Goathland on Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route

In May 2018, the Coastliner bus service from Leeds to Whitby, the 840, became an award winner as it is the most scenic bus route in Great Britain. This is encouraging because bus services have had to struggle with cutbacks over recent years. In any case, we wanted to explore some of the attractive calling points along this route including York, Malton, Pickering, Thornton le Dale, Hole of Horcum, Goathland and Whitby. We’ll show you some walking routes, interesting landmarks, historical areas and beauty spots.

During 2019, the bus services much of the year run 4 buses each way per day with two express buses added during the summer months. For more information about timetabling, you can either visit the Coastliner website at www.yorkbus.co.uk/coastliner.htm or download the transdev go app where you can also purchase mobile tickets. Welcome to Britain’s most scenic bus route – let’s go!

In this series of videos we are exploring the most prominent calling points of Britain’s most scenic bus route, Coastliner’s 840 from Leeds to Whitby.

Arriving at Goathland on Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route

Today, we are visiting Goathland situated on the North York Moors National Park, 9 miles from Whitby. There are two bus stops in Goathland at the village shops and Mallyan Spout Hotel. We are going to commit to a circuit walk starting from the village shops and finishing at the Goathland Hotel. 

Goathland and the North York Moors
Goathland North York Moors

This circuit walk incorporates one of North Yorkshire’s tallest waterfalls Mallyan Spout, sheep grazing fields, woodland, the North Yorkshire Moors Railway and even some classic cars!

Goathland is world famous because of it being the backdrop of ITV’s Heartbeat series in which many of the structures here today are instantly recognisable such as the village shops. On your way into the village, you will have noticed ‘Aidensfield Arms’ and ‘Aidensfield Garage’ as well as ‘Aidensfield Station’. 

Village Shops and Classic Cars at Goathland

We’re starting our tour at the village shops were you will find some classic cars on show. These compact Ford Anglia’s are the deluxe version owing to their chrome fronts. The Ford Anglia Police car on show is not the car used in the television series but still emphasises the era in which Heartbeat was set. They also had backward slanted rear windows to counteract the effects of rain. There were many versions of the Anglia beginning in 1939 through to 1967, but these were introduced in 1959. Ford Anglia’s were later replaced by the Ford Escort which were also compact cars when production of Anglia’s finally stopped in the later sixties. 

Ford Anglia Police Car at Goathland Village Shops.
Ford Anglia Police Car Goathland

In any case, you might want to spend a moment or two browsing the gift shops, have a cup of tea and admire the cars. 

Continuing our walk however, we walk past the village shops and around the corner heading towards Mallyan Spout with the village hall on the right hand side. This village hall was occasionally used in Heartbeat.

Owing to a common right in the village through the Duchy of Lancaster, sheep are allowed to graze throughout the village and of course the accompanying moorland. 

St Mary’s Church Mallyan Spout Hotel at Goathland

As you walk further you will notice St Mary’s Church on the left which was also used in Heartbeat with dramatic weddings and funerals.  On the opposite side of the road you will notice the stunning Mallyan Spout Hotel. This marks our decent to Mallyan Spout waterfall.

You will see the footpath downhill on the right hand side of the hotel. Chime to get some exercise! 

Just before we start however, ensure you are wearing an appropriate pair of shoes, suitable clothing for the climate and you have some water with you, and don’t rush. Depending of the time of year, some parts of the footpath and entire walk can be muddy and therefore slippery. Common sense is the order of the day here. 

Mallyan Spout Hotel
Mallyan Spout Hotel Goathland

However, you can admire the scenic views venturing down hill. You can do this walk clockwise or anti-clockwise. However clockwise is recommended because the climb back uphill is more gradual – so you can thank me for this advice later! As a word of advice, it is best to avoid placing your feet on mud as this tends to slide under your feet, even if you have good grips on your shoes. Try to keep your shoes as dry as possible. 

