It is said, a lifetime is not enough to discover India, whoever first said that was right, many have said it since. I’ve given it my best shot over twenty-two years and still have a list of places I would like to visit that is longer than the list of places I’ve visited. However, now that travel is restricted, I’ve decided to spend the next six months discovering my back yard, my home county of Yorkshire. I’ve been told a lifetime will not be enough. This seems to be a recurring theme in my world. India is 1.269 million mi² compared with Yorkshire which is 4,595.8 mi² how hard can this be? I decided to conduct two forms of research, one, on a certain search engine and the other with the human Wikipedia of Yorkshire, my dad. I started with searching for facts about Yorkshire to see what that might throw up and it is quite interesting.
Thanks to Go Yorkshire and Real Yorkshire Tours I am now armed with the following:
If the Lonely Planet Says it:
Lonely Planet Voted Yorkshire third in the top 10 world regions, behind destinations in India and Australia. The guide mentions Yorkshire’s “rugged moorland, heritage homes and cosy pubs”. It seems one can’t quite escape India, even in a post about Yorkshire!
My Own Heritage:
Much of the wealth in the Dales was created from the wool industry.
This I knew already, in fact my grandfather and then uncle were both involved in what is locally referred to as the rag trade, mungo and shoddy and I shall be chatting to my uncle further and sharing real stories, I know there are a few in the closet!
In terms of Natural History:
We have two National Parks, the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the Yorkshire Moors National Park, we also lay claim to part of the Peak District National Park. There is so much natural beauty it is virtually unimaginable and more National Trust sites than I think even they can count. I have left this there for now, it is incredibly overwhelming and exciting to see that there is so much to explore. I’ve decided to leave it to the expert, dad, he is drawing up a list of his top 20 places. That as a starting point, I feel is more manageable.
For all you train buffs out there:
The Settle to Carlisle Railway is 72 miles long, passes over 325 bridges, 21 viaducts and through 14 tunnels and 103 culverts. It was opened in 1875. At 1,133 feet Dent station is the highest mainline station in England. The North York Moors Railway is the longest regularly, steam operated railway in the UK, with over 18 miles of track running through beautiful countryside from Pickering to Whitby.
We are famous for pubs, the Lonely Planet thought to make mention of it, little surprise then that we have many famous breweries in the area of national if not international acclaim and now, there is a flurry of micro-breweries springing up across the county. Oh, and The Tan Hill Inn is Britain’s highest inn at 1,732 feet. It is one place I have been to.
I feel that this is a section that I may be tempted to focus on.
The Yorkshire Dales National Park is one of the last bastions of the endangered red squirrel, there are places (which I’m keeping a secret for now) where there is an annual salmon leap and, which I’m most excited about, grey seals come to Yorkshire shores each year to have their pups.
Photographers, architects, and history buffs:
Yorkshire has over 2,600 ancient monuments of national importance (14% of the English total), 800 conservation areas and 116 registered parks & gardens. The Dales National Park contains 1,714 listed buildings and 203 scheduled monuments. Between 1780 and 1820 a variety of Enclosure Acts led to the creation of many of the dry stone walls which so characterise the Dales. There are roughly 4,700 miles of them.
At over 900 years old, Skipton Castle is one of the most complete and best-preserved medieval castles in England and is fully roofed. York Minster is the largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe, it took 252 years to build in its present form and contains 128 medieval stained-glass windows. Yorkshire is home to two UNESCO World Heritage sites – Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal in North Yorkshire as well as the industrial setting of Saltaire & Salts Mill near Bradford.
Film and TV Buffs:
Jim Carter, the actor who is best known for playing the role of Mr Carson in Downton Abbey, hails from Harrogate. He would, they can pronounce their H’s in Harrogate and he had to be able to do that to be in Downton. The further south in Yorkshire one ventures, the more H loses it’s battle for a feature in the alphabet.
A Harry Potter film used Grassington Moor and the limestone pavements (which were formed in the Ice Age, I listened to something at school) above Malham Cove as locations.
Oh, and keeping it relevant as the new series just started yesterday, in the original series of All Creatures Great and Small, Askrigg is the ‘Darrowby’ of James Herriott fame; The Kings Arms was the ‘Drovers’ and Cringley House doubled as ‘Skeldale House’.
Bradford has also been designated a UNESCO City of Film.
I got away without mentioning Heartbeat.
The skills to make cheese in Wensleydale were introduced by French Monks from Jervaulx Abbey in about 1150. We eat Wensleydale cheese with mince pies and Christmas cake, the rest of the country finds this odd. There are 6 Michelin Starred restaurants in Yorkshire, more than any other region outside London.
The county’s most well-known delicacy, by far, is the Yorkshire pudding. For all my Indian friends out there, who have asked me about it, it is made from flour, milk and eggs and then baked, there are no added sugar or flavourings. Yes, it is bland but we love it with thick onion gravy.
We also love fish and chips, eaten out of paper, it used to be newspaper which is no longer allowed as it was considered unhealthy. According to Wikipedia: ‘’Fish-and-chip shops traditionally wrapped their product in newspaper, or with an inner layer of white paper (for hygiene) and an outer layer of newspaper, for insulation and to absorb grease.’’ We no longer have the newspaper; we refuse to relinquish the grease.
We also have rhubarb, not only do we have rhubarb, we have an entire area called The Rhubarb triangle. We can do more things with rhubarb than you can shake a stick at.
Bing Crosby used to shoot on Darrowgill Moor near Pateley Bridge. That is, shooting partridge and pheasant rather than people or ‘shooting up.’
The unofficial anthem of Yorkshire is the popular song, ‘On Ilkla Moor Baht ‘at’ which for those of you requiring a translation, means, ‘On Ilkley Moor without a hat.’ You’re welcome.
Harrogate hosted the Eurovision song contest in 1982. This, I am sure, is something you would rather forget. Is this where I mention Morris Dancing?
Yorkshire hosted the Grand Depart of the Tour de France in 2014. Christian Prudhomme – the race director, described Yorkshire’s Grand Depart as the “grandest” in the 111-year history of the race. Is he a Yorkshire man?
If Yorkshire were an independent country it would have finished an incredible twelfth on the league table in the 2012 Olympics, gaining 7 Golds, 2 Silvers and 3 Bronze. Athletes include Jessica Ennis, who competed in the Heptathlon, boxer Nicola Adams and cyclist Ed Clancy. Thus living up to our reputation of being incredibly competitive, if we compete globally with rhubarb, there is no way we weren’t going to get stuck in at the Olympics.
Shopping, did someone mention shopping?
We are famous for utterly charming market towns, one can’t move in Yorkshire without tripping over one, or into one of their tea shops and imbibing of the finest mug of Yorkshire Tea and a scone (pronounced sc – own). We then built Meadowhall in Sheffield; it is Europe’s largest shopping complex. I’ve been once, christened it Meadowhell and shot off to a market town, or was it the pub?
And finally, for the lovers of the absurd:
Charles Blodwin once walked over Hardraw Falls on a tightrope stopping halfway to cook an omelette.
I think its safe to say that I’ve discovered that there really is something for everyone in Gods Own County. I am certain that there is far more that is not mentioned in the above than is mentioned and yes, I am now convinced that the rest of this lifetime may well not be enough. I’m rising to the challenge. Wish me luck.