In the Bleak Midwinter - A Moors Perspective
Crisp wintery mornings with frost sparkling in the sunshine and a sprinkling of snow transforming the moors into a magical landscape. The North York Moors are beautiful in any season but during the winter they take on a unique charm of their own, and for those seeking peace and tranquility they are a perfect sanctuary, without the bustle of the summer months.
On a bright winter’s day there is nothing like a bracing walk to blow the cobwebs away, giving you space with your thoughts and making you feel at one with nature. Whether you’re looking for a gentle stroll or a longer hike, there are a number of Moorland routes to meander, and afterwards you can relax with a steaming mug of tea in front of a roaring fire, basking in the smug satisfaction of time well spent!
A favourite walk is to Blakey Ridge taking in the breathtaking views of Rosedale and Farndale. This is one of the most isolated spots on the moors but you can be assured of a warm welcome at the iconic Lion Inn, the highest pub in the area. With warming food, real ale and open fires, this is a perfect spot for recuperation.
If you prefer to explore on two wheels, then there are several all-weather routes including the ‘Cinder Track’, following the disused railway tracks from Scarborough to Whitby and a variety of mountain bike trails in Dalby Forest for families and more intrepid cyclists alike.
Before lacing up your boots & donning your rucksack, don’t forget that winter and summer walking are very different experiences. With fewer daylight hours and changeable weather, it’s a good idea to plan a shorter route and make an early start. Make sure you pack for the unexpected, including extra layers of clothing, food and a hot drink. Remember to take a torch and don’t be afraid to alter your route if the weather changes.
If you prefer a more manicured landscape, then the beautiful grounds at Castle Howard are open all year round. It’s easy to while away a day with 1,000 acres of parkland, woodland paths and gardens to explore and the cafe is also open to tempt you with a selection of homemade delicacies!
Alternatively, admire the moorland landscape from the comfort of your carriage window on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, running limited winter services between Pickering and Whitby. Whitby boasts the best fish and chips in the country so why not put them to the test after a bracing walk along the seafront?
The moorland skies may be beautiful by day, but on a clear night they are magnificent and the winter months can be the best time to gaze heavenwards. With low levels of light pollution and clear horizons, the Moors have three designated Dark Sky Discovery Sites, where you’ll be spoilt for astronomical choice, and on a clear night, the Milky Way is visible to the naked eye.
Glorious by day and stunning by night, the Moors in winter really are a perfect destination.