The historic county of Yorkshire stretches as far as the small town of Sedbergh in the west, Middlesbrough and Whitby in the north, and Hull in the south. Yorkshire is the biggest county in the United Kingdom and with its ample mixture of eminent cities such as Leeds, Sheffield and York, it may make it one of the most compelling to visit.
The assemblage of York’s discrete and diverse streets seems to induces a stirred sense of romance, as they braid and tangle among one another into and around the city centre. The Shambles area may come across as charming; with the architecture of its independent shops and cafés, overhanging wooden structures, large white emblazoned windows and cobble-stones drape over the pavements and roads. There are quiet bookstores serving as small alcoves off the main high street; the books filling the house above and the basement below. One may find York Minster, the largest and most imposing gothic cathedral in Northern Europe; its history spanning well over a thousand years. And, from the top of its central tower, 275 steps up, the view over the city may be more graceful than imposing.
Yorkshire’s largest city, Leeds, is only 30 miles from York and yet it presents the visitor a vastly alternative and cosmopolitan experience. The Grand Theatre and Opera House, Leeds Art Gallery, the widely acclaimed sculptural gallery and the Henry Moore Institute all add to this truly artistic adventure. Alongside the grandeur of these cultural centres lies the broad array of shopping venues; including the Victoria Quarter, home to some of the world’s leading fashion brands. Southeast to the heart of the town is the Royal Armouries Museum; a treasure trove of weapons and armour, donated from around the globe with an internationally renowned collection of over 75,000 objects. The streets of Leeds are wide, bustling and full of energy; it is unsurprising, this July the city aims to be hosting the grand depart of the greatest cycling event in the calendar, the Tour de France.
Yorkshire won the bid to stage the first and second days of the tour, with riders racing from Leeds to Harrogate and then from York to Sheffield; traversing some of the county’s most challenging and beautiful countryside. The route follows some of the greenest and most untouched areas in England, including both the Yorkshire Dales and the Peak District. These stunning regions of expansive wilderness are fantastic destinations for walking, hiking, and cycling all throughout the year. Lush fast flowing streams, bounteous forests and unlimited rocky highlands all forge the untapped natural environment in these areas.
Art, music and dance are also in abundance in Yorkshire and as the festival season begins their presence aims to be intensified. Every year hundreds of artists and musicians take to the streets, halls and fields for the one hundred day Yorkshire Festival beginning in March; the classical, folk and jazz festival in Swaledale in May, and the fifteen day Grassington Festival in June – among others.
Visit Yorkshire on a Saturday and travel to the two northern towns of Northallerton and Thirsk to experience market day. The two towns seem to be renowned for their vibrant high street markets, offering up a wide range of colourful goods and produce. On a Wednesday, a farmer’s market accompanies the town centre in Northallerton and the smells of fresh fish, meat and vegetables fill the air.
The county of Yorkshire seems to have it all; the streets of York and the bustling cosmopolitan city of Leeds. Both the cities’ secrets seem to be waiting to be discovered. And between the cities and towns surrounding the county are Yorkshire’s master-strokes: the Yorkshire Dales and the Peak District; their wilderness landscapes anywhere else in the United Kingdom. Most captivating though, seems to be the culture of Yorkshire which envelops it all: markets, cafés , art, history and festivals. Yorkshire might be a surprise.
How might one take advantage of this opportunity to discover more of Yorkshire?