Yorkshire & The North
Criss-crossed with some of the country’s most accessible walking and hiking trails, and dotted with picture-perfect villages, Yorkshire’s depth of history reflects every facet of the British experience. It is a tale told in ancient stone settlements, medieval battlefields, towering gothic monuments and Norman castles. This fertile land (known as ‘God’s own country’ to its locals) was at the heart of Europe’s Industrial Revolution, leading Yorkshire to become Northern England’s engineering powerhouse and the crucible of the country’s iron, steel, textile and coal mining industries.
While the cities of Yorkshire may have cut their teeth in battles and major industry, the 21st century has seen them reinvent themselves into frontrunners of advanced education, cutting-edge fashion and contemporary culture, while still maintaining the charm and history that has made the region such a sought-after location for centuries.
The cultural, commercial and financial centre of Yorkshire has seen a number of reincarnations throughout the centuries, proving an admirable resilience and durability. From humble beginnings as a market town, the 17th and 18th centuries saw Leeds come to the fore as one of the largest textiles centres in Europe. The construction of a series of canals and the expansion of the rail network in the early 1700s further enhanced the city’s trade boom as it opened up to international markets.
The onset of the Industrial Revolution meant an expansion into different trades, and Leeds earned itself an undesirable reputation as a slum city, due to its concentration of mills, factories and poorly maintained work force.
The decline of the industrial era could have seen Leeds fall into dereliction; however, the city has managed yet another rebirth as the trendy, financial and retail capital of Northern England. With a strong luxury market, this fashion-forward town has become a shopper’s paradise, foodie’s heaven, and art-lover’s dream. With a vibrant nightlife and exciting retail hub, Leeds is truly a city of the future.
Art & Culture
The tiny town of Whitby can lay claim to inspiring more than most: the seventh-century monk, Caedmon, penned the first recorded example of English poetry at Whitby Abbey. Centuries later, the very same abbey became the inspiration for the Bram Stoker’s classic horror novel Dracula, and Lewis Carroll’s first publications are said to have been published in the Whitby Gazette in 1854. Haworth has long been a mecca for Bronte lovers.
The village where the sisters lived has all but been transformed into a museum enshrining their lives and work. A few kilometres away lies the quaint, Bohemian town of Heptonstall where Sylvia Plath, wife of the late British Poet Laureate Ted Hughes, (also a Yorkshireman) is buried.
World-famous artist and sculptor Henry Moore was born in Castleford, West Yorkshire, and many have drawn parallels between the undulating lines of his art and the rolling hills of his birthplace. Renowned contemporary sculptors Barbara Hepworth and Andy Goldsworthy also call the region home.
Over the last two millennia, York has seen many incarnations as it was passed from one superpower to the next. As Eboracum, it was the Roman military capital of Britain, used by Hadrian on his northern campaign to subdue to local Briton tribes. When the Roman Empire collapsed, the Saxons claimed the site and built a new fort called Eoforwic on top of the ruins, followed by the Vikings who renamed the city Jorvik, and transformed it into a major trading port. Traces of these ancient settlements are still in evidence throughout York, and the city’s biggest drawcard is its accessible history.
A walk on the narrow path atop the city walls presents some of the best views of York and its surrounds. It also offers an insight into its well-preserved past, including glimpses of magnificent York Minster, whose soaring heights and dazzling stained-glass windows draw almost as many visitors as London’s Westminster Abbey. Modern York, with its myriad restaurants, galleries and tourist attractions, is dedicated to maintaining its rich cultural heritage and history.
Harrogate & Newcastle
Ahaven of gardens, parklands and tea-rooms, Harrogate in its heyday was one of the world’s most famous spa towns, enticing wealthy aristocrats from across the continent with promises of rest and relaxation. As a result, this quiet hamlet boasts a wealth of attractions one would usually expect from a much larger resort, including the impressive Royal Hall, built to amuse the Edwardian elite with high-brow entertainment; Harrogate Theatre, catering to a less gentrified crowd with musicals and variety shows; the luxurious Turkish Baths; and an elegant mix of boutiques and galleries lining its Parisianstyle boulevards.
Newcastle upon Tyne, better known as just Newcastle, is a city that retains deep-rooted traditions, embodied by the no-nonsense, likeable locals. Raised and subsequently abandoned by coal and steel, Geordies (as locals are dubbed) are united through history, adversity and that impenetrable dialect – the closest language to 1500-year-old Anglo-Saxon left in England. Newcastle is renowned throughout Britain for its thumping nightlife, excellent art galleries and a magnificent concert hall.
The Infinity Experience
The Tyne Bridge, NewcastlePixabay
The Angle of The NorthPixabay