play tree' in the centre, mud kitchen and go log clambering over the 'swamp'.


Battle of Byland 1322 - Yorkshire's forgotten conflict

This significant, but largely forgotten battle, was fought in October 1322 between King Edward II of England and King Robert I (‘the Bruce’) of Scotland during the Scottish Wars of Independence.

Following Edward's failed (and last) campaign into Scotland, he was forced to retreat over the border, his vast army wasted by famine and disease. Robert seized the opportunity to counter-attack and led his army on a lightning march across country to arrive at Northallerton, just 15 miles from Edward, who had established his headquarters at Rievaulx Abbey.

Edward immediately ordered the Earl of Richmond, his field-commander, to post a strong advance guard along the Hambleton Hills escarpment, particularly at Sutton Bank, where the medieval track climbed a narrow pass, to prevent the Scots gaining the high ground. This, he hoped, would buy him valuable time to organise reinforcements.

On the morning of 14 October, the Scots army arrived at the foot of Sutton Bank, only to find the heights of this dramatic inland cliff defended by a strong and alert English force. The Scots began a frontal assault, leading to a fierce struggle as they inched their way upwards.

Sutton Bank, a dramatic inland cliff the Scots army faced Credit RJB Photographic

At the same time, Robert sent troops to circle round and reach the high ground via a hidden route. There are two steep gullies on the southern flank of Roulston Scar, which are most likely to be the routes used – Boar’s Gill and Hell Hole. Near the top of Hell Hole is a spot known as Scotch Corner, which is a strong clue that this is the site of the Scottish breakthrough.

With the enemy also bearing down on their left flank, the English broke and fled, probably towards Old Byland/Scawton. Richmond made a bold attempt to stand his ground, but his dispirited troops were soon overwhelmed by the well-disciplined Scottish attack.

Meanwhile Edward had retreated to Rievaulx, only to discover the Scottish horsemen were hot on his heels. He narrowly escaped by riding to Bridlington in search of a ship, but only after abandoning his treasure, baggage, and the Great Seal of England to the victorious Scots.

We’ll be marking the 700th anniversary in 2022 at Sutton Bank:
  • Join amateur historian and enthusiast Harry Pearson for a fascinating guest lecture and discover more on this largely untold story (Friday 21 January). Booking essential.
  • Battle of Byland 700th anniversary (Saturday 15 October 10am-4pm)
    - Demonstrations of arms and armour
    - Guided walks
    - Bow-making/ children’s activities and trails
    - Unveiling new memorial and interpretation
    - Pop-up stalls (Royal Armouries, English Heritage, Towton Battlefield Society, Battlefields Trust)
    - Period music, food and drink tastings

Star and Nature hub

Star and nature hub at Sutton Bank Credit Steve Bell

Our brand new hub opened in September 2021 and is perfect for enjoying nature and the spectacular night skies above.

For stargazers, explore the changing skies throughout the year on our rotating dark skies drum or book on to a stargazing event and spend an evening with an expert. Along with an outside seating area designed for stargazers to look upwards, if the weather is not playing ball, you can head inside and experience a virtual tour of the universe at one of our organised events.

The hub will be one of the venues for the Dark Skies Festival (18 February-6 March 2022). You can also book onto one of astronomer Richard Darn's stargazing events at Sutton Bank this autumn and winter.

For nature lovers, you'll find a bird sound station outside to help you identify different songs. The hub will be open to the public in spring 2022 where you'll be able find out which birds and animals you could spot at Sutton Bank.

Nature lab

Augmented reality sandbox at Sutton Bank

This summer and autumn, help us decide the future of our indoor interactive exhibition space by taking part in fun and family-friendly science projects. Discover life under the microscope, move virtual mountains to investigate water flow with our augmented reality sandbox, become a River Ranger and display your art in a pop-up wildlife gallery. Once you've tested our exhibits, tell us what you most enjoyed!

It's all part of the Ryevitalise Landscape Partnership, who are restoring and enhancing the River Rye and its tributaries, as well as encouraging people to reconnect with the history, cultural heritage and wildlife of the area. The project is supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, North York Moors National Park Authority and other partners.

Need a gift or a souvenir to take home?

The National Park shop prides itself on being a great place to purchase something unique from or about the area. You’ll find a quality selection of locally-produced goods, including Joe Cornish cards and calendars, a variety of food and drink, ceramics, ironwork, stained glass, textiles, natural skincare products and even potato prints.

We also stock a wide selection of maps and books about the North York Moors, including ideas for walking and cycling. Our knowledgeable National Park Centre team are always happy to offer advice and suggestions for things to do in the area too.

With your appetite whetted you'll find plenty to occupy you in this stunning corner of the National Park.


Essential information

Car parking

We have recently moved to card payment only ticket machines in our car parks at Sutton Bank.

Alternatively PayByPhone is available and we recommend downloading the app before your visit. If there's no mobile coverage, you can either move to an area with better network coverage and complete your parking transaction or pay via the Pay & Display machine. The North York Moors National Park page on the PayByPhone website has further information and links to download the app. You can also pay for your parking at Reception in the Centre (10am-4.30pm daily).

All the money raised in this car park is spent on looking after the National Park. Thank you for helping others to enjoy their time here.

Park Life Café (open 10am-4pm daily)

Pop in to the independently run Park Life Café and enjoy their delicious menu and great coffee. There's indoor and courtyard seating, and a takeaway service. It's dog friendly too. Please follow their one-way system, and any procedures they have in place.

Hire a bike from Sutton Bank Bikes and receive a 10% discount in Park Life Café. You'll need to show your bike hire receipt as proof.

Opening hours for the café may be different to the rest of the Centre. It's worth checking their Facebook page for the latest on opening hours.

I have further questions, can I contact someone to find out more?

Yes. Please send a direct message to us on Facebook and we will do our best to help.


Know before you go

We continue to manage our site with measures in place to keep everyone safe, including enhanced cleaning regimes. You'll also find hand sanitisers available to use around the Centre.

Don't forget, face coverings must be worn in our retail areas. We won’t be able to provide you with a face covering; please bring your own so you don’t miss out.

Please don’t visit if you have Covid symptoms, however mild, or have had a positive COVID-19 result.

We're Good To Go accreditationWe have received VisitEngland's 'We're Good To Go' kitemark, an accreditation that shows our National Park Centre adheres to all Government and industry Covid-19 safety guidelines and has a Risk Assessment in place.

We hope you enjoy your time with us!

We’re all in this together!

Please be kind and considerate to our amazing staff who are looking after the site to keep it safe for you.

You can read our full COVID-19 risk assessment which will be updated as things change.

These measures will remain under constant review. If you have any questions or concerns, please just ask. We want you to have a great time here at Sutton Bank!

If you’re visiting the North York Moors, please follow our guidelines for accessing the National Park responsibly #RespectProtectEnjoy


Sutton Bank National Park Centre: the Gateway to the North York Moors project

EU logo

The new Star and nature hub is part of the Sutton Bank National Park Centre: the Gateway to the North York Moors project, funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas.


Accessibility

Full accessibility description available here.