Signs of spring

Credit: Blue tit, Bob Coyle

Enjoying the many positives of spring is a welcome relief after months of colder temperatures and gloomy days in isolation. Seeing bright yellow daffodils in full bloom, new delicate leaves bursting through and hearing the melodic tones of birds in the early mornings is just a very small snapshot of the incredible transformation that nature undergoes during the springtime.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Inspiring People Officer, Steph Turner, shares some seasonal highlights that will put a ‘spring’ in your step:

https://www.ywt.org.uk/blog/steph-turner/signs-spring

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is the only charity entirely dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring Yorkshire’s wildlife and wild places.

The Best Yorkshire Walks For A Lockdown Catch-Up

A lot has happened over the last year and you’ll no doubt have tonnes of gossip to catch up on with missed loved ones. Granted, the topic has changed from scandalous workplace relationships to that new pair of joggers and how your workwear wardrobe is really coming together.

If we’ve learned anything, it’s that the small things are always worth celebrating and that time together is so precious. With restrictions easing, we can once again meet up with family and friends outside. Albeit still at a safe distance.

To celebrate this, Keighley born and bred business Fenetic Wellbeing had an idea. They realised that Yorkshire is home to many wonderful things. Most notably among them are its smiling people, indescribable views and the peace and quiet that the northern countryside offers.

Fenetic Wellbeing handpicked some of the most beautiful walks for you to enjoy. They did some calculations, giving you the perfect walk for a lockdown catch-up based on your time spent apart. If you’re sharing your most prized secret, the Betty Eastwood walk has trees tall enough to hide behind. If you want to be surrounded by nature without having to travel too far, the Leeds canal city walk offers exactly that.

All of the walks offer miles of open green space for children and dogs to run free in. You’ll find both rural and urban walks that are accessible for all.

So, if you haven’t seen your dad for 6 months, you’ll have plenty of time to catch up on a 5-mile walk. On every walk, you’ll witness scenery far more breath-taking than you’ll find on a Zoom screen.

With all of this right on our doorstep, it would be a shame not to witness it for yourselves.

Please continue to adhere to official government guidance and don’t travel out of your area until allowed to do so. Similarly, please continue to respect the safe social distancing rule wherever possible.

park in the sunshine grass flowers

Valley Gardens, Harrogate to RHS Harlow Carr

One of the most popular walks in Harrogate takes you from the Royal Pump Room Museum to RHS Harlow Carr. The draw is twofold. Firstly, flower lovers will delight in the majestic Valley Gardens, with their seasonal displays of colourful blooms, as well as the 58-acre showcase of RHS splendour to be found at Harlow Carr. Secondly, the walk features a Betty’s Tea Room and Café at each end and we know of no other walk that makes this delicious claim!

Bettys café and tea room in Harrogate
The iconic Bettys Café and Tea Rooms in Harrogate

Before you start your walk, make sure to visit Bettys on Parliament Street in Harrogate, if only to gaze upon the incredible treats in the sumptuous window displays. From there, head down the hill past the Turkish Baths and the Winter Gardens building. From the traffic lights at the bottom of the hill, you’ll see the Royal Hall diagonally to your right. Take a left and pop into the Tourist Information Office. Here you can pick up a map for this route which includes a discount for entrance to RHS Harlow Carr. Ahead, you’ll find the Royal Pump Room Museum. Here, you can discover the history of the spa town, learning how the Victorian gentry took in the strongest sulphur waters in Europe.

From the Royal Pump Room Museum, use the pedestrian crossing to enter Valley Gardens. Here the walk begins in earnest, at the main entrance to 17 acres of award-winning English Heritage Grade II-listed parkland. You can explore immaculate floral displays and intriguing themed gardens, while the park also features a children’s play area and sporting activities.

Of the three paths in front of you, take the left hand option and walk alongside the stream. We stopped several times to watch ducks in the water and squirrels racing up the trees to our right.

