Ok, so we’re not off to a good start with most of the country in lockdown – but we’re still looking ahead to visiting the most beautiful places on our doorstep in 2021. And while we can’t exactly jump on a plane to a land far, far away just yet – there’s nothing stopping us jumping in our cars or campervans to explore on what could be the adventure of a lifetime. From historic, regal towns to rural villages bursting with charm – check out our top picks of Yorkshire road trips to try in the new year.
1. West Yorkshire & the South of the Dales
Haworth > Ilkley > Leeds > Brimham Rocks > Pateley Bridge > Grassington > Skipton > Malham
This is a road trip we’ve actually created, tried and tested ourselves – taking our campervan for a bit of a spin during the summer of COVID-19. Kicking off in West Yorkshire, the route starts off strong with solid favourite: Haworth. The charming village was once home to the famous Brontë sisters – and literary lovers will be pleased to hear that their legacy still lingers. From Top Withens – the inspiration behind Wuthering Heights – to the quaint high street where a number of independent shops, pubs and restaurants lie, there’s a ton on offer for those looking to make a day of it. But the fun doesn’t stop there.
From Haworth, our DIY route moves onto Ilkley – starting the adventure at the incredible Cow and Calf rocks. Say hello to the local sheep, grab a cuppa at the nearby pub and take in the views of nearby West Yorkshire from the top, before heading on a mission across the moors.
For our trip, we then took a short pause from the countryside to pop into Leeds – where you can enjoy all that the city has to offer, including bars, restaurants and shops – before plodding back on to Brimham Rocks. A collection of natural rock formations in North Yorkshire, the National Trust spot is a great place to stretch your legs, and is incredibly child friendly, too, thanks to the many rocks to climb and check out during your visit.
Next up is beautiful Pateley Bridge, a small town in Nidderdale surrounded by rolling countryside, where you’ll find local butchers, shops, pubs, a large park and the world’s oldest sweet shop – which naturally pulls in a ton of visitors. Great for a potter while you break away from the walking, the lovely little town has some of the best locally sourced produce you can find – so be sure to pick up some sausages and sweets during your visit. If you do fancy a countryside stroll, however, the town is nearby to the wonderful Coldstone Cut – an old quarry which now features a huge art installation that you can explore on foot – with panoramic views of the ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’.
From there, the route heads to the new home of All Creatures Great and Small, gorgeous Grassington. A true Yorkshire Dales gem, the market town is completely surrounded by beautiful scenery – be it traditional limestone buildings, the River Wharfe, or the Dales in general. In town, you’ll find the market square that features in Channel 5’s newest take on All Creatures Great and Small, as well as a number of little shops, pubs and cafes. On the edge of the town, however, you’ll find the flowing River Wharfe, with Linton Falls just a short walk from the town centre and a number of River routes that you can follow from there.
You might be overwhelmed with ideas of beautiful spots to visit already, but our trip doesn’t stop there. Moving on from Grassington, the trip takes you onto popular Dales town Skipton – which is essentially the gateway to the National Park. Packed full of beautiful pubs, restaurants, shops, bars – the lot – Skipton has a lot to offer in comparison to the quaint little villages you’d usually find in the Dales, acting as more of a modern antidote to the calmness of the countryside.
Finally, the route ends with a huge Yorkshire Dales highlight – Malham – the home of the famous cove that is not only known for being incredibly beautiful on its own, but is also famous for its appearance in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. One of our favourite spots in Yorkshire here at The Yorkshireman, Malham may be small – but my oh my is it mighty. The many scenic walks are unbeatable, and the pubs and restaurants at the end of each stroll are perfect year round. From the cosy Lister Arms, to the Instagrammable Beck Hall (which is placed conveniently by a gorgeous stream), you won’t be disappointed with your final hurrah in the stunning Yorkshire Dales.
2. North York Moors and the Yorkshire Coast
Pickering & Thornton-le-Dale > Dalby Forest > Goathland > Robin Hood’s Bay > Whitby > Saltburn-by-the-Sea > Roseberry Topping
The Yorkshire Dales may be the holy grail for many – particularly those who do not live in Yorkshire – but the North York Moors has so much to offer, with the stunning Yorkshire Coast right on its doorstep. Featuring a charm enough to rival the chocolate box villages of the Dales – the NYM offers the same vibe, but with far less visitors. Starting in pretty Pickering, road trippers can enjoy the ancient market town and castle to ease them into their trip, before heading off to nearby Thorton-le-Dale for a wholesome walk around the postcard-worthy village. While the picturesque village doesn’t have much choice when it comes to finding a warm watering hole, there’s a handful of cafes, little shops, butchers and chocolatiers – as well as some lovely little village/countryside walks to enjoy during a quiet day trip.
