Mike Pannett's Yorkshire
To celebrate the release of his latest book, JUST THE JOB, LAD, Mike Pannett introduces us to his beloved Yorkshire
1. York – home to my beloved York City Football Club, but more famous for the vast range of historical buildings nestled within the ancient Bar Walls. The city is renowned for its history, museums, art galleries, theatres, shopping and clubbing. How about travelling back in time at the Viking Centre or taking part in a ghost walk (there’s one very theatrical guy who tells a good tale, decked out in a black frock-coat and top hat)? Or why not get dressed up and hit York Races? For a well-earned rest, try Little Betty’s Cafe in Stonegate or Coffee Culture, which is squeezed into a tall, thin, rickety building, its three storeys connected by steep staircases. A visit above ground level is not for the faint of heart! This is where I sat in a window seat overlooking Goodramgate and mapped out my books.
2. A weekend is not always long enough, so why not stay longer to explore the rest of this wonderful county? Walk off the great local food and drink with a hike from Rosedale Abbey. Head up the one-in-three Chimney Bank (this burns off some of the kids’ energy) and head across Spaunton Moor to the picturesque village of Hutton-le-Hole where sheep walk along the main street, alongside the little beck. Drop in to the Ryedale Folk Museum and take a stroll back in time around this three-acre site. Factor in time for a pub lunch, or a picnic on the grass, before heading back.
3. Why not treat yourself with a stay at the Feversham Arms Spa and Hotel in picturesque Helmsley? This vibrant market town is bustling with visitors and bikers congregating around the market square, with its quaint shops, pubs and cafes. Try to include a visit to Helmsley Castle or Duncombe Park. From here you can take the delightful four-mile walk to one of Yorkshire’s most beautiful ruins, Rievaulx Abbey.
4. An alternative walk would be from Lastingham. After a visit to the Blacksmith’s Arms, head up onto the moors where you follow the old railway lines to windswept Blakey Ridge and the Lion Inn. They serve food all day to hikers, bikers and motorists. The place is legendary. Last winter a bunch of visitors were trapped for several days after a blizzard . . . poor souls.
5. The White Horse is carved into the hills above Kilburn and is a spectacular landmark visible from the Bar Walls of York, some twenty-three miles to the south. There are plenty of walking trails nearby, as well as refreshments at the Hambleton Arms, the Forester’s Arms and the Sutton Bank Visitor Centre. Check out the stunning views from the hilltops. Don’t forget to duck if the gliders are taking off or landing! During spring and summer you will find a little ice cream van in the car park by the picnic area. Don’t worry if you can’t manage the steps – you can drive up to the top and walk on more level ground.
6. Easingwold – my local town. Friday is market day and most people head to Tee Hee’s Cafe. Just down the road is Crayke, one of the oldest villages in England, and the place where I grew up. There are spectacular views from the top of the hill by the castle or from the back of the Durham Ox, renowned locally for its beautiful setting and hearty meals.
7. Thirsk – another busy market town popular with locals and visitors. The market is held on Mondays and Saturdays. White Rose Books is a great little bookshop and cafe. The Herriot Centre Museum pays homage to literary hero James Herriot, who lived locally. If the weather isn’t kind, pop into Twiggy’s Indoor Play Centre and Cafe, which has a countryside theme and is aimed at children under ten — always popular with my kids.
8. When I was a boy, I spent many of my holidays at the Hayburn Wyke, on the coast near Staintondale. This is where my love of wildlife began. Geographically, it’s not far from Scarborough or Whitby but the setting is a million miles away from those busy seaside towns and harbours. The Wyke offers very little apart from the countryside and the coast, and that is part of the attraction. From the Hayburn Wyke Hotel, a tricky trek down through the woods and past the waterfall is rewarded by a fantastic view out to sea and a rocky beach to explore. If you’re lucky you may be the only people there.
9. If you’re after a bit of adventure for all the family, why not explore Dalby Forest by mountain bike? Purple Mountain Bike Centre and Cafe can hire you a bike for the day and send you off on one of the many trails. Try the Mountain Bike World Cup Course or some of the more family-friendly routes. Not only is there great off-road biking for the kids, there are also loads of adventure playgrounds, as well as Go Ape for those looking for an aerial challenge. If you want serious rollercoasters, then Flamingo Land is only a short drive away. For those who want a more sedate ride, the North Yorkshire Steam Railway operates between Pickering and Whitby. Don’t forget a walk on the beach, a visit to the abbey and a portion of Whitby’s brilliant fish and chips. Watch out for vampires!
10. Finally, I must mention the Wolds. The view from Leavening Brow is one of the best in England. You can see for over ninety miles on a clear day. It’s just up the road, past Walter’s place and not far from the Jolly Farmers pub. The area is renowned for its abundant wildlife; you may see hares boxing in spring. Robert E Fuller, one of the best wildlife artists in the country, has his gallery nearby. How about taking a walk around Thixendale, a deep remote valley that only got a decent TV signal a few years ago? There are a number of different routes which start and finish at the Cross Keys pub. Not far away is the deserted medieval village of Wharram Percy, which is also well worth a visit.
Readers from all over the world – and people I meet when I do my talks and other events – often ask me about Yorkshire so here are some helpful websites:
And to find out about the train that inspired the cover illustration for my new book, Just the Job, Lad, have a look at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway at www.nymr.co.uk
Finally, if you want to help a deserving cause – and people you might need one day – the local Mountain and Cave Rescue teams all do a great job. They’re volunteers who go out in all weathers and the service depends on donations, so if you could support them it would be just the job:
Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team
Cleveland Search and Rescue Team
Cave Rescue Organisation
Upper Wharfdale Fell Rescue Association
Mike Pannett's newest book, JUST THE JOB, LAD.
Mike Pannett's YOU'RE COMING WITH ME, LAD
Mike Pannett's popular books, inspired by his time in the North Yorks force