North Yorkshire Campsites
Looking for ideas on where to take your next camping or touring trip in North Yorkshire? Here are a few of our favourite places to visit and stay.
The remains of 12th-century Bolton Abbey (in fact a priory) stand on the bank of the River Wharfe against a background of woods, meadows and waterfalls the setting made famous by Landseer’s painting ‘Bolton Abbey in Olden Time’. The nave still stands, having been used as a parish church since about 1170, and a gatehouse to the west has been incorporated into Bolton Hall, a 19th-century mansion. There are beautiful walks beside the river to the Strid, where the water surges under limestone ledges (‘strid’ being the Old English word for ‘turmoil’), or on to 15th-century Barden Tower, which stands above a humpbacked bridge.
To some people, this may be better known as ‘Brideshead’, for it was at Castle Howard that much of the TV version of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited was filmed. It was built for Charles Howard, 3rd Earl of Carlisle, to replace Henderskelfe Castle, which was burned down in 1639. Sir John Vanbrugh was chosen as architect; very much a Renaissance man, he was also a gifted playwright and as captain of marines, a man of action. With assistance from Nicholas Hawksmoor (Wren’s clerk of works), he designed this tremendous castle and then went on to conceive Blenheim. The interior of the house – which isn’t really a castle at all -matches the grandeur of the exterior. In the 1000-acre grounds, there are two lakes, the Temple of the Four Winds and the Mausoleum, which is as big as a Wren church in London. Castle Howard cost £78,000and took 37 years to complete (1700-37). It is still owned by the Howard family.
One of the most idyllic villages in this part of Yorkshire, Coxwold’s broad main street is lined by warm-toned, stone cottages, set back behind the wide green verges so often found in rural Yorkshire.
A stone village at the head of Danby Dale in the lovely Esk Valley, Danby’s main street leads from the wooded river up on to Danby Low Moor. Danby Lodge, a former shooting lodge, is the information centre for the North York Moors National Park. The Eskdale railway line passes between the village and the restored Saxon Church of St Hilda.
Charlotte Bronte was a frequent visitor to this clifftop holiday resort, with its sandy beach and elegant hotels. The Romans established a signal station on Carr Naze headland, below which lies Filey Brigg, a mile long jagged reef formimg a natural break water and now part of a nature trail. A few surviving fishing cobles (a type of boat|) on the beach are a reminder of more prosperous fishing days of the town. St Oswald’s Church has a fine south doorway and massive tower adorned by a fish shaped weather vane. The town Lies on the Cleveland Way a 90 mile, long distance footpath from Saltburn on Sea to Helmsley, inland to the Yorkshire Moor
Among the whitewashed stone cottages of this seafaring village stands St Oswald’s Church which contains a rare 18th-century Yorkshire rood screen and loft. The village, high on the chalk cliffs, is exposed on three sides to the North Sea, and has several dramatic episodes in its history. The Vikings landed here as part of the invasion of Britain in the 9th-10th century. Check on the commemorative toposcope near the lighthouse.
‘The geometry of the Space Age at its most alluring and frightening’ wrote Pevsner of the three giant pearly-white balls which form part of the Ministry of Defence’s Ballistic Missile Early Warning Station and which dominate this high moor. Inland from Robin Hood’s Bay. The heather-covered moor is part of the North York Moors National Park and is traversed by the famous Lyke Wake Walk.
Sturdy grey stone houses surround the large sheep-grazed greens of this scattered and attractive moorland village, a popular starting point for walks on the North York Moors. Moorland streams cascade over rocks in several spectacular waterfalls, the best known being 70ft-high Mallyan Spout.
This busy market town, a touring centre for the nearby Cleveland Hills, and North Yorkshire Moors, contains an architectural gem in the remains of a 12th-century priory. They include a gatehouse and dovecot, and the magnificent 14th-century east end of the building. The work of artists and craftsmen can be seen at the Chapel Beck gallery.