Moving on from there just a short drive away, Dalby Forest is the perfect opportunity to stretch your legs after months in isolation, with over 8,000 acres of gorgeous forest to explore. If you’re one for an adventure, there are a ton of outdoor sports you can try – including ziplining, paintball, and even laser combat – giving an alternative little spin on your daily outing. We simply enjoy it for just a change of scenery, but if you want to try something new during your trip, we’d recommend checking out GoApe and the Dalby Activity Centre.
Travelling further North, the route then moves onto beautiful Goathland – the original location for Harry Potter‘s Hogsmeade Station, and also home to the famous North York Moors Railway and the ITV classic Heartbeat. It’s a brilliant spot to see heritage steam trains passing through – and you can even pick up tickets for a ride yourself if your fancy. If you’re only looking to check out the station, however, Goathland is conveniently located nearby to the stunning Mallyan Spout Waterfall – which provides an excellent walk for those who prefer a little hike and some nature. In the village, you’ll find familiar sights from the Heartbeat TV show, along with a pub, a number of cafes, and even a ‘Rail Trail’ walk up to Grosmont.
Next up is the breathtakingly beautiful village of Robin Hood’s Bay – one you’ll have seen on Instagram thousands of times already (in particular, ours) thanks to its charming red-roofed cottages and rustic fishing bay which have become a photographer’s dream. Stroll around the bay, dip your toes in the (usually freezing cold) sea, potter around the village and stop off for a chippy tea. You can’t really get more wholesome than that.
Continuing on with the seaside theme, the route continues North to historic Whitby – the famous home of Dracula and Whitby Abbey. Plan your trip at the right time of year, and you’ll be treated to the iconic Goth festival – where thousands flock every single year to dress up and see live music performances by alternative artists. Any other time of year, however, visitors can enjoy the sights of the wonderful Abbey – which has a ton of ghostly stories behind it that are sure to give you the chills – as well as the 199 Steps, the charming bay, and of course, the beach front. Wander through the old timely streets, walk around the bay with a tasty chippy (from our list of the best, obviously), and then burn it all off with a swift walk up the steps once you’re finished. Sounds like a pretty ideal Sunday to me.
After you’ve eaten your body weight in local seafood in Whitby, it’s time to move on to the next idyllic seaside spot – Saltburn-by-the-Sea. Picture perfect with its stunning pier – the town is best known for its Victorian beauty, with a gorgeous red and white pier towering over the coastline, and a functioning cliff lift that provides some gorgeous views out to sea. Chow down on proper Yorkshire pie and mash, fish and chips, enjoy the traditional local pubs, or chill on the award-winning beach while you pass the time.
Finishing off the trip is the fabulous Roseberry Topping, a great spot in the North York Moors which is sure to get the body moving. Situated near Great Ayton and Newton under Roseberry, the pretty big hill is a fairly challenging-yet-manageable walk that even those with the most basic fitness levels can enjoy – providing unbelievably stunning sights of the surrounding NYM – particularly at sunset. Close by, you’ll also find the Captain Cook monument if you fancy extending your walk – but in terms of ending your trip, you couldn’t pick a more perfect place to finish off before putting your feet up at home.
3. North Yorkshire and the Dales
Harrogate > Knaresborough > Richmond > Aysgarth & Leyburn > Hawes > Burnsall > Skipton > Malham > Settle
A bit of a mix between the idyllic towns and villages North Yorkshire has to offer, as well as some of the best parts of the Dales – this route was created with diversity in mind, helping you to experience the best of Yorkshire in one sitting. Beginning in beautiful Harrogate, the route starts off right off the bat with a classic favourite. From the iconic Betty’s tearooms, to beautiful restaurants, shopping and relaxing Turkish Baths – it’s the ideal place to start off a trip.
But taking us to Yorkshire’s own little version of Venice – as we like to describe it – is Knaresborough, which sits on Harrogate’s doorstep just East of the Dales. The lovely little town sits right on the River Nidd, and many flock to it every summer to take in its beauty – particularly of the viaduct bridge and rowing boats. But it’s not just a one shot wonder as social media may tell you. The town is also home to the beautiful Knaresborough Castle, Mother Shipton’s Cave, a traditional market and a handful of fantastic pubs to sink a pint in.
Keeping in with the theme of historic towns, next up is Richmond – the unofficial gateway to the Dales which is seeped in history. Home to the impressive Richmond Castle, Easby Abbey, Friary Gardens and Culloden Tower – to name a few – the idyllic place has so much to do and so much to see. Whether its a tour of its history you prefer, or a trip to the markets – you won’t be short of activities during your visit, and you’ll be pleased to hear that there are some fantastic pubs and restaurants in town worth checking out.
