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North Yorkshire
North Yorkshire within England
North Yorkshire in England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Country England
Region Yorkshire and the Humber
(Part of the ceremonial county is in the North East Region)
Established 1974
Ceremonial county
Area 8,608 km2 (3,324 sq mi)
 • Ranked 1st of 48
Population (2005 est.) 1,045,000
 • Ranked 16th of 48
Density 121/km2 (310/sq mi)
Ethnicity 92.3% White
2.0% S.Asian
0.6% Black
Non-metropolitan county
County council Arms of North Yorkshire County Council
North Yorkshire County Council
Executive Conservative
Admin HQ Northallerton
Area 8,053 km2 (3,109 sq mi)
 • Ranked 1st of 27
Population 582,000
 • Ranked 20th of 27
Density 72/km2 (190/sq mi)
ISO 3166-2 GB-NYK
ONS code 36
North Yorkshire numbered districts.svg
Unitary County council area
Districts of North Yorkshire
  1. Selby
  2. Borough of Harrogate
  3. Craven
  4. Richmondshire
  5. Hambleton
  6. Ryedale
  7. Borough of Scarborough
  8. City of York
  9. Redcar and Cleveland
  10. Middlesbrough
  11. Stockton-on-Tees (the part south of the Tees)

Neighbouring counties are: East Riding of Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cumbria and County Durham
Members of Parliament
Time zone GMT (UTC)
 • Summer (DST) BST (UTC+1)

North Yorkshire is a non-metropolitan county (or shire county) and larger ceremonial county in England. It is located primarily in the region of Yorkshire and the Humber but partly in the region of North East England.

Created by the Local Government Act 1972, it covers an area of 8,654 square kilometres (3,341 sq mi), making it the largest county in England. The majority of the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors lie within North Yorkshire's boundaries, and around 40% of the county is covered by National Parks. The largest settlements are York (153,717), Middlesbrough (138,400), Harrogate (73,576) and Scarborough (61,749); the county town, Northallerton, has a population of 16,832.

Divisions and environs

The area under the control of the county council, or shire county, is divided into a number of local government districts: Craven, Hambleton, Harrogate, Richmondshire, Ryedale, Scarborough and Selby.

The Department for Communities and Local Government considered reorganising North Yorkshire County Council's administrative structure by abolishing the seven district councils and the county council to create a North Yorkshire unitary authority. The changes were planned to be implemented no later than 1 April 2009. This was rejected on 25 July 2007 so the County Council and District Council structure will remain.

The largest settlement in the administrative county is Harrogate, the second largest is Scarborough, while in the ceremonial county, the largest is York. The largest urban area within the ceremonial county is the Middlesbrough built-up area sub-division of Teesside.

York, Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland are unitary authority boroughs which form part of the ceremonial county for various functions such as the Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, but do not come under county council control. Uniquely for a district in England, Stockton-on-Tees is split between North Yorkshire and County Durham for this purpose. Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-Tees, and Redcar and Cleveland boroughs form part of the North East England region.

The ceremonial county area, including the unitary authorities, borders East Riding of Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cumbria and County Durham.

Physical features

The geology of North Yorkshire is closely reflected in its landscape. Within the county are the North York Moors and most of the Yorkshire Dales; two of eleven areas of countryside within England and Wales to be officially designated as national parks. Between the North York Moors in the east and the Pennine Hills in the west lie the Vales of Mowbray and York. The Tees Lowlands lie to the north of the North York Moors and the Vale of Pickering lies to the south. Its eastern border is the North sea coast. The highest point is Whernside, on the Cumbrian border, at 736 metres (2,415 ft). The two major rivers in the county are the River Swale and the River Ure. The Swale and the Ure form the River Ouse which flows through York and into the Humber estuary. The River Tees forms part of the border between North Yorkshire and County Durham and flows from upper Teesdale to Middlesbrough and Stockton and to the coast.


See also: History of local government in Yorkshire

North Yorkshire was formed on 1 April 1974 as a result of the Local Government Act 1972, and covers most of the lands of the historic North Riding, as well as the northern half of the West Riding, the northern and eastern fringes of the East Riding of Yorkshire and the former county borough of York.

York became a unitary authority independent of North Yorkshire on 1 April 1996, and at the same time Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland and areas of Stockton-on-Tees south of the river became part of North Yorkshire for ceremonial purposes, having been part of Cleveland from 1974 to 1996.


North Yorkshire has a temperate oceanic climate, like most of the UK. However, there are large climate variations within the county. The upper Pennines border on a Subarctic climate, whereas the Vale of Mowbray has an almost Semi-arid climate. Overall, with the county being situated in the east, it receives below average rainfall for the UK, but the upper Dales of the Pennines are one of the wettest parts of England, where in contrast the driest parts of the Vale of Mowbray are some of the driest areas in the UK. Summer temperatures are above average, at 22 °C, but highs can regularly reach up to 28 °C, with over 30 °C reached in heat waves. Winter temperatures are below average, with average lows of 1 °C. Snow and Fog can be expected depending on location, with the North York Moors and Pennines having snow lying for an average of between 45 and 75 days per year. Sunshine is most plentiful on the coast, receiving an average of 1650 hours a year, and reduces further west in the county, with the Pennines only receiving 1250 hours a year.

