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When Does the Heather Bloom in North York Moors?

When the heather blooms in the North York Moors, it is truly a breathtaking sight. It is so beautiful that it draws in visitors from all over the world. Here’s more information about the heather and when it blooms in the North York Moors.

The sweet aroma of summer! As the heather flowers bloom, the moorland becomes a sea of purple that hums with the activity of honeybees, damselflies, moths, and butterflies. The heather blooms in the North York Moors from mid to late August and throughout September. Ling and cross-leaved heath and deep, dark pink/purple bell heather provide a continuous and extensive display unrivalled anywhere else in England.

Great places to witness the heather in the North York Moors

We have a few spots we think are great for witnessing the heather in bloom across the North York Moors. One of our favourites is the Fylingdales Moor, a vast heather moorland between Robin Hood’s Bay and Ravenscar. This area is managed as a conservation area, meaning grouse-shooting isn’t permitted here. It’s home to over 90 bird species (including birds of prey like the merlin, Britain’s smallest falcon), plus many other types of wildlife like otters, water voles, orchids, butterflies, moths, and adders. We love to wander amongst the heather here, and it’s open-access land, so you don’t have to stick to footpaths or other public rights of way (unless you have a dog with you). Try following the Jugger Howe nature trail, and you might get lucky and spot a merlin!

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Other great spots are the Hole of Horcum, Blakey Ridge, and Goathland, which offer exceptional vantage points for witnessing the heather’s beauty. Check local access guidelines and respect the environment by sticking to marked paths to minimise your impact on this delicate ecosystem.

Heather on the North York Moors near Simon Howe
Phil Catterall / Heather Moorland near Simon Howe

The heather bloom in the North York Moors is perfect for photographers

For photographers, the heather bloom is a dream come true. The contrasting colours of the purple heather against the green foliage and the vast expanse of the moors make for stunning and unique compositions. The soft, diffused light of early morning or late afternoon further enhances the visual spectacle.

Why is heather burned on the North York Moors?

Heather is burned on the North York Moors to promote new growth. The burning occurs during the winter and early spring when no birds nest on the ground, and the fires are carefully controlled so as not to damage the peaty soil. This process allows new green shoots to grow from underground stems and seeds the following year.

A group focused on preserving the North York Moors has once again brought up the issue of heather burning in the area. They propose that other methods should be used to stimulate grouse breeding instead. You can read more about this here.

Heather bloom in North York Moors
Image credit: summonedbyfells, CC BY-SA 2.0, via flickr.

Things to do in the North York Moors

Explore the Cleveland Way

One of our absolute favourite things to do here is to trek along the Cleveland Way National Trail. This fantastic 175 km walking route officially opened on May 24, 1969, and it was only the second recognised National Trail in all of England and Wales. The journey is simply stunning, and there’s nothing quite like experiencing the breathtaking landscape of the North York Moors National Park. You’ll see everything from beautiful heather moorland to dramatic coastline vistas.

The trail starts in the charming market town of Helmsley and eventually leads you to Saltburn-by-the-Sea. You’ll enjoy the stunning North Yorkshire coastline from there as you go to Filey. You’ll pass by picturesque fishing villages and lively coastal towns along the way. And remember the famous Robin Hood’s Bay and the popular seaside resorts of Scarborough and Whitby! While the trail is certainly doable for anyone reasonably fit, there are some challenging sections, so plan your route accordingly.

The North York Moors is a treasured landscape. There are some spots, towns, villages, views, and plenty of things to do that you want to take advantage of, especially if you’re staying in Whitby. You can find 14 things to do in the North York Moors here.

It might be brief, but the heather bloom in the North York moors showcases the beauty and resilience of nature. To experience this natural spectacle, plan your visit for late summer, but keep an eye on local reports for more precise timing.

Whether you’re a photographer, a wildlife enthusiast, or simply someone who appreciates the wonders of the natural world, the heather bloom in North York Moors is an experience you won’t want to miss.

Header image credit: Lineslarge, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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