Vacation rentals in England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland (holiday rentals, cottages)
David Cross (DavidX) from England
By UK standards Yorkshire covers a very large area and there is nothing on this page about some important parts such as, the Yorkshire Coast, the North York Moors National Park and South Yorkshire. Perhaps someone would fill the gaps!
This is probably the city of most beauty and interest in the North of England and a visit should not be rushed. York's history goes back to the Romans and there are remains from these and Saxon times. Then there is the York Minster which, although not enjoying the title of cathedral, is one of the prime ecclesiastical buildings of England. It was badly damaged by fire late in the twentieth century but has been brilliantly restored. The walls are numbered among York's other remains of mediaeval times.
However its treasures do not stop with the Middle Ages. Its rail station dates from the early years of railways and is a most interesting building. The National Railway Museum is situated in the city. York is well connected by rail with London, Newcastle, Leeds, and Manchester among other places.
Map: Ordnance survey – Landranger 104
www.york-tourism.co.uk: Official site for York Tourism
www.yorkminster.org: York Minster
The area of interest in Ripon is not particularly big, consisting only of the cathedral and the market square with its surrounding buildings. But that will prove enough to while away some appreciable time and combined with a trip to Fountains Abbey and Studely Royal and, if you are in a car, to Brimham Rocks it will provide for a long half-day and weather permitting there are plenty of places for a good picnic.
Yorkshire Dales - Brimham Rocks
At first sight Ripon Cathedral is not one of the most striking of British Cathedrals. It is certainly not one of the highest. However it is a building of great beauty; the choir stalls are brilliantly carved – to rate with anything I have seen in Europe – and the ancient crypt is inspiring.
Fountains Abbey is just a few miles away. Yorkshire has a number of ruined abbey buildings of great interest and charm and this is the most complete. There are extensive remains of the buildings which provided dwellings and work-places to the monks at this wealthy abbey.
The grounds of Studely Royal Estate are contiguous with those of the abbey. There is a pleasing deer park and some wonderful trees, particularly in their autumn or spring colours. The whole area is owned by the National Trust, a private charity that owns many buildings and many beautiful areas of land in England and Wales. There is a restaurant and presentation area through which you enter.
If you are in a car it is only a short ride to Brimham Rocks, a natural area of amazingly shaped outcrops of rock which provide another wonderful picnic spot or just allow for a brief walk with very pleasant scenery.
Map: Ordnance Survey- Landranger 99
www.ripon-internet.com: Ripon Internet, community website with tourist information
www.fountainsabbey.org.uk: Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, National Trust (A World Heritage Site)
www.ripon.org: Site currently unavailable.
Dale means "valley". There could be an interesting argument about the precise area of "The Yorkshire Dales". There is a national park with this name but it does not include the river Nidd, which most might associate with the name. Anyway, whatever it does or does not include, it is a beautiful peaceful area with each dale having its own character and thus providing surprising variety.
It certainly does not include all the river areas of Yorkshire since there is an area known as the North York Moors to the northeast of the dales with its own attractive valleys – though to my mind not a patch on the dales.
Not only is the dales area extensive but the most scenic routes linking the different dales are slow and it would be contrary to the whole nature of the area to rush around trying to see it all in a day. Some parts cry out to be walked or examined more minutely and there are any number of scenic B&Bs or quaint pubs, making a stay of several nights very pleasant and a wonderful contrast to staying in a city like London.
The only major railway through the Dales is the Settle–Carlisle line which cuts through the west side. It is a line of great beauty and much interest. It is well worth getting a ticket, which allows a day getting on and off and travelling at will, but it does not reveal anything of the river valleys. There is a very scenic short line called the Dales Railway not far from Skipton which links Embsay with Bolton Abbey.
There are buses linked to the Settle–Carlisle train line; the one to Hawes provides good views of part of Wensleydale. There are other buses; that from Skipton to Buckden runs up much of Wharfedale and I think it is the best of the public transport ways through the area.
Information on other routes may be obtained from any of the National Park Information Centres. "Dalesbus" is meant to facilitate walking. Unquestionably the dales is an area that repays walking and, sad as I am to say so, the best way of getting a good view of more of the area is by car; that permits use of the (sometimes very) minor roads that link the different dales.
This is the largest of the dales which flow from West to East and has some of the larger (though far from large) towns; Hawes and Leyburn. It is by no means my favourite dale – too wide, not steep sided enough, too civilised – although many people love it. It certainly has some good points. Hawes is a delightful little town with a very good, though small in European terms, Tuesday market.
