The first place in the Yorkshire Wolds we set on the satnav (we took the arrow- straight Roman road route up through Lincolnshire, and over the Humber Bridge) was the address of, officially, Britain’s best chippy of 2011.
At Fish and Chips at 149, near Bridlington, they serve free tea while you wait. We watched fryer Cori Standing prepare the nation’s favourite dish with the care and precision of a top chef. They fret about the environment here, sourcing our cod from ‘sustainable grounds off Iceland’. We took our takeaway boxes (with ‘old fashioned real mushy peas’) and drove five miles north to the RSPB bird reserve at Bempton Cliffs.
Here East Yorkshire presents its formidable face to the North Sea. The reserve, just north of Flamborough Head, has some of the highest cliffs in Britain at 392ft. Seabirds mass here in the summer. Puffins’ nests cram precariously into the chalk face. And far below us, gannets breasted the surf – this is the only place in mainland England where they breed.
We stayed in Beverley, a classic little 13th Century minster town, full of history in its narrow m edieval streets, Georgian terraces and decorated church ceilings. The homely, family-run Beverley Tickton Grange Country House Hotel just outside town was on full cosiness alert, with a roaring wood fire in a big fireplace in nearly every room. There seemed to be nothing on the menu that wasn’t from Yorkshire – fish fresh from Bridlington, and meat and vegetables from local farms.
My main course was an imaginative venison haunch steak pan-fried in damson gin with turnips. Next day we drove into some of England’s finest wide open spaces. While the Industrial Revolution was defacing other parts of Yorkshire, the Yorkshire Wolds remained fabulously empty and unblemished.
We had seen the David Hockney exhibition of Wolds paintings of this sublime landscape at the Royal Academy in London, and now we were in the real thing. The defining details, small groups and lines of trees against the suddenly-folding Wolds are magnificent in any season. So it doesn’t matter when you visit. The tourist people have launched a Hockney Trail, linking locations where the artist painted. We started with the very accessible trees lining Bessingby Road in Bridlington, where Hockney has a home.
Then down quiet ways to places where he painted at Garrowby Hill, Kilham, Thixendale and Woldgate Woods. It’s so satisfying to make that connection between works we had seen and the real inspiration. Another route into England’s back of beyond is the Wolds Way.
The 79-mile path leads from the Humber Estuary on a quiet amble across gently rolling landscape, up and down tranquil valleys, along hilltops with huge views, all the way to the headland at Filey Brigg.
Thixendale may be the most isolated (and still ‘living’) village in the Wolds. But the best spot to savour the tucked-away remoteness of the Wolds is Wharram Percy, the most closely studied of Britain’s 3,000 deserted medieval villages. You can still see the ruined church and a recreated fishpond, and pick out the ghostly outline of lost houses.
For more details see the Daily Mail