I know this may come as a surprise to you, but I’m from Yorkshire. I know! I hid that well, didn’t I? Yorkshire people are, quite rightly, extremely proud of their county, which is, in case you didn’t know, actually God’s Own Country. It’s the biggest county in England and its size has led to it being divided up into different ridings and districts several times. The subject of its boundaries is quite complicated and I’m not here to talk about all that today. I want to celebrate the county of my birth, in all its magnificence. If you’ve never been here you’ve missed out, and should rectify the situation immediately!
It’s a county of contrasts, encompassing heather-clad moors, rolling dales, glorious coastline, gentle wolds, bleak flat plains, harbours, factories, mills, castles and abbeys. It has a rich history and has played a major part in the fortunes of the British Isles. Most of all, it’s home to some of the warmest, friendliest and funniest people on earth. Not that I’m biased, of course…
I grew up in East Yorkshire, in a small town by the mighty Humber. There was no Humber Bridge in those days, so when we wanted to cross the river to Lincolnshire to visit places like Cleethorpes and Mablethorpe, we took the ferry. This was quite an adventure and I used to love those ferry crossings from Hull to New Holland. Sadly, when the bridge was built the ferry was no longer needed. The bridge is much more convenient but not half as exciting!
East Yorkshire has some beautiful little villages, such as Bishop Burton,
which is one of the prettiest places I’ve ever seen, with its pretty red-roofed cottages and duck ponds. Beverley is a thriving market town and has a wonderful minster and some great book shops! The flat landscape of Holderness, with its crumbling coastline, stretches all the way from the mouth of the Humber to Flamborough. It’s in stark constrast to the gentle, rolling wolds, which are also part of the hidden beauty of this region. East Yorkshire is often overlooked, but it contains some real hidden gems, such as the lovely town of Driffield, “Gateway to the Wolds”, the magnificent Burton Agnes Hall, and the traditional seaside resort of Bridlington with its fabulous beaches, historic old town, and fun attractions.
West Yorkshire boasts the largest city in the whole of Yorkshire – Leeds. It’s a very different landscape to East Yorkshire. For a start it’s completely landlocked, whereas both North and East Yorkshire have coastline. It has a rich industrial background, and was known for its woollen mills and coal mines. It has many tourist attractions, including the world famous Bronte
Parsonage in Haworth, home of Emily, Charlotte and Anne Bronte, and the stunning Harewood House. It is networked by numerous canals and waterways and has a beauty all of its own. Calderdale is famed for its lovely scenery and waterways and includes the market towns of Halifax, Rippondon and Hebden Bridge, the latter of which has many literary connections – not least the fact that Ted Hughes was born nearby and his wife Sylvia Plath is buried in a medieval settlement in the hills above the town.
South Yorkshire was once an industrial heartland, but it’s got quite a reputation these days for its leisure activities and places to visit. It’s the home of the Yorkshire Wildlife Park, Doncaster Races and Magna Science Adventure Centre. The vibrant university city of Sheffield is a busy shopping attraction with Meadowhall Shopping Centre drawing thousands of visitors every day.
The Peak District is on the doorstep, and Penistone, the highest market town in the country, is a great base to explore the beautiful countryside, with the trans-Pennine trail nearby. Then there’s the ruins of Roche Abbey. Cared for by English Heritage, it has “one of the most complete ground plans of any English Cistercian monastery, laid out as excavated foundations.” (English Heritage: click on Roche Abbey link for more details.)
Finally, we reach North Yorkshire, the granddaddy of them all. North Yorkshire is BIG and it’s also absolutely beautiful. Here you’ll find a fantastic coastline, adorned with the precious jewels of Whitby, Scarborough, Robin Hood’s Bay, Runswick Bay, Sandsend, Filey, and many other gems. North Yorkshire is home to two national parks – the awe-inspiring Yorkshire Dales and the wild and utterly magnificent North Yorkshire Moors. Outside the parks, you can find such delights as Knaresborough, home to the castle where the knights who murdered Thomas a Beckett in Canterbury Cathedral took refuge, and birthplace of the renowned Mother Shipton – seer and wise woman. Or visit Ripon with its grand cathedral, or York with its famous
Minster. There are castles and abbeys galore in North Yorkshire, including Rievaulx Abbey, Fountains Abbey and Richmond Castle. The Moors are dotted with pretty villages such as Goathland, famous as Aidensfield in television’s Heartbeat, Hutton-le-Hole where sheep
meander along the road and where you’ll find the Ryedale Folk Museum, and Thornton-le-Dale which has a pretty thatched cottage that must be one of the most photographed homes in the land, having featured on chocolate box lids, jigsaws and goodness knows what else. If, after all this exertion, you find yourself in need of sustenance, you can get the finest fish and chips in England in our coastal towns, or visit Betty’s Tea Rooms in York or Harrogate for a fine afternoon tea. We have pubs and restaurants and tea shops galore, so you’ll never go hungry or thirsty.
This post may read like an advertisement for Yorkshire, and I guess it is. I would like everyone to come here and see for themselves how truly amazing this place is. I feel very blessed to have been born here and to have such wonderful places within a short drive from me. My Kearton Bay books are set on the North Yorkshire coast and I have plans to set my next book in the Dales. Maybe I’ll set a book in every area of Yorkshire! Who knows. 🙂
Have a great day xx