VISITORS will find it easier to cycle, walk, stargaze or enjoy the North York Moors thanks to a new National Park initiative that is forging a strong network of “friendly” businesses with dedicated facilities and knowledge on specific activities.

For the last two years the North York Moors National Park has been working with a raft of businesses such as bed and breakfasts, cafes and shops that have each pledged to become cycling, walking, dark skies or nature-friendly.

Now more than 55 organisations have met the initiative’s criteria to display one or more of the four activity-friendly logos so that visitors can easily plan their trip to include those places that offer facilities and services that meet their needs.

The North York Moors has long been a magnet for cyclists with more than 2,000km of bridleways and quiet moorland roads at their disposal which has led to dedicated cycle centres and bike hire places springing up across the National Park.

The difference now is that with 30 cycling-friendly businesses in place there is a more joined-up approach enabling cyclists of all abilities to feel more confident about embarking on a trip across the area.

Mike Hawtin, outdoor activity tourism officer for the National Park, who has been leading the initiative, said: “As well as showing how simply adding services such as a bike washing facility or supplying walking routes can make life easier for visitors, the initiative has created much stronger links between the businesses.

“Whereas before we might have had, for instance, a cycle hire place recommend a couple of B&Bs with storage or bike washing facilities, now each business is far more aware of what others are offering and can help signpost visitors as they travel around the National Park.

“The initiative really began with the Dark Skies Festival which has subsequently led to a number of venues such as The Farmhouse at Goathland or Cober Hill at Cloughton offering visitors equipment, including binoculars, deckchairs, warm blankets or stargazing guides, when they come to them.”

Currently, 30 businesses are displaying the cycling-friendly logo - 26 are walking-friendly, 14 have become dark-skies friendly and 11 are nature-friendly.

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