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Halloween in Whitby & The North York Moors

The North York Moors, with its misty landscapes and mystifying myths and legends, are a haunting backdrop for an atmospheric adventure – but where should budding ghost-hunters start?

Overshadowed by the imposing ruins of the abbey, Whitby is one of our guest’s favourite places to spend time at Halloween. With its winding cobbled streets and eerie cliff-side paths that are seriously spooky, perfect for ghostly encounters and other-worldly explorations.

Famously steeped in gothic folklore, this corner of the North Yorkshire coast is well known as the setting for Bram Stoker’s Dracula and there are plenty of activities and events to celebrate this kooky connection.

Here are some of the best things to do with little one’s in and around Whitby during October half term and beyond.

Illuminated Abbey

One of the most atmospheric and unforgettable events on the North Yorkshire coast returns for 2023. Cameras at the ready, as Whitby Abbey glows with dramatic illuminations once again for Illuminated Abbey this October half term.

It’s an unforgettable, Instagrammable evening that families will love, with Victorian Gothic entertainment thrown in. Visit during the daytime for a more gentle offering, with spooky storytelling and a bewitching trail.

Whitby Goth Weekend (October 27th – 29th)

This half term, see Whitby as you’ve never seen it before, as thousands of goths descend on the picturesque seaside town for Whitby Goth Weekend. This free, alternative festival plays host to live music, unique shopping opportunities and fringe events, many of which are Dracula-related, thanks to Whitby’s links with Bram Stoker.

North Yorkshire Moors Light Spectacular

For an all-singing, all-dancing experience like no other, head for the pretty town of Pickering and the North York Moors Light Spectacular.

Take your seats aboard a vintage engine, adorned with thousands of synchronised LEDs and get ready to dance, sing and watch the illuminated countryside go by. It is a good laugh that gets a thumbs-up from us.

Visit the North Yorkshire Moors Railway website for dates and times.

Dark Skies Fringe Festival 2023

Away from the twinkling lights of the region’s towns and cities, the North York Moors is the perfect setting for discovering the wonder of the starry skies. The Dark Skies Fringe Festival from 27th October to 5th November is a unique event that promotes an understanding and appreciation of astronomy and the delights of the world above us.

Book one of the many activities and create lasting memories while you share the awe-inspiring beauty of the universe.

Other things to do in Whitby

  • Climb the 199 steps: A famous landmark and a good workout, climb the 199 steps up from the town to Whitby Abbey and you will be rewarded with mystifying views across the harbour and out to sea. It’s not one to attempt with a pushchair, but older kids will enjoy the challenge and it’s a great way to work up an appetite for freshly caught fish and chips.
  • Set sail on a boat trip: To immerse yourselves in the full seaside experience, nothing beats the sensation of wind in your hair, and the occasional splash from the North Sea. Head over to the bustling harbour, where you’ll find a variety of experiences on offer, from riding an old lifeboat to embarking on an adventure aboard a pirate ship. Most can be booked in person on the day, for maximum spontaneity.
  • Wander along the beach: Great news for those who like their beaches pebble-free; Whitby has a beautiful stretch of golden sand that’s perfect for sandcastle-making, kite-flying, and, if you’re feeling brave, a spot of swimming (brr). Nearby are the quaint fishing villages of Robin Hood’s Bay and Staithes, both excellent places for fossil-hunting.
  • Potter around the shops: Whitby’s brimming with lovely independent shops, from antique and vintage stores to delicious delis. The town’s also well known for its high-quality jet, made from fossilised wood and a favourite souvenir is a Whitby Lucky Duck from Whitby Glass.

Little Vikings is an award-winning print and online guide to the best of York and beyond for kids, independently run by a local family.

For more recommendations of the best things to do with little ones when joining us for a stay in North Yorkshire throughout the year, visit the Little Vikings website and follow on Facebook, Instagram, X and TikTok.

Things to do in the Lake District when it Rains

A holiday when the weather is wet doesn’t mean a washout, as there are still plenty of things to see and do in the Lake District when it rains.

Here are some of the brilliant attractions you can visit close to our Lake District cottages come rain or (fingers crossed) sunshine.

Honister Slate Mine

Honister Slate Mine is located on the main road from Borrowdale to Buttermere, at the top of Honister Pass and is a still working mine which offers underground tours throughout the day.