The Creamery in the adjacent (and easily walkable) village of Gayle, which makes Wensleydale cheese, and the museum by the old station are two of only three places in the Dales where I think it is worth paying for admission. (Bolton Abbey is the other and I would sometimes add in Castle Bolton.) Another splendid place in Wesleydale is Jervaulx Abbey – not to be compared in extent to Fountains Abbey or Bolton Abbey, but second to none in its atmosphere of peace although only a short walk from the main road. Lastly the Aysgarth Falls, where there is a Tourist Information centre, is very picturesque.
This is a wonderful dale running from North to South. It would be invidious to select any part of the dale itself for special comment. It is quite steep-sided and has beautiful villages all the way up from Bolton Abbey to Buckden, all with pubs which cry out to be eaten in or stayed in – or both. Well-known walks are those to Simon's Seat from Bolton Abbey and to Buckden Pike from Buckden.
There are great walks over to the small Littondale whose Queens Arms does a very good soup and roll for a light lunch. It is easy to do a circuit.
There are also three good ways over to Wensleydale – good from a scenic point of view that is. None are very fast and only the main road is even reasonably fast though I prefer both the other two. The route going from Buckden to the left over to Hawes is sheer delight and the small church at Hubberholme with its rare rood loft should definitely be seen. It is no hardship to eat lunch at the George Inn near the church. The little road over from Kettlewell to Middleton (Warwick the Kingmaker and King Richard the Third fame) is also very scenic.
With a car a marvellous trip is up Littondale and then over to Malham (qv). Botanists should visit Grass Wood near Grassington in the Spring for the flowers and this can well be combined with a walk from Grassington to Kettlewell through either limestone or millstone grit, depending on the level you pick – or up one way and back the other.
This is another dale running from West to East further north than Wensleydale. It is very steep-sided and its barns are distinctive and picturesque. Several routes from Wensleydale to Swaledale are very fine, in particular the Buttertubs Pass. Great Shunner Fell between the two dales is a fine viewpoint but has perhaps suffered through being on the Pennine Way. Its remoteness was certainly part of its character previously. Otherwise the hills on both sides of the dale are somewhat bleak and the main interest lies in the remains of the lead mines. (Adam Brumskill by Thomas Armstrong makes good bedside reading to accompany this.) The general atmosphere of the dale is of somewhere more remote than Wharfedale – I am never sure which I like best but they are my two favourites of the valleys.
The Western Dales
This is about Limestone and, although the scale does not match that of some of the great Karst areas of Europe, I do not know of a better area for strolling and searching. Malham has become famous for its Cove – and for Gardale Scar, an ancient waterfall sometimes dry. Sometimes it is too crowded for real enjoyment but it is worth picking a time to see it when it is more peaceful. There are some wonderful areas of limestone between here and Ingleton which has a fine waterfalls walk. Some are still very unspoiled and if you need detailed descriptions of where to go beyond following your nose and the map, perhaps you would be happier somewhere else altogether. There is much to see below the ground as well for cave lovers.
Yorkshire Dales - Malham
This is very separate from the other dales and is reached from the road from Ribbleshead to Hawes. The dale is steep enough but the scenery is more gentle and it is probably the best dale for small children to start walking. Be warned that the station is some miles from the village! The village itself is quite idyllic.
Yorkshire Dales - Ribbleshead
The valley of the Nidd is to the East of the other Dales and for some reason is not included in the National Park. In general it enjoys the same type of scenery and there is a good upland route to Wensleydale.
Resources - Maps
I particularly recommend the large scale maps OL02 and OL30, in the Ordnance Survey Explorer series. These cover "Southern and Western areas" and "Central and Northern areas" respectively.
Resources - Websites
www.dalesweb.co.uk: Visit the Yorkshire Dales, tourist information
www.yorkshire-dales.com: Detailed travel information
www.yorkshiredales.org.uk: Yorkshire Dales National Park
www.britannia.com/tours/yorksmon: Britannia.com Touring, Monasteries of the Yorkshire Dales & Moors, by David Nash Ford BA, Editor, History on Britannia
www.plus44.com/local/yorks/listabbs.html: Abbeys in Yorkshire
Resources - Books
Mike Harding, "Walking the Dales:, Michael Joseph Ltd
Marie Hartley and Joan Ingilby, "Life and tradition in the Yorkshire Dales", Dalesman
This part of England, home to me, is one about which many people, English and otherwise, have misapprehensions. They see it, rightly, as having been the centre of a once great but now nearly deceased industry – but this leads them to disregard it as an area of gloom. I am doing these notes in an attempt to redress the balance a bit.
First let's get the geography (including administrative geography) right. From at least as far back as the Saxons the geographical county of Yorkshire was divided into three divisions called Ridings. The largest, and indeed the largest county in England, was the West Riding, which included much that is now in North Yorkshire as well as all of what is now called South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire. This could give an enhanced idea of its importance as an administrative area, since all the largest towns were classified as County Boroughs, meaning that they provided all their own local government services.
