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North Yorkshire
Coat of arms of North Yorkshire
Coat of arms
Location of North Yorkshire within England
Location of North Yorkshire within England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Constituent country England
Region Divided between Yorkshire and the Humber & North East
Established 1974
Established by Local Government Act 1972
Preceded by North Riding of Yorkshire
Origin Yorkshire
Time zone UTC±00:00 (Greenwich Mean Time)
 • Summer (DST) UTC+01:00 (British Summer Time)
Members of Parliament List of MPs
Police North Yorkshire Police
Cleveland Police
Ceremonial county
Lord Lieutenant Johanna Ropner
High Sheriff David Kerfoot (2020–21)
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 96% White
2.0% S.Asian
0.6% Black
Non-metropolitan county
County council North Yorkshire County Council (part)
Executive Conservative
Admin HQ Northallerton
Area 8,053 km2 (3,109 sq mi)
 • Ranked of 26
Population 582,000
 • Ranked 20th of 26
Density 72/km2 (190/sq mi)
ISO 3166-2 GB-NYK
ONS code 36
North Yorkshire numbered districts (1974-2023).svg
Districts of North Yorkshire
Districts County council area:
  1. Selby
  2. Harrogate
  3. Craven
  4. Richmondshire
  5. Hambleton
  6. Ryedale
  7. Scarborough
  8. City of York
  9. Redcar and Cleveland
  10. Middlesbrough
  11. Stockton-on-Tees (south)

North Yorkshire is the largest non-metropolitan county and lieutenancy area in England, covering an area of 8,654 square kilometres (3,341 sq mi). Around 40% of the county is covered by national parks, including most of the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors. It is one of four counties in England to hold the name Yorkshire; the three other counties are the East Riding of Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire.

From 1974 (via Local Government Act 1972) to 1996, it was wholly within the Yorkshire and the Humber region. Since 1996, parts of the North East England region joined the county non-administratively. York also moved into being a non-administrative part of the county in 1996.

The Middlesbrough built-up area (at 174,700) is the most populous settlement while the York built-up area is second with 152,841, although neither form part of the administrative county, not governed by North Yorkshire County Council. Mid-2016 estimates by the ONS recorded a 602,300 population in the county council area. The most populous settlement in the administrative county (and third in the overall ceremonial county) is Harrogate (at 75,070); followed by Scarborough (at 61,749). Northallerton, the administrative county town, was recorded with a 16,832 population. Other large settlements in the county are Redcar, Thornaby-on-Tees and Ingleby Barwick.

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.


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.



York Station - Flickr 2020
York railway station
Harrogate railway station, general view towards Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, UK
Harrogate railway station

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 London North Eastern Railway, 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 operates 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 an 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.


The main road through the county is the north–south A1(M), which has gradually been upgraded in sections 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, A66 and A174.

Coach and bus

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), Yorkshire Coastliner, First York and the local Dales & District.


There are no major airports in the county itself, but nearby airports include Teesside International (Darlington), Newcastle, Doncaster Sheffield and Leeds Bradford.


In large areas of North Yorkshire, agriculture is the primary source of employment; some 85% of the county is considered to be "rural or super sparse".

Other sectors in 2019 included some manufacturing, the provision of accommodation and meals (primarily for tourists) which accounted for 19 per cent of all jobs and food manufacturing which employed 11 per cent of workers; a few people are involved in forestry and fishing in 2019. The average weekly earnings in 2018 were £531. Some 15% of workers declared themselves as self-employed. One report in late 2020 stated that "North Yorkshire has a relatively healthy and diverse economy which largely mirrors the national picture in terms of productivity and jobs.

Container Terminal, Teesport - - 1453170
The Teesport sea port handled over 53 million tonnes of cargo in 2013
Drax Hales station site geograph-3419210-by-Ben-Brooksbank
Drax Power Station has the highest generating capacity of any power station in the UK

Mineral extraction and power generation are also sectors of the economy as is high technology.

Tourism is a significant contributor to the economy. A study of visitors between 2013 and 2015 indicated that the Borough of Scarborough, including Filey, Whitby and parts of the North York Moors National Park, received 1.4m trips per year on average. A 2016 report by the National Park however, provides more impressive numbers: the park area gets 7.93 million visitors annually, generating £647 million and supporting 10,900 full-time equivalent jobs.

The Yorkshire Dales have also attracted many visitors. In 2016, there were 3.8 million visits to the National Park including 0.48 million who stayed at least one night. The parks service estimates that this contributed £252 million to the economy and provided 3,583 full-time equivalent jobs. The wider Yorkshire Dales area received 9.7 million visitors who contributed £644 million to the economy. The North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales are among England's best known destinations.

Shambles shopper 8686
The Shambles, a popular tourist area in York
Victoria Gardens Shopping Centre - - 473848
Harrogate is also a popular tourist destination, famous for its Turkish Baths, Gastronomy and High-End Shops.

The North Yorkshire County Council operates many small tourist information offices in rural areas. Nature or eco-tourism has become an important factor. In addition to hiking, some areas attract tourists with wildlife, although the latter aspect has yet to be fully developed. Another agency promoting tourism to the region is the Herriot Country Tourism Group which covers the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales as well as communities such as Thirsk, Northallerton, Easingwold, Great Ayton & Bedale. 