It gives you the chance to see exactly how the mine works and how the renowned Westmorland green slate is extracted. The tours also include a historical element and there is even the chance to follow the original miner’s track, using a series of metal cables, rungs, ladders and bridges, if you’re feeling brave.

Muncaster Castle and Gardens

Muncaster Castle has been in the Pennington Family since 1208 and is today known as one of the most haunted castles in the UK.

With its stunning gardens (perhaps not on the rainiest of days), an owlery and ornately decorated rooms to explore, many ‘unusual happenings’ have been reported at Muncaster over the decades, and it’s an interesting afternoon even in wet weather, especially if you take a stroll under the cover of the canopy in Bluebell Wood.

The Lakes Distillery

The Lakes Distillery practises holistic spirit production, with a whisky-maker at the helm throughout the journey through the distillery and beyond.

There’s the chance to sample a mix of tipples along the way and the on-site bistro serves up lunch, afternoon tea and dinner once you’ve had your fill of the drinks. You are also not far from the River Derwent if in need of some fresh air to walk it all off.

Ruskin’s Residence

Brantwood in Coniston was the former home of the area’s most renowned resident, artist and critic John Ruskin.

It is a ‘hidden gem’, providing both artistic and natural feats of beauty and the chance to explore the former home of a highly-acclaimed visionary. You can explore the Ruskin Museum and learn about his time living in the Lakes, while examining fine furnishings, beautiful paintings and many of Ruskin’s most treasured possessions. Brantwood also boasts 250 acres of gardens, which are beautiful whatever the weather.

Aira Force Waterfall

Aira Force in Ullswater is even more stunning when it’s wet. Simply walk under the shelter of the leafy canopy and view the waterfalls with added drama, as it drops a staggering 65 foot!! The rain further amplifies the crash, cascading to the ground below and the atmosphere can be something quite unique, thanks to the absence of crowds.

Threlkeld Quarry

Threlkeld Quarry & Mining Museum offers the opportunity to discover even more about the history of the Lake District and venture on an underground tour, where you can view a varied collection of machinery. The quarry even has its own narrow gauge railway, via which you can take in some stunning views of Blencathra and shelter from the wet weather.

A holiday during the colder months does not mean you have to hide away indoors, should you not wish to, of course! It can even make some attractions more unique and there are plenty of things to do in the Lake District when it rains, even if you’re forced to swap the fells for stately homes and museums.

Feeling inspired to book an autumnal or winter break? Browse our collection of Cumbrian cottages. 

Moor to Sea Cycle Route

The “Moor to Sea” cycle network connects Scarborough, Whitby, Dalby Forest, Great Ayton and Pickering across a series of moorland, forest and coastal loops.

There are around 150 miles to explore through the heart of the North York Moors National Park, on quiet winding roads, woodland tracks and bridleways, as well as along the route of the former Scarborough to Whitby railway (the ‘Cinder Track’).

Riding the whole network would provide 5 or 6 days’ great cycling, however it is split into eleven separate sections so that you can tackle shorter stages on day rides and outings. It’s also possible to do smaller circular trails off the main network, particularly starting from nearby Dalby Forest.

The ‘Moor to Sea Cycle Network’ book, a useful route guide, is available from the National Park Centres at Danby and Sutton Bank and from local shops and tourist information centres. As well as the route guide, we recommend you use Ordnance Survey maps OL26 and OL27, which cover the area and have information available in our Thirley Cotes cottages and on-site reception.

The route is marked all the way, using cycle route signs and waymark arrows. Although the odd sign may be missing, so make regular map checks to save unnecessary miles.

Looking for a great day ride? Discover Yorkshire Coast have planned a 32-mile (51.5km) circular route taking in some of the best bits of the Moor to Sea. Download the directions from the DYC website – then all you have to do is pedal!

Basic cycling skills and reasonable fitness are required to cycle the “Moor to Sea” network. It is suitable for family cycling, although it does pass through remote countryside in places, offering little in the way of shelter or facilities.

• The route uses forest tracks, green lanes and minor roads, as well as the Cinder Track. Surfaces are mostly good, although some sections are stony and there may be seasonal rain damage

• “Moor to Sea” crosses varied terrain, from the largely flat Cinder Track to gradual ascents and descents within the forests. It is mostly moderate, but there are also shorter / steeper sections (clearly indicated on the downloadable detailed route directions)

• Be aware that there is limited mobile telephone reception along much of the route

Visiting the North York Moors in July / August

Summer has arrived and full-leaf oaks, ashes and beeches are supporting hundreds of birds across our Thirley Cotes Farm estate and beyond, which is a spectacle to see / hear.

