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Of all the counties in England, Yorkshire has arguably the strongest identity of them all. “God’s own country” is a vast area of beauty with narrow lanes and dry stone walls, connecting the Pennines in the west with the Dales, North York Moors, and cities such as Leeds, Sheffield, and York through to the rugged coast on the east.
Photographer Ian Walton was born and bred in Yorkshire. Here are a few of his favourite spots:
The Commute Yorkshire Cycle Café, Ilkley
A friendly welcome, great Allpress coffee, homemade cakes, fine advice, and chat about all things local—the Commute is exactly the kind of place a cycling café should be. Whether you’re the slickest rider or a newcomer, Gavin and the crew at The Commute will make a pre-ride café stop at their place a great start to a ride into the Dales from Ilkley. They organise regular rides and frequent special trips, so check what’s on with them while you’re in town. They’ve also got a workshop and bike stuff to buy alongside the coffee and goodies.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park
A unique and world-renowned centre for modern and contemporary art, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park is set in Bretton Hall, a beautiful 18th century estate. Art without walls is its byline and it has been going and improving for 42 years. Some of the finest artists from around the world are on its palmares, including permanent exhibits of works by Henry Moore and Margaret Hepworth and recent exhibitions by Jaume Plensa, Sean Scully, Fiona Banner, Anthony Caro, and many, many more..
The Hepworth, Wakefield
Opened in 2011, The Hepworth is the largest purpose built museum to be founded in the UK in over 50 years. David Chipperfield designed the building on the banks of the River Calder on Wakefield’s historic waterfront. It is in itself worth a look. The museum celebrates one of the UK’s most significant sculpturs, Barbara Hepworth, a Wakefield woman herself. As well as Hepworth’s work, it features regular rotations of world-renowned artists and events.
Three Peaks | Ribblehead | Malham Cove
A jaunt up into the Dales is a must when you’re in Yorkshire. With so many stunning places to go, to narrow it down to one or a few would be churlish, but these three work nicely together. The Three Peaks are where the unique, crazy, magic cyclocross race that’s been going almost uninterrupted (foot-and-mouth-disease outbreaks caused it to be paused a couple of times) since 1961. Ribblehead viaduct is a man-made beauty betwixt the Peaks, and Malham Cove is a limestone marvel that was formed during the last ice age (12,000 years ago) from a waterfall of glacier melt water, which you can now walk atop and around. You can connect all three with a cracking ride out of lovely towns of Skipton or Ilkley.
Yorkshire Dales, North of Skipton
Harrogate deserves a special mention with the worlds going on. There’s plenty to hit up in this beautiful town. For the performance cyclist, there is Prologue, a bike shop with a café, bike-fitting facilities, workshop, coaching, and events all year round. The North Bar is a cracking craft-beer bar in the heart of town, which is hosting many an event during the worlds. It is worth a visit any time to sample local brews. The Corner Haus bar is a little corner of Europe (ironically in these times…) in Harrogate with Euro beers and lots of focus on the worlds this week. If you want a more traditional Harrogate time, Betty’s Tea Rooms have been open since 1919; there are two in Harrogate, two in York, one in Ilkley, and one in Northallerton, so you can have your cream tea all over Yorkshire with Betty’s. Lastly if you want a refresh, there’s Harrogate’s Turkish baths; it is a spa town after all.
Whitby Abbey | Staithes
It wouldn’t be a visit to Yorkshire without an abbey visit and there are plenty to choose from, from Fountains Abbey, which is on the worlds’ course, to Bolton Abbey, which is not far off, but for a little change in scenery head out to Whitby Abbey (AD 657) on the coast. While Whitby itself is a pleasant seaside town (fish and chips, on the pier), a short 15-km away is Staithes which is a little quieter. It’s a beautiful seaside escape, with good fish and chips as well.