As a resident for the past 40-odd years I know that Yorkshire is the friendliest, coolest and most beautiful place in the World. And the people generous, intelligent and modest. Keep yer Goa, yer California, yer Mustique – there’s no finer place to be than sat outside a country boozer with a pint of best and a view over one of the many spectacular vistas (cloth cap and whippet optional, but recommended). But Yorkshire is big, its 3 million square acres stretch almost coast to coast and from Geordieland down to the Midlands. You may need a little help deciding which bit you want visit so take a skeg at this reet gradely guide, y’barmpots.
A rough, mental image of the Ridings:
North Yorkshire – Think Emmerdale crossed with Heartbeat.
West Yorkshire – Think Red Riding crossed with Kes.
East Yorkshire – Think Larkin crossed with the Housemartins.
Wherever you are in Yorkshire you feel cosseted and welcome, you’re never more than a walk away from a cracking boozer or comforting food and people actively go out of their way to talk to you (up yours, London). There are, though, distinct vibe variations operating as you move around.
The Leeds/ Bradford and the Sheffield/Rotherham conurbations mean that the West is the most densely populated and cosmopolitan (‘don’t talk to me about sophistication, I’ve been to Leeds’) which is fine if you want to buy a pair of braces or need a unbeatably blinding curry but it can make even the shortest drive or walk a nightmarish trawl through endless windy, updowny, speed camera and satanic mill strewn streets.
The quickest way to confirm you are encountering someone from the West is to check if they are carrying a crossbow or dragging round a dead prostitute.
The East, while featuring the subtly beautiful, unspoilt Wolds and some quietly rugged coast, can occasionally feel a little empty – like Craggy Island or Dungeness in parts – but I defy anyone to stand with fish & chips on Brid seafront or sit in the corner of the bar in Nellie’s of Beverley nursing a pint and not grin till it aches. Oh, and if you’re near Hull try a patty butty with plenty of vinegar – deep-fried genius.
When it comes to pure, unquestionable spectacularishness you have to say North Yorkshire wins hands down. Just a look at the names - Wensleydale, York, Whitby, Staiths, Harrogate, Goathland, Rievaulx, Robin Hood’s Bay, Pickering, Bedale, Helmsley, many, many more – reminds you that it has an amazing concentration of ace places. And then there’s the landscape - from highest hill to deepest dale, from coast to moor to forest it is absolutely magnificent. Sorry to sound like a fawning tosspot but it really is as fine a place as you’ll find on Earth.
You can tell the people of Yorkshire apart by their accent, clothing and personality. If they’re wearing a flat cap, shit-encrusted wellies and say ‘ey up’ as they unsmilingly pass you on a puddled farm track then you’re in the North. The East Yorkshire dress code is relatively undefined but there is often a propensity toward rugby scarves and Primarni fashion for which they often pay ‘narn narnty narn’. The quickest way to confirm you are encountering someone from the West is to check if they are carrying a crossbow or dragging round a dead prostitute. Even if they are they’ll still proudly inform you in a cartoon Mel B voice that there’s a Harvey Nichols in Leeds.
The West has a strong industrial heritage so you get a lot of big mills and handsome stone buildings. The North is all picturesque farm houses and country estates and the East is roughly the same with the addition of the Humber Bridge, the most magnificently pointless structure on the planet.
East - hard
West – soft
North – soft with hard bits.
Simple this one. West for music, film, TV and nights out. East for poetry and painting. In the North there’s little to do but sit in old farmhouses in the middle of nowhere getting hammered on Chartreuse and melting the soles of your Doc Martins with a lighter (very much based on personal experience this one).
Fairly safe in the East as long as you stay off the trawlers and some danger of loosing your arm in farming equipment in the North. You could fall into a inadequately decommissioned pit in the West but you’re normally safe as long as you’re not targeted by the notoriously insane West Yorkshire constabulary or have a chavvy mother who thinks that hiding you for weeks in a divan drawer is an innovative way to generate income.
Not sure how to measure this one. Sport in North Yorkshire seems to consist entirely of country shows and gymkhanas, in the East its Australians and Kiwis playing Rugby League and in the West its underachieving football teams. In an attempt to deliberately piss off Leeds Utd fans we’ll call it a draw.
That’s about it for now. Obviously there’s much, much more to this most wonderful place but it’ll have to wait for part 2, I’m off to slide down a hill in a bathtub.
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