White carpets of cotton-grass on the fell plateaux, filled with soft seed heads, are also a glorious sight; the fluffy ‘flower’ tops appear like cotton wool balls blowing in the warm breeze and were once used for stuffing mattresses and pillows.

Blakey Ridge between Hutton le Hole and the Lion Inn is a good spot, looking west to Farndale.

At the National Trust managed Bridestones, stroll through the wildflower meadows at Dovedale along the route of the Bridestones Trail, and, as harvesting gets underway toward the end of the month, the scent of lavender will be filling the air, along with bees, dragonflies and butterflies.

Kingfishers are one of the most brilliantly coloured birds in Britain and you may be fortunate to see a flash of blue as you walk by, should one dash across the water or dive to catch small fish.

July is the perfect time for a woodland walk at Thirley Cotes Farm and ‘Seafest’ is Scarborough’s annual maritime weekend celebration, taking place from the 14th – 16th.

The West Pier on Scarborough’s South Bay comes to life with a great musical programme, street entertainers, family activities and a variety of stalls from local businesses.

A fantastic fireworks display on Saturday evening rounds off the first day’s events and there will be plenty of entertainment to start the summer season here on the North Yorkshire coast.

Spring has Sprung

Sheep grazing in field in North Yorkshire, UK

Lambing season is in full swing here in North Yorkshire and Thirley Cotes Farm is bustling with new life.

The weather is warming, hedgerows are filling with colour and new life is flourishing in the fields and garden beds – spring has arrived here at Thirley Cotes Farm, the perfect place to experience our surrounding scenery as it awakens.

See the wildflowers blossom on our woodland trails, spot daffodils, bluebells, birds and bees and witness a flurry of spritely young animals finding their feet in the neighbouring fields. Meanwhile over on the coast, gannets and puffins make an appearance at RSPB Bempton and Common Seal colonies come ashore to nurture their young*.

Sheep grazing in field in the spring in North Yorkshire, UK

We are also the perfect base for exploring the North York Moors, where wildlife and walking experiences are a must-do at this time of year, as the forests fill with birdsong and our iconic moorland birds perform extravagant displays.

If you can’t book a stay this spring, don’t worry, as summer and beyond are just as special too!

*Please enjoy and respect our grounds, wildlife and areas of natural beauty from a safe distance

Skiddaw from Keswick

View of Skiddaw on a walk in the Lake District
One of the most popular walks in the Lake District takes you to Skiddaw from Keswick and offers fantastic views of the surrounding scenery at every juncture.

You’ll reach 931 metres at the summit and it’s a 10-mile route in total – so worthy of a full day out. Plus you have the added bonus of returning home to Keswick, where there are plenty of places to refuel, including our collection of self-catering holiday cottages.

The Route

Begin by following Victoria Street from the centre of Keswick, in the direction of Windermere, then head to the nearby War Memorial, taking a left then right turn after onto Station Road.

Walk past Fitz Park and cross the bridge at the YHA hostel, before continuing to pass Keswick’s Museum and Art Gallery, as far as the leisure pool. Head out of the car park to the rear, crossing the mini roundabout and follow the steps to the footpath, which runs along the road.

Cross a side trail and stay on the same footpath until it disappears. Here, the hill you can see to your left is Latrigg – head in that direction for 200 yards, before turning off to the bridle path which is signposted “Skiddaw 4 miles”.

Follow Spooney Green Lane over the A66 via a footbridge and steep hill. Keep left when the path forks and head towards Mallen Dodd – passing through the gate and along the conifer plantation, which is fenced. You then follow the path up / around a car park, where you can choose to start, if seeking a shorter stroll.

Walk to the top of the car park and ahead you will see Blencathra. Turn left and head towards the kissing gate, then continue through another gate beyond this. You will eventually pass the Hawell Memorial (a stone cross) and then follow the fence line which leads to a widened gravel path and on towards the mountain.

Pass through a further gate, which leads to a zigzagged path and the steepest section of the trail, where you can spot the Little Man peak ahead. Turn right just before approaching its summit and pass through a final gate to follow the gentle incline up to Skiddaw.

Once you reach the end of this ramble, climb to a cairn and admire the panoramic views beyond! Meanwhile on the way home, simply retrace the trail back to Keswick.