Before Heartbeat made the area more famous, the Victorian daytripper’s used to alight the train here and venture downwards to admire the waterfall as well as the area. Of course, this in the days that Coastliner buses were merely a twinkle in someones eyes. 

It’s thought that Goathland gets its name from a corruption of ‘good land’ or it may derive from ‘Goda’s land’ as Goda was a common old English name.  You might think the estate belongs to Lord Ashfordly but in actually fact falls to the Duchy of Lancaster (or rather the Duke of Lancaster) since 1399. 

Today the area is taken care of through the National Park Authority who maintain the footpaths and gates that we encounter in our walk. They also maintain the seating on the way down hill if you need a breather!

When you reach the foot of the hill you will come to West Beck and a sign post. Google maps strangely identifies the beck as the River Esk but in fact it isn’t, although it does merge with the River Esk prior to its emptying out into the North Sea at Whitby. In fact, West Beck also meets Eller Beck not far from our walk today. 

You will notice the sign post where we turn left to admire the waterfall. However, you can omit the waterfall if you are not comfortable about the rocks and venture towards Beck Hole where we will head shortly. 

West Beck and Mallyan Spout at Goathland

West Beck is a dynamic beck that gushes it’s way over rugged stones and negotiates attractive woodland. This of course attracts wildlife including some interesting birds such as Grey Wagtails for instance. 

To get to the waterfall, we need to carefully negotiate some rugged stones but do not be put off by this. I have seen people of all ages manage to stay upright to see Mallyan Spout. To further your confidence, if I can do it without mishap then you can too. In any case, be sensible, never take any risks and do not keep well hold of your partner because they may stumble first! Personally, I’ve found that the rock itself isn’t as slippery as mud and also the green layer of moss found upon the rocks. Therefore, I would recommend not standing on any rocks with a green sheen on them. 

Mallyan Spout Goathland
Mallyan Spout Goathland

It’s not at all far from the sign post we encountered to the waterfall, and you can further admire West Beck falling over rocks and its a good idea to sit down for a while and take it all in. And read your guide book!

You will more than likely hear Mallyan Spout before you see it because it is tucked away around a corner.  The amazing thing about this waterfall however, is that you can walk right up to it and touch it. 

Mallyan Spout is made up of natural spring water from the accompanying moorlands situated above. The water is then forced off a 70ft heigh ledge above and falls onto the rock below and merging with the already dynamic West Beck.  It’s good to note that the more rain that has fallen previously, the more dramatic this waterfall is. You may even encounter a small rainbow at the foot of the waterfall depending on lighting conditions. 

The waterfall is situated where the beck itself is on an almost 90 degree curve which makes it so much more dramatic when you are surrounded by thundering water. 

If like me you are a budding photographer, it’s quite difficult to get it all in landscape mode owing to its dimensions even with a wide-angle lens, so you may have to flip your camera over to portrait. You can head a little further around the corner to achieve a landscape shot which incorporates the scenery the waterfall finds itself in.  

Aforementioned, with the introduction of the railway, the Victorian’s loved to alight here and make their way to the waterfall.  Today however, the railway is owned and preserved by the famous North Yorkshire Moors Railway. We on the other hand have alighted a comfortable Coastliner bus, enjoyed Britains most scenic bus route and followed our Victorian ancestors footsteps to this stunning waterfall. 

In any era, this waterfall is in a location that is unspoilt and is especially pleasant during the summer months when everything is in full bloom. Additionally, you might occasionally see some amazing bird life which may be missed when are eyes are distracted on the dominant waterfall. More often than not you will see Grey Wagtails but not exclusively so. In fact, the North York Moors is red squirrel territory so keep you eyes open for these too.

Randy Rigg and Carr Wood Goathland

After viewing the waterfall we return back to the sign post we encountered earlier to continue a 3 mile circular walk back to Goathland. However, after a pitstop at Goathland you can extend the circuit which we will cover In this documentary. 

Instead of climbing the steep ascent back to Goathland, we’re going to follow the wooden walkway towards Beck Hole. 