The Local Government Act of 1972 altered this completely with effect from 1974. The Ridings vanished. Yorkshire was divided into one very large county, North Yorkshire, and two metropolitan counties, South and West Yorkshire. The metropolitan counties were divided into metropolitan boroughs, both being creations of that Act. The metropolitan boroughs had most local government functions but the metropolitan counties were meant to do the things that needed large scale operations, such as police or fire service. Metropolitan counties were abolished in 1986, according to the view of many that Prime Minister Thatcher could not stomach their voting for Labour by huge majorities.
Police and Fire authorities etc. became Quangos (quasi autonomous non-governmental organisations) and the metropolitan boroughs remained as the sole local government authorities.
In short West Yorkshire is no longer a local government area as such, but a recognisable geographical one with some Quangos covering its area. The five metropolitan boroughs for this area are Leeds, Bradford and Wakefield, all of which existed prior to the 1972 Act plus two new creations, Kirklees and Calderdale. Kirklees was based on Huddersfield, Dewsbury and other areas; my home borough of Calderdale had the old County Borough of Halifax as its largest town, along with various places that had been (non-county) boroughs, urban and rural districts under the old West Riding County. These include Todmorden, where I have lived since 1972.
Now I can get on and say something about the different areas.
Wakefield was the County Town of the old West Riding and West Yorkshire took over the county hall there. When West Yorkshire was abolished, Wakefield bought the building. It's the part of West Yorkshire that I know least and is quite unlike the rest of the area, having been involved with coal mining and related activities rather than textiles.
The cathedral, whereas it can't claim to be among our greatest has various points of interest. Three very striking places in the borough are Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the National Coal Mining Museum and Nostell Priory, not a priory at all but a country house with some wonderful Chippendale artefacts.
www.ysp.co.uk/view.aspx?id=422: Yorkshire Sculpture Park
www.ncm.org.uk: National Coal Mining Museum
I don't really know Huddersfield too well either, although I used to visit the University, then a polytechnic, and the technical colleges at Dewsbury and Huddersfield as part of my job. Dewsbury was the principal town of the heavy woollens district of Yorkshire and is noted for the size of its Wednesday market.
The canals in the borough were highly important during the industrial revolution and still have many features of interest including the Standedge Tunnel on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and the lift bridge on the Huddersfield Broad Canal. The area within the borough to the south is delightful and includes the pretty and interesting village of Holmfirth, familiar to masses of TV viewers as the setting for Last of the Summer Wine.
www.standedge.co.uk: Standedge Tunnel
www.penninewaterways.co.uk/huddersfield/hbc1.htm: Huddersfield Broad Canal
www.kirklees.gov.uk/visitorportal/wheretogo/wheretogo.asp: Read more about this and other areas.
Leeds, with two universities, is the largest of the West Yorkshire metropolitan boroughs and one of England's really large cities. It is a very proud city and it certainly can regard itself as an excellent shopping area and, so I believe, can take real pride in its night life.
Visitors may well get a surprise, on their way to the cricket ground at Headingley, a well known test match venue. There to their left is what looks uncannily like a medieval abbey remains – probably because it's precisely that! There is a museum close by (Abbey House Museum) that is well worth seeing, good for children as well as adults. Harewood House, owned by the Queen's cousin together with Lotherton Hall and Temple Newsam, both owned by Leeds Council make three fine half day attractions.
Then there are several museums of particular interest. The Royal Armouries Museum and the Industrial Museum at Armley Mills are good for adults and children, whereas the Thackray Medical Museum may hold more interest for adults.
www.24hourmuseum.org.uk/leeds/museum/: Kirkstall Abbey
www.leeds.gov.uk/abbeyhouse/: Abbey House Museum
www.harewood.org: Harewood House
www.statelyhomes.com: Harewood House
www.leeds.gov.uk/lothertonhall/: Lotherton Hall
www.leeds.gov.uk/templenewsam/: Temple Newsam
www.royalarmouries.org/extsite/view.jsp?sectionId=2222: Royal Armouries Museum
www.leeds.gov.uk/armleymills/: Industrial Museum at Armley Mills
www.thackraymuseum.org: Thackray Medical Museum
www.leeds.angle.uk.com/attractions/: You may find other attractions that appeal to you.
Bradford almost joins up with Leeds but is very much a different city. When we went to live in what is now part of Bradford in 1965, it was not unusual to meet people who had never even been to Leeds.
Bradford was the principal town for the worsted branch of the woollen textiles industry. It has suffered with the decline of that industry and now has practically no big shops left. One notable exception is the book shop, Waterstones, which now occupies the impressive building that was the Wool Exchange. In spite of its decline, Bradford has begun to attract tourists. Why do they come? For a start the Metropolitan District contains some great country. Ilkley is a lovely little town and its moorland, celebrated in Yorkshire's best known song, is delightful.