An attractive, spacious town of dignifed Victorian stone buildings, lightened by flower beds and open spaces. Haroogate stands 400 -600 feet above sea level, within easy reach of the dales. The town‘s importance as a spa resort was increased in 1804 when the Royal Pump Room was erected on a sulphur well. The Royal Baths, opened in 1897, became one of the largest hydrotherapy establishments in the world. Agatha Christie stayed, incognito, at the Old Swan, in 1926, having mysteriously disappeared from London. On the south side of the town is a 200-acre common known as the Stray. A path joins Valley Gardens where there is an attractive sun pavilion, and the 60-acre Harlow Car Gardens, with its comprehensive collection of plants, shrubs and trees, and trial grounds for experimental agriculture. The location and attractions of the town are capitalised on by the international conference centre. Rudding Park, a Regency mansion, lies 3 miles south east; its picture collection contains J S Copley’s copy of West’s ‘Death of Wolfe’.
Situated in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, this village of grey stone cottages on the River Ure is an ideal starting point for exploring the high moors of Wensleydale. There is a National Park Centre and a Folk Museum of the Upper Dales. A 100ft-high waterfall, Hardraw Foree, can be reached by a footpath behind the Green Dragon Inn at Hardraw one mile to the north.
Situated on the edge of the moors beside the River Rye, this attractive market town of red-roofed, stone-built houses is the start of the Cleveland Way. In Duncombe Park are the ruins of a 12th-century castle, thought to have been built by Walter L’Espec who founded the beautiful Rievaulx Abbey 2 miles north west. Nunnington Hall 4 and a half miles south east is a 16th‘ and 17th-century house with a fine panelled hall and an impressive staircase. The Carlisle Collection of Miniature Rooms should be seen.
Hutton Le Hole
One of the prettiest Villages in the North York Moors; the becks meet here and the red-roofed, stone cottages cluster around a green. In spring the surrounding dales are enlivened with daffodils. The oldest building is Quaker Cottage which dates from 1695 and is associated with John Richardson the missionary to America. Richardson was a close friend of William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania. Ryedale Folk Museum has reconstructed buildings such as cruck-framed houses and an Elizabethan glass furnace. A few miles east Cropton was the home of Reverend William Scoresby (1789-4 857) andhis father the Arctic explorer. Lastingham, 1and a half miles east, has a beautiful church with an outstanding 11th-century crypt, built as a shrine to St Cedd.
A busy little town, Ingleton acts as a useful base from which to visit the abundant caves and waterfalls in the region. Some three and a half miles north east is Ingleborough Hill, an impressive 2373 ft peak with the remains of an Iron Age settlement at its summit. This, with Whernside and Pen-y-Ghent, forms the gruelling course of the Three Peaks race. Beneath Ingleborough is a maze of limestone caves, within which is Gaping Gill, the largest limestone chamber in Britain.
Knaresborough is an attractive town with narrow streets of Georgian houses, steep steps and alleyways. The area is full of caves, the most famous being that named after Mother Shipton, the 15th-century seer; she is said to have predicted trains and aircraft, but most of the prophecies attributed to her were in fact written in the 19th century. The most interesting phenomenon is the Dropping Well, where drips of water containing a lime deposit are gradually petrifying a curious assortment of objects placed beneath them by the owners of the cave and others. On a clifftop high above the river stand the remains of the 14th-century castle, including the keep, two baileys and gatehouse; the Court House Museum is situated in the castle grounds. The Zoological Gardens at Conyngham Hall contain sea-lions and llamas as well as big cats.
Eighteenth-century Lotherton Hall is now a country house museum, containing fine furniture, silver and ceramics from the Gascoigne Collection (the Gascoignes being the former occupants of the house); English works of art are also on display and there are fashion galleries and exhibitions of contemporary crafts. The small chapel nearby has a noteworthy beamed roof and an elaborately carved pulpit. The grounds include Edwardian and Bird Gardens.
Malham, really, is more a landscape than a village, though there is a pleasant cluster of houses, an inn, a humpbacked bridge and Tarn House, now the Field Studies Centre, where Charles Kingsley wrote a part of The Water Babies, inspired by the black streaks on the limestone cliffs, which made him think of chimney sweeps. Three of Yorkshire’s most celebrated natural features lie within relatively easy walking distance: Malham Cove, the 240ft high limestone cliff created by the Craven Fault, at the top Malham‘s famous limestone pavement; the dramatically impressive rock bowl of Gordale Scar, where the water hurls itself down a 250ft ravine up which you can climb when the water is not in full spate; and finally, Malham Tarn, a 150-acremoorland lake. Through Malham passess the 250 mile long distance walkway, the Pennine Way. The Yorkshire Dales National Park Centre is situated in the village.