This relaxing path takes you beside West Beck and into Carr Wood towards Incline Cottage and meet with the Rail Trail, a public right of way between Goathland and Grosmont. 

However, before we do, don’t forget the walkers code of conduct, that is to close more gates than you open. If you have a dog with you, please ensure its on a lead at this point because of grazing farm animals. 

On our left we gradually ascend above West Beck with lush green pasture ground on our right. The woodland that you see along this route is Carr Wood. 

One piece of advice I will give you is that if you ever see a sheep on its back, pop into the field and help it back on its feet, otherwise it could die. The farmer would more likely be grateful than complain about trespassing, especially if the sheep is in lamb. Fortunately, today we see quite a number of lambs on our circular walk. 

Committing to this walk clockwise is the easiest way to carry out this walk but occasionally there are some steps as you ascend above West Beck. They tend to be short and sweet however. 

Depending on how much time you have to spend, it is worthwhile just taking a breather every now and then and take in the scenery. This helps you absorb your surroundings, and if you are a keen photographer it gives you a moment to find a good composition for your photos. There are some fantastic views to record even if you just have a camera phone. 

There are a few gates on this route and generally some tend to spring-close by themselves, but please ensure that they latch when you’re through. 

This path is great in summer because it is very shady and keeps you out of the blazing sunshine should we get some. However, always ensure you have plenty to drink especially in hot weather. You can purchase chilled drinks from Goathland to carry with you. 

Another favourable aspect about this walk is the varying scenery and terrain. One moment you passing one of Yorkshire’s tallest waterfalls, then you’re walking through woodland, grassy pastures, moorland and rural villages. 

Eventually you will see a farm on a hill in the distance and some holiday chalets. The rolling green hills give you an extraordinary sense of space and the air tends to be very fresh considering we not too far away from the east coast. 

Many of the farms and out buildings tend to remind you of Heartbeat country and locations used in the series. Much of them have been built in creamy coloured limestone that seasons the idyllic beauty of the area. 

You will eventually come to a tall descending staircase bringing us back to the level of West Beck. This is where you will thank me for advising you to commit to this walk clockwise. When you reach the bottom turn around and look back at the descent.

If Heartbeat is anything to go by, North Yorkshire Police would arrest this staircase for grievous bodily harm. 

Incline Cottage Goathland

You will shortly arrive at a junction in the public right of way where the path meets the rail trail at Incline Cottage. The cottage once housed railway workers on the former George Stephenson’s route. 

If you wanted to see another smaller waterfall, you can follow the path left until you see a stone bridge next to a public house with a sign to Thomason Foss. Today however, we are going to gradually ascend uphill by turning right. This public right of way takes us back to Goathland. 

As an alternative, you might want walk the Rail Trail instead which is around 3.5 miles long each way. It begins in Goathland and finishes as Grosmont where the North York Moors Railway meets the Esk Valley line from Middlesbrough to Whitby. There is an engine repair workshop there with a gift shop for the Moors Railway.  Grosmont was built to house the iron mine workers as iron mines were once common in the area. 

However, our walk now takes us through further woodland with a narrow stream of water running to the right hand side of us. The ascent is gradual and it is a short walk back to Goathland. 

You will eventually reach a seat dedicated to Peter Wash whose idea formed the British Rail Wednesday Walkers. 

This curvy woodland walk can also be a shady walk to keep cool in and attracts some interesting bird life. You will also notice that the ascent is more manageable than the way back to St Mary’s Church where we began our walk. 

After passing a Yorkshire Water site on your right, you meet a crossroads. Turning right takes you back to the village shops where you might want to stop for refreshments or end your walk. Otherwise, you can walk straight across the road towards Goathland Car Park where toilets are available should you require them. 

This particular lamb is subliminally encouraging us to take a break here before continuing the second part of our walk and extending the route further if we should wish to. 

We mostly consider the police in Heartbeat country but did you know that Goathland has a Fire Station made up of volunteers? Turning right here takes us to the public conveniences, bus stop, car park and village shops. 