Climate data for North Yorkshire
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 15
Average high °C (°F) 6
Average low °C (°F) 1
Record low °C (°F) -14
Precipitation mm (inches) 40

Towns and villages


Settlements by population

Settlements in italics lie only within the ceremonial county, not the administrative county.

Rank Town Population Year Borough Definition Notes
1 York 153,717 2011 City of York York Built-up area Includes settlement of Acomb
2 Middlesbrough 138,400 2011 Middlesbrough Borough Unitary authority - figure refers to borough of Middlesbrough only not the Built-up Area Sub-division
3 Harrogate 73,576 2011 Harrogate Town Unparished; collection of wards
4 Scarborough 61,749 2011 Scarborough Town Unparished; collection of wards
5 Redcar 37,073 2011 Redcar and Cleveland Town Unparished; collection of wards
6 Thornaby-on-Tees 24,741 2011 Stockton-on-Tees (South) Town Unitary authority
7 Acomb 22,215 2011 York Town Forms part of York Built up area. Collection of wards.
8 Ingleby Barwick 20,378 2011 Stockton-on-Tees (South) Town Unitary authority
9 Yarm-on-Tees 19,184 2011 Stockton-on-Tees (South) Town Unitary authority
10 Selby 17,511 2011 Selby Civil Parish
11 Guisborough 16,979 2011 Redcar & Cleveland Town Unitary Authority
12 Northallerton 16,832 2011 Hambleton Civil Parish
13 Ripon 16,363 2011 Harrogate Civil Parish City
14 Knaresborough 15,484 2011 Harrogate Civil Parish
15 Skipton 14,623 2011 Craven Civil Parish
16 Whitby 13,213 2011 Scarborough Civil Parish
17 Richmond 8,413 2011 Richmondshire Civil Parish
18 Norton 7,049 2011 Ryedale Civil Parish
19 Pickering 6,588 2011 Ryedale Civil Parish
20 Tadcaster 6,480 2011 Selby Civil Parish

Settlements in italics lie only within the ceremonial county, not the administrative county..

Places of interest

Settlements in italics lie only within the ceremonial county, not the administrative county..

Dob Park Lodge
An ancient derelict hunting lodge in Dob Park, North Yorkshire.


The main road through the county is the north-south A1/A1(M) which has gradually been upgraded to motorway status since the early 1990s. The only other motorways within the county are the short A66(M) near Darlington and a small stretch of the M62 motorway close to Eggborough. The other nationally maintained trunk routes are the A168/A19, A64, the A66 and A174.

The East Coast Main Line (ECML) bisects the county stopping at Northallerton, Thirsk and York. Passenger services on the ECML within the county are operated by Virgin Trains East Coast, TransPennine Express and Grand Central. TransPennine Express run services on the York to Scarborough Line and the Northallerton–Eaglescliffe Line (for Middlesbrough) that both branch off the ECML.

Northern operate the remaining lines in the county including commuter services on the Harrogate Line, Airedale Line and York & Selby Lines, of which the former two are covered by the Metro ticketing area. Remaining branch lines operated by Northern include the Yorkshire Coast Line from Scarborough to Hull, the Hull to York Line via Selby, the Tees Valley Line from Darlington to Saltburn and the Esk Valley Line from Middlesbrough to Whitby. Last but certainly not least, the Settle-Carlisle Line runs through the west of the county with services again operated by Northern.

North yorkshire moors railway map
Current and former railway routes in eastern North Yorkshire

The county suffered badly under the Beeching cuts of the 1960s. Places such as Richmond, Ripon, Tadcaster, Helmsley, Pickering and the Wensleydale communities lost their passenger services. Notable lines closed were the Scarborough and Whitby Railway, Malton and Driffield Railway and the secondary main line between Northallerton and Harrogate via Ripon.

Heritage railways within North Yorkshire include the North Yorkshire Moors Railway between Pickering and Grosmont, which opened in 1973, the Derwent Valley Light Railway near York, and the Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Railway. The Wensleydale Railway, which started operating in 2003, runs services between Leeming Bar and Redmire along a former freight-only line. The medium-term aim is to operate into Northallerton station on the ECML once agreement can be reached with Network Rail. In the longer term the aim is to reinstate the full line west via Hawes to Garsdale on the Settle-Carlisle line.

York railway station is the largest station in the county with 11 platforms and is a major tourist attraction in its own right. The station is immediately adjacent to the National Railway Museum.

Long-distance coach services are operated by National Express and Megabus. Local bus service operators include Arriva Yorkshire, Harrogate Bus Company, Scarborough & District (East Yorkshire Motor Services), Yorkshire Coastliner, First York and the local Dales & District.

There are no major airports in the county itself but nearby airports include Durham Tees Valley, Newcastle, Robin Hood Doncaster Sheffield and Leeds Bradford.

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