This is one heck of a county to explore. Wander the woodlands of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and reach for your ordnance survey maps to ramble through rickety gates on your own adventures. For awe-inspiring, 360-degree views of the North Yorkshire Moors – and, on a clear day, out as far as Teeside and the Yorkshire Dales – clamber up to the summit of Roseberry Topping, just east of Helmsley. Closer to home, the 100-foot-high tower at Richmond Castle promises impressive views over Swaledale. This English Heritage attraction is also interesting historically – it’s the oldest stone Norman castle in England, built by William the Conqueror’s cousin. Mais oui. Richmond itself is the nearest market town and well worth a stroll around – but you’re best off skipping the pubs. Even though there seem to be lots, the best places to eat at are mostly out in the sticks. A great circuit on foot is from Richmond up to another English Heritage site, Easby Abbey, which is an easy-to-amble three-quarters of a mile downstream on the banks of the Swale. The ruins are hauntingly atmospheric, and even though so much has collapsed since it was built in the 12th century and long since condemned by Henry VIII, it makes compelling viewing. A good trail to follow is that in the footsteps of Richmond’s legendary disappearing drummer boy. Masham is a must-visit market town, not just because it rather impressively boasts three breweries, but because it is also charmingly timeless, with old-fashioned shops such as the tiny traditional bakers and butchers. Beer lovers, get thee to Theakston’s HQ (best known for its Old Peculiar Ale), and sample some of the brown stuff at the Victorian-era Black Bull in Paradise, plus poke your nose around the Black Sheep Brewery – the offshoot from a Theakston descendent. For an amazing drive through the Dales, head to Hawes, the main town in Upper Wensleydale. When you are there, go to Hardraw Force, an incredible waterfall. Also try Aysgarth Falls – both had starring roles in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves. If you’ve got whippersnappers in tow, be sure to book tickets for Forbidden Corner – it’s a sprawling eccentric maze well worth the trip to Tupgill Park for anyone with boys and girls to exercise. Self-dubbed ‘Strangest Place in the World’ it’s an antidote to the plastic and commercialisation of Disney, and its kooky walled gardens and fantastical grottoes are great fun to get lost in.