Posts Tagged ‘york’

London — By Andrea Kirkby on December 19, 2009 at 5:45 am
Filed under: best of the week, hiking, northern england, york

It’s great up north!

I’m a southerner. The north, for me, begins at Peterborough – that’s about an hour by train from London.

But because I’m a keen hiker, I do know the north of England quite well. There are superb long distance walks; the Pennine Way, the Coast to Coast, the Three Peaks of Yorkshire.


Roseberry Topping - said to have been sacred to the Norse god Odin, and here you see it in Viking style

The midlands and the north were the industrial heartland of England; Sheffield, for instance, was the home of the cutlery trade – yet just a few minutes by train and you’re in the middle of the Peaks, ready to start walking. Newcastle and Durham were at the centre of the coal mines – Durham still has a famous miners’ gala – but just minutes from the centre of these cities you’ll find the delicious hidden gorges of Coquetdale or the waterfalls of Teesdale.

And this is also Viking England, with place names including Norse words – ‘garth’, ‘thwaite’, ‘gate’ for ’street’. York hosts the Yorvik Viking Centre, where you can experience Viking life (including, famously, the smells), and will also host a Viking Festival in February 2010.

If you want to get away from coffee-table-book, chocolate-box Olde England, get yourself north. There are hikes ranging from the pretty little five-day White Peak Walk, around Buxton in Derbyshire, and the Dales Way in Yorkshire, to the big daddy of them all, the Pennine Way (180 challenging miles and, for my money, some of the best views in the whole of Britain). There’s the Lake District with some of the most impressive peaks in the country, or the Yorkshire Dales and Peaks with their amazing limestone formations – caverns, ‘pots’ (huge chasms in the earth), limestone pavements, gorges and scars.

This time of year, though, the place I want to be is York – a marvellous city, with its fine Minster, loads of medieval heritage, old city walls, and great shopping, and even better, a huge number of excellent real ale pubs to choose from. (Local CAMRA puts out a useful map in its ‘Ouse Boozer’ magazine. The Ouse, of course, is the river that runs through the city.)

Now on one of my journeys north I discovered a strange hill,  a little pointy hill that looks like the top of an ice cream sundae. (Without the flake.) When I looked on the map, its name was even more weird – Roseberry Topping [map]. It even sounds like an ice cream!

So I was overjoyed when the Guardian featured a video about Roseberry Topping. I think it really captures that dual nature of the north – industrial and rural, all wrapped up together – and it’s a charming video that will give you a real taste of the area. (It also gives you a flavour of the local accent. English is spoken very differently up there.)

The tiny hill has views north, to the wild Cheviots and the Scottish border, and south to the North York Moors, with wonderful heather you can bounce across. And it also has views of Middlesbrough, with its chemical works and closely packed terraced houses.

Photo by Vic Nic on flickr

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