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Background

Sutton Bank is situated in the North Yorkshire Moors and is home to the National Park Centre. It is famous for it’s location on the Sutton Bank escarpment, a steep cliff overlooking the whole of the Vale of York and Morbray. This tremendous view was dubbed the “finest in England” by veteran and author James Herriot.

Sutton Bank National Park in North Yorkshire

Image taken by Aiden Dawson

It is literally an open air tourist attraction with many walking and cycling trails, a visitor centre and other activities for families with children to enjoy.

The park is owned by North York Moors National Park and is free for everyone to attend. If you’re looking for somewhere different to go cycling, do a nice big walk, enjoy the nature and wildlife or take your little ones somewhere fun and educational- this park in the North Yorkshire Moors is perfect and very accessible.

Why visit Sutton Bank National Park

We will go through all the different things you can do during your visit at Sutton Bank National Park.

Park Life café

There is a café at the visitor centre that serves a wide variety of snacks and refreshments. The café menu includes homemade soups, scones, cakes, pies as well as toasties, paninis and jacket potatoes with a variety of fillings.

Hot drinks include speciality lattes, Americano, flat whites, cappuccinos as well as tea and hot chocolate. All hot drinks are served on an espresso machine. Other drinks include bottles of water, orange juice, soda water, cola and lemonade.

Food can be bought to take away or sit in. You can view the full menu on their Facebook page by clicking here.

Visitor centre shop

The visitor centre also has a shop which sells handcrafted gifts including cards and calendars produced by a local artist. Other items you can buy include a variety of food and drink including bottled beers and gins, ceramics, textiles and natural skin care products too!

The perfect place to pick up some gifts for your family and friends. You can also treat yourself to some handmade fudge. The shop also sells maps and books pertaining to the North York Moors.

Sutton Bank Bikes

There is also a bike shop where they sell high quality mountain bikes and cycling accessories including repair kits, bike lights, helmets and cycling clothes. Sutton Bank Bikes also offer cycle repair services where they will help mend and maintain your own mountain bike.

People can also hire a bike from here, there are many different type of bikes suitable for different levels of mountain biking. You can hire a gravel bike for the main gravel footpaths, an electric bike with full suspension and BMX bikes. Bikes available to hire can come with a child seat and a trailer.

For more information on bike hiring at Sutton Bank- click here to visit their website.

Cycle trails

For people who are into mountain biking and cycling, Sutton Bank National Park in North Yorkshire Moors is a good location to try. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner cyclist or a thrill-seeker. There are many different trails of varied difficulty levels at this park in North Yorkshire Moors.

Cycle trails include the Cliff Trail which is a family-friendly trail, 3 miles long and goes off-road.

The Blue Trail is 7.5 miles and entails an ascent/descent, it goes off beyond the Cliff Trail and passes the Iron Age Fort at Boltby Scar.

The Drovers Trail is a 10 mile long figure-of-eight route and goes passed High Paradise Farm where there are refreshments available.

The longest cycle trail is the Paradise Trail which is 17.5 miles long, and is more suitable for experienced mountain bikers as it entails some technical features a couple of steep climbs.

Near to the visitor centre, there are two purpose-built tracks including a pump track for BMX biking with plenty of banked turns and rollers. And there is a family-friendly trail doubling as a cyclocross track for competitive events. The family cycle trail is a 2.5km figure-of-eight has a wider track enabling families/groups to cycle side-by-side.

So there are plenty of rides to go on, suited for people of all abilities and preferences.

Nature and star hub

The North York Moors National Park is an International Dark Sky Reserve and the Sutton Bank has a stargazing hub. It is the perfect location for budding stargazers to go and enjoy the perfectly dark skies where there is little to no light pollution. The hub offers an outdoor seating area, people can come here and bring their telescopes and binoculars to relax. There is also an indoor virtual tour of the universe which takes place at the hub during various events around the year.

The nature hub is includes a bird sound station where bird lovers can go to listen to and identify the different birdsongs. There is information provided about what birds and other wildlife you can find at Sutton Bank. Just bring your binoculars, turn up, take a seat and enjoy.

The hub is open everyday 10.30am till 4pm and it is also available to hire for private events.

Nature lab

The nature lab located at the visitor centre in Sutton Bank is a fun interactive exhibition that tells the story of River Rye and it’s wildlife. This is a perfect little activity for families with young children to take part in. Activities include:

Augmented reality sandbox- dig your own valleys and rivers in the sandbox
Wildlife art gallery- look at impressive illustrations of the area’s wildlife.
Miniature nature safari- study flora and geology under digital microscopes.

