Celebrating the best bits and bobs to be found while exploring Britain, Ireland and beyond. Much is inspired by real outings, whether they were walking, cycling or photographic in nature, while virtual blundering in the name of planning them has turned up some gems too. Regardless of how they were found, I hope that they keep coming so I can continue to share new things with you.
Yorkshire was where my explorations of English countryside began and the cause was being ensconced there for six weeks of training at the start of my first job following university. That it was springtime and some sunny weather appear while I was there helped encourage me to explore what lay near Skipton where I was based. Wharfedale saw me a few times then and more since I settled elsewhere.
Then, my preferred mode of travel on such outings was my bicycle and the lack of first gear presented itself as a disadvantage on uphill sections. However, it was my mistrust of my brakes that really slowed me and pervades on downhill sections even today. It's something that make me wonder about acquiring a bike with disk brakes and conquering my aversion to freewheeling down straight sections of road. Having a pesky bend at the bottom might make it sensible to take it easy on the way down though a little more trust in my steering would be good too.
Instead of sorting those cycling niggles, I began to go walking instead and a fair few of those outings have taken me to Yorkshire since then. The county's dales have featured in many of those and the South Pennines have seen my footfall too. The North Yorkshire Moors have escaped my attentions so far and I haven't been walking at all in the county for a while now. Maybe, all that should be put to rights.
Yorkshire hosts not one but three national parks with the world famous Dales attracting most of the attention with Moors not being an unattractive part of the world either. Bringing up the rear of these is the Peak District, a national more associated with Derbyshire though it very much extends into south Yorkshire too.
It no longer is enough to call yourself a tourist board these days but your title has to have a verb or something equivalent in there somewhere too. Thus, so it is here. As the official visitor website for the county, it looks as good a place to start as any.
This is a tasteful site that is also informative and it appears to have moved on from the work in progress that it was when I happened on it on one occasion.
Yorkshire has plenty of big country houses like Newby Hall to visit and there are more listed near the bottom of this article. Luckily, there also is a website that collects them all together so you can pick which ones to visit and old ruined abbeys do not escape mention either. Between all that is there, there should be something to occupy any spare day or afternoon.
This site claims that North Yorkshire is the largest county in England, a bemusing thought. That aside, this is another useful place to look when planning a visit to the area.
Though other counties have the dales too (Derbyshire, Durham, Cumbria...), the term is indelibly associated with Yorkshire and this is a website dedicated to providing of the information that anyone needs for paying them a visit and staying a while. After all, there's no shortage of stuff to savour.
While my attention can held by the prospect of enjoying an outing in fine countryside, that is never to suggest that pleasant coastline does not appeal to me at all. In fact, when you take a look at what is to be found on Yorkshire's coast,you'll see that it isn't all about seaside resorts though there are some.A look at the ups and downs of Whitby and Robin Hood's Bay should convince you of that and this website will you to seek out these and other attractive spots.
From the country lover point of view, this is where you will find the Yorkshire Wolds and a National Trail going right through them. Hull too is an attractive since it is a vibrant city and there is more coastline to explore too.
This website celebrates the landscape of the South Pennines and has so much disparate content on there that it is hard to describe in a nutshell. The emphasis is on discovery, conservation and cultural aspects and that spread means that there is a fair spread of content on offer. It's almost as if Pennine Prospects, the people behind the website, are taking a more eclectic and humanistic approach to what is a rough and empty landscape, albeit one with more human impact on its nature that it might appear these days.
York is one those cities that come to mind when anyone thinks of picturesque examples of the breed. Its being England's second city once upon a time and the fact that the industrial revolution bypassed it mean that there is plenty of medieval architecture to savour. Of course, there is the Minster and the city walls but they only are the tip of the proverbial iceberg as I discovered when I revisited the place recently.
With all the history that is associated with the place, it comes as little surprise that there are websites like this one dedicated to the subject. This one has come about as a result of the efforts of the City of York Council, York Museums Trust and Yorkshire Forward while drawing on the efforts of other partners such as English Heritage. There is a lot included with links to external websites that say more about a particular item too. York has had a long history with Roman, Viking and Norman periods and there thankfully is a lot left for visitors to see.
So much effort has gone into this website that it looks like a labour of love and is a treasure trove of useful information about what is a very historic city. That the stories of many of the city's landmarks gets related is a definite bonus and was what drew me to the site in the first place. It's a refreshing departure from the usual mix of visitor information that so many provide.
