I NORTH YORK­SHIRE Land­marks and le­gends

The best of rolling coun­try­side, his­toric cities and sea­side towns

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - ROB GRANT

HIS­TORY OVER­DOSE

CELTIC war­lords, Ro­man le­gions, Saxon tribes, Vik­ing ma­raud­ers, Nor­man in­vaders and Civil War ar­mies have all left their mark on the city of York, a two-hour train ride north of Lon­don. At its heart is York Min­ster, a Gothic master­piece that makes some bet­ter­known con­ti­nen­tal places of wor­ship look like sand­cas­tles. The vaulted cathe­dral, with 128 stun­ning stained-glass win­dows, was surely in judges’ minds when York­shire was named 2013 Euro­pean Desti­na­tion of the Year in the World Travel Awards. Climb its 61m cen­tral tower for a great view over the city. Else­where, travel back to Vik­ing days at the pop­u­lar Jorvik Cen­tre or scale Clif­ford’s Tower, the re­mains of York Cas­tle, built by Henry III. For sou­venir shop­ping, squeeze down the 14th-cen­tury Shambles, once voted Bri­tain’s most pic­turesque street. More: york­shire.com.

FRIGHT­FUL FUN

JOIN The Orig­i­nal Ghost Walk of York for another take on the city’s past, with tours start­ing at 8pm from the King’s Arms Pub. Cen­turies of das­tardly deeds have left their spec­tral mark in the murky, oak-beamed cel­lars and dimly lit cob­bled al­ley­ways. Try to keep your wits as you learn about char­ac­ters such as the lonely piper, the lit­tle lost boy and the malev­o­lent monk. A hit with the ‘‘bairns’’ (chil­dren ‘‘up North’’). More: the­o­rig­i­nal­ghost­walko­fy­ork.co.uk.

LO­CAL HERO

IN the quirk­ily named vil­lage of Rams­gill-in­Nid­derdale (near Har­ro­gate, 30km west of York), The Yorke Arms, housed in an 18th-cen­tury hunt­ing lodge, is a lo­cal favourite, though word is spread­ing fast. It was awarded a Miche­lin star in 2003 — one of sev­eral York­shire restau­rants claim­ing the hon­our. Chef Frances Atkins serves twists on Bri­tish clas­sics us­ing lo­cal pro­duce such as Nid­derdale mut­ton, Whitby crab and Wens­ley­dale cheese. Roast beef with York­shire pud­ding takes right­ful place atop the Sun­day lunch menu. It’s no sur­prise that El­iz­a­beth Carter, ed­i­tor of The Good Food Guide, said: ‘‘I’ve called York­shire the foodie county of Bri­tain in the past and it seems to be in no dan­ger of los­ing this ti­tle.’’ More: yorke-arms.co.uk.

BIT­TER, SWEET

PERCHED be­side the River Ure, near Masham in the Har­ro­gate dis­trict, the Black Sheep Brew­ery is a tes­ta­ment to York­shire’s re­spect for tra­di­tion where it mat­ters most: mak­ing beer. One-hour tours re­veal the 200-year-old brew­ing tech­niques, with rich aro­mas of fer­mented bar­ley, malt and hops. Taste the Black Sheep’s award-win­ning Best Bit­ter or the Rig­g­wel­ter strong ale, with its ‘‘palate of cof­fee, bananas and licorice’’. Be warned — the lat­ter is named af­ter a Norse term for a sheep ly­ing on its back un­able to get up.

In Har­ro­gate town cen­tre, a big at­trac­tion is Bet­tys Cafe Tea Rooms, es­tab­lished in 1919. Check out the win­dow dis­play of choco­late, cream and pas­try de­lights be­fore choos­ing from 50 teas as you soak up the art-deco am­bi­ence and gaze at mar­quetry art­works of York­shire scenes. More: black­sheep­brew­ery.com; bet­tys.co.uk.