Recommended For …

This is a relatively long but slower paced stroll and there are very few hazards or difficult terrain along the way. It could easily be enjoyed by walkers of most ages and experiences and the route is perfectly ok for canine companions.

Year of The Yorkshire Coast

2023 is the Year of the Coast, and, with 26 miles of marvellous shoreline set here in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park – sandwiched between beautiful countryside and the North Sea – we’re encouraging you to come and celebrate with us.

The days will soon be a little longer, temperatures a little warmer and North Yorkshire’s breath-taking coast will be waking up to spring. Where sweeping sandy beaches, iconic nature reserves and daisy-strewn moorland awaits.

Spring is a fantastic time to visit – as the weather is typically pleasant, but the summer crowds haven’t yet arrived, so you can explore the pretty seaside towns, coastal walks and fascinating wildlife in relative peace.

Events season is just beginning, too, providing plenty to keep you entertained during your stay.

Superb seaside towns

Scarborough – where the North York Moors meet the sea – is a gem among UK coastal towns.

With its wide sandy beaches, streets lined with traditional shops and a busy working harbour, this charming coastal spot has it all.

Spend the morning browsing the traditional town, before heading to the amusement arcades.

Get lost among nature

Bempton Cliffs near Bridlington, is home to half-a-million seabirds soaring above chalk cliffs.

During spring, you can spot guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes, herring gulls, fulmars and shags nesting here, as well as the largest seabird in the UK, the majestic gannet, and we can’t forget everyone’s favourite, the puffin!

The shorelines of Whitby and Saltburn are also great for sea life spotting, regularly scattered with fin, sei, pilot, mink and humpback whales, as well as porpoise – though it is important to admire these wonderful wildlife from a safe distance.

If prepared for a bit of a climb, the seal colony at Ravenscar are well worth quietly visiting.

Great food for the sole

When you think of the coast, most think of fish and chips, and for very good reason, of course.

Whitby, though, is not only crammed with award-winning fish and chip shops, but because it’s a working port, the catch is a fresh as you can get! The crab and lobster landing along our coast is also not only enjoyed locally, but so special, that it is shipped to restaurants around the world – so make sure to try some whilst you are here.

Plenty for all to enjoy

With springtime, comes the start of events season and North Yorkshire’s beaches, towns and attractions are filled with music, fantastic floral displays, thrilling shows and mouth-watering food. So what are you waiting for? Spring into spring with a stay on the coast.

Yorkshire Gardens

If you’re planning a stay in one of our Yorkshire cottages, you won’t be stuck for things to do, with an abundance of outdoor activities on our doorsteps, from walking, hikes and rambling to rock climbing and canoeing.

For those looking to explore at a slower pace, the surrounding North Yorkshire Moors and Coast are also home to many wonderful private and public gardens.

Here’s a few of our favourites, which are are just a short hop from our properties in Whitby, Staithes and Scarborough.

Castle Howard, York

York is the second most popular city in the UK, after London and it’s little wonder, when it’s home to such stunning spots at the Castle Howard estate.

Whilst there, be sure to explore the gardens and grounds – used extensively as the backdrop for TV mini-series Brideshead Revisited and the site showcases 1000x acres of surrounding woods and parkland. In the Boar Garden alone, 2.5 tonnes of daffodils and 10,000 spring bulbs are planted every year, providing an early blaze of spring colour.

Burton Agnes Hall, Driffield

Just over an hour’s drive from Whitby, is the quaint market town of Driffield and following the A614 will direct you to the beautiful Elizabethan Hall of Burton Agnes.

Highlights of its 10 acres of parkland and 7 acres of manicured gardens include a fish filled pond, traditional fountains and wonderful waterfalls, and, with over 3000x different plants, herbs and vegetables, a maze and ‘jungle’ to explore, there’s something for every green fingered guest.

Scampston Walled Garden, Malton

Malton is just a 45 minute drive through the moors from Whitby, where, set in the grounds of the impressive Scampston Hall, sits Scampston Walled Garden. Offering something for all the family, especially those with green fingers, the site was designed by Capability Brown and showcases 4 acres of gardens, 80 acres of park and woodland, a restaurant and and beautiful plants and gifts.

RHS Garden Harlow Carr, Beckwithshaw

The picturesque village of Beckwithshaw sits a couple of miles outside of Harrogate and is around a 90-minute drive from Whitby. RHS Harlow Carr is owned and operated by the Royal Horticultural Society and showcases an impressive 58 acres of gardens, as well as 15 acres of park and woodland.

