When out on my travels and meeting new people, I often get asked where I am from to which I normally reply with, “the UK”. The most common response I seem to get to this is, ”Oh! So you’re from London?” OR,”So you live in London?”
I am from God’s own country- Yorkshire.
Yorkshire is in the north of the UK and is the largest county in England. I am here to tell you that not only is the UK far, FAR more than London but to give you an idea of what the fabulous north has to offer and why you should visit.
Firstly, I am from a fantastic city called Sheffield, AKA Steel City. It is no secret that I love my city, I love its sense of community spirit and its traditional Yorkshire values plus all of the things the city has to offer and that is why it is number 1 on my list of places you should visit.
Sheffield is found in South Yorkshire and is built on 7 hills. It has more than 250 woods, parks and gardens and has an estimated 4.5 million trees. This means Sheffield has more trees per person than any other European city, making it the greenest city on the continent.
Sheffield made its fortune in the steel industry and is famous for its stainless steel cutlery, however, the city now has much more to offer than making steel. We now have galleries, theatres, museums and not to mention a fantastic night life and music scene (I genuinely believe the best music scene in the UK).
Sheffield is the real ale capital of the world; we have breweries dotted about all over the city which specialise in craft beers, literally brewing thousands of different ales each year. If this is what you’re into, do a little research before you come as you could plan to come during one of our many beer festivals.
If you arrive into the city by train, you can even start your beer tour straight away on Platform 1B, at the Sheffield Tap before continuing onto Kelham Island where you’ll find many more establishments to quench your thirst.
Now for the foodies out there, you will not be disappointed. People up north sure do know how to cook and we have thousands of eateries around the city from traditional pub lunches to things a little more adventurous. If you like to sample foods from around the world, London Road is the place to be. From Turkey to China to Japan, Thailand and then all the way back to Greece.
One thing that should be on your menu during your stay is a homemade pie which you have to lather in Henderson’s Relish, AKA Hendos- a little like Worcestershire Sauce but far, FAR superior and it’s even vegan!! It is classed as a relish rather than a condiment. I would recommend going to The Broadfield for this- they also have an excellent beer portfolio.
Here in Sheffield we are also big on food markets and often have a European food market throughout the city centre. As well, we have two permanent street food markets, Cutlery Works, the largest food court in the North, and Kommune, a Scandi inspired food court, both boasting culinary delights from around the area and the world!
Entertainment in Sheffield is not to be passed up on either. It’s my favourite city to catch a gig. We, as a city are big on live music so you can always find a gig going on somewhere. I could go on and on and on with a huge list of venues but here are a few of my favourites if you’re in the market to catch a gig or two: The Leadmill, o2 Academy, Corporation, West Street Live, Maida Vale, Yellow Arch, Bear Tree Records, the Shakespeare, Greystones, Cafe#9, the Royal Standard, the Frog and Parrot and not forgetting Sheffield Arena.
Each year thousands of people flock to Sheffield for Tramlines Festival, an urban festival which started in 2009 with just 35,000 fans in attendance populating the 70 venues and 4 main stages. The festival has grown from strength to strength and last year (2019) it sold out of the main stage which holds 30,000 people each day not to mention all the other venues that participate. Previous line ups have seen the likes of Noel Gallagher, The Courteeners, Jake Bugg, Manic Street Preachers, Stereophonics, Happy Mondays and not to mention Sheffield’s own Milburn and Everly Pregnant Brothers.
We also have the Crucible Theatre, home to the Snooker World Championships as well as the Lyceum Theatre so there’s always a show on the go. To see what’s on offer from Sheffield’s theatres, please click here.
There are cinemas old and new scattered throughout the city as well as museums such as the recently opened National Videogame Museum complete with arcade- the country’s only playable museum. The museum is handily situated right next door to Kommune so you can grab a bite to eat whilst you’re there.
One of the old steel works has also been turned into a museum, Magna which is well worth a visit. Magna also opens its doors from time to time for warehouse raves!
If countryside if your thing, then take a 5 to 10 minute drive out of Sheffield city centre and you’ll find yourselves in the heart of the Peak District which leads me nicely onto the next place you should definitely visit.