On 2 July 1644, a battle was fought here that marked a turning point in the Civil War. Sir Thomas Fairfax had learned that 20,000 Royalists, under Prince Rupert, were on their way from Lancashire to join the King. His object was to prevent these reinforcements from linking up with the main army. He failed, and the Royalists appeared to have won. Later in the day, however, Cromwell led a cavalry charge, which took the opposition’s commanders, who were at supper, by surprise. By 10 pm 4000 Royalist troops lay dead; while only 300 Roundheads lost their lives.
Formerly the capital of Wensleydale, Middleham is a small and pretty village. The castle now in ruins was once known as the ‘Windsor of the North’, when the great Neville family owned it. Richard III acquired it in 1471.
In 1831 work began on an extension of the Stockton and Darlington Railway with dramatic effects on Middlesbrough. What had been a village community of about 40 people became transformed during the next four decades into a town with 40,000 inhabitants. Its importance came partly from the docks, from which coal mined in South Durham was exported and partly from the discovery of iron ore in the Cleveland Hills where the first iron works opened in 1841. The Dorman Museum tells the history of Cleveland, and at nearby Marton is the Captain Cook Birthplace Museum: the great explorer was born here in 1728. Middlesbrough is not only known for industry but also for its parks and in 1982 it was declared Britain’s Floral City. Ormesby Hall is on the outskirts.
Between the mid 18th and early 20th centuries, Teesdale prospered from its lead mines, which were run by a Quaker-owned organisation named the London Lead Company. The firm’s preoccupation with the welfare of its employees is evident in the hne stone buildings. The former head oche, Middleton House, now provides accommodation for private shooting parties. The village church has a detached bell tower rare in this part of the country. One of its three bells can be traced back to 1558. Not far away are the famous waterfalls: Cauldron Snout and High Force.
Robert Adam, architect to George III, MP for Kinross, and designer of projects that included the streets of London and country mansions for the nobility and gentry, achieved one of his finest works at Newby Hall in the late 17th century for coal magnate Sir Edward Blackett. Later that century, the house passed to William Weddle who, when making the Grand Tour of Europe, acquired the collection of sculpture now on display and a rare complete set of Gobelin tapestries. Some 25 acres of gardens contain a miniature railway.
The town is known as the ‘capital’ of North Yorkshire. The Old Fleece Innis partly medieval and the church, which has a 15th-century pinnacled tower and a Jacobean font, is surrounded by fine old houses. Six and a half miles north west is Kiplin Hall, home of the Calverts, built in 1616. Sir George Calvert, Baron Baltimore, set up a Newfoundland colony, Avalon, in the 1620’s. He was later given the land which is now Maryland. This American territory was pioneered by Baltimore’s two sons with 300 Yorkshire colonists.
Pickering is a lively market town with steep narrow streets climbing the hillside. Looking down from a height over the market place stands Pickering’s parish church, the walls of its nave decorated with a series of remarkably vivid wall paintings depicting legends of the saints, and believed to date from the 15th century. Pickering Castle, also high above the town, is very much a ruin, but the North York Moors Railway, closed by British Rail, has been restored. The Beck Isle Museum of Rural Life contains interesting folk and local history displays.
Miles of firm, sandy beaches stretch from here to the Tees estuary and the town has become a lively resort, with a wide range of leisure and entertainment facilities, including Coatham Amusement Park, the largest indoor funfair in the north east. There is also a well-known racecourse. The oldest lifeboat in the world, built in 1800, can be seen in the Zetland Museum on the Promenade.
Pale stone cottages are scattered round the large green of this peaceful, isolated Wensleydale village. To the north are limestone hills; to the south, the wooded valley of the River Ure, with its waterfall, Redmire Force, one mile south west. Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned for a time in 14th century Bolton Castle which stands to the north east of the village.
