Yorkshire is the largest northern county in England and considered to be “God’s own country”. From sheep farming to some of the best produce the country produces Yorkshire has it all. Ancient history from the Romans to the Vikings and the War of the Roses this county is redolent of British history.
Yorkshire is an area that deserves far more exploration than simply visiting York. From the wolds to the moors this beautiful country has so much to offer. Some of the best cuisine in England is available in Yorkshire from the traditional ‘Yorkshire pudding’ to the best puds and pies money can buy. All that and more to come later. Right now these are my top picks for enjoying Yorkshire at its finest.
#1. The Shambles:
This place is a slice of history from ramshackle buildings leaning at all angles, to an open air market the Shambles is a bustling piece of the 15th century. One of Europes best preserved Medieval streets the Shambles is mentioned in the Domesday book making it over 900 years old. Originally home to all butchers, the Shambles got its name from the fact that the butchers threw all the offal and blood into the streets from the shops, the name comes from the medieval world shamel which means booth or flesshammel a word that means flesh.
A butcher’s wife who lived in this street, Margaret Clitherow was brought up in the reformed religion. In 1574 she became a Catholic and allowed her home to be used for the shelter of persecuted priests. Over the course of 12 years of hiding them she was arrested on several occasions and spent over 3 years imprisoned. Margaret refused to speak or plead at her trial and was condemned to be crushed to death, naked under a heavy stone on the Ouse Bridge in York. Margaret was later made a Saint by the Church.
#2. Steam Railway
The Royal Scot which is a star feature of the North York Moors Railway ran the rails here and was the new modern passenger service from London to Glasgow in 1927. Rebuilt by British Railway in 1950 she was retired in 1962. The train was returned to service in 2015 and travels through the North York Moors National Park late March and early April.
The journey travels through picturesque York villages including Goathland were Harry Potter disembarked for Hogwarts and the local station was a feature of the British show Heartbeat.
National Railway Museum
When you visit York don’t forget to take in the National Railway Museum this museum covers over 300 years of rail history and has 1,000,000 objects that changed the world. A great day of exploring even if you never though you were a trainspotter.
#3. York Minister
Technically called The Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York, is the largest Cathedral in Northern Europe. The name “minster” comes from the Anglo-Saxon period as these were Missionary teaching churches. York has the largest expanse of medieval stained glass in the world with a rose window a heart shaped design known as the Heart of Yorkshire and the Five Sisters Window. The building is breathtaking in all its gothic glory.
#4. Beach Huts
These charming rainbow coloured beach chalets are available on Scarborough Beach for rent and can be used year round. Perfectly equipped with tiny kitchens they make for a perfect place to sit and watch the beach and waters of the North Sea from the snug little hideway. Costing an average of around £1200 a year to rent they are simply the epitome of a British bucket and spade holiday.
#5. The Vikings – Jorvik
Jórvík is Danish/Norwegian for the viking city of York located in Yorkshire or as it was known in those days as Northumbria. In the late 9th century and the first half of the 10th century York was dominated and ruled by the Norse warrior-kings. In the 1970’s there was some outstanding archaeological finds made in the City of York that changed the world’s perception and knowledge of the ancient Viking warriors.
When the digs at Coppergate were finished in the early 80’s it was decided to create a centre to display the findings and knowledge that had been gained from these years of digs. Jorvik was built over a period of 4 years and debuted in 1984. Unfortunately during the storms of 2015 Jorvik suffered a great deal of damage and had to be reconstructed. Opening in April of 2017 the new re-imagined Jorvik will take you through time capsules of Viking history. This is a living museum that has to be seen to be believed.
The Ales Way – Wharfedale’s own Ale Trail takes in 15 of Yorkshire’s finest inns, most of which are easily reached along the Pride of the Dales bus service. Order a pint of Wharfedale Best, Blonde or Black in any of the 15 pubs on the trail and receive a special stamp. If you collect 10 stamps you’ll receive a free Ales Way T-Shirt, plus your name will be entered into the ‘Hall of Fame’ and appear on The Ales Way website. If you visit all 15 of the inns you’ll be the lucky recipient of a souvenir box set with two bottles of beer and a branded pint glass.
The route of Wharfedale’s new Ales Way will stretch from Ben Rhydding to Hubberholme, and will include the home of the Wharfedale Brewery, The Flying Duck in Ilkley. Amongst the 15 inns are some of Yorkshire’s most iconic pubs including The Craven Arms at Appletreewick near Skipton, The Devonshire Hotel at Grassington and The George Inn at Hubberholme, a gem of an old inn overlooking the river Wharfe with mullioned windows, flagged floors and stone walls. Visit The Ales Way website for a full list of all 15 real ale gems many of which offer accommodation.
Last but not least there are many historic sites to visit in Yorkshire.
#10. Whitby Abbey
Whitby Abbey is where Bram Stoker got his inspiration for Dracula an incredibly beautiful location above Whitby Bay with endless views. The Abbey is a haunting gothic site and you can well see where Bram Stoker got that famous inspiration. Don’t forget to check out the UK’S Biggest Goth and Alternative Weekend held twice a year in Whitby you can follow them on twitter @WGWGothWeekend.
#11 Scarborough Castle
The Scarborough Castle site dates back to the iron age and has a significant location on a promontory that juts out into the North Sea. A ruin since the English Civil War the castle the area has been occupied by Romans, Danes and encompasses an iron age settlement.
#12. Rievaulx Abbey
Rievaulx (prounced ree voh) was one of the richest Cistercian Abbeys in the North of England until Henry VIII dissolved it during the reformation. A stunning ruin it sits deep in the valley surrounded by beautiful thatched cottages and is often used as a filming site.
#13 Kirkham Priory
A beautiful priory ruin perched on the Derwent River Kirkham was an Augustinian Abbey until the dissolution of the monasteries in the mid 1500’s when it was destroyed. Used by Churchill during WWII to test the D-Day landing vehicles. The front gates are a beautiful specimen of English Gothic architecture.
#14 Roman walls in York
The city or ‘bar’ walls of York are the most complete example of medieval city walls still standing in England today. Beneath the medieval stonework lie the remains of earlier walls dating as far back as the Roman period.
The Roman walls survived into the 9th century when, in AD 866, York was invaded by the Danish Vikings. The Vikings buried the existing Roman wall under an earth bank and topped with a palisade. Since the mid-nineteenth century the walls have been restored and maintained for public access, including the planting of spring flowers on the old Viking embankment. Today the walls are a Scheduled Ancient Monument and a Grade 1 listed building.
#15. Clifford’s Tower
Also known as York Castle this was the centre of Norman medieval defenses. York Castle formed an important royal fortification in the north of England.
Lots more to come on Yorkshire but if you want to see more posts on England click here
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