It’s only just down the East Coast Main Line or A1.

It may not boast large cities, bright lights or fantastic nightlife (though, let’s face it, you can get those at home), but if you’re looking for stunning countryside, great pubs, fantastic architecture and pretty towns with an old-fashioned charm, North Yorkshire is definitely worth a visit. 

England’s largest county is full of hidden jewels just waiting to be discovered. To start you off, we’ve listed five great places for days out in North Yorkshire:

Richmond 

It’s only four miles off the A1, but Richmond feels like it’s buried in the deepest countryside. Its stunning Georgian market place (said to be the largest market square in England) and the surrounding streets are full of quirky shops and traditional pubs serving fantastic Yorkshire beer. 

The town is dominated by a huge Norman castle, which perches dramatically on cliffs above the River Swale. Also worth a visit are the romantic ruins of Easby Abbey – which lie a short picturesque walk out into the countryside – and the Green Howards Regimental Museum in the market place.

Seen as the gateway to the Yorkshire Dales, Richmond is full of B&Bs and pubs offering overnight accommodation. Take a drive – or a bus ride – up into Swaledale and check out the gorgeous village of Reef.

photo courtesy of Paul Arps, from Flickr Creative Commons
Easby Abbey (photo courtesy of Paul Arps, from Flickr Creative Commons)

Whitby 

A fishing town and Victorian seaside resort nestled around the Esk Estuary, Whitby found fame as one of the settings in Bram Stoker’s gothic novel Dracula.

The winding streets around the harbour are full of fascinating shops, great cafes and pubs, and some of the best fish ‘n’ chip shops in the country. On the cliff above the town loom the ruins of Whitby Abbey and the spectacularly situated St Mary’s Church with its spooky graveyard.

Not surprisingly, Whitby hosts a festival of gothic culture twice a year. There’s also traditional seaside fun to indulge in such as arcades, crazy golf and rides out to sea on a pirate ship.

photo courtesy of Bryan Ledgard, from Flickr Creative Commons
Whitby (photo courtesy of Bryan Ledgard, from Flickr Creative Commons)

Robin Hood’s Bay 

About five miles along the North Sea coast from Whitby, you come to the stunning village of Robin Hood’s Bay. Set in a fissure between two cliffs, the village consists of narrow mazelike streets of honey-coloured sandstone houses.

According to legend, Robin Hood defeated some pirates here and distributed their loot among the locals. The village used to be a centre of smuggling and there are reputed to be smugglers’ tunnels connecting certain houses.

Robin Hood’s Bay boasts a wonderful beach, great pubs, plenty of creative little shops and – right behind it – the amazing scenery of the North Yorkshire Moors National Park. 

photo courtesy of Keith Hall, from Flickr Creative Commons
Robin Hood’s Bay (photo courtesy of Keith Hall from Flickr Creative Commons)

Saltburn-by-the-Sea 

A quiet resort with a somewhat Victorian feel, Saltburn possesses the only pleasure pier on the north east and North Yorkshire coasts – a grade-two-listed structure, restored in the early noughties with a lottery grant. Saltburn also boasts a ‘cliff-lift’, a unique water-powered tramway linking the seafront below with the town above.

The Saltburn Miniature Railway runs from the town’s beach to Forest Halt, about half-a-mile inland, where you can enjoy woodland walks and an Italianate garden. 

Though Saltburn-by-the-Sea has a number of good pubs today, it didn’t acquire its first public house till 1982 – due to the town being founded by teetotal Quakers! 

York 

OK, it’s hardy a hidden jewel, but if you’ve never popped down the East Coast Mainline to York, you really should. 

York is one of the few British towns and cities with medieval streets still intact, and its walls date back to medieval and even – in some parts – Roman times. There’s plenty to see – the incredible Minster, ancient streets like the Shambles, the National Railway Museum, the Yorkshire Museum, and the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey.

There’s also, of course, the Jorvik Viking Centre, where you can experience the sights, noises and smells of York’s Viking past.

photo courtesy of Phil Richards, from Flickr Creative Commons
York (photo courtesy of Phil Richards, from Flickr Creative Commons)

The city’s streets – full of lovely medieval, Tudor and Georgian buildings – host a variety of fantastic shops, cafes and restaurants. And that’s not to mention the pubs – it’s frequently claimed York has more per head of population than any other city in England. In June 2015, CAMRA listed 101 pubs in the city centre alone and found that 328 unique ales were being served in the city’s drinking establishments.

For more information about the delights of North Yorkshire, please go to www.visityorkshire.com.  

(Featured image, of Richmond, courtesy of Ian Atkinson, from Flickr Creative Commons)

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