You’ll soon reach the Magnesia Well café serving refreshments inside and out. You could even treat yourself to an ice cream to take with you on your walk. Check out the circular feature where the pathways meet- this area is known as Bogs Field and contains several capped wells. You can find a total of 36 mineral wells within Valley Gardens.

flowers and grass in the park. people sat outside having drinks and snacks. sunshine café
The Magnesia Well Café in Valley Gardens, Harrogate

To explore the gardens further, you can wander through the Japanese Garden, visit the play park or even enjoy a game of pitch and putt. Whatever you choose to do, just return to this circular meeting of paths to continue the walk.

Japanese ornament, path and trees with red branches in a Japanese style park
The Japanese Garden in Valley Gardens

From here, roughly opposite the path that brought you to the Magnesia Well, you’ll find a bench-lined path passing the tennis courts with a grassed area to your left. This part of the walk is slightly uphill. At the fork of the paths, follow the right hand dirt path into the pine woods.

path leading into pine woods information board
Track into the pine woods

Now all you need to do is follow this one path towards the west. Look out for an abundance of wildlife amongst the trees. Keep any dogs and young children close to you as you’ll need to cross a road en route.

A small brown dog running towards the camera along a path through a woods

Approximately 10 minutes after crossing the road, you’ll reach an information point with binoculars offering panoramic views of the countryside. To the other side of the path, a feeding station brings a wide a variety of birds into close range. Once you’ve enjoyed this special spot, you’re on the home straight. Your destination of RHS Harlow Carr is now within sight, with its stunning gardens, beautifully stocked garden centre and homeware shop. There’s also, of course, another Betty’s Tea Room.

Manicured lawns and stunning flowerbeds blue sky
RHS Harlow Carr

www.visitharrogate.co.uk/

Ingleton Waterfalls Walk

 The Ingleton Falls Walk, a firm favourite for me, especially on the quiet days away from the Summer holiday season. If you are in Yorkshire and feel like a shorter walk packed with gorgeous scenery and fresh air, get yourself to here, a super trail for the whole family.

A circular walk of just over 4 miles that leads up one river across and down another. Starting low it was off through the limestone woodland. Rich in trees and moss. Greens abound even in mid-Feb, you can imagine a different kind of beauty when the trees come to life with leaves. It is also hard to miss the songbirds singing in the trees above. You will see plenty no matter the time of year you go.

Read the full guide to this walk here.

Welcome to Walkshire

Welcome to Walkshire, the year long campaign from Welcome to Yorkshire to make the county the home of walking in the UK. You might ask yourself what is Walkshire? What does it mean for me and hopefully, how can I get involved?

We are blessed with some of the most iconic locations in the country to stretch those legs and get outdoors, however, Walkshire isn’t just about celebrating the countryside and our many beautiful sites across the region. Just as walking is accessible to all, Walkshire is accessible to all. We will be focussing across the year on urban walks, walks on your doorstep, walks with friends and walks that discover the history and heritage of our fine county.

Whilst we will be covering walks all over the region it is really important to make sure that you follow the countryside code at the latest Covid restrictions at all times. We’d want you enjoy Yorkshire but respect the people and places of our unique part of the world

There will be a walk a day published across all our website and social media channels. This will help you build up a library of walks to choose from when you have time to get out and about. These will be themed seasonally ranging from a mental health focus in January, child focussed walks in the school holidays and spooky ghost walks at Halloween. We’re also collating many of our walks on our handy Walkshire map so that you can find them easily and check out different types to try out when you’re ready.

Walking is also a fabulous way to support some of our communities and local businesses. That cup of coffee, the ice cream for the kids or the quick snack to refuel will make a big difference to some of the businesses that have had a hard time in the last year. They want to see you, and Walkshire provides that great excuse to see them.

