Perhaps winter is the least favoured month of all, but I actually like it. I…
This Easter we spent a long weekend in Yorkshire and we visited charming villages, towns, gardens and the Yorkshire coastline.
Yorkshire is the largest county in England and it includes the North York Moors, the Yorkshire Dales, a part of the Peak District and don’t forget the Yorkshire Coastline. This is the county where the Brontë sisters lived, All Creatures Great and Small was filmed here, and the expression a flat cap and a whippet indicates a Yorkshire man.
So let’s see how to spend a long weekend in Yorkshire and what photography advice I can give you if you are planning to visit Yorkshire.
Charming villages and towns in Yorkshire
I think this is one of the villages where the ambience comes really through only once you are there. Walking up the cobbled Main Street with lovely shops on either side, the village takes you back in time. Its heritage railway station, buildings and cottages built in the distinctive Pennine style using local sandstone and gritstone, Victorian shop fronts, pubs and the church provide an authentic Yorkshire feel.
- Wait for the sunrise or the sunset – the views are fabulous.
- If you’d like to take some photos, visit the place early in the morning or late after dusk, as it gets quieter.
Helmsley is a charming market town famous for its market and motorcyclists meeting point. The little stream running across the village gives a special ambience as well as its streets, old shop fronts and heritage.
Thornton le Dale
This village surprised me big time. What a gem! A stream, the Thornton Beck runs through the village and is crossed by several bridges. I couldn’t help but Bourton on the Water in the Cotswolds sprung to mind… This village is an absolute must to visit when you are in Yorkshire.
The most famous landmark of the town is the Knaresborough viaduct which crosses the River Nidd. It’s very pleasant having a stroll by the river and admiring the view from the grounds of the castle.
- If you’d like to photograph the viaduct, looking from the Castle grounds, the sun catches the structure in the morning and in the sunset it will be backlit. It’s gorgeous either way. Also, there’s a nice perspective looking from the other side of the viaduct.
The Yorkshire Coastline
The Yorkshire coastline is fascinating, so don’t miss it when you spend a long weekend in Yorkshire. But be aware that getting down to most of the fishing villages you have to use steep steps which you will have to climb on the way back! Having said that, it’s absolutely worth it because these fishing villages are stunning.
Saltburn by the Sea
Saltburn is a typical seaside town that became popular during the Victorian era. Interesting fact: Saltburn Pier is the only pleasure pier on the Yorkshire coast. Built in 1884 it was Britain’s third cliff lift, the first two having been built at Scarborough in 1875 and in 1881. The funicular encouraged people to visit the beach and the pier who were put off previously by having to climb the steep steps. Walking along the Victorian buildings, exploring the streets of Saltburn and the Victorian pleasure beach, we certainly can have a good impression how this seaside town would have looked and felt like in its heyday.
Whitby is a vibrant seaside town which pleasantly surprised me. I certainly didn’t expect it – mind you, not sure what I expected to be honest… It has a typical seaside town ambience with its harbour, pier and lighthouses, but feels special because of the iconic Abbey including the famous 199 steps and its galleon, The Endeavour.
Bram Stroker mentioned in his book Dracula that the famous 199 steps in Whitby is the most direct route from the town to the abbey and church. It was used for funeral processions as well and people carrying coffins could have a rest on the level platforms. The document first recorded the Whitby Abbey dates from 1370 but it is suggested that it might be older than that. Originally made of wood, the steps were replaced to stone in the 18th century.
Robin Hood’s Bay
Robin Hood’s Bay is one of the most iconic fishing village on the Yorkshire coast. I’ve seen many photos of the place but I would have never thought I’d love it at first sight. Whether in Cornwall, Devon or Yorkshire, fishing villages have a special ambience I just cannot get enough of. They have the reputation of smuggling and Robin Hood’s Bay is no exception. Allegedly, there’s a network of subterranean passageways linking the houses. None of the fishing villages in Cornwall captured my heart as much as this one did, well, okay, perhaps apart from St Ives and Port Isaac.
- Climbing the steep steps are definitely worth it, the village is fantastic.
- Fish and chips is more likely be made of the catch of the day, give it a whirl
- Explore the narrow cobbled streets, they have a special ambience.
- Pop down to the beach to have a different view of the village.
Gardens and country houses in Yorkshire
When spending a long weekend in Yorkshire, I suggest visiting estates, country houses and gardens. Castle Howard is world famous – we have to visit it next time as, but you can find other estates as well like Wentworth Woodhouse or Nostell Priory.
Shibden HallThe manor built in Tudor style dates back to 1420 and it has been the home to the Listers between 1615 and 1926. Anne Lister lived on the estate and led a diary written in code language about the estate, being a businesswoman and her travels. The reason she encoded her diary was to keep her personal life discrete – she had a love relationship with women and lived together with her love, Ann Walker at Shibden. The series, Gentleman Jack is about her/their story and on top of the filming location at Shibden they used a lot of CGI to achieve the desired landscapes of the time.
Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal
Fountains Abbey is the largest monastic ruins in the country and it was founded by 13 Benedictine monks in 1132. The valley of the River Skell seemed to be perfect for a simpler life and had all the natural features needed for the creation of a monastery. In 1135 Fountains became the second Cistercian house in northern England and was built in Romanesque style usually referred to as Norman style in Britain.
Walking further we got to the beautiful Georgian water gardens of Studley Royal which was built in 1718. It features artificial ornamental ponds, natural looking lakes, cascades, canals, a banqueting house, fishing pavilions, follies, temples, bridges, a grotto and of course statues. No idea why I’m so crazy about landscape gardens, I just love them. I’d also say you can easily spend a full day at Studley.
Final tips for a long weekend in Yorkshire:
- Make sure you carry some change as in most of the towns and villages you can only pay by coins for parking.
- Weather can change quickly in Yorkshire, so make sure you are prepared for all sorts of weather.
- If you can, go hiking in August when the heather is out to see the Moors in purple, but if Hiking on the moors, be prepared for all eventualities as things can change quickly. Seek advice first if you are not an experienced hiker.
- If you’d like to read more about my personal impressions of Yorkshire, please visit my English Culture Blog.