One of my favourite places to go hiking is the Peak District National Park. Covering an area of 555 square miles in 6 counties (2 of which belong to Yorkshire) it attracts millions of visitors per year. It’s the perfect place for a nice stroll or more strenuous hikes, as well as visiting country pubs, checking out local wildlife, hilly walks, flat walks and all the green you can imagine. You can check out a list of available hikes at www.peakdistrict.gov.uk
One of my favourite villages to visit in the Peak District is Castleton situated in Hope Valley. You can approach Castleton through the dramatic Winnats Pass or from the Hope Valley, both boasting spectacular views.
You can absorb the scenery by taking a walk around the village or by hiking up the surrounding hills. One to definitely walk up is Mam Tor (mother hill), known locally as the shivering mountain- so called because its shale and gritstone layers are prone to landslips. Once at the top, either, take in the spectacular views for miles and miles, or continue hiking the Great Ridge Walk, either way, you will not be disappointed.
Once back in the village, I would highly recommend taking a stroll around the quaint little shops as well as stopping to grab some food. There is anything from traditional pubs, cafes, a wonderful chippy (fish and chip shop) and for dessert, a fantastic home made ice cream shop. Castleton is also the only place on the planet where the rare, semi precious mineral, Blue John, is mined so be sure to stop by one of the local jewellers to see what Blue John one of kind piece they have to tempt you with.
There are four show caverns in Castleton, two of these are the caverns which contain Blue John. Blue John Cavern lies just below the face of Mam Tor and is approached via Winnats Pass. As well as Blue John you’ll also see some fossils.
Treak Cliff Cavern is situated on Mam Tor Road and although it was previously a lead mine it now solely mined for Blue John. As well as containing Blue John, it also contains a beautiful collection of stalagmites and stalactites.
Speedwell Cavern, which sits at the bottom of Winnats Pass is generally the most popular of the four as you get to explore underground canals by boat.
Peak Cavern (my favourite) known to locals as Devil’s Arse has a stunning views on the walk up to the cavern and sitting on top is Peveril Castle. Now the reason this is my favourite of the four is because of the fantastic acoustics meaning it is host to gigs and cult cinema nights.
Due to the stunning surroundings and the fact you could have a very rare experience of seeing a gig/concert or film in a cavern I would 100% recommend seeing if there is anything on during your visit. I went to see my favourite film, Jurassic Park in the cavern and it was a truly unforgettable experience; the whole village got involved with decorating the whole village. I also had the absolute pleasure of seeing Jarvis Cocker play here. For event listings and a truly unforgettable experience, click here.
Now, if you are on a hike, you could include all four caverns on your route, however, if you are not a hiker the caverns also have parking. You can find more info on the caverns and how to book tickets here.
If you are coming from afar, I would recommend you book into a B&B, hotel, caravan park or even campsite for a couple of nights so you can go off and explore and take in all the wonderful charms and beauty of Castleton.
Now, if like me you’re partial to a stunning sunset or sunrise, I have just the spot for you, again just a ten minute drive out of the city. Stanage Edge is also in the Peak District and from parking up, it’s only about a ten minute walk to the top, if that and the views from the top are something else. This makes it perfect for a stunning quick win sunset or sunrise. I like to make a flask of tea and go to the top with my camera to just catch my breath on a hectic life and just watch the sun setting on the day or rising on a new one. Bonus, there’s never really any people there to it’s so so peaceful so shhhhhh, keep this little gem to yourselves.
As Stanage Edge is in the Peak District it can be a ten minute walk to the top or you can extend the hike to hours/days/weeks.
You are very exposed to the elements on top of Stanage Edge so I recommend you take a windproof/waterproof jacket, you just never know when you might need it.
Now, if the seaside is your thing, I have one more of my favourite places in Yorkshire to share with you. This time I am taking you to the North East coast of Yorkshire, (AKA the Dinosaur Coast) all the way to Whitby.
Whitby is not your average seaside town, it is split by the River Esk and either side of the town you have the East Cliff and the West Cliff, make sure you do both.