Goathland Railway Station

Just beside the Fire Station is a road, a short cut that takes you towards Goathland Station and the road the Coastliner bus entered the village. We simply follow the zig-zag until you can see the railway station on the left. We then walk downhill to the railway station and cross either on the level crossing (if a train is not present) or using the footbridge at the other side. 

Completely unplanned, we arrived at the right time to see a steam locomotive pulling a train bound for Pickering. 

Goathland Railway Station
Goathland Railway Station

The North Yorkshire Moors Railway began with a group of local volunteers in 1967. The sixties was a time of woe for the rail network as Dr Beeching closed many of the unprofitable lines which is why the Pickering to Whitby line is preserved. Before 1967, the line continued further meeting the Scarborough line at Rillington near Malton. 

The North York Moors Historical Railway Trust is a not for profit charity and the railway is maintained by volunteers with just a core of paid staff. There are around 550 volunteers working on this preserved railway. 

The station is not just famous for its role as ‘Aidensfield’ in the Heartbeat series, but perhaps lesser known is its roles in the Harry Potter movies. However, it should be pointed out that you cannot board a train to Hogwarts here otherwise it would be Britain’s most scenic train route.

We also need some steam now because we have just a short ascent to climb. On the right hand side of the furthest platform is a gate and a path heading two directions. 

If you want a good view of the station, we recommend using the left path, but either path takes us to the top of the hill where we head right. Particularly on the right hand path, be careful if it is muddy as it can be slippery. If this is so, it might be better to take the stepped left path instead.

Fortunately, at out age there is the reward of a wooden seat at the top overlooking the station. 

In the distance, you will see RAF Fylingdales which of course once were enormous white golf ball looking structures. In any case, we walk this direction until we meet the road we arrived on where we turn briefly left. 

Bridleway to Partridge Farm Goathland

Just a short walk uphill brings us to our bridleway on the opposite side of the road. Please be careful when crossing and follow this bridleway along, keeping to the path. 

You will notice that the railway is on your right hand side as well as a farm. 

The terrain isn’t suitable for growing crops on the North York Moors, so the farms in this area tend to deal mainly in livestock. In fact, agriculture has been the basis of the economy for over a thousand years as well as tourism. Grouse shooting is also common because of the vast expanse of heather laced moorland.

You might at times see columns of smoke on the horizon. This is because heathers are burned in rotation in controlled conditions when they get to ‘wellie’ height. This generally takes place in winter and early spring when birds are not nesting on the ground. 

Along the bridlepath is a seat which is a resting place to sit back and watch the heritage trains rolling by. From this vantage point, you get to see the expanse of the North York Moors and beyond. 

However, afterwards, the bridleway dips downhill towards a beck in which we cross, heading towards Partridge Farm. 

The North Yorkshire Moors Railway is a single track with passing loops of which are mainly at stations. This location is a great place to watch them go by and enjoy the sounds of steam as they disappear into the horizon. 

As we stride over Little Beck, we gently walk up hill towards the farm. The beck you cross at Goathland Station is Eller Beck which merges later on with the Esk after colliding with West Beck at Combs Wood.

Eller Beck may sound familiar because the Coastliner bus crosses Ellerbeck over a stone bridge on the A1079 prior to arriving at the second junction for Goathland. It will also sound familiar because it also touches Dalby Forest and Eller Beck is also found at Thornton le Dale. 

We again meet grassy pastures with plenty of sheep adorning the green landscape. In fact, sheep practically out number people in Goathland!

The Bridleway continues surrounded by dry stone walls before it meets Partridge Farm that you see on the right hand side. 

Although the land is grassy, you will notice also that it is very rugged. The sprinkled rocks upon the grass are almost like chocolate shavings on a cake.  You’ll also notice that tree’s are sparse and there are in the minority. 

Arriving at Partridge Hill Farm, we keep to the left continuing along the bridleway with the farm on our right hand side. 

