A Living Landscape

Set in a glacial meltwater channel, the railway passes through the North York Moors National Park and as it does so we travel through not one but two Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), passed ponds and by ancient woodland. 

Pickering to Levisham

Pickering Station marks the start of a special journey for people and wildlife, linking us from gardens and streets to the wilds of the North York Moors National Park. 

Along the lineside there are birds at every level. Kingfishers scoot along the watersides and buzzards fly high in the sky. Chattering long-tailed tits gather in the trees and the red breast of a male bullfinch can be seen amongst the branches. Stonechat perch on posts and in winter you may even spot a short-eared owl or barn owl hunting in the day. 

Be prepared for grand landscapes and big views on this North York Moors classic. Starting with the dramatic panorama from Saltersgate over the Hole of Horcum, the 5-mile scenic walk follows a prominent track over Levisham Moor, past important archaeological remains. There’s a possible diversion to the stunning viewpoint of Skelton Tower, after which the route drops into the rocky ravine of Dundale Griff and returns along the valley to the Hole of Horcum, climbing back out at Saltersgate.

Take a scenic walk between Levisham and Lockton where you can walk through deep valleys and see the dell near St Mary’s Church a great highlight. Alternatively walk from Levisham, Skelton Tower and Levisham Station which the Lockton and Levisham Heritage Group have created.

Newtondale to Fen Bog

A SSSI for 11 miles, Newtondale, is one of the best examples of a meltwater channel in the country. Carved a long time ago by torrents of meltwater from overflowing glacial lakes, the streams today follow in the glacial flows path. This unique dale, links lower valley and upland habitats and is kept alive thanks in part to the inaccessible terrain and traditional farming practices. 

Look out for the marshy areas with reed beds and sedges and for the flowers along the lineside in spring, especially the yellow primrose which is the favourite foodplant for the rare Duke of Burgundy butterfly. Keep a keen ear, and you may even hear the call of the buzzards above.

Fen Bog to Goathland

Travelling north passed Newtondale Halt we open out through fields to moorland. By the time you reach Goathland Summit you are at Fen Bog, a Yorkshire Wildlife Trust nature reserve and a Special Area of Conservation. Walking here in spring you may spot the adders amongst the heath and from the train, the meadow pipits bouncing through the skies. In summer the heather is in bloom attracting insects of all shapes and sizes and in autumn and winter keep your eyes peeled for merlin, stonechat and if you are lucky, a short-eared owl.

In the Spring the lineside blooms with flowers including the rare globe flower and the humble primrose (which is the food plant for the rare Duke of Burgundy butterfly). The rocky outcrops creates magical worlds of ferns and mosses and the woodland floor gives way to bluebell and ramsom. In summer, the heather blooms, with rich purples becoming the colour of choice. 

The 70ft (21m) high Mallyan Spout waterfall can be reached by a footpath close to the Mallayan Spout Hotel. Download the route here, or buy the booklet 'Walks around Goathland', available from local shops, which includes the waterfall route and four other local walks.

Goathland to Grosmont

Passing by Goathland Station you soon travel through Beck Hole SSSI. Here the steep sides of the ravines and lineside give way to broadleaved woodland with oak, birch, hazel and holly evident along the lineside and spring blossoms of bluebells and the heady scent of ramsons (wild garlic).

Bracken gives way to bilberry and ferns are abundant in the damp rocky outcrops. Bees, bats, butterflies and birds alike love the woodlands and you might just see the white rump of a roe deer bound off in the distance.

The Rail Trail walk from Goathland to Grosmont follows the original railway route passing heritage cottages and gorgeous countryside and we can pick you up again in Grosmont to take you home. A fabulous display of bluebells lights up the local woods every May. Download the circular walk from Grosmont to Beck Hole and back, and see the flowers at their best.

Streams weave along the length of the lineside supporting eels, brown trout and grayling whilst in the damp places frogs, toads and newts flourish. Dragonflies hunt the ponds and even otters frequent rivers and streams. 


Clifftop walks along the Cleveland Way National Trail run north to Staithes and south to Robin Hood's Bay. 

Whitby also marks the end of the 37-mile Esk Valley Walk, which follows the River Esk from its source high on the moors to the North Sea. For a great half-day's walk, take the train to Grosmont and walk back to Whitby, following the 'leaping salmon' trail signs.

Yorkshire’s Magnificent Journey appeal is now underway thanks to a £4.4m grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The £10m project has also received £1.75 million from the Rural Payments Agency (RPA), as well as contributions from local organisations and private donors. With a combination of donations and grants, the railway has raised over 90% of the funds to deliver the project. However, we still needs to raise an additional £800k by 2022 to be able to complete the project.

Donate here: nymr.co.uk/yorkshires-magnificent-journey