Author: Carolyn Frank
Being able to boast of having some of the finest destinations in the UK amongst our hotel portfolio is something we’re (somewhat understandably) keen to celebrate at the Coast & Country Hotel Collection.
To help us do that, we’ve recently called on local ‘county champions’ to give us some bona fide insight into what is best to see and do during a limited time in a particular region.
The first of these, Carolyn Frank, has produced two excellent blogs so far, looking at the key things to tick off in North Yorkshire. This week, she lets us know the best ‘type’ of holiday to have – so you know where to dedicate your sightseeing efforts if you have a particular interest or are pushed for time.
Not everyone is blessed with a lengthy break away when visiting Yorkshire. Often, it can be a whistle stop tour – and, given the time pressures, those are often the hardest to get right!
If you’ve only got 24 hours in Yorkshire, I would start with breakfast at Mannions in Helmsley, then drive out to the coast, over the moor road and past Blakey pub to blow the cobwebs off with a cliff top walk, then cosy up in front of an open fire at The Moors Inn in Appleton-le-Moors, before a good night’s sleep dreaming of your next Yorkshire adventure. For me, this is a perfect one-day itinerary, but there are so many you could do.
If you’re lucky enough to have plenty of time for leisure, though, it’s worth focusing on the things you enjoy or are keen to embrace. You’ll not be short of choice, so here are a few options to consider…
Dogs are welcomed almost everywhere, and you will see water bowls, jars of treats for pets, and ‘dogs welcome’ signs in pubs, restaurants and even shops across the market towns and on the coast. Your dog will basically be as welcome as you are!
There are hundreds of miles of waymarked walks from wheelchair accessible to advanced hiking, meaning it’s suitable for all ages and abilities. Elijah Todds newsagents in Helmsley even gives gravy bones to all doggy pals, so buy your newspaper there and your pet will never walk past again without begging to go in! They also have an extensive range of magazines and, of course, our regional newspaper, The Yorkshire Post, which gives you a nice extra insight into local goings on.
Almost an extension of a dog-friendly holiday, but without a canine companion, keen walkers can download free routes from the North Yorkshire national park website. Check out renowned routes such as The Cleveland Way, Ebor Way and the Inn Way, or stretch your legs walking from Helmsley to Rievaulx Abbey and back.
This is one of our favourite walks. Dales aren’t restricted to the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and Bransdale is one of the lesser-known ones in the North York Moors. Given this, you’re highly likely to have the route to yourself if you choose a walk there, so expect to see wildlife like curlews and birds of prey and lots of grouse and partridge giving you a beady stare, as well as “Moorjock” sheep roaming around; the colloquial term for the ubiquitous Yorkshire moorland Swaledale.
The little church perched at the top of Bransdale, beyond the gated road, is intensely spiritual and peaceful, while the Lyke Wake walk challenge is also an attraction for the hardy – on the old ‘coffin route’, which traditionally takes in a 40-mile stretch of the moors in just 24 hours.
Yorkshire is steeped in history, meaning there’s an enormous amount to consider, but here are some things to think about. English Heritage has a limited opening at the Helmsley archaeological store, but if you can catch a tour, you’re in for a treat, while the Beadlam Roman villa, which isn’t too far away, is open on certain days of the year. It’s worth planning a trip around those dates. History though is visible all around, and old black and white photographs look pretty similar to the views you see today.
With warm Yorkshire stone cottages and Medieval streets, it’s not hard to put yourself in the shoes of Yorkshire folk of yore. We have a fantastic selection of historic houses and monuments, whether it’s the well preserved Shibden Hall or the Piece Hall in Halifax (although these are West Yorkshire rather than north!), or our ‘Fat Betty’ – a white stone on the moor top from the 11th Century, you’re almost in a living museum here. Look out for Norse and Anglo-Saxon names and words in our local dialect – you truly never feel far from the past.
Yorkshire’s coast is called the Discovery Coast for a reason, so you’re spoilt for choice. Book a trip with Hidden Horizons or Real Staithes to discover more, or just pull up a deckchair and close your eyes to relax on the sandy beaches. You can do this at any time of year as the sea air is restorative – you’ll just need to choose your outfit according to the season!
Sandsend off season is our favourite for a quick walk and a hot chocolate – or, if you like hustle and bustle, you can join the crowds on Boxing Day. Rock pooling at Filey Brigg is always fun too, but be sure to check the tide times, so you don’t get cut off.
Families can picnic and play by the numerous moorland streams. As a child, we always made ‘fairy pools’, building a wall into the shallow water and decorating it with other stones, bits of leaves, and feathers or flowers, so the fairies could come at night-time and have their own swim. My heart leaps when I still see kids doing this today! Fairy Call beck above Hutton-le-hole or Birch Hagg near Lowna are the perfect spots, and their name is enough of a hint at how ingrained a tradition it is.
There are also lots of family-friendly festivals all year round, like Staxtonbury, or Deer Shed at Thirsk, and Meadowfest at Malton, with local food and music to enjoy. Rural agricultural shows like Farndale or Thornton-le-Dale are great for kids, too, while Playdale farm is another lovely day out, as is Monk Park Farm at Thirsk. And for the bigger kids, Flamingo Land theme park is a thrill seekers paradise.
Art & Culture
There are lots of smaller theatres, and my favourite is Esk Valley at the Robinson Institute, which pops up every year, with a short season and is a really special evening out in Glaisdale. The gallery at the Moors Centre in Dalby has changing year-round exhibitions, so it’s worth checking their calendar to see what’s on.
Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough also has a unique atmosphere and great programme and is the home of famed playwright, Alan Ayckbourn. For the practical artists, Rural Arts in Thirsk runs some exciting hands-on art classes, and Helmsley Walled Garden runs some blissful watercolour painting day retreats.
There are simply too many good quality eateries here, and you might need to diet when you go home! Temptation is everywhere, and there are many speciality producers and talented chefs. Fresh Bridlington sea trout has a short season, Sand Hutton asparagus too, making them even more delicious. Ryeburn Ice cream in Helmsley has to be tasted, and a visit to Scarborough’s Harbour Bar for a chocolata is an annual pilgrimage.
The Homestead at Goathland is a special treat (and fairly new to the foodie scene), while as the ‘Capital of Cake’ the North York Moors afternoon teas should definitely be sampled. Although note that we put jam on top of cream with ours – you’re not in Devon now! Fat Rascals are a Bettys of Harrogate speciality and if you don’t mind queueing to get in, it’s a very Yorkshire place to go. ‘High uppers’ – well risen Yorkshire Puddings – can be enjoyed as part of Sunday lunch and are a staple of any visit.
Those are few ‘types’ you can look to focus on then, but my top tip for visiting Yorkshire is to take it slowly. Enjoy the journey as well as your planned activities. There is so much on offer, but you don’t have to do everything in one go because you’ll definitely want to return.
Another tip is to visit different seasons and see the changes. The best time to see the heather in bloom is probably the end of August, but the North York Moors look stunningly bleak on a snowy day in winter too.