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North Yorkshire road trip - a 7 night motorhome adventure

North Yorkshire, I’d argue is the most beautiful part of Yorkshire. From the lush green of the Yorkshire Dales to the deep purple of the North York Moors. From the golden sands of the Yorkshire Coast to the city of York being the jewel to its crown. North Yorkshire really does have it all.

Steeped in history, full of adventure, packed with amazing eateries and some of the best family attractions in the country there really is something for everyone. So how do you decide where to go? How can you possibly fit it all in without taking a sabbatical from work?!

The answer? Hire a motorhome or camper and set off on a North Yorkshire road trip of a lifetime!

Your home on wheels, with you every step of the way. Reducing travel distances meaning you can focus on soaking up everything that North Yorkshire has to offer.

Holidaying in a motorhome or campervan gives you the freedom with a young family that is essential. It reduces the need to take everything for a day out. Instead there is a change of clothes on hand (guaranteed to be needed). It gives you the ability to make a meal or grab a quick snack. Routines are easier to maintain with naps planned into driving time. You have somewhere to escape to if the weather turns with enough space to play indoors without feeling cooped up. You have all your own facilities instead of relying on public ones. Plus you save a lot of time setting up and decamping, literally tidy up as you normally would, unplug and go, simple.

I would however, recommend staying on campsites overnight especially if you are travelling with the kids. There are facilities there to use if you choose and you have the security of a site which to me is especially important. You could use the ‘park4night’ app to find places to just pull up in or a pub car park if you are comfortable doing so.

Back in the Summer we had an epic motorhome adventure. Gifted from Oak Valley Campers, who are based in Skipton, we travelled around Yorkshire visiting some old favourites and some hidden gems.

From that trip and others we have done over the years, here is your 7 night itinerary for a family motor-homing adventure in North Yorkshire. An epic North Yorkshire road trip that suits those travelling with a young family.

April 1, 2023


North Yorkshire road trip - meeting your home on wheels

Skipton, previously Sheep Town, the Gateway to the Dales is where you want to be starting your travels. You can either have a few days here before starting your road trip, which I would highly recommend. And I just so happen to have wrote a couple of ’48 hours in’ based in Skipton so check those out too before you start (linked in the handy links section).

Pick up your choice of camper / motorhome from Oak Valley Campers. Once you are familiar with where everything is and how easy they are to drive then you need to stock up. There are lots of handy supermarkets in Skipton for all your essentials. You can also pick up some tasty BBQ supplies from Swaledale Online Butchers who are based in Skipton to see you through the week. Might as well eat Yorkshire Dales bred meat whilst you are out and about exploring where they are reared.

Once you are loaded up then head up to Malham to explore.

North Yorkshire road trip day 1 - Malham discovery

Malham is stunning. A dramatic limestone spectacular that was featured in a Harry Potter movie! There are numerous walks you can do depending on time and ability but if you can I would highly recommend the circular encompassing Malham Cove (the huge curved amphitheatre cliff), Gordale Scar (a limestone ravine 100m high) and Janets Foss waterfall (home to Janet queen of the fairies).

This 8km walk will probably take you around 3-4 hours with kids due to rest stops and snack stops. There are a few cafes and pubs in the village so depending on the time you set off either grab a sandwich from Town End Farm Shop in Airton or The Old Barn café in Malham on the way. Or finish with a pub meal at the Listers on the way back. Other pubs are available but this is my favourite.

From here it is only a 10 minute drive back towards Skipton to your overnight stop over. Ash Keys campsite in Eshton is a family run campsite set in total tranquility. This site is super quiet (except for a few baas and moos), each pitch has ample of space yet the site is small and feels ultra safe which is a huge thing if you are travelling with kids.

North Yorkshire road trip day 2 - Settle sights

On the agenda today is Settle. Settle is another market town, although smaller than Skipton. It does have a lot going for it though with independent shops, pubs and plenty of places to eat. You can either have a wander around the town, visit the local park, walk along the river or climb Castleberg Crag, if you are daring before grabbing some lunch.

Just outside of Settle in the village of Langcliffe I would strongly recommend visiting the Hoffman Kiln. This will only be a 20 minute stop off to have a look inside the old kiln but it is certainly worth seeing. This continuous lime kiln built in 1837, is one of the best preserved of its kind in the UK.

Day 2 - exploring more of Ribblesdale

After the Hoffman Kiln head up onto the moors on Henside Lane towards Halton Gill. You can park up once on the tops and walk across Attermire Scar, stopping to explore Victoria Cave and Jubilee Cave. These are both amazing caves with epic views over the Ribblesdale Valley.

After, you will be checking in to your overnight campsite which is in Stainforth, however, you will need to enter the backway via Stack House Lane in Settle as the road from Stainforth is unsuitable for larger vehicles due to a packhorse bridge.