This organisation has no less than four museums and galleries under its care. There's York Art Gallery, York St. Mary's, Yorkshire Museum & Gardens and York Castle Museum. The second of these as might be gleaned from the name is a former church that has become an art gallery and was the cause of my finding these on the web in the first place. Currently, York Art Gallery is being refurbished and so will not be open again to the public until 2015. Both museums feature a lot on York's history and could have plenty of excuses to draw you indoors of a rainy day.
When many folk think of York, it probably is the Minster or the city walls that come to mind and there are other spots. It also is a city with its rivers and its riverside amenities. One of these has been in place since the early eighteenth century and that is New Walk. It extends in a circuit from Skeldergate out as far as Rowntree Park and the Millennium Bridge. As the website suggests, it has its admirers who wish to preserve it both for current enjoyment and for future generations.
This privately-owned stately home, one of the The Treasure Houses of England, may profess its proximity to York but it is in rural North Yorkshire as far as I am concerned. Some may recognise it from television and cinema for it has appeared in adaptations of Brideshead Revisited. Naturally, it is open to the paying public for the sort of fee that makes the prospect one for a whole day visit to get the most out of the price. Still, there is a lot of grandeur to see and bus service 181 gets you there from York city centre so a car is not needed.
This claims to be Britain's community website and, by all accounts, there seems to be a strong community spirit in the town too. The summer rains of 2012 probably turned out to be a test for that when rivers and the canal burst their banks to flood the place. There is something here for the visitor too since Hebden Bridge also became one of the first Walkers are Welcome towns and there have been a few more since then. Its situation on the floor of the Calder valley may have been to its detriment during heavy rains but it draws anyone seek the peace and quiet of South Pennine moorland. Public rights of way criss-cross the countryside so there's plenty of hill wandering on offer.
The postal address may say Lancashire but the scenery that draws the likes of me to the place is the classic Yorkshire Dales limestone landscapes on its doorstep. The nearby lofty hump of Ingleborough is a mere few miles away but there out there than that. The Waterfalls Walk has been drawing the less adventurous of explorers since 1885 but how can you stay within those confines when such alluring countryside lying just a little further away.
The good folk of Masham are keen for you come and experience what they have to offer visitors so they are unimpressed by the lack of signage for their part of the world from the nearby A1. It is at the foot of Wensleydale and plays host to no less than two breweries. They also have some countryside walking on their patch too to go along with any other attractions. The website gives you the lowdown on all you need to know as you'd expect and the town appears to having an alluring location too, which helps their cause.
In some respects, this was a strange omission from the Yorkshire Dales National Park but geology can have a part to play as it did in the various discussions surrounding the establishment of the South Downs National Park. For some reason, I am left with the impression that this is gritstone country but there is pride here too and the comprehensive visitor website is testament to that. Among its delights is How Stean Gorge but my only visit so far took me to Pateley Bridge and Brimham Rocks. Maybe I should return sometime.
This North Yorkshire town shares a name with many others around the world but otherwise is unique. It is blessed by its situation on the River Swale as well as a mix of Georgian archtecture and antiquities dating from at least the Middle Ages. Though it is not served by the rail network, it is well served by buses and could be worth a visit.
Ryedale is a district that you will find abutting better known counterparts like the North York Moors, the Yorkshire Wolds, York and the Heritage Coastline. With all those other surrounding distractions, it is clear why this website is trying to make a pitch for this area. It yield rewards for the effort though if it is quieter countryside that you seek.
Settle is on the doorstep of some fine hillwalking country, both in the Yorkshire Dales and in the nearby Forest of Bowland. It also plays host to noticeable number of independent businesses so here's an introduction.
It is near impossible to miss the gates of this castle next to Skipton's main parish church and I popped in to see while based in the town at the start of my working career in 2000. What lies inside the gates is just as impressive as what in on view on the side of the street. Amazingly, the attached house remains occupied while the medieval castle buildings are as empty and as well preserved as any you wish to see.
Well known to many from the opening scenes of Bram Stoker's Dracula, this coastal town has other attractions too apart from its Goth culture associations. After all, it has a scenic location and a ruined abbey situated on one of its higher points. It also has been where the explorer Captain James Cook was born and grew up so the town is famous for other reasons too.