Beginning the grand tour of the Dales is Aysgarth – one of the most popular places to visit in the Yorkshire Dales and home to the stunning Aysgarth Falls, which budding photographers will absolutely adore. The walk alongside the River Ure is a pretty easy stroll for everybody to enjoy, with a number of routes to choose from to satisfy your rambling appetite. Speaking of appetites, nearby Leyburn is a brilliant spot for a tasty bit of grub – with stunning plates at the Sandpiper Inn and some great pub options for those who fancy a bit of British cuisine.
The next stop takes us to the home of Wensleydale Cheese, Hawes, a gorgeous market town that is just crying out to be photographed. From its mini waterfall which flows between houses, to the Wensleydale Creamery and even Hardraw Force – there’s a whole list of brilliant things to do during your trip, which can all be finished off with a meal and a pint in the local pub.
Moving South of the Dales to some more equally stunning spots, Burnsall is an underrated destination completely surrounded by rolling countryside – perfectly resembling the regions’ proud title of God’s Own Country. The village may not have a lot to offer in terms of activities, but its scenery can only be described as on level 100. See the gorgeous Barden Tower downstream, take a stroll along the River Wharfe, or see Burnsall Fell and Trollers Gill – before unwinding in the local pub, the only one in the village.
Contrasting the quiet, idyllic nature of Burnsall is next stop, Skipton, where you’ll be able to enjoy tons of pubs, bars, restaurants, shops – you name it – after a few days in the rural countryside. And while you might think its overkill for us to have Malham on yet another road trip – you’d be wrong, with the village providing essential Yorkshire Dales scenery far and wide, making it an absolute must-see.
Finally, the trip ends in lovely little Settle, where you’ll find gorgeous traditional buildings, a wonderful outdoor market and some iconic Yorkshire Dales sights such as the viaducts, Castleberg Crag, caves, and the surrounding cliffs which provide gorgeous views of the town. Explore independent shops stocked full of local crafts and produce, tuck into some grub at a quaint cafe or proper Yorkshire pub, or head out and enjoy the Settle Carlisle Railway which attracts hundreds of families every year.
4. The Yorkshire Coast highlights
Flamborough Head and Bempton Cliffs > Filey > Ravenscar and the North York Moors > Robin Hood’s Bay > Whitby > Sandsend > Runswick Bay > Staithes > Saltburn-by-the-Sea
As far as Yorkshire road trips go, the coast is absolutely unbeatable. Feel a little bit like you’re flying across the USA’s West Coast with the wind flowing through your hair – except with a bit more rain, and a whole lot more countryside.
The route starts off at the magical Flamborough Head, where you can see the unique white cliff formations which make up the ‘Drinking Dinosaur’ and Jurassic Coast-style sights. It’s a glorious spot for a short coastal walk to kick off your journey, before heading off to Filey for a more traditional seaside experience. There, you’ll find a charming, traditional fishing village, with a long-stretching beach covered in golden sand and just the peaceful sounds of the sea rolling in wave by wave. It’s a little quieter than most destinations in Yorkshire – providing a gorgeous backdrop for those in need of a break from the city (or just their noisy neighbours). Seafood, is of course, the leading choice when it comes to foodie options when in Filey, however, you’ll find a variety of cafes and restaurants during your visit.
Moving further up the coast to discover more underrated Yorkshire gems, the route drives us all the way up to Ravenscar and the North York Moors – a little village spot boasting dramatic coastal views, huge clifftops, and hidden coves for walkers to discover. While it isn’t one of Yorkshire’s popular seaside destinations, you’ll be treated with some gorgeous views – including that of the surrounding heather and moorland which meets up with the edge of the clifftops. It’s a beautiful combination of the North York Moors and the Yorkshire Coast – and is much quieter than many of Yorkshire’s sea spots. Take a walk along the Cleveland Way, check out the village, or simply sit and look out to sea when you’re in need of a quiet moment.
Keeping with the fairly quiet theme of this beautiful route, the next stop is Robin Hood’s Bay – only a short drive away from the previous destination. There, you’ll find a little more on offer, including fish and chip shops and a few cafes – alongside the idyllic bay where fishermen frequent. It’s all worth taking in and appreciating before arriving in Whitby, which is coming up, and has been attracting thousands all-year-round since the early 19th century.
When you do arrive in Whitby, be sure to have a go at the popular Ghost Walk, take in a little bit of heritage, or seek out the quaint, independent shops on offer within the town.
Sandsend is next on the trip, providing bags of village charm while sticking with the coastal theme. The lovely little spot has some stunning houses to swoon over during a cosy little walk, with walking and cycling routes as well as the Cleveland Way to try out around the village. It’s a great dose of relaxation just a short drive away from Whitby – with views of Whitby Pier and the Abbey, without the fuss of other tourists. Do a little bit of rock pooling, dip your toes in the sea, or try out some AA Rosette grub at Estbek House.
