Car-free adventures nearNorthallertonYorkshire
The North York Moors are not the easiest place to reach by public transport, but the rewards are incredible. Catch a bus from Northallerton and climb the steep hills behind Yorkshire’s pretty villages - you’ll find breath-taking views and wild countryside where grouse chirr through the heather, hiding their red wattles in the cotton grass. Visit Mount Grace Priory, its atmospheric gardens backed by woods and banks of flowers, or cycle around Swainby and be back in time for tea. Regular trains arrive in Northallerton from Middlesbrough, Manchester, York, London, Leeds and Liverpool so it makes a great place for a staycation. Scroll to the bottom for possible places to stay.
1. Bus to Osmotherley
Turn left out of Northallerton railway station, keep straight up South Parade and head left at the roundabout into the High Street, lined with shops and cafés, including a branch of the famous Betty’s tearooms. Here you can eat traditional fat rascals in Georgian splendour.
- There is a regular market along the High Street on Wednesdays and Saturdays and a Country Market on Friday morning. Keep straight at the roundabout, past more cafés, to reach a bus stop near the old Buck Inn, just before the church.
- Buses 80 and 89 leaves a few times per day (not Sundays), heading for the hills.
- After twenty minutes, the bus gets to picturesque Osmotherley. Get off at the green, near the Golden Lion and Three Tuns pubs, and have a wander.
- Check when the last bus back to Northallerton leaves Osmotherley.
2. Walk to Mount Grace Priory
- Walk up North End and turn left at the signpost with an acorn, following Cleveland Way signs. Along a track, forking right, you will see the Lady Chapel, a shrine built by the priory’s monks, with great views of the surrounding country.
- Return to the original track at Chapel Wood Farm and leave the Cleveland Way, heading downhill through the woods on way-marked footpaths to arrive at the priory.
- The woods are steep (and can get very muddy in winter), but beautiful with spring carpets of white-flowered wild garlic.
- The priory itself is England’s best preserved Carthusian monastery, founded in 1398. The neighbouring 17th-century guesthouse was renovated two centuries later in the Arts and Crafts style: look out for the carpet in the drawing room, designed by William Morris in 1881 with twining leaves and natural colours.
- Behind the guesthouse, the ruined church and Great Cloister are spread out among banks of flowers. Sir Lowthian Bell, who owned the guesthouse, reconstructed one monk’s cell in 1905. It now has a bedroom, study and loft with a loom and spinning wheel.
- To return to Osmotherley by a different route, turn right on the path above the woods and left at a T-junction of tracks.
3. Cycle around Swainby
Bus 80 and 89 go on from Osmotherley and quickly reach Swainby, another lovely village with a ruined castle, Victorian church, and pretty daffodil-fringed beck running through the middle under old stone bridges.
• There are two pubs with gardens – the Blacksmiths Arms near the main road and the Black Horse, with fancy food and a view of the stream.
• The bus stops outside the Rusty Bike café, which does cycle hire as well as carrot and coriander soup, great cakes and coffee. It’s open most days.
• There are plenty of good routes in the area taking in local sights like Whorlton Moor.