About the River
The River Esk The River Esk, Egton Bridge

The River Esk, Yorkshire's premier salmon and sea trout river, rises between Baysdale and Westerdale in an area known as Esklets (251 m above sea level).

Its 28 mile (45 km) course sees it flow through the North York Moors National Park to its eventual meeting with the North Sea in Whitby.

The catchment is comprised almost wholly within the North York Moors National Park encompassing wild heather moorland, deep verdant valleys and beautiful stone built villages.

The Yorkshire Esk is home to a variety of wildlife which live in and around the river, and rely on it to survive, including; Atlantic salmon, sea trout, native brown trout, grayling, brook lamprey, sand martins, dippers, kingfishers, water voles and otters which are found in increasing numbers.

The Esk is also the only river in Yorkshire, and one of only seven in England, that contains the fascinating endangered freshwater pearl mussel.

Esk Kingfisher Kingfisher © Mike Nicholas


Whitby Whitby

The Yorkshire Esk and associated coastal streams are situated almost entirely within the North York Moors National Park which contains the largest expanse of heather moorland in England and Wales.

The River Esk catchment and associated ecosystems are of considerable importance, with much of the North York Moors designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and European Special Protection Area for nesting ground birds such as merlin and golden plover.

The largest seaside town within YERT's area is Whitby, a well-known and ancient fishing port where the River Esk meets the North Sea. All Esk salmon and sea trout will have made their way through Whitby harbour prior to reaching their spawning grounds in the upper reaches of the river system.

The coast itself is dotted with picturesque fishing villages such as Staithes, Runswick and Robin Hoods Bay.

The River Esk catchment is a wonderful place to visit. North York Moors National Park has two visitor centres – one at Danby situated on the banks of the River Esk, and the other at Sutton Bank near Thirsk – both of which provide a wealth of information about the natural history of the area.

In all the River Esk and Coastal Streams catchment comprises spectacular scenery, immense biodiversity and extremely important rivers and streams.

River Esk near Castleton The River Esk, near Castleton, where bank stabilisation work has been carried out including plating trees.


The Esk at Whitby Born out of the River Esk Action Committee, formed to implement the Yorkshire Esk's Salmon Action Plan, the Yorkshire Esk Rivers Trust has... read more


Catchment Based Approach Yorkshire Esk Rivers Trust involvement with CaBA - Catchment Based Approach... read more


Fresh Water Peal Mussel Of particular concern is the decline of the Yorkshire Esk's pearl mussel population. This is currently... read more


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