If you’re planning a weekend away, you’re surrounded by villages perfect for a staycation.
Whether you want solitude or splendour, walks or country pubs, natural wonders or destination restaurants, the villages of Yorkshire have got exactly what you’re looking for. These weekend break-worthy winners are some of the region’s most glorious places to visit, with a warm welcome and unspoiled vistas guaranteed. It’s time to get out there…
A picture-perfect fishing village, Staithes’ slice of rugged coastline is oh-so-pretty. It’s just 10 miles from Whitby, but so much quieter and more compact, with cobbled streets winding down towards a handsome harbour. Once the home of Captain Cook – and CBBC show Old Jack’s Boat – its whitewashed buildings, narrow alleys and beach make it the perfect place for a holiday by the seaside. The streets are lined with pubs, cafes and restaurants, including the wonderful Cod & Lobster. This sturdy inn has bore the brunt of many a storm over the decades, and continues to do a mean line in fresh seafood.
There’s no shortage of things to do, whether it’s rock-pooling with the kids or hunting for fossils on the beach. Head inside Staithes Gallery to explore not just contemporary art, but also the rich history of painting here – the village was home to a group called the Northern Impressionists. Rest your head at Dotty’s Boutique B&B, which has two sea-view rooms decorated in quirky furniture. Dotty herself – AKA Trudie – can be found in the tea rooms she runs downstairs, serving up luxury hot chocolate, perfect scones and selling vintage knick-knacks. Stock up on supplies if you’re planning on the gorgeous walk to Port Mulgrave.
Staithes, High Street, Saltburn-by-the-Sea, North Yorkshire, TS13 5BQ. It’s just under a two-hour drive from Leeds.
Searching for the perfect Yorkshire village to visit for a getaway? Osmotherley might be the one. Dotted with 19th-century stone cottages, it’s a North York Moors gem with a village green so tiny you could barely land a ladybird on it, but that’s all part of the charm. Slightly elevated, the village boasts beautiful views of the surrounding Dales which have helped make it a Mecca for walkers. It’s a stop on the coast-to-coast jaunt, but also the start or end of the Lyke Wake Walk. This 40-mile route takes you from the nearby Cod Beck Reservoir all the way to Ravenscar along a path of Bronze Age burial mounds.
The village itself is well worth exploring, from the market cross to the oldest Methodist chapel in the world – built in 1754 and frequently visited by historical clergyman John Wesley. The barter table next to the market cross was his outdoor pulpit. Get a glimpse of the past at The Golden Lion, an 18th-century coaching inn serving up pints of Timothy Taylor’s Landlord, warming whiskies and superior pub food. There’s also good eating at The Three Tuns, with pan-fried sea bream fillet and aged local sirloin steak among the highlights. Upstairs are four themed rooms ideal for a short stay – do you go for ‘The Big Sleep’ or ‘Bedknobs & Broomsticks’?
Osmotherley, South End, Northallerton, North Yorkshire, DL6 3BN. It’s a one-hour drive from Leeds.
Water sparkling on the beck, a gorgeous thatched cottage, history going back to before the Norman Conquest – there’s no surprise that photos of Thornton-le-Dale have adorned postcards and chocolate boxes so regularly. It’s a real looker. Sat on the southern edge of the North York Moors, it’s the perfect place to start or end a ramble. You could follow the river up to pretty Ellerburn to see the Grade II-listed, Saxon-era St. Hilda’s Church, or wander into Dalby Forest, one of the best places to go stargazing in the country. Want to take it easier? The Stables Art Gallery is home to a great array of work by local artists.
The village might be petite, but there’s plenty to do. All Saints Church has stood in one form or another since Norman times, while the square is home to a market cross and stocks once used for punishment. That much-photographed thatched home is Beck Isle Cottage and those with a sweet tooth should make a beeline for The Chocolate Factory, full of handmade treats. Grab a pint and a pub meal at The New Inn – right in the heart of the village, it’s a Georgian coaching inn with open fires and original beams. Lumley Cottage is a brilliant bolthole to stay in, a stone-built cottage ideal for staycations.
Thornton-le-Dale, Brook Lane, Pickering, North Yorkshire, YO18 7RZ. It’s around a 75-minute drive from Leeds.
