When you visit the North York Moors, why not let the bus or train take the strain?
The North York Moors and surrounding area has a good network of rail and bus services, serving many of the main towns and villages, plus some fantastic walking and cycling routes if you'd rather get around under your own two feet (or wheels).
On foot and by bike
If you walked all the rights of way in the Park, amounting to 1,408 miles… well, frankly, you’d be exhausted. But walking and cycling are fantastic way of exploring the area, reaching the far flung places just not possible by car.
It’s feet first on the Cleveland Way National Trail, the 109-mile long-distance footpath that runs through the heart of the Park, from Helmsley to Filey. It has a bit of everything en route – amazing moorland views, coastal footpaths, ruined abbeys and smugglers’ villages. It’s some journey taken in full, but it’s easy to split the walk up into manageable day sections too – there are some ideas here to get you started.
Take a ride on the Moor to Sea Cycle Network, the National Park's flagship, long-distance bike route. The 150 mile network provides 5-6 days of great cycling linking Scarborough, Whitby, Dalby Forest, Pickering and Great Ayton in a stunning series of moorland, forest and coastal loops. It will take you through the very heart of the North York Moors National Park – on quiet roads, woodland tracks and bridleways, as well as along the 'Cinder Track' the 21 mile off-road route along the former Scarborough to Whitby railway. If you're not quite up for doing the full 150 miles, the route also joins up with the Esk Valley Railway, meaning some sections can be done as a car-free day out.
The North York Moors has two great options for visitors looking to travel around the National Park by train.
A puff of steam and the toot of a whistle announces the start of the 18-mile journey back in time from Pickering through Newtondale Gorge to Grosmont on the fabulous North Yorkshire Moors Railway, the country's most popular heritage railway. Originally an amazing feat of engineering, it's one of the oldest train lines in the country. Some trains continue on for a further six miles out to Whitby.
Delightful villages, dramatic views, riverside picnic spots and gentle country walks are all found on a train ride through the delightful Esk Valley on the Esk Valley Railway. One of the most picturesque and romantic train journeys in the country, running for 35 miles from Middlesbrough out to Whitby, as well as some direct trains from Newcastle, including a service that terminates at Danby daily. The line crosses historic viaducts and stops at half a dozen pretty riverside and moorland villages. There’s plenty to get off for too, a splash across the stepping stones at Lealholm, a visit to the Grosmont engine sheds or your very own Romeo and Juliet moment at romantic Beggar’s Bridge in Glaisdale.
Manual and powered wheelchairs can be taken on the Esk Valley Railway, but some stations may be inaccessible. Please call Passenger Assistance on 0800 138 5560 or check the access at any station.
By bus (don't miss Britain's most scenic route!)
The North York Moors and surrounding area has a good network of bus services, serving many of the main towns and villages. They also pass through spectacular scenery and you'll get the best views from the top floor on the double deckers! The key services are listed below, but the easiest way to find the right bus is to use an online travel planner such as YorkshireTravel.Net or give them a call on 0871 200 22 33.
- Coastliner and Transdev York - Including the 840 Coastliner service, voted Britain's most scenic bus route in 2018! Pick up their various daily services from Leeds, Tadcaster, York, Easingwold and Malton, serving Helmsley, Kirkbymoorside, Pickering, Thornton le Dale, Goathland and Whitby. Sunday services too. Also has free Wi-Fi on board to help you plan your day out. Dogs travel free of charge. Most vehicles have full access for wheelchair users and those displaying the 'wheelchair accessible' sign can carry buggies too. Its CastleLine also has daily services (excluding Sunday) from York to Castle Howard.
- Arriva - serving the northern part of the National Park, regular services from Middlesbrough to Scarborough via Guisborough, Whitby and many villages, including Robin Hood's Bay. Late evening and Sunday services too. The main Middlesbrough to Scarborough service (X93) also offers free Wi-Fi. X4 serves villages north of Whitby including Sandsend, Runswick Bay, Staithes and Saltburn by the Sea through to Middlesbrough.