There are beautiful views over the town and surrounding dales from the tower of Richmond’s splendid 11th Century castle. Every evening a curfewis rung from the tower of the medieval church, which dominates the market square. The church now houses the excellent regimental museum of the Green Howards, who served in South Carolina during the Revolutionary Wars. The museum also has items relating to Colonel Currie, a commander commissioned by Abraham Lincoln in the Civil War. Richmond was the home of Francis Johnson, a pilgrim leader who died in Amsterdam in 1618, before the migration to the New World. The town was also the ancestral home of Smithson of the Smithsonian Institute, while Lewis Carroll received his early education at Richmond Grammar School. Nearby, south of Scorton, is Kiplin Hall, birthplace of George Calvert who, as Lord Baltimore, founded Avalon, Newfoundland, and Maryland, which he named after Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I, who granted the charter.
Situated on the River Ute, Ripon has a fine cathedral dating from the 12th century. It stands on the site of an Anglo Saxon church, of which the crypt remains, now containing an exhibition of church treasures. Inside the cathedral a tablet commemorates Robert Porteous, a cousin of George Washington. Narrow, winding streets surround the rectangular market square; at one corner of the square is the medieval Wakeman’s House, now a local museum. This was the home of the town’s nightwatchman, and the 1000-year-old tradition is still observed each night at 9 pm, when the present Wakeman blows his horn. This once marked the beginning of his nightly vigil.
The ruins of Cistercian Fountains Abbey can be seen 3 miles west, together with the extensive 650-acre Studley Royal Country Park, with deer, lake and ornamental gardens. St Mary’s Church in the park is built with marble from many places, including California and Tennessee.
Robin Hood’s Bay
At the northern end of a 3-mile long bay, sheltered by rocky cliffs, the little houses of this picturesque and colourful fishing village cling precariously to the steep slopes of a ravine. The village has become a popular tourist resort. The North York Moors National Park lies to the south west, and there is a scenic coastal path to Whitby.
Scarborough has a harbour, a fishing village, stately hotels, towering cliffs and, of course, the required amusements that make a seaside place ‘popular‘. The Romans built a signal station here, and the Normans built an imposing castle on the headland, of which the large square keep survives; the rest was reduced to rubble by Roundhead artillery in the Civil War.
The town‘s career as a spa began in the 17th century. A Mrs Farrow noticed that the water that ran over certain russet-coloured rocks had an acid tang. She found that it was good for her, and believed that it might be a cure for scurvy, jaundice, depression -even leprosy. Before very long, the sick, and those who believed themselves to be ill, came flocking, especially when, nearly a century later, sea bathing became so popular a pastime. Anne Bronte was among the visitors to Scarborough; she died here in 1849 and is buried in St Mary’s churchyard.
Skipton, set in a valley in the Airedale moors, stands at the most northerly point of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal (opened in 1816, it runs for nearly 130 miles). Despite its textile industry, the town has a countrified look which makes it a pleasant centre for touring the Dales. The 14th-century castle was the home of the Clifford family. After it had been partially demolished in 1649, Lady Anne Clifford rebuilt it, and added the family motto ‘Desormais’ (henceforth) to the gatehouse. A yew tree planted by Lady Anne stands in the grounds. The Craven Museum concentrates on local geology for its exhibits; the. fascinating George Leatt Industrial and Folk Museum 13 housed in the 1750 High Corn Mill.
In the 18th century, 400 fishing boats would sail from this beautiful village and return laden with mackerel and cod. The port declined as trade moved to Whitby. Captain Cook, the famous navigator of the Pacific and masterly surveyor of the Newfoundland coast, was apprenticed to a local grocer before running away to Whitby to join his first ship.
This is a charming market town on the River Leven in the Cleveland Hills, with many old houses and cobbled alleyways. The Manor House, facing the Town Hall, now serves as a library and various offices. Jane Page of Stokesley was the first white woman to settle in Victoria, Australia. A row of trees was planted in her honour along the river bank just over a century ago.
