Yorkshire and the Humber

A visit to Yorkshire and the Humber (encompassing North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, East Riding, North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire) is to discover stone walls and villages, caves, fells, babbling becks and sheep in two national parks – the North Yorkshire Moors and the Yorkshire Dales – ruined abbeys, seaside resorts, cliffs, castles and cathedrals and a heritage shaped by being at the heart of Danish territory.  Its cities include Leeds, now a bustling financial centre and retail mecca with a proud Victorian past, and York, famous for its medieval minster and one of Britain’s tourist magnets. Visit Ripon, with its cathedral and old workhouse, Whitby for fish and chips, Dracula and Captain Cook, or Haworth, home of the Brontes.

Our Brontë tour begins in Haworth

Haworth, Bronte Parsonage, Cemetary

Who was the third Brontë sister?  It’s a good question for quiz night down at the Olde Rupturede Ducke.  There was Charlotte and Emily, of course – the authors of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights respectively.  But who wrote The Tenant of Wildfell Hall?  Tracy Brontë, perhaps?  Or Chelsea?  No – if you’re a literary …

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Tiptoe through the tulips at Constable Burton

Tulips, Constable Burton, Yorkshire

According to property website Zoopla, on average, Britons move home every 23 years.  This creates a diverting image of millions of us upping sticks and all swapping houses every two decades or so.  It also means that the above average among us has moved far more frequently than that and, at the other end of …

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Malham Cove

Malham Cove, near Skipton, Yorkshire Dales

If you went to school in Britain, and paid attention during geography lessons, you probably know all about Malham.  Amongst other things, it is famed for its limestone topography.  My failure at geography was spectacular, but even I remember pouring over Ordnance Survey maps trying to pick out the characteristic features that the erudite, kindly …

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A day at Castle Howard

Castle Howard, Yorkshire, south view

Yorkshire’s Castle Howard has no dastardly legends to keep you awake at night; there is no obvious sign of blood seeping out of its mellow stonework.  It sits, in innocent splendour, a stately home in English Baroque and Palladian style, created for the vanity of its owners, a palatial celebrity famous for – well, being …

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Hunting the Devil’s Arrows

Yorkshire's Devil's Arrows

I was looking for three enormous prehistoric standing stones, or menhirs.  As you do. And you would think they were difficult things to mislay, wouldn’t you?  I knew roughly where they were meant to be, just to the west of Boroughbridge in North Yorkshire, very close to the A1 trunk road.  Whoever put these things …

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Who haunts Scarborough Castle?

Scarborough Castle, North Bay

Scarborough Castle dominates the Victorian Yorkshire seaside resort from a massive precipitous headland bulging up from the North Sea.  The fortress has a fascinating three and a half thousand year, often bloody, story to tell, but one of its more dubious charms seems to be that the ghost of Piers Gaveston, Earl of Cornwall, and …

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Wharram Percy DMV

Wharram Percy, DMV, Yorkshire

We tend to see modern towns and villages as permanent things. They may change, but it’s hard to imagine the landscape without them and easy to take it for granted that they will last forever.  Yet the world is littered with places that have been lost along the way – abandoned communities, traces of old …

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Village open gardens

Open gardens, local events, Great Britain

The British like to see themselves as keen gardeners. Indeed, some consider gardening to be a national pastime and would be mildly surprised to discover that people in other countries do it too. Of course, as an island race, we often prefer well-ordered borders; for some, it is a perennial fixation. According to the Horticultural …

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The Great Stone of Fourstones

Great Stone of Fourstones, boundary marker, Lancashire, Yorkshire

Up on the moors on the edge of the Forest of Bowland is a large, box-shaped, chunk of rock.  It sits just inside North Yorkshire on the border with Lancashire.  With characteristic English wit and imagination, it is known as the Big Stone, or the Great Stone of Fourstones – because apparently there used to be …

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The train will arrive in a heartbeat

North York Moors Railway locomotive at Goathland

I was on a boys’ weekend in Whitby. You know, don’t you, that ‘boys’ in this context actually means ‘grown men’. In fact, it would be more accurate to say ‘mature men who should know better’. But we’ll settle with ‘boys’; it’s a comforting euphemism. It’s just occurred to me that ‘euphemism’ can be a …

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St Mary’s Chapel, Lead

St Mary's, Lead Chapel, Yorkshire

In a field opposite the Crooked Billet pub near the village of Saxton, in North Yorkshire, stands the tiny chapel of St Mary’s, Lead.  Cross the field over Cock Beck, which was said to run red with blood after the nearby Battle of Towton in 1461, and you are stepping through a vanished hamlet to …

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Helmsley Castle and a canter through British history

Helmsley and Helmsley Castle, North Yokshire

The guy behind me, approaching the rather unwelcoming gatehouse, grumbled, somewhat disparagingly, “Well, it’s just a ruin.” He was evidently a reluctant visitor to Helmsley Castle, poor soul.  He was half-right – Helmsley Castle is a ruin – and Britain does have more than a few wrecked castles.  Maybe our fellow-traveller was just out-ruined, couldn’t …

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York’s Treasurers’ House

The Treasurers' House, York, National Trust

There are so many things to see and do in York; I’d never felt a burning desire to visit the Treasurers’ House.  Big mistake – put it on your list immediately.  For one thing, it is an outstanding house; for another, it is the location for one of Britain’s most intriguing ghost stories.  Plus it …

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Give us a song, Caedmon

Parish Church of St Mary's, Whitby

This is the story of England’s first known poet. Once upon a time, many many years ago, there was a good herdsman who lived on a cliff top called Streaneshalch.  The herdsman’s name was Caedmon; he was no spring chicken and was actually quite shy.  Nearby on the cliff top was a great Abbey, ruled …

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