When you find an area with lovely walks, an excellent pub, great accommodation and fantastic locals, you really want to tell everyone about it. But then that little selfish fairy inside you says, ‘hang on – if I tell everyone about it, it will be ruined!’
This is how I feel about Levisham, our ‘special place’ in North Yorkshire. However, I’m willing to share it with you today if you promise not to tell anyone else!
The North Yorkshire Moors steam railway
We found it many years ago, as my husband is something of a steam railway fanatic. Part way up the track from Pickering, the North Yorkshire Moors steam railway winds its way up the valley towards Levisham station. In a deeply wooded valley, this station serves as a passing place on the mainly single-track line.
On the station there is one of those typical tea and cakes kiosks, run by the wives and friends of the railways volunteers who spend their weekends doing what all big boys love best: playing with steam trains! The tea is strong (you’d expect nothing less in Yorkshire!), the homemade cake is scrumptious and the chat is always friendly.
Mixed woodland valleys
The walks around this area are fantastic, mixed woodland valleys are crisscrossed by bridleways and footpaths that interlink in such a way that you can spend all day walking without leaving the immediate area. The wildlife and flora is in abundance, it really is a nature-lovers paradise – all the more so because you really can go out all day and never see anyone. This is for several reasons: firstly, because there are so many trails and tracks that people are spread apart, and secondly, this area is somewhat unknown. It lies between the Whitby seaside, Dalby Forest Drive (with all its way-marked routes and visitor centre) and the North Yorkshire moors.
Go up a steeply inclined road and you come out in Levisham itself. The village is a typical North Yorkshire setting; stone houses set alongside a wide road, with expansive grassed lawns to the front and at the head of the village, a pub with the village green in front of it. The pub is very much a ‘locals’ pub, people ‘in the know’ who appreciate its fantastic food, good cask ales and real English cider. There are no bands, TV’s or other gimmicks: just a good atmosphere and a friendly face.
North Yorkshire Food
The food is amazing, not cheap, but you know it is going to be good whatever you have! If you can manage a full three-course meal, you are doing better than me – I always have to compromise with either the starter or the pudding! The nice thing here is that it is all cooked fresh, so if you want something adding on, or missing off, provided they aren’t too busy it isn’t a problem.
There are various B&Bs, self-catering cottages and a hotel in the village; we’ve personally been visiting Rectory Farm for years. They have a couple of self-catering cottages in the converted barns and several rooms in ‘the big house’. There is always tea and cakes when you arrive and a complimentary sherry in an evening. The breakfast sets you up for the day with home-produced sausages and bacon, local mushrooms and freshly homemade bread daily.
We love Levisham, we can escape here and forget our lives at home. There’s no mobile signal unless you walk 100 yards up the road onto the moor (and then you have to dance around a bit!) However, for those techno-obsessives, there is the recent addition of WiFi to the house, but I’m not sure if that’s a good idea – it used to be quite liberating not to know what was happening in the outside world for a weekend!
So, if you fancy a weekend or week, where you can park up your car and leave it there, for walking, cycling or even horse riding (Rectory Farm do holiday livery) I can officially recommend Levisham, North Yorkshire as an ideal spot – just don’t tell anyone else ok?