The North Yorkshire Moors offers 4×4 enthusiasts the opportunity to explore what is one of England’s largest and most popular national parks. Your journey around the North Yorkshire Moors will take you to the highest viewpoints and the deepest valleys. From Danby Beacon, you can see the east coast and Whitby on a clear day, and from the top of the famous Rudland Rigg, you will experience vast areas of moorland covered in heather. There are several river crossings that are suitable most times of the year, the only exception being when the rivers swell due to heavy rainfall or snowmelt.
There’s plenty of places to stay in the North Yorkshire Moors; Pickering has several quality hotels, but if you want to stay in the heart of the national park, the Feversham Arms at Church Houses is a great location. From Church Houses you can access Rudland Rigg via Monket Bank, so you’re straight onto the lanes. It’s a steep climb and requires reasonable flex and a good line to prevent getting cross-axled. In winter, Monket Bank is not a lane to attempt when there’s snow on the ground, and the roads around Church Houses in the winter months are notorious for black ice, so caution is required.
The ford at Yoadwath Bank is the lowest river crossing on the North Yorkshire Moors and can become swelled and fast-flowing depending on weather conditions, so a little caution is required, as with all river crossings, but for most of the year, it is an easy crossing with a somewhat rocky bottom.
From Yodwath Bank you can proceed directly onto Rudland Rigg or divert to Church Houses and climb Monket Bank. Monket Bank is an interesting climb and connects with Rudland Rigg approximately halfway along its length. The once infamous Rudland Rigg steps were graded in 2018 along with Ingleby Bank. Rudland Rigg is now an easy drive, but it’s well worth a visit for the views, which are outstanding.
From Rudland Rigg, it’s well worth visiting Battersby. It was once a notoriously difficult lane, but, after being closed for a few years, like Rudland Rigg, it was graded. It’s now an easy drive, but well worth a visit to drive through the dense woodland that surrounds it where you can get some photos of your vehicle with a woodland backdrop.
From Battersby, heading east across Gerrick Moor you will come to Danby Beacon, once known as RAF Danby, because during WWII there was a radar station there. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the east coast and Whitby. It’s a great place to stop for some lunch and enjoy the views before heading over to Glaisdale. There’s a challenging little lane at Glaisdale that requires an adequate ground clearance and at least all-terrain tyres. There is a medium risk of tyre damage and the lane is scratchy, particularly in the summer months, but it is a great lane.
If you venture over to Leaholme, there’s a couple of good river crossings, both ford the River Esk. One has a hard bottom and the other a loose bottom, with stepping stones adjacent to the ford. It’s a good spot for some photos. To get to these river crossings you will have to cross a narrow railway bridge that overlooks the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, so you might be lucky enough to spot a steam train.
If you head further east to Grosmont, there’s a lane that takes you from Grosmont to Goathland. This lane crosses the River Murk Esk twice. When the water levels are low, the crossings are no problem, but if there’s been a lot of rainfall and the water is fast-flowing, they are best avoided. Goathland is the home of the 60’s TV drama Heartbeat, for which it is famous and attracts a lot of visitors. The village retains many of the features from the TV show, and it’s well worth a visit, it’s very interesting!
To conclude, the North Yorkshire Moors offer a great day out in your 4×4 and not too much of a challenge. You can expect the trip to be between 60 and 75 miles, depending on which lanes you choose to drive. There are some very interesting places to visit and the views are outstanding in summer. In winter, the views are often limited by fog and low clouds on the tops, but winter offers a completely different, often eerie, experience.