Head north of York, on the way to Thirsk, and you’ll find a village that ticks pretty much every holiday or short break box. Coxwold is ringed by beautiful countryside, while the tiny town itself has the 15th-century St. Michael’s Church, inns and tearooms, as well as Shandy Hall, former home of Laurence Sterne, author of the classic novel, ‘Tristram Shandy’. If you explore nearby, you’ll find the ruins of Byland Abbey, a 12th-century Cistercian monastery, while Newburgh Priory is a lovely day out. Built in 1145, this stately home has plenty of stories to share and is the reputed burial place of Oliver Cromwell.
Coxwold has also become a place of foodie pilgrimage, as it offers some of the nearest accommodation to Tommy Banks’ much-feted restaurant The Black Swan at Oldstead. This Michelin-starred gem serves up an imaginative menu such as lobster tail with pea and nasturtium, or duck with plum and beetroot. Much of the produce on the plate is grown in the gardens that surround the restaurant. Stay in Coxwold at the wonderful Fauconberg Inn – a welcoming pub with generously-sized rooms – and the owners will even taxi you for free to the Black Swan if you have a reservation.
Coxwold, Thirsk Bank, North Yorkshire, YO61 4AD. It’s a one-hour drive from Leeds.
Robin Hood’s Bay
One of the things that makes Robin Hood’s Bay so picturesque is the stark contrast between the towering, foreboding cliffs and the colourful cottages below. This combination of coastal glory and cute seaside town, all wrapped up in history that dates back hundreds of years, results in one of the best Yorkshire villages to head to for a staycation. The smugglers that gave the town its name may be long gone, but they’re replaced by fossil hunts and rock pools, the 19th-century Old St. Stephen’s Church and the Old Coastguard Station.
Nothing can beat fish and chips by the sea, so head to the Fish Box for a takeaway. For a cracking atmosphere over drinks, make for Smugglers, a candlelit bar serving Whitby ales and excellent stone-baked pizzas. If you’re after a family and dog-friendly watering hole, pull up a seat in Ye Dolphin, with its open fires and live folk music. Enjoy uninterrupted vistas of the sea if you stay at the Victoria Hotel – you can even book a room with a four-poster bed. From here you’re only steps away from the moorland that the bay backs onto, which is popular with walkers joining the Cleveland Way or making for Boggle Hole cove.
Robin Hood’s Bay, Station Road, Whitby, North Yorkshire, YO22 4RL. It’s around a two-hour drive from Leeds.
Whether you’re a cyclist or a walker, Kettlewell offers some of the most fetching countryside in all of God’s Own County. Sat in Wharfe Valley, it’s blessed with an abundance of charm, studded with 300-year-old cottages sat amidst verdant slopes, broken up by bridges crossing Kettlewell Beck. It’s almost overwhelming in its quaint, beguiling way. There’s more to it than oohing and aahing, however, with climbers making for the cliffs of Kilnsey Crag, a huge annual Scarecrow Festival and splendid walks such as the 5-mile circular to Starbottom and back. For a less energetic experience, order up some scones at Zarina’s Tea Rooms.
The three coaching inns here tell a tale of the village’s former importance as a stopping-off point for weary travellers. The Blue Bell Inn has a wood-burning stove and a snug vibe combined with exemplary service that has won it several awards. There are local ales and a solid wine list, as well as six comfortable en-suite bedrooms. Stay here and a freshly cooked Yorkshire breakfast is always included. Sister pub The Kings Head has a great, seasonal gastropub menu that includes delights like buffalo mozzarella with heritage tomatoes and locally foraged wild garlic pesto.
Kettlewell, Middle Lane, Skipton, North Yorkshire, BD23 5QX. It’s a 90-minute drive from Leeds.
Fancy a trip to Hogsmeade? Okay, you might not be able to go there in reality, but head to Goathland railway station and you can tick off another Harry Potter filming location. This part of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway was a stand-in for Hogsmeade station, but that’s not the only Goathland claim to fame. Fans of TV show Heartbeat will recognise this Yorkshire village as the fictional Aidensfield. Back in the real world, it’s a picture-perfect place with plenty of character, history galore and an ideal location for venturing out into the bracing moorland that surround it on all sides.
