One of my favourite trips out as a kid, and a place I haven't been to for quite a while (I'm guessing around 1996 or earlier), Dalby forest is an area of Forest located roughly north of the village of Thornton-le-Dale + the turn off from the A169 Whitby - Pickering road nr the "Fox & Rabbit Inn" (the turn off at that point, the road leads you to Thornton-le-Dale, and from there the turn-off to get into Dalby Forest is somewhere along on the left hand side).
Back then, all there really seemed to be was some roads to drive round... some streams to paddle in, some picnic benches to have picnics at, and a visitor's centre located in one of the stone buildings in Low Dalby(?) that had a display of some stuffed animals, and some buttons to press that made animal noises (e.g. a Woodpecker pecking away, etc)....... and it was also occasionally used for the RAC Rally when it still came to these parts.
Nowadays there appears to be more than that.. in addition to a new purpose built visitor's centre (with it's own restaurant)........ I seem to recall from what I've read elswhere there's also Mountain bikes for hire to ride round the forest with..... workshop units selling art & craft type gifts.... and I've also discovered this spot called "Go Ape", which is some attraction in the forest that allows you to swing through the tree tops / go down death slides / walk along a bridge through the tree tops, see - http://www.goape.co.uk
Overall it should be a good day out, or part of one.
It's now also served by the MOORSBUS Service (see Transportation tips), with service M6 (Thornton-le-Dale to Low Dalby & West Ayton), which runs over the following route:
Thornton-le-Dale (car park) > Low Dalby Visitor centre > Staindale Lake car park > Dalby Forest (Adderstones) > Bickley (Langdale Quest road end) > Langdale End (Moorcock inn) > Hackness Village Hall > Forge Valley > West Ayton (Forge Valley Inn).
Oh yeah, and just to add to the interest, back in 1982 Dalby Forest was the scene of North Yorkshire's largest ever man hunt when there was a gun maniac running round the area:
A location that's always fascinated me since I was a kid, wanting to visit to see what all the fuss was about it (hopefully soon, after a 20yr + wait I may find out soon enough)...... I've started getting a bit more clued-up about the place, and a rekindled interest in it thanks to a miracle of modern software technology - GOOGLE EARTH.
Sutton Bank is a steep, winding hill along the section of A170 between Helmsley & Thirsk on what I think is the very edge of the park.
Apart from it's stunning views (which I'll get to in a second), the location is also famous for these two things:
The nearby Hang-gliding / sailplanes centre, run by the Yorkshire Gliding Club
And a murder mystery listed in the book "Murders & Mysteries of the North Yorkshire Moors" by Peter N Walker (now available from AMAZON once again.... I had an earlier copy from when cleared out the house of my Grandma on my Mum's side when she died in 1993, but my Mum's sister asked to borrow the book, and I ain't seen the damn thing since!).
Back to the view, a poke around on GOOGLE EARTH using the feature that allows you to see places in their full 3D terrain view suggests on a good day, you should get a west(ish) view going at least 40miles right across to the Pennines, taking in places like Thirsk & Ripon.
Further aerial recon through both GOOGLE EARTH + GOOGLE MAPS shows there are footpaths that run either side of the gliding club that take you down to a landmark called the "Kilburn White Horse", a hill figure formed in the hillside back in 1857 based on a pre-historic example down south in the "Vale of White Horse" in the Berkshire downs. If you don't fancy the walk (I think it's only a couple of miles anyway), there's also a car park near the horse.
Sutton Bank also has a visitors centre in the Car Park, and well served by the MOORSBUS service (see seperate tip), including the #128 Bus from Scarborough (via Thornton-le-Dale, Pickering & Helmsley).
Beck Hole is a tiny place thrown out in a dip in the moors near Goathland. Not much more than the pub. Can be crowded with tourists on a good day but not too bad since it is a bit of a walk to get there - uphill on the way back to work off that pint :-)
During much of the year, vast portions of this area are pretty much a vast public transport no man's land (and I know from years of living here that without a full driving license you're totally screwed when it comes to finding jobs).... there's not much in the way of trains apart from the Esk Valley line from Whitby to Middlesbrough (4 times a day)... the North Yorkshire Moors Railway from Grosmont to Pickering (with extended runs to Whitby now increasing, though) + the Lines from Scarborough that go to either York or Hull... there were other lines, but they fell victim to the Beeching Act axe in the 1960's.
However, one good point is the Moorsbus service that runs throughout the Tourist Season.
According to this year's (2008) timetable, from middle of March to the end of June they only run on Sundays.... from end of June until first Sunday of October they become more daily... then finish for the winter after the last Sunday in October.
£7 bags you an all day Rover Ticket, that allows you to hop on & off any bus on the Moorsbus Network. For £12 you can get a "MoorsLink" ticket, which allows you to use both the Buses on the Moorsbus Network + the Trains on the Esk Valley Railway.
Moorsbus tickets are also valid on the excellent #840 Yorkshire Coastliner, but only on the section between Malton & Whitby (NOT the section from Malton to York & Leeds). Likewise, I believe you can also use the Yorkshire Coastliner Freedom ticket (£12 to ride all day, from any Yorkshire Coastliner bus) to ride the Moorsbus Network.
Some of the main route options include:
M1 = Danby to Thornton-le-Dale & Pickering (links Esk Valley Railway @ Danby)
128 = Scarborough & District service from Scarborough to Sutton Bank (via Pickering)
M2 = Sutton Bank & Helmsley to Danby (via Bilsdale)
M3 = Sutton Bank & Helmsley to Danby (via Hutton le Hole)
M50 = Pickering to Danby (via Rosedale)
M7 / M71 = Northallerton & Thirsk to Helmsley
M14 = Hull to North Yorkshire Moors (Thornton le Dale)
M17 = Whitby to Pickering (8:50am from Whitby, 6pm from Pickering)
#840 Yorkshire Coastliner (Whitby to Malton section only)
While the vast North Yorkshire Moors National Park may be one of the most beautiful places in England, especially in the summer months when the heather is a breath taking carpet of Purple & Green, this spot is also a favoured habitat of Britain's only poisonous Snake species, the adder (Vipera berus).
Although I've never seen one in the flesh in the 29yrs I've currently been alive, it pays to keep an eye out for where you tread when walking in some of the more remote parts of the moors & know what they look like.
Whatever you do, don't wander too far onto the Fylingdales Moors and especially not if you see signs of army presence "MOD". The main surveillance centre can be seen along the road between Pickering and Whitby where there used to be huge "golf balls" out on the moors (really spooky) but now they are more triangular buildings. You don't see it as well from the Robin Hood's Bay end of Fylingdales so take care. If you stray, you will be taken in for questioning and I don't think that's a nice experience. Obviously I have no photo of the place :-)
The area is ideal for cycling.Leaflets are available from Tourist Information Offices describing the many routes.
Favorite thing: Get out on the moors and don't just stay in the villages. If you are not an experienced hiker walking from A to B with good maps and clothing, you should avoid walking too far but just follow a village path up to the sheep grazing moors and back and you will be rewarded with stunning scenery.