Whitby has much more to offer than a quick paddle in the sea, a trip to the seafront arcade to play on the 2p machines before heading to the local confectioneries to buy fudge and rock- all of which should still be done but try to fit in some of the below as well.
Sitting high up on the East Cliff and overlooking the North Sea is the gothic ruin, Whitby Abbey which gave Bram Stolker his inspiration to write Dracula which in turn gave Whitby the title of Goth capital of the UK. Twice yearly Whitby is host to goth weekend bringing in tourists from far and wide.
If you’re feeling a little parched after your walk around the Abbey and beautiful, gothic graveyard, Whitby Brewery is just outside the grounds.
Take the time to have a look around the unique graveyard of St Marys, not only do some of the graves date back to Saxon times but local folk tales say that the pirates that used to frequent the harbour are buried here; look for the graves engraved with a skull and crossbones.
After you’ve visited the Abbey on the East Cliff, descend the 199 stairs (you have to count them) and head over to the Dracula Experience museum back down in the bay.
Once down in the bay make sure you look around all the unique little shops whether it’s for a gift for you or somewhere else. Just like in Castleton you can stop by a local jewellers to pick up some Whitby Jet, a gem local to the area. I’m sure you’ve all heard of the term jet black – well this is where the adjective comes from!
You also HAVE TO have fish and chips whilst in the bay, they are the best in the country and you’ll never taste fish so fresh. Rumour has it that the best in town is at the Magpie Cafe and I can vouch that it’s so so good.
Most of the chippies offer eat in a takeaway. If you choose takeaway, be aware of the seagulls! They too enjoy the local delicacies!
If you decide to eat in, queues to the restaurants always look long and overwhelming but they do move along pretty quickly so stick with it.
The West Cliff has the Captain James Cook statue and giant whale bone arch at the top. You’ll also find the old Gun Battery on the West Cliff.
If you want to follow in the footsteps of Captain James Cook, why not set sail on a replica of HMS Endeavour around Whitby Harbour and along the coast to Sandsend.
Sit back and relax on the somewhat looking pirate boat (featured in the photo above) and take in sites of Yorkshire’s Dinosaur Coastline. You’ll also be on the lookout for local wildlife including many different types of sea bird, seals and occasionally porpoise, dolphins and whales.
This amazing excursion will only set you back £3 for an adult ticket and £2 for a child! Bargain Oooo Arrrrrgh!
Something I didn’t know that’s available in Whitby or even the UK is whale watching tours. Each summer whales arrive to feast on the migrating Herring. In the last two years alone, numerous Minke Whales, Sei, Fin and Humpback Whales, White Beaked and Bottlenose Dolphins and Porpoise along with Seals and many species of birds have been spotted of the East Yorkshire Coast.
The best time to spot the whales is late September to early October as they start their migration south. I’ve definitely added this on my list of things to do next time I go back to Whitby, maybe I’ll see you there?
There is one last thing I would recommend doing whilst in Whitby, another thing which I have yet to do but it’s high up on the list.
Take a ride on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. Hop on a romantic Steam Train through the North York Moors National Park into Whitby or just take a return trip from Whitby itself. For information on packages, routes and timetables click here.
Whether you take the train or drive through the North York Moors, you’ll see beautiful rolling green hills and if you go through in August to early September, you’ll see nothing but purple for miles and miles as all the Heather is in bloom. I only wish I had a photo to show you but you can Google it.
As you can probably tell, I love my city, Yorkshire and The North. The above is a very comprehensive but not exhaustive list of things Yorkshire and The North has to offer. If you have any more questions on the above or need a tour guide just drop me a line.
The one thing I do ask, is next time you think of the UK or take a trip here, remember, England is far more than just London!
Hopefully see you all in my neck of the woods.
P.S. Keep reading to see a list of things to pack and to view a small gallery of Yorkshire images.
Things to Pack
For the keen hikers, don’t forget your walking boots and stick.
For the photographers, as well as your camera, don’t forget your gadgets…
And of course to carry everything… your trusty rucksack.