Go on a drive you’ll never forget through some of Yorkshire’s most beautiful surroundings.
Whether you’re exploring the rolling hills of the North York Moors or looking out across the North Sea coast, the journey to get to these stunning parts of Yorkshire can be just as good as the destination. These city escapes will see you take on winding drives through the most incredible parts of God’s Own Country all year round – which one will you try first?
The Tan Hill Inn
Visiting the highest pub in Great Britain is an experience in itself, and the journey from Leeds to get there is something else. Instead of shooting up the A1 and A66, take the scenic route along Otley Road, then on to the B6161 and B6160, which takes you through the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Beauty and the Yorkshire Dales National Park, before finishing up on the renowned Buttertubs Pass just south of the destination.
You’ll pass a seemingly endless array of landmarks on the way like the Otley Chevin, Lindley Wood Reservoir and Aysgarth Falls with stunning views of God’s Own Country pretty much everywhere after Otley. From rolling hills to quaint villages you wouldn’t get to see otherwise, there are some amazing discoveries to be made. The end point, The Tan Hill Inn, is a unique Yorkshire attraction – a small, traditional 17th century pub at the southern tip of the North Pennines. You can stay the night at the pub, which makes it the perfect base for a few days checking out those incredible surroundings by foot.
How about a trip to the seaside? The end is always worth it at Whitby, but the route to get there can be a special one, with amazing countryside views and stunning coastal roads. Start off by taking the A64 to get to the other side of York, before heading to the pretty village of Stamford Bridge. From there you can follow a quiet but scenic track all the way up to Malton, and then go on to Pickering at the edge of the North York Moors.
When it comes to the Moors, there’s no better way to see it by car than on the A169. The 20-mile route takes you right through the heart of it, and it’s widely regarded as one of the UK’s best drives. Dalby Forest provides amazing scenery on your right, and then the beautiful nature of the Moors is revealed as you pass the Hole of Horcrum and into the village of Sleights. You’re probably ready for an ice cream or fish and chips at the waterfront by this point, but don’t go straight for the hotel in the centre of town just yet, take the coastal road just a bit further north for quiet sandy stretches that will take your breath away.
Beautiful scenery, natural wonders and amazing roads await on this journey through the Yorkshire Dales National Park to Settle. Leave Leeds via Otley Road, heading past the Chevin and onto Ilkley Road, passing through the stunning Ilkley Moor, past Skipton and turning off at Eshton where you’ll head into the park itself, which provides some incredible snapshots of God’s Own Country.
This is where the real magic begins as you tackle the winding country roads, heading up towards Malham and onto the Cove Road where you’ll see Malham Cove on your right. Next up, Henside Road offers brilliant views as you weave your way through the area, before reaching Goat Lane, a stunning 7-mile stretch of road with Pen-y-Ghent on your right and Fountains Fell on your left. From there, head down the valley through Stainforth and into Settle, a lovely market town well worthy of a day or two of your time.
Another must-try route through the North York Moors will see you leave Leeds on the A1M, coming off at Thirsk and heading east on the A170, where you’ll be enveloped in the captivating wild countryside of the Moors as you go. First off, you’ll drive through the top of the Howardian Hills, passing through Helmsley and Kirkbymoorside, with rolling hills and vast open spaces on either side.
You’ll reach Hutton-le-Hole, where the road doesn’t have a name or number, but take the main route north of the village and you’ll go right into the heart of the North York Moors. It’s a bit of a throwback, where it’s easy to imagine that this is what it was like travelling the country before motorways. It has views and scenery that will take your breath away, particularly as you pass the ruins of Rosedale Abbey and the Wintergill Plantation before you get to Goathland. Your destination might sound familiar because it’s where much of Heartbeat was filmed, so you might recognise the shops on the green – it’s a postcard-perfect village worth taking a break in.
Yorkshire’s blessed with such amazing countryside that it can be easy to forget that it’s also got a huge coastline, just waiting to be explored. You’ll have a bit of a drive to get there, so take the quick route along the M62 through Hull and then on to the A1033 to the southern edge of the Humber Estuary by Spurn Point, an amazing peninsula and nature reserve that disappears when the tide comes in.
From the south, head north on the B1242. For much of the start, you’ll be winding your way through the plains that line the route, leading you up towards Withernsea, Garton and Aldbrough – three picturesque coastal towns. The road then runs parallel with the beautiful North Sea at Mappleton, Hornsea and Skipsea, where you’ll find sandy beaches all the way to Bridlington. An ever-popular seaside resort, it’s the perfect end to a scenic waterfront drive.Feature image copyright Peter Moore licensed under Creative Commons for commercial use.