We’re also working with some famous faces from the region who will share their experiences and favourite places for a stroll, as well as some of the region’s finest bloggers who will talk about the thing that they are passionate about, walking. We know that you will be engaged and inspired by their stories as they talk with passion about the places that they love. They are all different people with different approaches but united by a love for the region and benefits of walking. You’ll get to meet people (and the odd dog) that you’ll want to learn more about, and from, in the coming weeks and months.

We will also be working with Yorkshire Cancer Research and helping them raise much needed funds to continue their good work in the battle against cancer and it’s impact on people and families. The benefits of walking and being healthier reduce your chances of developing cancer and you’ll have opportunities to get involved with fundraising during the month of May when we hold our ‘Tour De Walkshire’. We’re proud to be supporting such a great local cause.

You also hear from great organisations such as The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, Sustrans and the Canal & River Trust, and with three National Parks in the county you truly are spoilt for choice on where to roam. All of these maintain great and unique walking routes across Yorkshire and we hope you’ll enjoy their stories and routes over the year.

So what is Walkshire and how can you get involved?

Simply, Walkshire is for everyone. We’ll show you over the course of the year that Yorkshire has every type of walk that you could possibly imagine in every location the region has to offer. You can get involved by getting out and about, sharing your experiences of Walkshire on social media and this website.

A final request from us here at Welcome to Yorkshire as you enjoy Walkshire, please make sure you respect local Covid guidelines, always follow the countryside code and be sure to check the weather before setting out on a walk. Yorkshire is the most beautiful place and let’s make sure we keep it that way.

Enjoy 2021, the year of Walkshire.

Shore Thing

Andrew Vine steps out to walk the Yorkshire coast and discovers a landscape of breathtaking beauty.

It’s the most magnificent stretch of coastline in Britain, with majestic cliffs, glorious beaches and enchanting coves, and putting your best foot forward is the perfect way to savour it at a leisurely pace.

Walking Yorkshire’s coast is to feel embraced by the beauty all around you, a constantly changing panorama of scenery. The path meanders through historic seaside towns including Whitby and Scarborough, the fishing villages of Staithes and Robin Hood’s Bay and takes in seemingly endless, award winning beaches including Filey and Bridlington.

At a steady couple of miles an hour along the clifftops or sands, the coastline reveals its grandeur and loveliness. Vistas of headlands and bays open up, stretching away as far as the eye can see, timelessly beautiful and as exhilarating now as when the first people to settle at the coast saw them centuries ago.

The sense of space and scale, the vast sky, the sparkling blues and greens of the summer sea stretching away to infinity, moorland of purple heather and yellow gorse overlooking the path, all combine to make this an inspiring walk that truly brings the senses alive. Dots on the clifftop gradually grow into Scarborough Castle, Whitby Abbey or Flamborough Head lighthouse, as the coast beckons you to discover the next treasure waiting along the path.

History and heritage feel vividly alive as you walk, of fishing communities which still put to sea in traditional cobles directly descended from the Viking longships that once landed, of smugglers who hid contraband in the caves that honeycomb secluded bays, of pioneers who made Yorkshire the birthplace of the great British seaside holiday.

And walking brings you thrillingly close to the rich array of wildlife for which Yorkshire’s coast is a haven – huge seabird colonies that nest on the sheer chalk cliffs, seals that bob their heads above the surf or bask on the rocks at low tide, porpoises that break the waves and even, if you’re lucky, whales.

Yorkshire’s coastline is on an epic scale, stretching about 120 miles from Redcar in the north to the unique natural wonder of Spurn in the south, where land and sea are locked in an endless battle for supremacy. It’s possible to walk the entire length, and dedicated long-distance walkers will find it as satisfying to complete as any route in the country.

But one of the great things about the coast path is that it naturally divides into shorter, easily manageable sections which are family-friendly and suitable for walkers of any age or ability, whether you’re looking for half a day’s ramble, or just an unhurried stroll of a mile or two.

It’s well signposted, easy to follow and you’re never far from somewhere to take a break and find something to eat or drink, which means that there’s no need to set out with a rucksack weighed down with supplies for a full day.

