Top 4 Things to See in North and Central Yorkshire

What It’s Like to Housesit in … Danby, North Yorkshire

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In late November 2022, we were lucky enough to land a housesit in Danby, which is actually located in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park. It’s a small village (less than 1500 population) that is in the Scarborough District, so also close to the Yorkshire Coast. We were only there a few days, but were able to see so much of both nature and history.

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It is probably worth looking into renting a car for your visit. We recommend Discover Cars to find the best deals for your rental car.

We’ll start by talking about what to do in the area, and then discuss what it’s like to live like a local for a few days. So first, what you can look forward to:

A picturesque view across the Est Valley in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park with sun peaking through clouds. Best thing to see in North Yorkshire

1. The Danby Lodge National Park Centre in North Yorkshire

This is the obvious place to start when you are in this area of Yorkshire. North Yorkshire is vast and offers so much, but the Danby Lodge is a great place to get your bearings. It has great information and exhibits about what you can see and do in the immediate area. Then come back at the end of your visit to buy great art or crafts from local artists before you leave!

Whitby Abbey ruins on the North Yorkshire coast with daffodils in the foreground.

2. Visit Whitby and Whitby Abbey

A true highlight of things to see in Coastal Yorkshire is the town of Whitby on the Yorkshire coast. Explore Whitby Abbey where Bram Stoker was inspired to write Dracula. It’s a spectacular Abbey ruin, perched high on a cliff overlooking the North Sea. You can really get the romantic feel of what monastic life may have been like in the early days of christianity in the area, and definitely is a spectacular site to see.

If you come by car, you should park at Whitby Abbey for the day. It’s a hilly walk down to Whitby, but a very convenient and easy place to park for exploring the town.

Afterwards, walk down the stairs and wander through the quaint shops and cross the bridge across the Esk River and head to The Magpie Cafe for lunch or dinner. It came highly recommended by the owners of our housesit.

A plate of fish and chips with crisp white wine from the Magpie Cafe.

3. Go for a North Yorkshire Walk

We were lucky enough to housesit for fabulous dogs, but even if you don’t bring your dog, you have plenty of walks to explore. Whether you’re a real hiker or just want to go for a quick walk in the brisk Yorkshire air to get the feel, you will not be disappointed. One great North Yorkshire tip to remember is that the views are spectacular no matter the weather. If you are setting out, make sure you don’t disregard any weather warnings. The weather can change in an instant. Head out prepared for any weather, and let someone know where you are off to!

Terrier walking in the Esk Valley
View of the Esk Valley while walking a dog.

4. Visit Rievaulx Abbey

There are many abbey ruins in North Yorkshire. And if you thought Whitby Abbey was gothically romantic, you will LOVE Rievaulx Abbey. This is definitely one of the best things to see in North and Coastal Yorkshire. The Abbey ruins are an English Heritage site and the visitor center and the guides are wonderful. It was a powerful Cistercian Monastery from the 12th century. The audio guide walks you through the ruins and makes it easy to imagine what monastic life was like. The Victorians loved to paint and draw the ruins. It is a magical place, even in the misty weather that we had when we were there.

Inside the ruins of the Rievaulx Abbey, one of the best things to see in North Yorkshire.

Getting Around and Getting Supplies

It is quite possible to get around the moors of North Yorkshire using public transport (trains and bus), but we had a rental car for our stay. Driving is NOT for the faint hearted though. The roads are small and narrow. Especially when passing through Yorkshire villages, you have to be aware of roads turning into small and narrow lanes. And beware of the fog! The fog can come upon you suddenly and in very localized pockets. In the national park, there are no fences to keep the sheep off the roads. And the sheep are the same color as the fog, so your pace may slow to a crawl. It’s not impossible, by any means, but it can be daunting.

Shopping for groceries and supplies is easy. We went to the local Coop in the village of Castleton, the Coop in Whitby, and also drove about 25 minutes to a larger Tesco. There are also local small business shops that have amazing local produce. We loved the products available to us while we were there.

Geese at Rievaulx Abbey

Would We Come Back?

We would housesit in this area again in a heartbeat. We really don’t think we have even scratched the surface of what the area has to offer. There is so much to see in North and Coastal Yorkshire. And the scenery is something we would never grow tired of seeing every day. If you get a chance to grab a housesit here, you should not hesitate.

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