Best places for Lunch in Sleights UK
ROADS guaranteed to delight anyone who enjoys driving writhe and roller-coaster over the North Yorkshire Moors National Park. Attractions encountered along our route range from spectacular viewpoints and top-notch fish and chips to proud memories of Captain Cook and spine-chilling visions of Count Dracula.
Start in Helmsley, a gem of a market town whose red-roofed stone buildings are typical of the region's pleasing architecture. If you fancy a picnic, Hunters of Helmsley in Market Place is a delicatessen whose temptations for non-drivers include potent Lindisfarne wines made of sloes, apricots and blackberries. Links with the past include Duncombe Park, a baroque mansion amid beautiful gardens and ancient trees, and a ruined Norman castle with formidable earthworks.
Head north on the B1257, but turn left after a couple of miles and plunge down to where steep, wooded slopes overlook Rievaulx Abbey's majestic ruins. Climb back to the B1257 and follow it up Bilsdale to where a car park provides wide-ranging views. Landmarks include Roseberry Topping, which looks like an extinct volcano, and Captain Cook's hilltop monument. Born nearby in 1728, the son of a farm labourer, Cook explored the world from Antarctica to Alaska before being killed in Hawaii.
Turn right on meeting the A173, follow it to Great Ayton and visit the Captain Cook Schoolroom Museum. The local hero's boyhood home was dismantled and shipped to Australia in 1934. The memorial on the site is of stones from the headland where one of his crew, Zachary Hicks, first sighted Australia in 1770.
We soon turn right and take the A171 for bustling Guisborough, another pleasant old town with a ruined priory, before turning left down the B1366 to Loftus. What has previously been a rural drive encounters Cleveland's industrial history during a short detour to Skinningrove, where the Tom Leonard Mining Museum recalls the region's past as Britain's main source of ironstone.
Return to Loftus and follow young Cook's footsteps to Staithes, the tiny fishing port where he worked for a shopkeeper before going to sea aboard a Whitby collier. Staithes must be visited on foot, because the village street is very narrow and steep enough to impress a mountain goat. Short detours to precipitous Port Mulgrave and sandy Runswick Bay merit consideration before the A174 sweeps down to Whitby. Cook's statue commemorates "the greatest voyages of exploration of all time" and overlooks the harbour where yachts mingle with workaday fishing boats. This is where Count Dracula's coffin came ashore in Bram Stoker's classic horror story.
Nobody should leave Whitby without eating fish and chips in the Magpie Cafe, making a pilgrimage to the Captain Cook Memorial Museum and visiting the gallery where Frank Meadow Sutcliffe's photographs recall the Victorian era. His portraits of bearded lifeboatmen and waif-like fishergirls contrast with idyllic harvest scenes and a study of Whitby Abbey shrouded in mist.
The mood changes as our route dog-legs inland on the A171 and A169, where we turn right in Sleights and follow a narrow road up the Esk valley to Grosmont, one of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway's main stations. Opened in 1836 and closed by British Rail in 1965, this line was revived by enthusiasts. The 18-mile journey to Pickering meanders through unspoiled scenery.
In summer, wild roses and cow parsley flank the steep lanes that climb to an eternity of heather-clad moorland beyond Grosmont and Egton Bridge. Resist the temptation to flex your spurs, because sharp dips can flatten exhaust pipes and there is always a risk of suicidal sheep dashing across the road.
Pioneering motorists regarded this route with awe, because the descent to Rosedale Abbey was a severe test for primitive brakes. We carry straight ahead at the crossroads in the middle of this isolated village, then take the first right, a few hundred yards later, and clamber up Rosedale Chimney. It is easy to appreciate why this climb was once a clutch-slipping, radiator-boiling challenge.
Jinking right-left at the next junction takes us to Hutton-le-Hole where the Ryedale Folk Museum recalls local life over the past 400 years. The route reverts to the present day on meeting the A170, where we turn right and complete the circuit by returning to Helmsley. Market Place's 16th-century Black Swan is one of several choices for an overnight stay if you want to spend more time exploring.
Distance: 94 miles.
Traffic forecast: Generally light, but Whitby is busy during the holiday season.
Landmarks: Captain Cook Monument, Roseberry Topping, Whitby Abbey.
Pubs/restaurants: Black Swan Hotel and Feversham Arms, Helmsley; Magpie Cafe, Whitby; Horseshoe Hotel, Egton Bridge; Milburn Arms, Rosedale Abbey.