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Our Yorkshire places in the heart

With a record number of visitors expected to visit the countythis summer, Martin Hickes asks Yorkshire luminaries about their favourite place in Broad Acres.

THE 20th-century poet Rupert Brooke might have said there was part of a foreign field which was "forever England", but for folk from the Broad

Acres, when it comes to spring, it seems there's some part of the mind which is "forever Yorkshire".

In the increasingly familiar 21st-century of work/life balances, credit crunches, computer problems and the occasional office politicking , most of us escape to the much more appealing surroundings of our imagination.

With British Summer Time just six days ahead, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority is hoping to evoke dreamy memories of a traditional, pastoral Yorkshire in 2008 by staging a Hay Time Festival, among other events, to entice families to summertime picnics, butterflies and walks, and expects nine million plus visitors will dream of the Dales this summer.

The festival will document a gentler time of making hay and family gatherings in the fields and it is hoped underline the often overlooked value of the meadows for wildlife.

But where do other Yorkshire luminaries travel to – mentally or physically – in a bid to get away from it all?

Brian Turner, Halifax born celebrity chef

As a child, when our first car materialised, the place we would most often head to was the North York Moors and those wonderful memories of brothers, sisters, mum, dad, aunties, uncles and grand parents.

Now when I need an inner peace and a smile on my face I think of those days and that wonderful National Park just up from Malton and Pickering.

You have to go past Fylingdales, but stop to see the view at the Hole of Horcum and then onto Goathland.

From there, Egton Bridge, Beck Hole and Grosmont were always places to visit. Now I think of the Mallyan Spout, the Roman Road, the North Yorkshire railway and the pub in the bottom; next to, and part of the Post Office, General Store.

I love to think of sitting in picnic style watching the birds soaring up in the air – hawks, skylarks, red kite and now the goshawk – the beauty and life of the birds one sees is spectacular and takes over your thinking, peace at last.

Just drive in any direction and find a private dale, one you can call your own, my favourite is called Little Fry Up Dale... but you'll have to find it yourself!

I no longer live near enough to visit regularly but when I do I love it, and when I can't, I just imagine and think of the last time I was there.

Michael Palin, Sheffield's own member of Monty Python's Flying Circus.

Much of my best day-dreaming was done on Rivelin Crags to the

west of Sheffield. A frisson of danger attended any visit, as access was across a golf-course and one or two of the club members seemed to take perverse delight in aiming at passing schoolboys.

Once out on the great platform of rock with its precipitous plunge down to the Manchester Road below I could let my imagination rip. I could be on the edge of the Grand Canyon, or any of those wild horizons on which a line of Indians appeared at the climax of Westerns. I could be the last man left alive or the most intrepid explorer. I could be heroic or mortal.

The wide view offered limitless alternatives for the truly determined daydreamer. It encompassed stone-walled farms that hadn't changed in a hundred years and a modern city spreading out towards them, creeping across the green slopes. There was a distant stream, a quarry, a reservoir and the high Pennines beyond.

Being up on Rivelin crags made life as exciting as any film. And in my dreams I could be the star!

Alan Titchmarsh, Ilkley-born TV presenter, gardener, and writer.

Wherever I am, there are certain Yorkshire images that I can call to mind in a moment – the River Wharfe at Bolton Abbey, Ilkley Moor where I was born, Middleton Woods where the bluebells grow thickly, and the upper Wharfedale villages of Grassington, Burnsall and Appletreewick.

There is an honesty about Wharfedale. It is not simply a chocolate-box-pretty place; it is a working dale with farms and factories, breweries and bleak moorlands, and yet it always seems to me to have a peculiar kind of integrity. It's never been too pleased with itself for its own good.

I think it unlikely that I'll ever be asked to join the House of Lords. It's even more unlikely that I would accept the invitation. But in idle moments I've occasionally mused on the fact that if ever I did go there I'd be happy to be called Lord Wharfedale. There is no name that would make me happier.

Conservative MP William Hague

I have travelled all over the world, but the Yorkshire Dales is where my spirit feels at home. I do not know anywhere else that can match the Dales' combination of tranquillity and beauty. My favourite spot is in the Swale Gorge near Keld, where riverside meadows are filled with wild flowers in spring, and where the view can hardly have changed in a couple of hundred years. No wonder this was made a National Park."

Legendary cricket umpire Harold 'Dickie' Bird

If I had to put my head on a block and pick an area which is as good as Yorkshire and this country, I would say New Zealand, which has some lovely, lovely places a lot like England.

I've travelled all over the world as you know but there's nowhere like this country and especially the East Coast of Yorkshire, especially round Robin Hood's Bay and that area.

I always go to the East Coast when I want to go for a break. I've some wonderful memories of playing at Scarborough with Barnsley in the Yorkshire League and with Yorkshire, of course.

My favourite view is from the Esplanade at Scarborough, walking towards the clock tower. I've stood there many a time for half an hour overlooking the bay and the harbour. It's out of this world.

Barnsley poet Ian McMillan

I'm often away from home, away from Yorkshire, away from the wellspring of my imagination and the way I think and talk. I'm often sitting in

hotel rooms staring into space, and its then, on the wall of the hotel next to the corporate art and the plug for the kettle, that I recreate my perfect Yorkshire happy place, which is partly a real place and partly a destination of the mind.

My place is the Maurice Dobson Museum in Darfield, where I live; Maurice and his partner Fred were a proudly gay couple in the fifties and sixties and they kept a little corner shop that sold all sorts of things and had a beer pump on the bar. I'd call there on Friday nights for a packet of Spangles on my way to the Church Lads' Brigade.

When Maurice died he donated the shop and the antiques he'd collected to the village as a museum; I go there with my grandson Thomas on a Saturday and we look at old things and eat toasted teacakes. It's my happy place: my personal history and a wider cultural history and a chance to let butter dribble down my chin."

The Yorkshire Dales Hay Time Festival 2008 – running from May to September – celebrates the heritage, wildlife and flora of the Yorkshire Dales's traditional hay meadows. Events are being hosted by organisations and individuals in and around the National Park – from Teddy Bears' picnics and wildflower identification workshops to a dusk lantern procession looking out for moths and bats. For the full programme, go to www.yorkshiredales.org.uk/hay_time_festival or ask at National Park Centres.

 
 
 

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