The historic towns of York and Harrogate are the top tourist destinations in the geographic area. York attracts millions of visitors, some of whom may be enticed to continue northward to other areas of North Yorkshire. A 2014 report, based on 2012 data, stated that York alone receives 6.9 million visitors annually; they contribute £564 million to the economy and support over 19,000 jobs. In the 2017 Condé Nast Traveller survey of readers, York rated 12th among The 15 Best Cities in the UK for visitors. In a 2020 Condé Nast Traveller report, York rated as the sixth best among ten "urban destinations [in the UK] that scored the highest marks when it comes to ... nightlife, restaurants and friendliness".

During February 2020 to January 2021, the average property in North Yorkshire county sold for £240,000, up by £8100 over the previous 12 months. By comparison, the average for England and Wales was £314,000. In certain communities of North Yorkshire, however, house prices were higher than average for the county, as of early 2021: Harrogate (average value: £376,195), Knaresborough (£375,625), Tadcaster (£314,278), Leyburn (£309,165) and Ripon (£299,998), for example.

This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added for North Yorkshire at current basic prices with figures in millions of British pounds sterling.

Year Regional Gross Value Added Agriculture Industry Services
1995 7,278 478 2,181 4,618
2000 9,570 354 2,549 6,667
2003 11,695 390 3,025 8,281

Effects of the pandemic

Unemployment in the county was traditionally low in recent years, but the lockdowns and travel restrictions necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic had a negative effect on the economy during much of 2020 and into 2021. The UK government said in early February 2021 that it was planning "unprecedented levels of support to help businesses [in the UK] survive the crisis". A report published on 1 March 2021 stated that the unemployment rate in North Yorkshire had "risen to the highest level in nearly 5 years - with under 25s often bearing the worst of job losses".

York experienced high unemployment during lockdown periods. One analysis (by the York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership) predicted in August 2020 that "as many as 13,835 jobs in York will be lost in the scenario considered most likely, taking the city's unemployment rate to 14.5%". Some critics claimed that part of the problem was caused by "over-reliance on the booming tourism industry at the expense of a long-term economic plan". A report in mid June 2020 stated that unemployment had risen 114 per cent over the previous year because of restrictions imposed as a result of the pandemic.

Tourism in the county was expected to increase after the restrictions imposed due the pandemic are relaxed. One reason for the expected increase is the airing of All Creatures Great and Small, a TV series about the vet James Herriot, based on a successful series of books; it was largely filmed within the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The show aired in the UK in September 2020 and in the US in early 2021. One source stated that visits to Yorkshire websites had increased significantly by late September 2020.




Yorkshire County Cricket Club play a number of fixtures at North Marine Road, Scarborough. The ball game Rock-It-Ball was developed in the county.

Association football

Middlesbrough West Ham FA Cup semi-final 2006
Middlesbrough vs West Ham in FA Cup semi-final 2006

North Yorkshire has multiple association football clubs:

  • Guisborough Town
  • Harrogate Railway Athletic
  • Harrogate Town
  • Middlesbrough
  • Marske United
  • Northallerton Town
  • Pickering Town
  • Redcar Athletic
  • Scarborough Athletic
  • Selby Town
  • Tadcaster Albion
  • Thornaby
  • Whitby Town
  • York City

Middlesbrough are currently the highest-ranked team in the county as they play in the EFL Championship. In the past, they have won the EFL Cup and reached the UEFA Cup final. Harrogate Town play in the EFL League Two. York City play in the National League North and finished 2nd on points-per-game during the 2019–20 season, but they lost their play-off semi-final to Altrincham. Whitby Town have reached the FA Cup first round seven times and have played the likes of Hull City, Wigan Athletic and Plymouth Argyle; they currently play in the Northern Premier League Premier Division, along with nearby Scarborough Athletic, a phoenix club of Scarborough.

Rugby football

Scarborough Rugby Club - - 113831
Scarborough ground
Rugby Union Teams 2021-22
League Team Venue Capacity Location
National League 2 North Harrogate Rudding Lane Harrogate
Wharfedale The Avenue 2,000 Threshfield, Craven
North Premier York Clifton Park York, North Yorkshire
North 1 East Malton & Norton The Gannock Malton
Scarborough Silver Royd 4,500 (425 seats) Scalby, Scarborough
Yorkshire 1 Selby Sandhill Lane Selby
Durham & Northumberland 1 Acklam Talbot Park Acklam, Middlesbrough
Middlesbrough Acklam Park 5,000 (159 seats) Acklam, Middlesbrough

The leading rugby union teams in the county include Wharfedale RUFC, Harrogate RUFC, but teams also include Middlesbrough RUFC and Acklam RUFC who play their league games in Durham/Northumberland 1. York City Knights, previously known as York F.C., are a rugby league team who play in the Rugby League Championships.


The winning post - - 437203
York Racecourse

North Yorkshire has multiple racecourses at: Catterick Bridge, Redcar, Ripon, Thirsk and York. It also has one motor racing circuit, Croft Circuit; the circuit holds meetings of the British Touring Car Championship, British Superbike and Pickup Truck Racing race series and one Motorcycle Racing Circuit at Oliver's Mount, Scarborough.


North Yorkshire LEA has a mostly comprehensive education system with 42 state schools secondary (not including sixth form colleges) and 12 independent schools.

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