The path takes in every highlight of Yorkshire’s coast, all its landmarks and the extraordinarily rich and diverse heritage. For 50 miles, it follows the Cleveland Way from Saltburn to Filey, then joins the Headland Way around Flamborough and into Bridlington. From there, it’s along the beach to Hornsea and Withernsea, and finally to Spurn. Beginning on the seafront promenade at Redcar, the path climbs to the cliffs at Saltburn, leading on to Staithes, the fishing village that became an artists’ colony at the turn of the 20th century, where time seems hardly to have moved on since then.

Charming Runswick Bay is next and then Sandsend, with its two miles of beach leading into Whitby, where the sense of its heritage as a fishing and whaling port is so powerfully felt at every step. The path is a stroll through the town’s history, passing alongside the harbour, across the swing bridge and up cobbled Church Street, then climbing the 199 steps to St Mary’s Church and the iconic ruined 13th century Abbey that make Whitby’s skyline so unforgettable. Beyond lies Robin Hood’s Bay, nestled in the cliffs and coyly staying out of sight from the path until you round a headland and it reveals itself, pretty as any picture.

The trail climbs again, to the mighty 600ft peak at Ravenscar and then, visible from nearly 10 miles away, is Scarborough, Queen of Resorts, crowned by her castle, and coming closer with every step. The path becomes a promenade through the heart of Britain’s original seaside resort and one of its best loved, from the North Bay, round the Marine Drive and into the bustling South Bay.

It passes the Spa, the site where the first tourists came to take the waters of a mineral spring believed to benefit health 400 years ago, beginning the enduring love affair between Scarborough and its visitors. Cayton Bay, surfing capital of the Yorkshire coast, is next and the trail leads to a grandstand view of elegant Filey and its Brigg, the finger of rock pointing out to sea, a magnet for families exploring its pools teeming with tiny creatures at low tide.

And then comes one of the Yorkshire coast’s most imposing features – the towering chalk cliffs of Bempton, North Landing and Flamborough Head, gleaming white and seeming to glow when the sun is on them.

From there, it’s an easy downhill stroll into Bridlington, with its busy harbour which is Britain’s leading port for lobster and crab fishing, and miles of golden beaches which stretch away to the horizon. Those sands are the route onwards to Hornsea and Withernsea, and then to the magical finale of the coast – Spurn, the fragile sliver of land that is a living entity, forever on the move as the tides erode it and then bring in sand and shingle to reinforce it.

A circuit of this utterly captivating place poised between the sea and the River Humber, where the beach shape-shifts constantly like a restless sleeper trying to get comfortable, is just one of the shorter walks that the path breaks down into.

Others explore the coast’s wildlife and heritage. Walking from Bempton to Flamborough Head in spring or early summer is to be in the midst of one of Britain’s greatest natural spectaculars – half a million seabirds nesting on the cliffs and soaring on the air currents at your eye level as they head out of their nests in search of food. There are gannets, guillemots, razorbills and fulmars, but the stars of the show are puffins, with their colourful bills, clockwork-toy flight and guttural call. All are easily visible, especially from the viewpoints at the RSPB’s Bempton Cliffs reserve.

Walking from Staithes to Runswick Bay or from Whitby to Robin Hood’s Bay is to step back 300 years to an age when smugglers sailed darkened ships into lonely coves to land contraband.

Robin Hood’s Bay was their prime destination because it knew how to keep a secret. The closely packed cottages that make it so enthralling and picturesque were once riddled with interlinked secret passages, enabling smugglers to pass their wares from the seashore to the top of the village without them ever seeing the light of day. Or simply wander from Scarborough to Cayton Bay for the breathtaking views back across the town from the clifftop. But whether out for a stroll, or exploring everything Yorkshire’s coast has to offer, walking it makes the spirits soar higher than any clifftop along the way.

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THIS ARTICLE WAS TAKEN FROM THIS IS Y 2020 – YOU CAN VIEW THE FULL MAGAZINE HERE.

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