A beer-making town since the 18th century, Tadcaster is still the home of John and Samuel Smith’s rival breweries. St Mary’s Church, with its Perpendicular work and embattled tower, dates from the 15th century. It was moved stone by stone between 1875 and 1877 to a position 5ft higher than its original site to afford greater protection from the flood-prone River Wharfe. The river itself is spanned by an 18th-century, seven-arched bridge and, more forlornly, by the‘ virgin Viaduct’ built in 1849 in anticipation of the railway that never did come. Beningbrough Hall 10 miles to the north is an attractive 18th-century red brick house set in a wooded park It contains some fine examples of wood carving and beautfful Delft and oriental porcelain. Also on show are more than 100, 17th and 18th th century pictures on loan from the Nationa Portrait Gallery.
The ‘Darrowby’ of James Herriot’s evocative books, this thriving old market town nestles at the foot of the Hambleton Hills in the Vale of Mowbray. The Golden Fleece, a large, handsome, Georgian inn, bears witness to the town’s former importance as a stagecoach posting station in the 18th and 19th centuries. Disconsolate punters from the popular local racecourse can alsodrown their sorrows in the 18th century Three Tuns or The Crown reputedly dating from 1682. Thomas Lord, founder of Lords Lords Cricket Ground, was born here in 1755
The resort and harbour of Whitby stand in a picturesque situation at the mouth of the River Esk, with the North York Moors National Park rising behind the town. It has been a fishing town for hundreds of years and was once a whaling port. Terraces of fishermen’s cottages rise beneath East Cliff, and a fishing fleet still plies from the harbour.
Capital of the Roman province of Lower Britain, the Roman settlement of Ebomcum, the forerunner of present-day York, became one of the most important cities in the Roman empire. Both Hadrian and Constantine stayed at York, and when the latter died there in AD 306, his son – who became known as Constantine the Great Was proclaimed emperor from York, the only Roman emperor to be proclaimed in Britain. After the Romans departed the city suffered a decline in its fortunes, although Saxons made it the capital of their kingdom of Deira, but when the Danes invaded and settled in the north east of England, they built it up into an important centre: from their name, Jorvic, is derived the modern name of York. The Danish influence has also survived in many of the old street names, such as Goodramgate, Micklegate and Walmgate, while from the Roman period only some parts of the walls, and the multangular tower still stand.
When the Normans came, they sacked York, but it rose again as a great medieval city, encircled by massive walls, the greater part of which still stand, pierced by the medieval gateways of Micklegate Bar, Bootham Bar, Monk Bar and Walmgate. The circuit of the walls is about three miles, and a walk around them takes about two hours, but offers magnificent views of the old town and the minster. Within the old walls, the medieval street pattern was a maze of lanes and alleys, some of them so narrow that the overhanging upper storeys of the buildings almost touched across the streets. A well-preserved example of such a street is the Shambles, formerly the butchers’ quarter, but now colonised by antique and tourist shops.
York Minster, built between about 1220 and 1470 is one of the greatest cathedral churches in the country and, as an archbishopric, ranks second to Canterbury. The south transept is the oldest part, then came the octagonal chapter house, the nave, the choir, and the west towers. The massive crossing tower was the last part to be completed, in 1480, and was a replacement for an earlier tower that had collapsed. More than half of England’s surviving medieval stained glass is contained in the windows of the minster. Eighty of them were removed for safety during World War II, and this enabled them to be cleaned and properly repaired. The great east window is almost the size of a tennis court, and the lovely west window is known as the ‘Heart of Yorkshire’. Although the minster is magnificently preserved, thanks to extensive restoration work in recent times, lightning did damage it severely in 1985.
Throughout Tudor, Stuart and Georgian times, York continued to flourish and handsome buildings of all these periods can be seen in its streets. With the coming of the railway age, York became a busy railway centre and its fine Victorian railway station is a monument to the age of prosperity. In the 1960’s, York became a university city; the university buildings, grouped around a lake, are attractively modern.
The greater part of the Yorkshire Dales, which cover a 700-sq-mile stretch from the industrial area around Leeds to the River Tees, has been formed into a National Park. Teesdale, famous for its High Force waterfall, is the most northerly of the Dales. Swaledale and Wensleydale -known for its cheese are linked by Buttertubs Pass. Wharfedale, wild and bare, in its upper reaches, becomes exceptionally beautiful between Kilnsey Crag and Bolton Abbey. Nidderdale takes in several reservoirs and How Stean Gorge, whilst the spectacular scenery of Airedale includes 300ft Malham Cove and Gordale Scar.