We’re not quite sick of fresh sea air yet on this trip, with Runswick Bay next on our list of the grand tour of the Yorkshire coast. The bay, which offers both a beautiful village and sweeping sea views, has some of the prettiest sights on the coast – thanks to its tiered houses by the bay, sandy beach and surrounding nature. It’s everything we find postcard perfect in one destination, basically. With just one pub to enjoy and one cafe, it’s not quite a foodie destination like some of the other seaside spots on the route, but it’ll sure as hell provide you with a hefty dose of peace and quiet during your short visit.
Next up is Staithes, heading a little further North towards the border at Teesside. Once a bustling fishing port lively with activity, the beautiful hillside village now sits quietly – with pretty coastal views around every corner. It’s an unmissable spot for those who love to take photos – with sunrise and sunset in particular making for some beautiful imagery. Pine over what life must be like to live in one of its red roofed cottages, explore the coast, see the rock pools, or simply enjoy a refreshing drink in the local Cod & Lobster before moving onto the final stop of the trip…
… Which is Saltburn-by-the-Sea. Now, we might have already professed our love for the gorgeous coastal town – but we stand by our words when we say its unmissable. The cliffs, the heritage, the beach, the little local shops – they’re all worth the visit, making for a charming day out at the beach for all the family to enjoy.
5. The Dales and The Lakes
Malham > Settle > Ingleton > Horton in Ribblesdale > Windermere > Grasmere > Scafell Pike > Keswick
Ok, so we’re mixing up the regions a little bit for this last one – but this is a fantastic journey for anyone wanting to kill two birds with one stone while they’re already away. Plus, who can turn down this much scenery when it’s all just sitting there on offer?
Starting with our obvious favourite, Malham, the trip begins with ample beauty – from Janet’s Foss, to Gordale Scar, to the famous Cove and Malham Tarn. There’s so many fantastic walking routes to do, in fact, that we actually recommend spending two days in this beautiful village just to allow yourself time to take it all in and go easy on the legs. The village itself is fairly tiny, however, you can enjoy traditional pub grub at the local Lister Arms, or enjoy something a little more “upmarket” at the lovely Beck Hall – which, may we add, is 100% dog friendly and a gorgeous little hotel.
Moving on from there, we head back to Settle, where you’ll be able to enjoy a little dose of market life and a bigger array of pubs, before delving right back in with the rural countryside – leading us right up a little further North in Horton in Ribblesdale. There, you’ll be greeted with small village life, including spectacular views of Pen-y-Ghent and easy access to all three of the Three Peaks – Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough. Not only that, but the popular Ribblehead Viaduct lies nearby, as well as the Ribble Way, the Dales Way and the Pennine Way for avid walkers to enjoy. To rehydrate afterwards, visitors will find two pubs in the village – so you don’t need to worry about finding a reward after the Three Peaks Challenge. The easier walking routes can be found nearby in Ingleton, where you’ll get to experience the circular Waterfalls Trail which includes gorgeous views overload.
And when we do leave Yorkshire, we can promise it’s all for a good cause, with Windermere next on the list to visit. Well-known for its huge lake, the Cumbrian town is a breathtaking British spot, where visitors can enjoy water sports, stunning marinas, scenic walking routes and more extreme sports such as abseiling. It’s a more active stop-off before visiting gorgeous Grasmere, making it extremely family-friendly or great for friends with differing interests to visit.
Grasmere, on the other hand, is a little more peaceful – despite being one of the Lake District’s most popular villages. Made famous by poet William Wordsworth, the stunning place is the perfect location for pottering, with a gorgeous lake walk featuring dramatic views, village scenery, and of course, Grasmere Gingerbread. And it’s a sense of relief before you reach Scafell Pike – which is next on the journey.
The highest and ‘most prominent’ mountain in England, Scafell Pike isn’t for the faint of heart, with many describing it as the toughest hike they’ve ever done. To complete the hike, you’ll need to clear your diary of five whole hours (or more, depending on your ability and speed) – and while we’ve included it as a recommendation while you’re in Cumbria, we’d actually advise anyone who isn’t comfortable undertaking a tough hike with rough terrain to skip it. If you do have the experience to take it on, you’ll be rewarded with some unbelievable views of the surrounding Lake District once you reach the peak – which are sure to override the leg ache afterwards.
Ending the journey on a high is beautiful Keswick – one of the best examples of the Lake District’s beauty. Thanks to its small market town charm and fantastic sights of the mountains encompassing the town, you’ll feel like you’ve arrived inside of a children’s storybook – particularly when you spot the giant, mirrored lake that sits alongside it. Home to a market, a number of fantastic independent shops and a ton of bars and restaurants, there’s plenty to keep your entertained as you discover every crevice of Keswick. For the more adventurous among us, however, you’ll want to get right out there into the mountains or on the water – where you can kayak, climb, zipline, ghyll scramble and much, much more.