The overnight accommodation is The Knight’s Campsite. There is a great café/restaurant on site as well as a kids playground.

From here it is only a 5 minute walk down to Stainforth Force. A wonderful waterfall cascade and the packhorse bridge over the River Ribble. If you are going in the Autumn then you will see the marvelous salmon jumping too which is such an exciting event to witness. Late afternoon is the best time to go as the water has warmed slightly in the sun so they have the energy to jump. Be patient and expect to be waiting around 20 minutes before you see any. The packhorse bridge, which provides a gorgeous backdrop to the cascading waterfall dates back to 1675!

North Yorkshire road trip day 3 - Heritage finds

This area of the Yorkshire Dales National Park is home to the Yorkshire 3 Peaks; the mighty mountains of Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough. Enclosing the Upper Ribble Valley (or Ribblesdale) these peaks are a huge draw for tourists all year round to complete the 3 peaks challenge. I am no way suggesting you attempt this (especially with kids!) but I would certainly drive round a little to get the best spots to view them, pull into those lay-bys and get some photos of them in the distance.

You will be making your way towards Hawes today so a stop off at Ribblehead Viaduct is a must on the way. Driving from Stainforth to Ribblehead you will pass some gorgeous little villages including Selside which is a typical rural dales hamlet.

Once at Ribblehead Viaduct park up on the roadside and admire the grandeur of the viaduct with Whernside in the background. The viaduct is such a wonderful feat of engineering and a momentous sight to behold. It is a Grade 2 listed structure which carries the Settle to Carlisle railway across Batty Moss Moor. Built from 1870 to 1875, over 100 men lost their lives constructing this magnificent structure with its 24 arches. At 34m high and over 400m long this imposing formation is one of Yorkshire’s finest heritage examples. Have a wander down the track and get up close to really get a feel for its size.

Day 3 - Venturing into Wensleydale

From Ribblehead Viaduct drive over the moors to Hawes. This drive is lovely as you are really in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales here. Experience the rough exposed moorland, the drystone walls, the windy roads and the million shades of green which is all surrounded by the Yorkshire Peaks. The road up from Ribblehead gives you a stunning view of Ingleborough so make sure you stop to look back.

Once in Hawes have a wander round the village and witness some real traditional Yorkshire skill sets; the old Rope Makers, the Dales Countryside museum, the Wensleydale Cheese factory, the Olde Sweet shop. Finish off with a play in the park to keep little legs happy and some lunch.

From here there are 2 further waterfalls to visit; Hardraw Force and Aysgarth Falls. Both spectacular in their own way so I would recommend seeing both if you can. Hardraw Force is a single drop waterfall, the highest in England. Entry is behind the Green Dragon Inn and it is paid entry. The walk to the waterfall and back can be done in around 30 minutes.

Aysgarth Falls are a series of waterfalls and is a lovely one in summer for a paddle too. At Aysgarth the walk is through Freeholders Wood, with various viewing platforms to see the Falls, but you can also get down onto the rocks for a close up. The rocks can be slippy so be especially careful with the kids. This walk to see the Higher and Lower Falls isn’t overly long but I would suggest an hour minimum. There is a café on the bridge at Aysgarth called Mill Race Tea shop which does gorgeous cakes, sausage rolls, soup and sandwiches. Get some to takeaway and your evening meal in the van is covered.

Tonight you will be staying at Cow Close Caravan Park which is a short drive away. A small, family run campsite with modern facilities.

North Yorkshire road trip day 4 - the beautiful Yorkshire Coast

Today you do like to be beside the seaside!

From the campsite it is an hours drive over the tops of the North York Moors to the picturesque traditional seaside town of Saltburn-by-the-Sea. I would recommend getting up and going as soon as you can as Saltburn does get busy and you want to nab yourself a good spot before everyone else does! The Seafront car park has designated campervan spots so makes it very easy to base yourself here which is handy for everything. That is the beauty with the motorhome in that you can finish getting ready and have breakfast once you are parked up.

Depending on the weather and tide times (always check these), I would suggest first doing the beach and promenade. The majority of the beach is sandy so great for sandcastle building. There is a pebbly section too for finding treasure. The beach beyond the pier is long and flat so makes a lovely walk. The sea itself has become a hit with surfers and you can even have a lesson if you wish. The promenade is perfect for prams, scooters and the like as well as the pier. The Victorian restored pier is the last remaining pier in Yorkshire so pretty unique.

After getting rid of all the beach stuff back at the van take the Funicular up the cliff. This cliff lift is the oldest functional water balanced funicular in Great Britain! How cool is that?! Take a moment at the bottom to read the history and appreciate how it operates – simple yet fascinating.

