WITH a jaw-dropping coastline, rolling green countryside, charming pubs, and a splash of city glam, the county of Yorkshire in Northern England has a lot to offer. Get yourself on a train, prepare to rug up, and learn first hand why the locals call this ‘God’s country’.
Forget the deck chairs, white sand beaches and blue skies that come to any Aussies mind when thinking about a February coastal getaway- the Yorkshire coast has anything but. Instead, be prepared to gasp at both the majestic cliffs and the chilly bite of the east coast wind.
There is no better way to admire this stunning coastline and get some fresh country air than with a short hike. But don’t be alarmed by the suggestion. As someone whose outdoorsy vocabulary is more ‘sun baking’ than ‘bouldering’, I can safely say this walk is a piece of cake, and well worth the effort.
Start your adventure at Robin Hoods Bay, a charming former fishing village which was once a hot spot for pirates smuggling their loot onto the main land. After admiring the postcard-perfect fishing cottages on the coastline, head uphill from the town centre and through a pair of kissing gates to start the 12 km walk to a town called Whitby.
Muddy slips and fish ‘n’ chips
I confess that due to a bit of rain the ‘easy’ coastal hike referred to above was for me a bit more like the Tough Mudder than a garden stroll.
After three muddy stacks and sliding by old relics like Whitby lighthouse and the crumbling Abbey perched on a cliff top (which was an inspiration behind Bram Stoker’s Dracula), I arrived in Whitby.
As well as being host to a biannual ‘Goth weekend’, this small town is one of the UK’s biggest fishing harbours and rightly famous for its fish and chips. Bench the new year’s diet, and feel that batter between your fingers.
I had no problems finding a B&B and, leaving a trail of mud behind me, traded the warmth of the local pubs for a night of board games and too much red wine.
A city break
If your idea of a weekend getaway doesn’t involve a trip to Kathmandu for a new pair of hiking boots, never fear. Simply trade getting down and dirty with nature for getting down and dirty with the York nightlife, where on Friday nights you’d be forgiven for wondering if you were caught in a scene from Geordie Shore.
With a bouncer on the door of every bar (what recession?), and patrons showing a bit too much skin for this time of year, you can’t help but relax and let loose on your small-town-big-night-out. You can even grab a kebab on the way home.
For you foodies who aren’t seduced by the idea of cheap cocktails and street meat, you will be pleasantly surprised by the culinary offerings of York. With a heavy emphasis on local produce, there is plenty of opportunity to pick up some delicious fare. Check out The Hairy Fig on Fossgate for an apothecary of specialty oils and aged balsamics, and pick up some treats for your journey home. I recommend the dark chocolate with violet.
The cherry on top of an already well rounded city is York’s rich sense of history and good old fashioned English charm. To experience both, grab a drink in one of the cozy local pubs before walking through the city’s winding, narrow back alleys (called ‘Snickelways’) for a taste of its medieval past.
End your day with a walk atop the old Roman wall that surrounds the city, whilst taking in the views of York’s majestic Gothic cathedral and the beautiful surrounding countryside.
Yorkshire. A slice of heaven in our own backyard.
The Yorkshire Bucket List
- The coastal walk from Robin Heads Bay to Whitby (or reverse). Regular buses run between the destinations for the return journey.
- Drive through the countryside and stop in at a roadside farm shop for some fresh local food and a few jars of homemade chutney.
- Admire York’s gothic cathedral.
- Take a walk at Whitby harbour, where Captain James Cook did his apprenticeship, and check out the 40% sized replica of the ship in which he ‘discovered’ Australia: The Endeavour. Ok… you’re forgiven if you pass on this one.