No visit to England would be complete without visiting one of the most famous areas of the country, Yorkshire. Originally the largest of the English counties, Yorkshire has now been subdivided into four separate counties for ease of management.
Within the borders of Yorkshire you will find vast stretches of unspoiled countryside within the area known as the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors. Yorkshire is nicknamed “God’s Own Country” because of the vast expanses of natural environment.
The emblem of the county is the White Rose which is closely tied with part of England’s turbulent past at a time dubbed “The War of the Roses”. History will reveal that the area has been home to many different nationalities throughout the centuries including Bretons, Celts, Romans and Vikings. The administrative centre of Yorkshire is York which is known for its Minster and Viking relics.
Civil War and Textiles.
The wool textile industry, which had previously been a cottage industry, centred on the old market towns moved to the West Riding where entrepreneurs were building mills that took advantage of water power gained by harnessing the rivers and streams flowing from the Pennines.
During the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536 under the reign of Henry VIII led to the execution of many who were caught practising the Roman Catholic Religion. This persecution continued under the reign of Elizabeth I.
During the English Civil War, the city of Hull famously shut the gates to the city on the King when he came to enter. Conversely, York was a home to Royalist support and it was from there, the city of Leeds and the town of Wakefield were captured only to be lost again to the Parliamentarian Army a few months later.
In later years, the wool industry centred towns continued to grow and being the predominant industries later being joined by Coal Mining.
Famous Cities and Towns.
The most famous City in Yorkshire is York where visitors can explore a walled city that was previously occupied by Romans, Normans and Vikings. The Minster is the centre point of the city creating and imposing view to the skyline.
Skipton, known as the gateway to the Dales is a small market town located at the foot of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It is known for its castle, canal and wool making heritage. The castle dates back to 1090 built by Robert Romille later being re-enforced to keep out attacks from the Scots.
Halifax is best known as being the centre of the heavy woollen industry from the 15th Century onwards. More recently, financial services from a bank with the same name has given Halifax an extra outlet to the wider world.
Pontefract has evidence of human settlement dating back to the Neolithic era with the discovery of an earthwork known as a Henge at nearby Ferrybridge. Liquorice has had a a long history in other parts of the world since ancient times, used as a medicine in Africa and Asia to cure coughs. The plant was brought back by soldiers who had fought in the Crusades in the 11th and 12th Century. The connection with liquorice still remains with Pontefract Cakes, a confectionary originally made in the town.
A popular destination for lovers of English Literature is Howarth, home to the Bronte family situated close to Bradford and Keighley. The town has kept its old world charm with cobblestone roads, old fashioned shops and preservation of the parsonage where the Bronte Family lived in the 19th Century along with their father, the Perpetual Curate of the parish, and their brother Branwell.
Whilst it is documented that the product did not originate in the area, Yorkshire has become famous for its Tea, a hot beverage made by infusing the leaves of the Tea plant into boiling hot water. Yorkshire Tea is one of the most famous brands within the UK for this very reason.
Due to the cost of meat being so high, a “filler” was sought to take away the pangs of hunger thereby spreading a small amount of meat around a larger family. Yorkshire Pudding was the answer made of flower, salt, eggs, milk and oil. Usually, the “pudding” was left below the meat as it cooked on the spit to collect the juices and thereby enhancing the flavour.
Sweets (or confectionary) has been associated with Yorkshire for many years. Fruit Pastilles, Kit Kats, Aero, Smarties are all made by a Yorkshire confectionary company since 1862. Jelly Babies are a type of soft sugar sweet shaped like a plump baby in a variety of colours. After the end of WW1, they were called Peace Babies to commemorate the end of the hostilities.
Yorkshire has a number of Cheeses including Cheddars which are popular within the UK. Just outside the town of Hawes is the Wensleydale Creamery where you can sample a number of the more popular cheeses before purchase.
Films and Television
Popular TV shows filmed in the area include Heartbeat, Emmerdale, Holby City, Last of the Summer Wine to name but a few. The diversity of the landscape also offers film makers the opportunity to use locations free from modern influence. During the filming of Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, Hardraw Force was chosen due to its unrivalled tranquillity and natural beauty. It is here that you will find Robin Hood taking a bath in the splash pool of the highest single drop waterfall in England.
Not to far away you will find Malham Cove which is a stunning Limestone geological feature carved by meltwater at the end of the last Ice Age. Parts of the Deathly Hallows Films were shot on top of the cove on the limestone pavement that were formed over hundreds of years.
Transportation has had a massive impact on Yorkshire over the last couple of centuries. In the 18th and 19th Century, canals were constructed across the country enabling the development of home industries and the opening markets for products around the nation.
During the 19th Century, the development of the Steam Locomotive and subsequent expansion of the Rail Network brought with it various engineering problems that were overcome with great success. One of these problems was at Batty Moor where the mainline from Settle to Carlisle needed to cross a large expanse of low ground (or moor). The construction of the Ribblehead Viaduct was the answer. Taking just under 5 years to complete and stretching 440 yards at a maximum height of 104 feet, this superb piece of industrial engineering still stand today offering superb views of the surrounding countryside including the famous Yorkshire Three Peaks; Ingleborough Hill, Pen-Y-Ghent and Wernside.