According to Lonely Planet this is the best road trip in the north of England… and who am I to argue with Lonely Planet?!
Starting at the ancient Roman city of York, it passes through Yorkshire’s food capital Malton, the market town of Helmsley, the heart of the North Yorkshire Moors Danby, the Harry Potter location of Goathland, and Dracula inspiring Whitby, before ending at Robin Hood’s Bay on the East Coast.
I’ve previously been to most of the places on the route and in fact driven parts of it too… but never all in one trip! And while Lonely Planet suggest taking the trip over 4 or 5 days, in true me style, I attempted it all in one-day!
Having been to York many times before (full blog to follow soon), and with a long itinerary for the day ahead, today is just a quick tour of the highlights.
Which doesn’t get off the best start… Clifford Tower, the only remaining part of York Castle built by William the Conqueror, is completely covered in scaffolding for ongoing renovation work. No photo opportunity here!
Moving on to The Shambles, a medieval shopping street dating back to the 14th century which was the inspiration for Diagon Alley in Harry Potter, and my plan to start early to try and beat the crowds hasn’t really worked out either as it’s pretty packed by the time I get there (to be fair I left late and got a little lost trying to park!)
Next up is York Minster and although I don’t go inside on this occasion, the view of the outside is more than worth going for.
And then to get back to the carpark I walk the City Walls… York has some of the best-preserved medieval defence walls surrounding the city in Europe.
Top Things to do in York
1. York Minster
2. The Shambles
3. Try the independent pubs and bars… I recommend House of the Trembling Madness, Evil Eye, and The Golden Fleece as must tries! (shame I was driving and couldn’t partake!)
Top Tips for York
1. Stay over for a night, and head out early in the morning to beat the crowds to get some great photos of the amazing sights!
2. Park outside the city walls and walk in… it may take a little longer to walk but is so much easier than trying to navigate the one-way system and little winding streets! I suggest St. George’s Field Car Park
With the visit to York over it’s time to start the road trip for the day! Taking the A64 north out of York, I skirt the edge of the Howardian Hills and Castle Howard, and arrive in Malton after a rather mundane 30-minute drive.
It’s not the most exciting drive to start the best road trip in the North of England, but this part is more about the places at the end rather than the journey there.
If you are taking Lonely Planet’s advice and spending more than a day to try and cover the whole route, then I whole-heartedly recommend taking the small detour to Castle Howard on the way. To find out why you should, check out Sneha’s Plog and I’m sure you’ll be sold once you see her jaw-dropping photos! https://www.troventrip.com/plog/a-relaxing-day-in-castle-howard-a-world-within-itself/
For me however, the next stop is Malton. And this is a new place for me… to be honest I didn’t know much about the place before plotting this road trip, but being promoted as the food capital of Yorkshire it certainly caught my attention!
And after the hustle and bustle of York, the quiet and peaceful market town is just what I need!
On Saturday’s there is a big market on the square in-front of the church, but on other days the square doubles as a carpark with 2 hours free parking, which proves to be more than enough for a quick look around.
Given the reputation of the place and some of the street art on display, this also has to be the stopping place for lunch! After wandering around for a while and checking out reviews on Google, I opt for the Deli of Malton, and I think I make the right choice!
There’s an extensive menu of hot and cold sandwiches, wraps, pastries, and pretty much anything else you can think of that a deli might serve! I can highly recommend the pulled pork wrap and Italian twister…
Top Things to do in Malton
1. Eat, eat, and eat again…
The other place on the itinerary for today which I haven’t previously been to is Helmsley, a market town nestled in the North Yorkshire Moors.
And this time the drive is a little more interesting… rather than taking a main road and following a procession of traffic, we’re now on a country road cutting through lots of greenery as we enter the Howardian Hills proper, before reaching the North Yorkshire Moors.
On the way we pass through a few picturesque villages… the type you see on postcodes and TV shows and think can’t possibly exist in real life! One such is Hovingham, and it looks so pretty in the beaming sunshine that I have to pull over to take some photos! (plus the break helps the lorry in front get ahead to leave some clear driving space for me!)
It’s another half an hour drive till we reach Helmsley, and again not really knowing what to expect, I’m met with another gorgeous little town with a ruined Castle.
After parking up I have a wander around and as a pleasant surprise I find the castle is an English Heritage site… after signing up as a member last year this isn’t the first site I’ve accidently stumbled upon which I’ve been able to get into for free which I otherwise would have skipped! Check out my Plog for the full photos of the visit… https://www.troventrip.com/plog/helmsley-market-town-and-castle/
Top Things to do in Helmsley
1. Helmsley Castle… an English Heritage Site which is free for members, or £8.60 for non-members
2. See the 2nd Baron Feversham Monument in the Town Square
3. Check out the view of the stream up to the bridge running alongside Castlegate
This is where the drive gets really fun!!