Play area

The family-friendly play area is outdoor play area is the perfect place for little ones to go and explore and have fun. It uses natural landscape features and includes treehouses, stone castle, large sandpit, mud kitchen and swamp with a log obstacle.

There are various family-friendly activities including treasure hunts, and other fun educational activities that take place throughout the school holidays. You can pick up trails at the visitor centre during all opening hours.

Location

Sutton Bank National Park is located in the North Yorkshire Moors and is surrounded by so many other tourist attractions and places to visit. You can easily tie in your visit to Sutton Bank along with other visits during your day out.

You can even walk to the Yorkshire Gliding Club and watch the gliders take off from the Sutton Bank cliff. Watch people paraglide over the Vale of York!

Plane flying over Sutton Bank National Park in North Yorkshire

Image taken by Aiden Dawson

 

Nearby places to visit include Mount Grace Priory House and Gardens, Whorlton Castle and Monk Park Farm. It is about a 20 minute drive from the town of Thirsk which is a bustling market town. Thirsk has plenty of things to do including museums and shops as well as craft markets and garden centres. There are also supermarkets located in Thirsk and there are plenty of places to eat out including The Three Tuns Wetherspoons.

There is even a McDonalds just off the A19 and it’s a 15 minute drive from Sutton Bank.

Accessibility

All National Parks owned by North Yorkshire Moors have excellent accessibility, and this includes the Sutton Bank National Park. They actually own an Access for All UK Accessibility Champion.

Tramper hire

Trampers can be pre-booked to hire during your visit. Essentially, they are all-terrain mobility scooters that can go over rough terrain and handle steep inclines. These are ideal for people with limited mobility and physical conditions affecting their ability to walk far. Trampers can only be hired if you’re a member of the North York Moor Mobility Scheme- click here to learn more. There are only two Trampers available at this park.

Wheelchairs

The park offers wheelchairs that can be hired without needing to pre-book. But you are also more than welcome to bring your own wheelchair. The main entrance to the visitor centre is all level and the doorway is 1.5m wide making it easy to pass through. The door will have to be pushed open from the outside. There are double doors going into the foyer and they are kept open during opening hours, they may be closed during bad weather but there is a buzzer at the side of the door to open them.

Most of the walking trails are on wide gravel paths that are mostly flat.

Visual impairment facilities

The visitor centre has made their facilities accommodating for people who may have visual impairments and colour-blind people too. This includes things like applying contrasting coloured stickers to all glass doors and windows so that they are clearly marked. All door frames and walls are contrasting colours too and this can also be beneficial for people with dementia by making the environment less confusing in a visual way.

Notice boards and signs have speakers that can read out information out loud for blind people to hear. There is also braille writing on a lot of the signage and information boards around the park.

Hearing impairment facilities

A lot of the staff who work in this national park in North Yorkshire have disability awareness training. Some have training in sign language including Makaton to help assist people with a hearing disability. The site does have a hearing loop which is available at the information desk in the visitor centre.

Toilets

The main toilets are at the visitor centre just next to the café. There is a disabled toilet in the courtyard right outside the National Park Centre. It is important to note that people using this toilet will need a RADAR key to open the lock. This is available at the information desk, people can either borrow one or purchase one themselves. There are baby changing facilities in the main toilets too.

Parking

The car park is very big and spreads out around the entire visitor centre. It includes several disabled parking bays that are nearest to the visitor centre. There is a parking charge and information is displayed around the car park. Parking meters accept both card and cash payments.

There is also electric charging stations for electric vehicles too.

Dog friendly

Of course, the North York Moors National Park is a great place to take your dogs out for plenty of exercise and walks. The visitor centre also allows dogs inside including the café and shop. Trained assistance dogs are also welcome.

Public transport

The visitor centre actually has a bus stop right outside the courtyard running passed the main car park. There is a bus shelter here too. The bus service operating here is a summer-only service and it runs from as far as Saltburn and Redcar and terminates at Sutton Bank. This service also only runs on weekends and bank holidays.

It is best to plan arriving in your own transport due to limited bus service times and availability in the area. There is no nearby train station.

Conclusion

We hope this listing was helpful in your search for places to visit and things to do that have good accessibility. We have also found plenty of other similar venues and parks in the North Yorkshire region that are accessible friendly including:

Q Can I bring my own bike to Sutton Bank?

Q Do you need to pay to access the park?

Q Is the café open during all opening hours?

Q Is the centre opening times the same all year round?


In the winter period from January to February it is only open on weekends and during half term (10.30am till 4pm).

From March to November it's open everyday from 10am till 5pm.

It's also open daily in November and December from 10am till 4pm.

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