From heather strewn spaces to workshops, guided walks and seasonal trails, there’s plenty for all the family to enjoy.

Dale Head Farm Tea Garden, Pickering

Though not an extensive, foliage-filled garden, if you’re staying in one of our North Yorkshire cottages, a trip to Dale Head Farm is recommended.

Nestled away in Rosedale East near Pickering, soak in stunning views over the valley and wash it down with a traditional afternoon tea – canine companions welcome.

Winter Walks North Yorkshire

What better way to stretch off the festive season than with a wrapped-up wander?

If you’re looking to burn off the mince pies, we have mapped out a few of our favourite North Yorkshire winter walks. Complete with scenery stretching from the cobblestone streets of Staithes to the wild and rugged coastline of Port Mulgrave.

Or perhaps you’d prefer to stay closer to home and explore the Thirley Cotes Farm estate.

Runswick Bay – Staithes

Our neighbouring coastline is studded with beautiful bays and headlands and this walk connects two coastal villages in an outing of very distinct halves – the first passing through wildlife-filled woodland and the second a breezy stroll along the rim of the county.

Start in the centre of Runswick Bay and, to really appreciate the village’s character, it is best to use the beach car park, though this does require a steep climb back to the top.

For a less picturesque, though simpler start, opt for the car park by Cliffmount Hotel and pass behind the buildings of Boulby potash mine. Here, more than 3,000ft underground is Yorkshire’s own version of the giant hadron collider, where scientists are trying to identify the mysterious Dark Matter particles of our universe.

Staithes – Port Mulgrave

Experience fresh sea air on this 4-mile circular route, leaving the sheltered harbour of Staithes and following the Cleveland Way National Trail for the first half of the walk. Ramble across the high cliffs to Port Mulgrave and enjoy spectacular coastal views, before returning across rolling fields through the small hamlet of Dalehouse.

The Maw Wyke Walk

If you’d prefer a challenge, why not head out on the 6-mile Maw Wyke Walk?

It’s one of the most strenuous of the Yorkshire coastal rambles, but also one of the most rewarding, starting at Robin Hood’s Bay, where panoramic views set the scene for the path ahead.

From here, make your way past Ness Point, a particularly tough route that requires you to navigate a series of jagged rocks, soaking in the fresh sea air as you return via the gentler Cinder Track – once an old railway line.

If you’re joining us for a stay at on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors and Coast, keep these wonderful winter walks front of mind.

Christmas in the Lakes

Nothing gets us into the yuletide spirit quite like a visit to a Christmas market, and, while it’s a little early to start sipping mulled wine and singing carols, you’ll still want to plan ahead for your seasonal shopping trip.

With handmade gifts galore, spiced aromas in the air and ornate decorations aplenty, this is the occasion to soak up the magical merriment traditions, and we’re certainly spoilt for choice when it comes to celebrating the festive season.

Fortunately for us, some of the region’s best Christmas markets are only a short hop away and here are three of our favourites to visit when joining us for a stay in The Lake District this November and December.

Windermere Christmas Celebration

Windermere Christmas Celebration gears up for a family fun-packed weekend coming on the 10th and 11th of December to the streets of Windermere. The event will feature live music and on-street entertainment, with food and craft stalls and Taylor’s Fun Fair making an appearance.

The celebrations draw crowds of thousands from across the country to enjoy food, drink, and family festivities. With Father Christmas expected to make an appearance – but watch out for the Grinch!

Keswick Victorian Christmas Fayre

If you’re looking for traditional family entertainment, then this is the fayre for you.

From Victorian costumes and a nativity scene to the arrival of Santa and Mrs Claus in a reindeer-drawn sleigh, this is a spectacle that will warm any wintertime chills.

There will be over 30 stalls selling a selection of Christmas and homemade crafts, alongside festive food and drink, a children’s funfair, live music and performances throughout the day on 4th December. This is also an outdoor event, so wrap up well.

Winter Wonderland at Hayes Garden

Embark on a journey through Santa’s Winter Wonderland and help to search for his missing reindeer. See if you can remember all their names, play snowball games along the way and fish for food for the penguins. Plus post a ticket and eagerly await to be taken to the big man himself, and don‘t forget the Christmas wish list. Open 1st November – 23rd December.

Plan on visiting The Lake District this Christmas? Why not book a break with Cottage Escapes? Take a look at our selection of Cumbrian cottages perfect for making the most of the festivities.