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Things to do in the North York Moors National Park in Spring

As winter gives way to spring the coastline of the North York Moors National Park offers superb and unique experiences with a chance to reconnect with yourself by walking and sleeping among the natural world.

Take a guided night walk under the stars - you’ll need your ears and eyes just as much as your feet!

Most of us go for a walk during daylight hours, especially on holiday, when the mouth-watering breakfast at your B&B or hotel or dinner at the pub await and are justifiably high on the list during a break from work. 

The walks led and offered by Alison Goodwin, Adventures for the Soul) are a little different. Alison runs twilight and night-time walks along the coast (as well as inland) and lays great emphasis on the noises and sensations that become more apparent when we reach the bookends of the day. 

‘What I do is different to a standard nature walk,’ she explains. ‘It’s about reconnecting to nature but we’re not just looking for deer or birds. It’s extremely calming for the mind.’ 

When you walk in the dark, your primary sense of sight diminishes and gets overtaken by the sense of hearing and touch. ‘You stop looking into the past or the future, or ahead, you are really in the present,’ Alison explains. ‘Hearing but not seeing a leaf fall is amazing.’

Head torches are provided but at points Alison – who is assisted by Fabian Seymour from AFS Mountaineering) - asks guests to switch these off and just stand, listen and look at the night sky. The absence of light pollution on the moor means this can be truly breath-taking (the North York Moors National Park is expecting any time now to be awarded the status of a Dark Sky Reserve]).

Along the coast Alison runs what she calls an ‘Awe Walk’, where she uses the original sense of awe, of wonder at the natural world. ‘People often just go “wow!” she laughs, ‘they come away spellbound, they just get blissed out. You hear the waves, the turning of the tide, the sand – you actually hear silence. The sound of the sea at night gives you goose-bumps.’

Things to do in the North York Moors National Park in Spring Things to do in the North York Moors National Park in Spring
Things to do in the North York Moors National Park in Spring

Walk with Alpacas then head for the pub by the sea, try off-grid glamping in a camping pod!

Such a walking experience is not the only way to experience the North York Moors coast. 

Another, equally unique experience is to take a South American camelid for a wander with Thornybeck Alpacas at Cloughton. You can walk with sea views for up to 90-minute walks with alpacas, beasts that are incredibly easy-going and calming.

Thornybeck also offer accommodation – called, naturally “Glampaca” (a play on glamping, or upmarket camping) with comfortable pods fitted with everything you need for self-catering.

After exposing yourself to the bracing airs of the coast what better place to recuperate than inside a gorgeous pub? 

Fortunately, the Cod and Lobsterin the village of Staithes will tick every box:  fine food, real ales and good wine – and of course that life-enhancing hot chocolate.  And you can enjoy them all with fine sea and harbour views (the pub is so close to the North Sea that storms have taken bites out the building on at least three occasions – the last time 70 years ago). 

Things to do in the North York Moors National Park in Spring
Things to do in the North York Moors National Park in Spring Things to do in the North York Moors National Park in Spring

As Alison Goodwin says: If you’ve had a crazy day in the wind then it’s beautiful to find yourself simply cosying up in this pub, keeping warm by the fire and looking out to sea. The North Sea is a different colour to the sea further south, it’s a metallic grey-green and feels just wild.’

For a place to stay you could consider the stunning off-grid log cabins in hollows and dales around Whitby operated by Coast and Camplight.  Each camp has been hand built from scratch from things that are recycled, found, car booted, upcycled, saved or rescued. 

You’ll be comfortable, for the end product involves proper beds with luxury bedding, soft sofas to sink in and log burners. The location is truly wild with deer, owls, badgers regularly seen – your to-do diary will probably extend little further than watching for owls or paddling in the sea.

By Mark Rowe