One of the best walks is to the fantastically scenic Mallyan Spout waterfall, taking you past Beck Hole and Carr Wood to see the water of West Beck cascading down a 70-foot drop. Break up the stroll with a drink in Birch Hall Inn, a petite watering hole that opened in 1860. As well as two bars, it’s also a retro sweet shop. The best place to eat in Goathland is also the best place to sleep. The Mallyan Spout Hotel has deluxe rooms and suites, glitzy outdoor dining pods and a tempting menu that runs from big charcuterie boards through to a seafood medley and a plant-based burger.
Goathland, Whitby, North Yorkshire, YO22 5AN. It’s a 90-minute drive from Leeds.
On the northern fringe of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, Hawes is a market village that has a lot to boast about. It’s home to the Wensleydale creamery, for starters. Cracking cheese Gromit! You can go inside to see how its made, with an interactive visitor experience that’s great for kids. The rest of the village is just as alluring, with a market place dating back to 1307, 18th-century mill, Countryside Museum and landscapes that take your breath away. Hardraw Force is a highlight, a 30-metre cascade that has a strong claim to be England’s highest single-drop waterfall. It helps that the village is one of the most elevated in the country – 850 feet above sea level.
To reach Hardraw Force you have to go through the 13th-century Green Dragon Inn, following in the footsteps of poet Wordsworth and painter Turner. It’s worth a visit in its own right, with its low, timbered ceilings, flagged floor and crackling open fire. There’s a similar feel at The White Hart Inn back in the centre of Hawes, a 16th-century coaching inn. There are hand-pulled ales from Yorkshire breweries, Sunday roasts and pub food that punches well above its weight. Keep the country life going with a stay at Red Squirrel Cottage only minutes away – this barn conversion feels part of the landscape with its patio and pond.
Hawes, Greens Farm, North Yorkshire, DL8 3NB. It’s around a two-hour drive from Leeds.
Delis packed with local goodies, the archetypal market square, stone-built pubs and dramatic castle ruins – everyone wants to live in Helmsley. The rugged beauty of the North York Moors is at the village’s edge, with both the Cleveland and Ebor Way beginning here, attracting walkers from all over. Browse through fine art galleries, shop for handmade crafts and jewellery, then head to Helmsley Castle, a medieval fortress that was later besieged during the English Civil War. There are more glorious ruins at nearby Rievaulx Abbey, complete with a visitor centre and tearoom.
You can get a snapshot of the town’s history if you stay at The Black Swan. A stagecoach inn that has refreshed travellers since the 15th century, it’s a combination of Elizabethan, Tudor and Georgian buildings. The rooms are spacious and, downstairs, the Cygnet Bar serves Yorkshire ales, pub classics and more ambitious dishes such as gochujang-marinated monkfish tail. You’re also just steps from La Trattoria, which serves Venetian-style tapas in the day, Neapolitan pizza and traditional Italian dishes in the evening, with gems such as porchetta and fennel sausage ragu linguine.
Helmsley, Market Place, York, North Yorkshire, YO62 5BJ. Around a 75-minute drive from Leeds.
This Upper Swaledale gem might just be a speck on the map – less than 300 people live here – but it punches well above its weight in terms of subtle splendour. The River Swale runs alongside the stone cottages, the banks full of vivid meadows blanketed in wildflowers. It’s a village built on farming, a Norse-era settlement known for agricultural events and hand-knitted wool. It’s also a hub for walkers crossing from coast to coast or taking the Pennine Way. The Grade II-listed Church of Saint Mary is well worth a visit, originally built in the 16th century and restored in the 19th.
You can shop for the local wool at Swaledale Woollens, one of a handful of shops that make Muker feel like a real throwback. The flower-festooned village store also has a dream of a tea room, dishing up slices of parkin and Old Peculier fruitcake with Swaledale cheese. Grab a pint of real ale in front of the dry stone wall fireplace in The Farmer’s Arms, a friendly pub with its very own microbrewery. There’s good eating here too, with giant Yorkshire puddings filled with mash, vegetables, gravy and your choice of chicken or beef. You’re only a short stagger from Stoneleigh, a fine two-bedroom stone cottage which makes a perfect sanctuary for your getaway.
Muker, Richmond, North Yorkshire, DL11 6QQ. About a two-hour drive from Leeds.