Stepping Stones at Goathland

The bridleway dips downhill again to arrive at another beck. When you get to towards the foot of the hill, it is recommended to walk on the grass verge because the bridleway tends to be muddy at this point. 

At the beck you will notice some stepping stones. Don’t be alarmed at these as the beck is very narrow and he stepping stones are quite large. It is child’s play crossing these yet please be careful if they are wet. As a matter of fact, depending on the time of year and rainfall, you can get away with not using them at all. 

What goes down must go up, and therefore we meet with a gradual ascent towards another farm called Birchwood Farm. Please keep to the existing path which tends to be discernible. 

You eventually meet with the farm track which we now walk upon until we reach Moorgate. Moorgate is the first turn off to Goathland from the A1079 which takes us to the roundabout near Mallyan Spout Hotel where the Coastliner bus turns around. 

Along this farm track, you can see much of the following moorland and during August the heathers are in flower leading to a purple carpet across the landscape. 

You’ll also see the A1079, the Pickering to Whitby road, in the distance. On your way back via Thornton le Dale, you can see how far you’ve walked providing you’re sat on the right hand side of the bus and up on the top deck. 

Certainly the views are spectacular and the air is clean so it’s kind of a detox physically and mentally. Also, just count the calories all these steps are burning! Another health benefit is that sometimes your phone signal is out of range. No phone no hassle!

Eventually you will see in the distance a house with a white gate beside it. Well, you get to see this close up as it serves as our path back to Goathland. 

You will also see the railway but also the former George Stephenson’s route behind it.

Just prior to joining Moorgate, you will come across the memorial for John Calvert who was a local man who fell asleep in death here. 

When you arrive at Moorgate, we need to take a right turn towards a stone bridge over a beck and another bridge for the railway. 

Railway Bridges and Bridleway to Sadler House Goathland

This bridge is the only over bridge on the railway. Bridges were expensive so many of the crossings are level crossings. As it is the only over bridge, it is a popular haunt for rail photographers and TV production company’s. 

Through the bridge you will meet a bend where another bridge is found. This disused bridge carried the original route of the railway before it altered slightly. 

After a cattle pin on the road, you will see the white gate to Sadler House, however, Sadler house is not the house on the left. Sadler house is a little further along the track here. 

I’ve a feeling these sheep won’t be sat here much longer.  As you’ve probably discerned, the wind has picked up. This goes to show that the Moors can have changeable weather so always come prepared.

You’ll see Sadler House on your right hand side, and the track continues back to Goathland in almost a near straight line. 

You might want to keep your eyes opened for some woodpecker because we encountered one which you are about to see on the left of this tree trunk.

Occasionally, the tree lined track can get muddy so a good pair of walking shoes are necessary. 

Eventually you will meet a caravan and camping site as well as a junction to walk towards Mallyan Spout and St Mary’s Church. However, we want to keep straight on until we reach Goathland.

Aidensfield Garage Goathland
Aidensfield Garage Goathland

You might be glad to know that our walk is almost over and a sit down is beckoning. When we reach Goathland, you might have time before the bus arrives so this is a perfect opportunity to explore the village if you have some excess energy. Alternatively, you can spend it in one of the cafe/tearooms or even a public house. 

To catch the bus however, you wait outside one of the stops with a shelter which are found across the road from the village shops and also outside Mallyan Spout Hotel. Timetables are found at each of the stops and can also be obtained from the bus or downloaded on your device.  The Transdev app also contains timetables as well as the function to purchase tickets.

Goathland Hotel and Aidensfield Garage

You will finally observe the rear of the Goathland Hotel which played the Aidensfield Arms in Heartbeat as well as Scripps Funeral Services and Aidensfield Garage at the opposite side of the road. Goathland Hotel is obviously a pub and place to stay, and the garage is a gift shop.

Aidensfield Arms/Goathland Hotel
Aidensfield Arms/Goathland Hotel

The coastline bus will turn around at the roundabout and collect you from the bus sheltered stops. Enjoy your journey! Until next time.