MAR­KET DAYS

HELM­S­LEY, 38km north­east of Har­ro­gate, is the em­bod­i­ment of a clas­sic York­shire mar­ket town, with the ru­ins of a Nor­man cas­tle, a cob­bled mar­ket­place, twee tea shops at ev­ery turn and wel­com­ing coach­ing inns. Fri­day is mar­ket day, when its cen­tral square is crammed with pro­duce sell­ers. Hunters of Helm­s­ley can sup­ply pork pies, re­gional cheeses and deep- filled hot sand­wiches, per­fect for a pic­nic in the nearby 1.2ha Helm­s­ley Walled Gar­den. More: hunter­sofhelm­s­ley.com.

PEDAL POWER

NEXT July the Tour de France will be­gin in York­shire and more than three bil­lion eyes will be on its coun­try­side. The Dales Bike Cen­tre in Frem­ing­ton, on the east­ern edge of the York­shire Dales Na­tional Park, can help you ex­pe­ri­ence the ride, al­beit not on race day. The store pro­vides top-notch Bianchi bikes for about $45 a half day. Test your legs on nearby But­ter­tubs Pass, an infa- mous hill even the pelo­ton will dread. More: dales­bike­cen­tre.co.uk.

STEAM IN

IT’S hard to know who is more ex­cited, the grin­ning kids or the adult rail­way en­thu­si­asts rid­ing the North York­shire Moors steam rail­way. Climb­ing out of Pick­er­ing, north­east of York, on its 38.6km jour­ney to the coastal town of Whitby, the rhyth­mic click­ety-clack trans­ports pas­sen­gers to another world. The line soon flat­tens out to re­veal the li­lac glow of heather- cov­ered moors. Fans of Heart­beat or the Harry Pot­ter movies can pause at Goath­land Sta­tion, where both were filmed. Na­ture lovers might pre­fer a stop at New­ton­dale and a walk to the Hole of Hor­cum, a nat­u­ral am­phithe­atre. More: nymr.co.uk.

GOTHIC TALES

IN 1746, James Cook moved to the bustling port of Whitby to learn the nau­ti­cal skills that took him to Aus­tralia. His white­washed har­bour­side lodg­ings in the nar­row gin­nels of the old town now house the Cap­tain Cook Mu­seum. It’s a trea­sure for sail­ing buffs, with orig­i­nal maps, portraits and ship repli­cas (open March to Oc­to­ber). Whitby also has strong literary con­nec­tions as Drac­ula’s en­try point to Eng­land af­ter his cof­fin-pro­tected sea voy­age from Tran­syl­va­nia. Scale the 199 stone steps to St Mary’s Church and the ru­ined Bene­dic­tine abbey for a rip­ping view of the eerie splen­dour that in­spired Bram Stoker and at­tracts nu­mer­ous black eye-liner fans for the an­nual goth fes­ti­val. More: cook­mu­se­umwhitby.co.uk.

BE­SIDE THE SEA­SIDE

OVER­LOOK­ING the pic­turesque har­bour in Scar­bor­ough, on North York­shire’s cen­tral coast, is The Golden Grid, a cafe spe­cial­is­ing in fish and chips, es­tab­lished in 1883; tuck into had­dock and chips with mushy peas and white bread and but­ter, served with a strong pot of tea. Nearby dessert op­tions in­clude Pacitto’s ice-cream par­lour — try the tangy yet creamy le­mon top. More: gold­en­grid.co.uk.

VIC­TO­RIAN SPLEN­DOUR

FA­MOUS as Agatha Christie’s hiding place dur­ing her 11-day dis­ap­pear­ance in 1926, The Old Swan Ho­tel in Har­ro­gate brings pe­riod drama to the 21st cen­tury. Built in 1840 and now with 136 rooms, this is no trendy bou­tique op­er­a­tion; you’ll feel more like a Down­ton Abbey cast mem­ber. Savour break­fast in the glass-roofed restau­rant then walk off the black pud­ding in the man­i­cured grounds. More: clas­si­clodges.co.uk/the­oldswan.

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