Once at the top, admire the views of the beach and cliff tops, before taking a walk down through the Valley Gardens. In the bottom of the Valley is a playground and a minature railway (check running times first) which will be a hit with the kids. For lunch you can head back to the van, pick up fish and chips on the front or head to the Ship Inn for the best parmo around.

If you wanted to extend a walk some more the Cleveland Way passes through Saltburn. This is a spectacular coastal walk on to the top of Hunt Cliffs. Look out for the steel sculptures; a fish and a charm bracelet. These reflect the history of the area including the local smelting and melting work industries, the fishing industry as well as local folklore.

So that’s Saltburn done! The charming seaside town that packs a lot in, seeping in tradition and giving you that all important salty sea air fix!

Day 4 cont... - the traditional Yorkshire Coast

From Saltburn follow the coastal road South to the fishing village of Staithes.

Staithes is a small fishing harbour village that was made famous from being the starting point of James Cook’s career. The intrepid sailor came to do an apprenticeship in the village as a grocer before falling in love with the sea and moving to Whitby.

Parking at the top of the village you can only walk down the cobbled hill into the old part of the village and the harbour (unless you are a resident). There are a few independent shops on the way down to browse, but your aim is the Cod and Lobster pub on the harbourside. Book in advance to secure a table or try your luck and see if there’s one outside. Heading down mid afternoon usually means you can get lucky. The food is exceptional here so grab your tea if you can – the fish chowder is amazing! Otherwise just have a drink on the harbour side and watch the tide roll in.

Staithes is lovely to explore. The narrow streets, including Dog Loup the narrowest in England at only 18 inches, as well as the cobbled streets. Don’t forget to cross the footbridge and explore the north side of the harbour too including the sea defences. Get an ice cream for dessert then make your way back up the hill, take your time it’s a killer! But there is a playground that you pass before the car park that can act as a reward for little legs.

If you need supplies there is a Co-op on the main road out of Staithes then the campsite is only a 5 minute drive.

Stay at Serenity Campsite in Hinderwell. This campsite has superb facilities including a huge family shower room with room for a pram, a WiFi and information cabin with books & games as well as a big kitchen. A lovely quiet site for you to bunk down and get an early night after all that sea air.

North Yorkshire road trip day 5 - Wonderful Whitby

Today you are heading to Whitby. Located between Hinderwell, where you are staying, and Whitby however, there are 2 other stops that you could include but you would need another day ideally to fit these in.

Runswick Bay and Robin Hoods Bay are both beautiful Yorkshire Coastal villages. Both are located at the bottom of steep hills which is why you cannot just drive by and have a look. They are worth taking the time to explore fully on another trip. Runswick Bay has a sandy beach along with rock pools and small caves in the cliff too. This beach walk is lush. There is a lovely cafe on the seafront too called Sandside Cafe, which does a cracking bacon sandwich. They also sell orange marmalade ice-cream which is unreal. Robin Hoods Bay has more independent shops, cafes and pubs and is also a great place for rock pooling. The playground by the car park is also worth the visit.

But your ultimate destination is Whitby. The most famous Yorkshire coastal town which is steeped in history. The infamous home of Dracula where Bram Stoker based his novel, the start of Captain Cook’s sailing career and also home to the wonderful Whitby jet.

I would suggest spending the full day here. There is so much to see and do that you won’t be able to decide what to leave out, so make the most of it. Park on the top of the cliff by the paddling pool. Dependent on the weather you can head down to the beach for a couple of hours, walk the prom and admire all the beach huts, make some sandcastles and dip those toes in the brisk North Sea.

You can’t come to Whitby and not have fish and chips, it’s like a law! There are so many fish and chip shops that you won’t be disappointed wherever you go. With umpteen lists of the best fish and chips around and different ones topping the leaderboard it’s pretty safe to say that it doesn’t matter where you go. But if you did need some nudging then Trenchers is superb, or the Magpie café in the harbour. Get them to takeaway – just be aware of pesky jumbo jet sized seagulls!

You will need a walk after that meal so for the next few hours wander round taking in all the sights. The quirky narrow streets, the iconic whale bones, the epic views, experience the Endeavor, take a trip out on a boat, maybe even try the pirate ship Black Pearl and walk the pier.

Once you have exhausted the North side of the harbour then head over the bridge to the South side and again wander the narrow cobbled quaint streets, lined with Independent shops. Sample a lemon top ice cream before climbing the 199 steps to the Abbey. Whitby Abbey is a lovely place to visit and again pretty iconic for photo opportunities. If you didn’t want to pay to go in then walk to the Youth Hostel and in to their cafe garden where you will get a fab view of the Abbey. The best views of Whitby are from the St Mary’s church graveyard. Your afternoon will fly by.