After leaving Helmsley and taking a left just after Kirkby Mills, the Blakey Ridge Road climbs higher and higher as I leave the picturesque towns behind to be replaced by windswept moorland covered in purple heather.
It couldn’t be more different than the place I just left, it feels like a different planet! In contrast to the busy towns below with tourists and cars, the only danger up here is roaming sheep stepping into the road!
After climbing for over 1,000ft the road levels out at Blakey Junction… a point on an old railway line called the Rosedale Railway dating back to the mid-19th century linking the iron ores of the day with the coastal towns. And the views are absolutely amazing!!!
Further on is our next stop and the village of Danby, or more specifically, The Moors National Park Centre.
Set in an old hunting lodge, there is a visitor centre with a small exhibition about the history of the moors and the surrounding wildlife, and a woodland trail with bird watching spots and wooden sculptures.
Both are mainly aimed at kids but it still proves a good opportunity to stretch the legs and take a breather after the exhilarating drive up into the Moors!
Top Things to do in Danby
1. The Moors National Park Centre
2. Woodland Nature Trail
3. Have a picnic in the beautiful gardens and fields next to the car park
Check out GlocalGirl’s blog about her visit to The Moors National Park Centre and area… https://www.troventrip.com/blog/north-york-moors-national-park/
The village of Goathland is somewhere not many people will have heard of, but hundreds of millions of people will have seen!
That is because the train station was used as Hogsmeade station in the Harry Potter movies. And even for those few in the UK who may have missed the Harry Potter movies, the village was also the setting for Aidensfield in the classic Sunday night show Heartbeat. Not bad for a tiny village hidden high up in the North Yorkshire Moors!
The drive there from Danby is also another incredible leg of the journey… lots of steep hairpin turns and single-track roads make it an amazing experience, one which is maybe suited to the more confident drivers though and certainly not one to be attempted in bad weather!
Once at Goathland you can park up and relax in the little village pretending you’re either in Harry Potter or Heartbeat, and grab a coffee from one of the local shops (you may well be joined by one of the local sheep too if you decide to sit down somewhere, as they don’t seem very shy!)
Top Things to do in Goathland
1. Pretend to be Harry Potter as you visit Hogsmeade station
2. Walk to Mallyan Spout waterfall – beautiful hidden waterfall so overlooked due to the famous movie and TV settings
3. Get some photos of the Heartbeat set!
Check out the TrovenTripper’s guide to Goathland for some amazing photos and tips! https://www.troventrip.com/blog/goathland-hogsmeade-or-aidensfield-the-village-with-multiple-identities/
And so onto the most well known stop since starting at York… Whitby… the coastal town which inspired the 19th century novel Dracula.
It’s hard to say what Whitby is most famous for… the imposing Abbey on the edge of town, the 199 steps down to the harbour, or the fish and chips you can get from the numerous shops in the old town!
But before I get there, I have the drive to enjoy first. And while this leg isn’t quite as exhilarating or challenging as the previous two… as I start the descent from the top of the Moors, the views are out of this world!
Far into the distance I can see the Abbey overlooking the harbour and town, and see far out to sea as well. It’s an incredible view!
Top Things to do in Whitby
1. Visit the Abbey. It’s an English Heritage site, free for members or £10 for non-members
2. Walk the 199 steps… going down is easier than up!
3. Try the fish and chips
4. For an amazing photo opportunity… park up in the layby on the A171 opposite Whitby Sixth Form college and walk to the bridge crossing the River Esk… you get the most amazing view of the river flowing out through the harbour into the sea, with the town straddling each side and the Abbey overlooking it all
Check out Mattstott’s plog for some more photos… https://www.troventrip.com/plog/first-family-holiday-to-whitby/
Robin Hood’s Bay
It’s our final stop of the day! And what a day it’s been!
10-minutes down the road from Whitby is Robin Hood’s Bay, a small fishing village built on the side of the cliffs.
It doesn’t quite have the same fame or sights as Whitby, but it’s a really pretty little village and a great way to end this epic road trip!
Top Things to do in Robin Hood’s Bay
1. Look out over the cliffs and beach… a truly stunning view!
2. Tackle the steep hill and wander the small winding streets of the village
I made it! Who needs 4 or 5 days when I can do all of this in 1 day?! But to be honest… if I hadn’t been to most of the places before, doing it all in one day would be a complete waste of this amazing trip!
So… the best road trip in the North of England? As I said at the start of the blog… who am I to argue with Lonely Planet! But saying that, while it was amazing and you should definitely do it, I did a pretty amazing one recently which I plotted myself. I’ll have to write that one up so you can all decide which is the best…