♦ NORTH YORK MOORS’ CINDER TRACK – The North York Moors’ Cinder Track is a disused railway line running between Scarborough and Whitby, now a 21-mile cycle path and walkway. It’s part of the national park’s Moor to Sea Cycle Network, which connects 150 miles of moorland, woodland and coastal tracts. Just off the track are quiet bays, country pubs and good tea spots.
♦ NORTH YORKS MOORS RAILWAY (NYMR) – The NYMR runs lovingly restored steam locos through countryside from Pickering to Crosmont. Goathland is a favourite station; it stars as Hogsmeade in the Harry Potter films and the village appears as Aidensfield in the TV series Heartbeat. It’s also the starting point for walks: a popular one is to the pretty hamlet of Beck Hole.
♦ YORKSHIRE SCULPTURE PARK – The Yorkshire Sculpture Park is a bit like the art world’s equivalent of a safari park, showcasing the work of dozens of sculptors across the formidable 18th-century estate of Bretton Park. Scattered among the 200 hectares is one of England’s most impressive collections, which includes works by local heroes Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore.
♦ WHITBY BEACH – With a broad, clean arc of sand stretching for miles, Whitby is a classic British seaside town. Start at the cliff top ruins of Whitby Abbey – famed as the setting for Count Dracula’s landfall in the novel by Bram Stoker, who used to holiday in Whitby. After, head to the harbour for a boat ride (US$3) to survey the bay before heading down to Whitby Sands for donkey rides, ice cream and sandcastles.
♦ ROBIN HOOD’S BAY WALK – Six miles southeast of Whitby, Robin Hood’s Bay village is possibly the most picturesque spot in Yorkshire (and nothing to do with the hero of Sherwood Forest). The helter-skelter hilly village is a maze of narrow lanes and passages dotted with tearooms, pubs, craft shops and artists’ studios. At low tide you can fossick around in the rock pools. The best way to get here is to take the coastal path from Whitby – a walk that takes two to three hours.
♦ SURFING IN SCARBOROUGH – Surfing in Yorkshire? Yes indeed! There are some decent waves on England’s northeast coast, supporting a growing surf scene. A top spot is Cayton Bay, a few miles south of Scarborough town, where you’ll find Scarborough Surf School. Back in town, the school runs the Secretspot Surf Shop (4 Pavilion Terrace), where you can get information on surfing in the local area, plus pick up gear.
♦ CASTLE HOWARD – Set in the rolling Howardian Hills, Castle Howard is recognisable to many from its starring role in Brideshead Revisited. As you wander the grounds, views open up over the hills, the playful Temple of the Four Winds and a stately mausoleum. The house is a work of theatrical grandeur and is full of treasures.
♦ FOUNTAINS ABBEY – The 12th-century Fountains Abbey and the water gardens of Studley Royal Estate are two of Yorkshire’s most lovely attractions and a Unesco World Heritage site. The remains of the abbey are grandiose and the landscaped gardens, with serene artificial lakes, were added in the 18th century to enhance the ruins. Scenic walking trails meander through the site.
♦ RIEVAULX ABBEY – The magnificent ruins of Rievaulx Abbey stand amid fields and woods in the valley of the River Rye. It’s an idyllic spot that was chosen by Cistercian monks in 1132 as a base for their missionary activity. The extensive remains give a wonderful sense of the size and complexity of the community that once lived here, and their story is fleshed out in fascinating exhibits in the visitor centre.