Tonight your stop over is at Beacon Farm Campsite a 10 minute drive out of Whitby. This is an ice cream farm too. There is a park for the kids, a little wildlife walk, and the farm as well as some unbelievable ice cream flavours to road test.

North Yorkshire road trip day 6 - North York Moors

Pickering is your destination today. Once you have stocked your freezer up with ice cream then head off on to the North York Moors. This is a super quiet road, windy, exposed and stunning. If the heather is out then the purple hue is gorgeous. Make sure you drive through and have a pit stop at one of these villages on your way; Rosedale, Grosmont or Goathland. Look out for ‘Heartbeat’ references, watch for the puff of smoke from the steam train and soak up all those wondrous views.

Pickering, in Ryedale, is a historic market town ideally placed for the Coast, the Moors, the forests and everything in between. Your first stop is Dalby Forest.

Dalby Forest is ideal for everyone, every ability, every length of walk or for bikes if you have them with you. There are so many routes to choose from and they always have themed ones suited for the kids. When we were there it was Superworm but from February is changing to Zog. There are also the remnants of the Gruffalo sculptures from a previous trail. Drive to the top of the forest to do the kids trails and play on the playground. You won’t have time to explore the rest of the forest today but just driving through will give you a taste.

After, head down into Thornton-Le-Dale for a look around this beautiful village to see the chocolate box cottages, the traditional ice cream parlour and all the other quaint businesses. There’s a duck pond tucked away in the trees over the footbridge which is a lovely short walk around. I would recommend either of the pubs in the centre of the village for tea.

Stay at Cliff Farm Holidays just outside of Pickering for the evening, a small family run campsite.

North Yorkshire road trip day 7 - For train lovers

For your final full day on this epic North Yorkshire road trip you have to visit the capital itself, York. This beautiful ancient city, with its city walls and the iconic Minster is not to be missed.

The best place to start is the National Railway Museum. Parking is ideal here as you can stay all day and its large enough to easily drive in and park. The museum itself is free but there are a few paid extras in there such as the miniature railway ride. Unless you are an absolute railway nut then I would suggest a couple of hours here is enough. Have a look at the different exhibitions, the famous trains, test out some of the interactive stands, play in the playground then take a ride on the miniature railway.

From the Railway museum it is around a 15 minute walk into the centre of York. However, there is a road train so find out the times of those and make sure you bag a seat. Little ones won’t want to be walking when there’s a train to catch. So save those legs!

Day 7 cont... - York, the capital

The best thing to do in York is to just take it all in. Wander the streets, see the sights and see where you end up. If you haven’t been before then York Minster is top of the list to see. Walk all the way round, go inside, pay to climb the tower for panoramic views of the city and just soak up all of this history, architecture and heritage. This gothic cathedral boasts 128 stained glass windows, 43 bells and 275 steps up the central tower.

Next head through all the snickelways (narrow cobbled streets) that twist their way through the centre. Lined with timber framed building that feel like they are leaning in, make sure you are looking up as well as straight on! The most famous of these snickelways is The Shambles – the best preserved medieval street in Europe. Originally the Butchers market, this street is now one of the most iconic in the country being voted the prettiest street numerous times.

From here you can grab some lunch and take a boat trip on the river. There are some motor boats which you can drive yourself which are fun (half hour hire with kids is enough!) or you can go on one of the short tours. This is an ideal way to see more of the city with kids who don’t want to walk.

After your boat trip climb up onto the city walls and walk a section. The walls in total run for 2.75 miles around the city with all 4 of the bars (gates) still intact. The city walls are not pram friendly however there is a section from the river on the west of the city that is closest to the railway station that you can easily get up on to with a pram and walk along before turning back at Micklegate due to a lot of steps. The walls nearest the Minster between Bootham Bar and Monk Bar is the prettiest section to walk if you don’t have a pram to think about.

After your afternoon wandering the beautiful city then head back to the van and drive the short distance to your final stop over at Rowntree Park campsite. This is close to the city centre so once settled you can walk back in for tea or to see the city in the early evening if you wish.

North Yorkshire road trip day 8 - homeward bound

It’s time to head home. But there is one small thing to squeeze in on your way! Whilst driving back to Skipton, take the scenic route through Harrogate, on to Pateley Bridge, down into Upper Wharfedale through Grassington before arriving back in Skipton.

So there you have it your 7 night North Yorkshire road trip!

There are so many additions that you could add on to this road trip to suit your family and I could probably keep going to take you to day 100! But this is a start and it gives you the highlight tour of North Yorkshire, meaning you will be wanting to come back for more I just know it.

Let me know what your favourite part is. Will you fall in love with the Dales, the Coast, the Moors or the City?

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April 1, 2023