According to the 2001 UK census, Goathland parish had a population of 407.
Goathland village sits 500 feet above sea level and has a history extending back to Viking times. The village was a spa town during the nineteenth century. There are many hotels and guest houses in the village, the largest being the Mallyan Spout Hotel, named after the nearby beautiful waterfall. Much of the surrounding land is owned by the Duchy of Lancaster. The tame black faced sheep have a common right to graze on the village green and surrounding moorland that extends back for hundreds of years. As a result they are used to the many visitors to Goathland and will sometimes beg for food.
The village is now famous as the setting of the fictional village of Aidensfield in the Heartbeat television series set in the 1960s. Fans of Heartbeat will not be disappointed by a visit to fictional Aidensfield, as many of the series landmarks are recognisable, including the stores, garage / funeral directors, the public house and the railway station. In reality the pub is called the Goathland Hotel but in the series is the Aidensfield Arms. After filming for some years in the real pub, a precise replica (complete to the morris dancers' "swords" on the wall) was built in the studio.
It is often possible to see the stars of the show as filming for the series is commonplace throughout the week. But some other regular settings in the series are located outside of the village. The police house can be found about 70 miles away in the small village of Askwith near Ilkley and the police station can be found in the town of Otley. This was a real police station in past years.
Goathland railway station is on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. It is a private charitable trust with a number of paid staff but mostly operated by volunteers, running nearly all the year including at Christmas. It carries upwards of 250,000 passengers a year and is the second-longest preserved line in Britain. It links Grosmont in the north with Pickering in the south. It follows the route of the 19th century line that originally connected to Whitby; from the spring of 2007 some trains on the railway are timetabled to run all the way to Whitby. Goathland station has also been used as the location for Hogsmeade railway station in the Harry Potter films, and the line was filmed for Harry's journey.