Rail Trail: From Grosmont to Goathland in the North Yorkshire Moors

26 May 2022

A day trip to the heart of the North Yorkshire Moors is a real feast for the senses, fans of Harry Potter and TV favourite Heartbeat will be able to spot some familiar landmarks.

Grosmont and Goathland provide the perfect opportunity to relax in some of the country’s most scenic surroundings. Take a step back in time with a walk and steam train ride between the two villages and enjoy all that is on offer along the way.

This trip will allow you to enjoy some of the most beautiful scenery in the area - both in the villages and along the walk.

Arriving at the village of Grosmont, you will immediately want to take a deep breath, slow down and take in the stunning views from all around. It is a wonderful starting point for a day out you won’t forget in a hurry.

There is a ‘Rail Trail’ between the two villages which takes you on a three and a half mile walk along the route of one of the world’s first railways. The walk is a flat one, with plenty of interpretation panels along the way to explain the history of your surroundings. Taken at a leisurely pace, the walk will take you around two and a half hours.

As well as enjoying the charms of the North York Moors, which became a National Park in the year 1952, you can make the trip extra special with a ride on a steam train. The North Yorkshire Moors Railway runs from Whitby to Pickering stopping at Grosmont and Goathland as well as Levisham and Newtondale Halt. There is a unique thrill about a steam train ride – the smells, the sounds and the utter joy of watching the world go by from your carriage.

Before boarding the train from Grosmont take some time to enjoy village life at its best. Stock up on snacks for the day ahead from Grosmont Co-op – Britain’s oldest surviving independent co-operative society, founded in 1867. A second-hand bookshop and an art gallery are located near the station for a pre-train wander around.

The railway station itself has period buildings and stepping into the ticket office to book your trip to Goathland feels exciting as you are handed your ticket to ride. You can also visit the engine sheds at the station where the steam and diesel locomotives are maintained and restored.

Visitors and tourists lining the platform wave off each train and the carriages full of passengers wave back as the steam train whistles its departure.

On leaving Grosmont, passengers soon pass through the historic tunnel built by George Stephenson in 1835. Plunged into darkness with just the noise from the engine, it feels like being a character at the start of a mysterious novel, where everyone’s playing a part.

The ride to Goathland takes around 15 minutes and the journey includes a climb that is one of the country’s steepest rail gradients. Trains run hourly during peak season, but it is always best to keep an eye on the timetables for more details.

The moorland village of Goathland has some serious entertainment credentials, having been made famous thanks to TV favourite Heartbeat being set there as well as its vintage rail station doubling up as Hogsmeade Station in the first Harry Potter blockbuster film. The 1920’s-themed station has a gift shop as well as a Goods Shed tearoom perfect for a cuppa and a slice of cake.

Following the Rail Trail back to Grosmont, walkers can amble at their own pace along the track, which passes through a countryside that has been shaped over the past few hundred years by intense industrial activity. Mother Nature has worked her magic in rewilding the area but the industrial past is still evident.

Things to do around the North York Moors

Heading along the path, it is worth taking a short detour to see Mallyan Spout, a beautiful tumbling waterfall. It certainly warrants a visit, with the sides of the ravine standing at around 70 feet and are almost vertical with water tumbling down from the Moors above. It makes for a more challenging walk and can be slippy underfoot, especially after rain.

Back on the trail, the easy and flat terrain means it is accessible and can be enjoyed by dog walkers, families with pushchairs, ramblers and rail enthusiasts alike. Springtime sees wild garlic form an aromatic blanket along the way along with a rich array of wildflowers.

Railway heritage is abundant - part of the track is on the original 1836 rail line complete with railway company cottages. Interpretation panels are placed at regular intervals and they provide a font of knowledge about the area’s rich heritage.

As the path continues through woodland keep eyes, and ears, open to the sounds of woodpeckers, treecreepers and even buzzards. It is a veritable feast for the senses.

Heading out from the woods towards Esk Valley, you’ll find that remnants of the former mines still remain. Large heaps of misshapen black rock are a reminder of the mines long since gone. The ironstone was usually calcined in the open air to reduce its weight before being taken to the ironworks. It would appear this didn’t always work and the blackened rocks still in place today are a fusion of ironstone and waste which never made the grade for the blast furnace.

It is a fascinating walk with something for everyone to enjoy. Identify the trees, flowers and birds while learning about the area’s industrial past. Benches are dotted along the route so you can put up your feet and soak up the atmosphere. In the distance, the sound of the steam train making its way along the line to and from Pickering can be heard as steam clouds hang high above the trees.

Grosmont and Goathland are just two of the many villages worth visiting within the North York Moors. The Moors cover 554 square miles from the Cleveland Hills to the headlands of the North Sea coast with the largest expanse of heather moorland in England.

So, pack a sandwich and a flask and enjoy a good old-fashioned day out. The memories of a ride on a steam train and the beauty of the Moors will linger in the memory for a long time to come!

Things to do around the North York Moors