Yorkshire is often referred to as ‘God’s own county’. It is (by British standards) huge and the whole region straddles the north of England, from the east coast to only about ½ an hour’s drive from the west coast. It is enormously diverse region, reflecting its history and cultural roots. In the early middle ages, this was the heart of Danish territory and Scandinavian place-names predominate. The old counties of East, West and North Riding were based on a division into three parts called thrithjungr, from which ‘riding’ is derived (eg East-thrithjungr etc) – though an alternative suggestion is that the name comes from the Danish thrydings, try (or three) things, where ‘thing’ or ‘ding’ means ‘an assembly’.
In any event, the north and east of Yorkshire and the Humber are mainly rural. 20% of the entire region is covered by two national parks – the North Yorkshire Moors and the Yorkshire Dales, where dry stone walls weave their way over the bumpy fells and there seem to be an awful lot of sheep. Both parks include some serious walking country as well as spectacular views.
There are seven cities – Bradford, the port of Kingston upon Hull (often simply called, ‘Hull’), Leeds (the largest city in the region), Ripon, Sheffield, Wakefield and York. South Yorkshire is dominated by the urban areas shaped by industry around Leeds – now one of Britain’s premier financial centres – Bradford – famous for wool mills, printing (and, more recently, curry) and Sheffield – home of Britain’s precision steel industry. York is a magnet for tourists – one of the top destinations outside London – who come to see the magnificent Minster, wander through the Shambles and soak up the Roman, Viking and Medieval heritage.
Outside the major urban areas are pleasant market towns, quaint villages, ruined abbeys, castles and stately homes. On the coast, resorts such as Whitby and Scarborough attract thousands of visitors. This is the land of Captain Cook, the Brontes, brass bands and puddings!
Ten places to consider:
East coast trains run between York, Doncaster, Leeds and London, and between York and Edinburgh beyond. There is an international airport at Leeds Bradford. The M1 and A1(M) bisect the region north/south and the M62 west/east. All of the roads through the Dales are worth exploring, and will present some lovely surprises (don’t restrict yourself to ‘A’ roads – travel along the Dales (valleys) themselves. I like Swaledale, but they’re all brilliant. And either side of virtually any road leading to York – the A59, A64, A19, for example – are some perfect villages as well as significant sites worth visiting. And then there’s the famous Snake Pass, the A57 between Sheffield and Glossop – often closed in bad weather, but a wonderful journey.