The North Yorkshire Moors Railway

For a full-steam-ahead day out filled with history, excitement, and fantastic scenery, head for the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. It’s one of the United Kingdom’s most legendary heritage railways, transporting passengers back in time as they steam through the North York Moors national park.

Six stops combine to make a truly memorable route. From the market town of Pickering through to the seaside treasure of Whitby, you’ll pass villages, hamlets, miles of lush countryside – and even a Harry Potter film set.

Keep reading to learn all about the North York Moors Railway’s history, routes, and special itineraries. Let’s get going…

The North York Moors Railway

The history of the North York Moors Railway goes back almost 200 years. From its humble beginnings as a trade route, the NYMR is now a firm favourite among visitors to North Yorkshire.

Today, it’s a non-profit railway line organisation managed by a team of volunteers.

The Ribblehead Viaduct

The North York Moors Railway History

The Early Days

Planning for the NYMR began around 1831. George Stephenson – the father of railways – planned the route to build trade from the port of Whitby. In 1836 his vision came to life as the Whitby and Pickering Railway.

As trade grew, the route was integrated into the York and North Midland Railway. It carried mail, goods, and passengers travelling around North Yorkshire. Under the guidance of George Hudson, the line became established as a fully-fledged modern railway.

The Middle Years

The line continued through the 19th century as part of the North-Eastern Railway. The line was improved, including new stations, bridges, and signalling infrastructure.

Then, the NYMR underwent changes during the 1920s and 30s. Funds were tight, and the line saw cuts to technology, upkeep and workforce. After World War Two, railways were nationalised – eventually, the line was closed in the 1960s.

Recent Times

But that was not the end of the North York Moors Railway. In 1967, local rail fans gained permission to run steam and heritage diesel trains on the old line.

As its popularity grew, more members joined the charity organisation. They not only travelled on the classic steam trains, but helped maintain and improve the line too.

Since then, the NYMR has grown to become one of the most popular days out in North Yorkshire, carrying over 300,000 happy passengers each year.

Vintage Steam Train - North York Moors

Railway Route and Itineraries

From end to end, the NYMR takes just under two hours, covering 24 miles in total.


Pickering Station is the traditional NYMR starting point. It’s a vintage-themed station, with passengers lining its 1930s platforms awaiting their steam locomotive. If you’re peckish, head to the lineside tea rooms while you wait to board.

The market town of Pickering is also well worth a visit if you have time. A wander around the streets will lead you to classic Yorkshire shops, pubs and cafes, while Pickering Castle is a fantastic way to spend a couple of hours.

Once your train is ready, hop on board and begin your trip through the stunning North Yorkshire Moors.

Pickering Station North York Moors


Your first stop is Levisham Station, a century-old platform that’s the gateway to the North Yorkshire Moors National Park. If you’re stopping here, you’ll join hikers and bikers ready to head out into the surrounding scenery.

Nearby beauty spots include the magnificent Dalby Forest and the Hole of Horcum – a dramatic valley that makes for fantastic walking routes. On the way, you’ll pass monuments and ruins, all telling tales of Yorkshire’s past.


The next station, Newtondale Halt, is request only – so tell the guard if you’d like to stop. If you do, you’ll find some of the most stunning scenery North Yorkshire has to offer.

Newtondale is an excellent spot for families, cyclists and wildlife fans. There are plenty of walking routes to follow up and down the valleys, looping back to Newtondale after a few miles.


Your third stop on the NYMR is Goathland. This is a great chance to experience proper rural Yorkshire, with a charming station nestled between rolling hills.

Harry Potter fans may recognise this celebrity station straight away. Goathland was the setting for Hogsmeade Station in the Philosopher’s Stone film, proving ever popular with tourists decked out in their house scarves and robes.

For UK TV fans, Goathland Station was also the setting of Aidensfield in Heartbeat. Be sure to remember your camera!

Heading off the platform, Goathland has plenty to offer. Visit the station tearoom set in a retired goods shed, explore the idyllic village, or head out into nature.

From Goathland, you can reach peaks, valleys, and waterfalls, all offering stunning Yorkshire walking routes. On your return, head into one of these traditional North Yorkshire pubs for a well-earned drink before hopping back on the railway line.

Goathland Station, North Yorks Moors


Next, you’ll visit Grosmont Station, the traditional headquarters of NYMR operations. You can see how engineers managed the heritage railway, and learn about the retired routes that linked it to places like Middlesbrough and Scarborough.

Outside the station, Grosmont offers some of North Yorkshire’s best walks. You’re only three miles from Goathland, and many choose to hike between the stations to get some bracing North Yorkshire air.

Back on board, Grosmont is the final stop on the traditional route – but many services carry on to the coast.

Grosmont Station, North York Moors


Finally, the seaside town of Whitby gives travellers the perfect destination to end their journey. Whitby’s attractions have something for everyone – whether it’s a day on the beach, a climb to the Abbey, or getting lost in its quaint cobbled streets.

If you’re tired, Whitby offers some of the best places to stay in Yorkshire. And, if you’ve worked up an appetite on your countryside walks, it’s also the ideal place to grab fresh fish and chips for dinner.

For those already staying in Whitby, the NYMR also runs in the opposite direction.

North York Moors Railway Itineraries

The NYMR generally operates from April to October on a bronze, silver and gold timetable basis. The full 2022 NYMR timetable is available at

Travellers can choose from a few different itineraries:

  • Seaside Special runs a return service from Pickering to Whitby
  • Yorkshire Express runs a return service from Whitby to Pickering
  • Moors Explorer offers a hop-on hop-off service between Grosmont and Pickering.

Opt for the Seaside Special or Yorkshire Express if you want to sit back and watch the countryside roll by. Meanwhile, the Moors Explorer offers adventurers the chance to disembark and explore the North York Moors.


The NYMR also runs several special events:

  • The Santa Special runs themed services in December, hosted by Santa and his Elves
  • The Annual Steam Gala takes place in September, offering Yorkshire steam railway fans the chance to see classic engines
  • The Sir Nigel Gresley Special gives fans the opportunity to ride this classic steam engine
  • The Light Spectacular is a fantastic family event, taking riders on an exciting sensory journey.

Pullman’s Dining Train

The greatest heritage railways wouldn’t be complete without a dining experience – and the NYMR is no different. Step aboard the Pullman’s Dining Train for top-class food in luxurious surroundings.

These unique services run in authentic Pullman carriages, as seen in shows like Downton Abbey. Keep an eye out for themed journeys, such as fish and chips lunches, afternoon teas, and Christmas feasts.

Are Dogs Allowed?

Dogs are generally allowed on the North York Moors Railway, although they may not be on specific dining or event routes. You’ll typically pay a small supplement (currently £3) to take your pooch on board.

The North Yorkshire Moors Railway Prices

NYMR prices vary based on the service selected, the route, and passenger information. See the timetable for prices on your chosen day. There are usually generous discounts for families, children, and NYMR members.

Has our North Yorkshire Moors Railway guide inspired your next trip? Then head over to our selection of North Yorkshire Moors accommodation and lock in your staycation today.