- East Yorkshire (EY) - the 128 Service runs seven days a week from Scarborough to Helmsley, via Kirkbymoorside and Pickering as well as villages along the A170 (please note Sunday services terminate at Pickering from the first Sunday in November until two weeks before Easter). The S115 Service runs Monday to Saturday with a limited service from Scarborough to Ravenscar.
- Reliance - 31X service - daily service (except Sundays and Bank Holidays) on low-floor buses from York to Easingwold and Helmsley via Coxwold, Byland Abbey, Wass and Ampleforth. Its first and last services extend from/to Kirkbymoorside. Dogs travel free of charge.
- Abbotts of Leeming - Daily services 80 and 89 (except Sundays and Bank Holidays) - linking Northallerton to Stokesley via a number of villages on the National Park's western side including Osmotherley, Ingleby Cross, Swainby, Carlton in Cleveland and Great Broughton.
Seasonal weekend and bank holiday services
Moorsbus is a network of local bus services organised by a not-for-profit community organisation to provide access to and within the North York Moors. Moorsbus services tend to operate from May to the end of September but only on the days detailed below, using low-floor accessible buses. It serves a number of railway stations including York, Malton, Thirsk, Northallerton and Danby. Download the draft Moorsbus timetables for 2020 (these maybe subject to change).
Services offered in 2019 are outlined below and are expected to be similar in 2020.
- Moorsbus services M1, M2 and M5 operate on Sundays (and Bank Holiday Monday), serving Saltburn, Redcar, Guisborough, Darlington, Middlesbrough, Stockton, Stokesley, Easingwold, Northallerton, Thirsk and Helmsley, and places in-between, including a stop at Coxwold and Byland Abbey. You can also link into other Moorsbus services listed below.
- Moorsbus M3 is a Saturday and Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday service from Redcar and Guisborough, via The Moors National Park Centre at Danby, Blakey Ridge, Hutton le Hole, Kirkbymoorside, Helmsley (Saturday only) and Pickering (Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday only).
- Moorsbus M4 is a Saturday and Sunday (and Bank Holiday Monday) service calling at Guisborough, Stokesley and Helmsley as well as Rievaulx Abbey and Sutton Bank National Park Centre.
- Moorsbus M6 serves Malton Railway Station, Pickering, Cropton, Rosedale Abbey and The Moors National Park Centre.
- M7 departs from Pickering and stops at Thornton le Dale and Dalby Forest.
- Moorsbus M8 departs from York and serves Malton, Pickering, Kirkbymoorside, Hutton le Hole, Castleton and The Moors National Park Centre on Fridays and Saturdays.
Children travel FREE on summer trips on all the Moorsbus services listed above if they’re accompanied by an adult holding a valid ticket. Concessionary passes are accepted on all Moorsbus services, local fares are available and the Moors Rover ticket is issued and accepted on a number of other local bus services.
Discounts for Friends of Moorsbus are available at many attractions, cafés and other places displaying the MoorRewards logo.
- The Moors Explorer (ME1) is EY's summer Sunday and Bank Holiday service (selected dates in May, July and August) that runs from Hessle, Hull, Cottingham and Beverley all the way to The Moors National Park Centre at Danby, via Malton, Pickering, Kirkbymoorside, Hutton le Hole and Blakey. The EY Go Anywhere day ticket is also accepted on Moorsbus services. Details of 2020 services to be confirmed.
Please remember that if you choose to travel around the area by car that many of our roads are narrow and shared by other users. Very few of the roads have separate paths so you may well meet a walker, cyclist or horse-rider in the middle of the road as you come round a bend. So please drive carefully and take care.
Please also note, the rural nature of the North York Moors means that Sat Nav's may not be 100% reliable and it is best to check for accurate directions on individual businesses' websites.
You will find car parks in some of the villages which help to relieve congestion on the roads. A Park and Ride service is in operation for Whitby, which operates from the first day of North Yorkshire's Easter school holidays until the end of October half-term, including Bank Holidays. This bus service only provides transport between the car park on the edge of Whitby and into the town.
In the National Park, the National Park Authority has provided car parks for which there is a moderate charge. The money raised helps to look after the car park so that the Authority's funding can be used to care for the National Park.
For information on travelling to the North York Moors and surrounding area from elsewhere in the UK and from overseas, please see Getting to the North York Moors.