Another of the smaller towns, Bingley, has two impressive flights of locks in the Leeds-Liverpool canal and yet another, Haworth, was the home of the Brontes, who played such an important role in women's contribution to British literature. Their father was vicar there and the old vicarage is now the Bronte Museum.
Bradford has other notable museums. Its Industrial Museum, with working textile machinery, was one of our first. Bolling Hall Museum is in a building less than one mile from the city centre that dates back to early 16th century. The Peace Museum is unique. The Media Museum is a national one. In Keighley (pronounced Keithley), the second biggest town in the metropolitan district, is the attractive Cliffe Castle Museum and nearby is the National Trust's East Riddlesden Hall, a wonderful 17th century building.
On the way you are close to Saltaire, a model village sponsored by the philanthropist/industrialist Sir Titus Salt. The old mill contains first class shops and restaurants and a large collection of David Hockney's works.
In addition to all this Bradford, with a large immigrant population of Pakistani descent, can be regarded as "Curry Capital of the North" and a splendid website can keep you eating for a long time!
www.bronte-country.com: Bronte Country Museum
www.bradfordmuseums.org/bim/bim_main.htm: Bradford Industrial Museum
www.bolling.net/bhall.html: Bolling Hall Museum
www.peacemuseum.org.uk: Peace Museum
www.nationalmediamuseum.org.uk/Photography/: Media Museum
www.visitbrontecountry.com/cliffe.htm: Cliffe Castle Museum
www.nationaltrust.org.uk: National Trust's East Riddlesden Hall
www.saltaire.yorks.com: Saltaire, a world heritage site
website.lineone.net/~bradfordcurryguide/: Bradford Curry restaurant list
That brings us to Calderdale, obviously the one I know best since it's home, though you may already have gathered that Bradford equals it in my affections. In a way Calderdale has suffered from having one place far larger than any of the others. As a result most areas feel they have been taken over by Halifax, whilst Halifax felt, at least at first that it was being taken over by the West Riding – or so I'm told. However there are numerous attractions.
Moreover the transport history of the area is interesting. The first canal to connect the woollen towns of West Yorkshire to the cotton towns of Lancashire, the extensive commercial facilities of Manchester and from there to the port of Liverpool was the Rochdale, which runs from Manchester, where about one mile of it provides a link of the Cheshire Ring, to Sowerby Bridge, where it links with the Calder and Hebble. To the amazement of many, including me, the canal has now been restored for its full length as a leisure facility.
Again the railway through the upper Calder valley which runs very near the canal was the first rail link through, although it was pretty closely followed by what is now the main line through Huddersfield. The first railway now provides a branch line which runs from Manchester Victoria station through Rochdale, Todmorden, Hebden Bridge, Sowerby Bridge, Halifax, Bradford and Leeds to York and Scarborough or to Selby. Hebden Bridge also lies on the line from Leeds to Blackpool via Burnley.
In Halifax there's a superb piece of industrial landscape at Dean Clough, near the centre; there's an old "gibbet" like a guillotine which gave rise to the saying, "From Hell, Hull and Halifax, Good Lord, deliver us." (Hull stands for transportation in this context); there's what may be the most ornate mill chimney in England, open on bank holidays, at Wainhouse Tower. However, the best for me is the Piece (sic) Hall, a massive courtyard surrounded by three storey arcades where the weavers under the old Domestic System (pre-factory) used to bring their "pieces" for exhibition and sale.
Since I live in Todmorden, the west side of Calderdale is what I know best. My local bus circuit (T6/T8) is only 40 minutes long but draws people from other parts of West Yorkshire for its scenic appeal and the walks around this town and its, neighbour, Hebden Bridge are highly regarded.
Stoodley Pike, Todmorden
The hilltop memorial to the Napoleonic war dead at Stoodley Pike and Gibson Mill at Hardcastle Crags deserve special comment, as does the village of Heptonstall. This charming old place has many interesting features including a fascinating museum about the "Cragg Vale Coiners" in the old grammar school and, something very unusual, two churches in a single churchyard.
Resources - Websites
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Todmorden: Wikepedia - Todmorden.
www.hebdenbridge.co.uk: Hebden Bridge Web, community and tourist information
www.penninewaterways.co.uk/rochdale/: The Rochdale Canal
Resources - Books
Bernard Jennings (Editor), "Pennine Valley", Smith Settle Ltd
Brian R Law, "Fieldens of Todmorden", George Kelsall
Keith Parry, "Trans-Pennine Heritage", David and Charles
Geoff Boswell, "On the Tops around Todmorden", Delta G
Calder Civic Trust, "Pennine Walks around Hebden Bridge", Calder Civic Trust
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