Our Guide To Visiting The North Yorkshire Moors Railway



Stoke up your engines and climb on board – the North Yorkshire Moors Railway is one of the world’s greatest heritage railways. The historical line chuffs through 24 miles of North Yorkshire’s amazing scenery.

This is a place where you can step back in time to the golden age of the railways as you take your seat in a wood-panelled carriage swaying behind a steam or heritage diesel train. Most of the locos are of the oil-oozing, soot-sneezing variety, with the occasional 1950s workhorse of the British rail network to take the strain.

If you’re holidaying nearby, the moors line is just one of many must-see places to visit in North Yorkshire. A ride aboard the railway is an evocative steam and diesel train experience that’s bound to thrill travellers of all ages.

The North Yorkshire Moors Railway runs from Pickering to Grosmont before joining the line to Whitby, crossing through river-carved valleys and over sweeping hills that roll towards the sea beyond.

The journey from Pickering to Whitby takes around 90 minutes, with stops along the way to delight sightseers, walkers, history buffs and Harry Potter fans alike.

If you choose a Freedom Ticket, you’re able to hop off wherever you want and explore the best of the surrounding North York Moors National Park. Here’s our guide to visiting the North Yorkshire Moors Railway with the stops and sidings to take in along the way.

Fancy settling near the start line? Pick your pitch at campsites near Pickering.

Pickering Station on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway (Lisa Baker on Unsplash)

Pickering to Goathland

Pick up the train at Pickering, setting off from its 1930s-themed station. If you’ve got time to kill, this bustling market town is packed with historical attractions and independent places to eat and drink before boarding the loco – it’s an awe-inspiring sight when it pulls up to the platform.

The locomotive first huffs to Levisham station, preserved as a 1912 homage to the heyday of rural railways when the steam train was the only sound that broke through the chorus of sheep on the surrounding hills. Jump off at Levisham to reach the Hole of Horcum, a massive hollow amphitheatre with stunning views from the upper ridge right across the moors (best in summer when it turns to a carpet of purple heather).

A few minutes further along the tracks lined with deciduous woodland is the halt at Newtondale. ‘Halt’ perfectly describes this stop where the moorland tips into peaceful woodland surrounding a short platform that can otherwise only be reached on foot or by bike.

The next point on the line could not be a more magical whistle-stop. The railway heads through Cropton Forest before a moorland climb to Goathland as the train puffs, pants, whistles and clanks upwards.

Goathland will be instantly familiar to certain cinema-goers as Hogsmeade Station in the Harry Potter films. (Although slightly older passengers may instead recognise the village as the setting for the long-running TV series Heartbeat.) A short walk from the station is the Aidensfield Arms, still just as it was on the show.

Browse cheap rural campsites near Goathland.

Steam train shunting back to Pickering from Whitby (Mike Cassidy on Unsplash)

Goathland to Grosmont

Another 15 minutes along from Goathland, after the 130-metre darkness of one of the world’s oldest railway tunnels, the train pulls into Grosmont station, preserved as it was in the 1950s. Grosmont is perhaps the prettiest stop on the line and worthy of embarking to explore.

The village is the operational hub of the railway with engine sheds and workshops to visit before a wander into its centre with pubs, cafes and little shops. Grosmont has connections to the main rail network – including your onward train to Whitby should you choose to head for the coast.

From the coast to the countryside, the dales to the moors, explore them all from the best campsites in North Yorkshire.

Stop a while in Whitby

You’ll get a few hours to explore Whitby before hopping aboard the train back to Pickering. That’s just about enough time to immerse yourself in everything the historical harbour town has to offer.

Whitby is a place of split personality. One is seaside attractions, novelty shops and fish and chips; the other is a deeper and darker side of ancient mariners and moody folklore, manifested in the clifftop church and haunting abbey that inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula overlooking the port from which Captain Cook set sail.

If ever a journey itself was as fabulous as its destinations, then it’s the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. Look ahead and behind you on the way back as the train curves along the track to take in the engineering marvels that have pulled passengers along this route since Victorian times.

Search for holiday parks in Whitby.

Holidays in North Yorkshire and the North East

The North East of England stretches from North Yorkshire up through County Durham and Northumberland to the Scottish Borders. The region makes for a great holiday destination, either touring the sights or making one of its national parks your base. Before you book, check out our North East camping guide for all you’ll need to know.