My alternative Lonely Planet guide to Yorkshire – Jayne Dowle

APPARENTLY, more than half of us Brits have never experienced a proper road trip. If you live in Yorkshire, there really is no excuse.

Jayne Dowle would recommend Knaresborough to visitors as the Lonely Planet's latest guide prompts much debate and discussion.
Jayne Dowle would recommend Knaresborough to visitors as the Lonely Planet's latest guide prompts much debate and discussion.

You could spend a fortnight exploring our region alone, before even straying over the border to the Lake District or Northumbria, not forgetting Lincolnshire of course.

The Lonely Planet Guide, champion of the independent traveller, has a new book out called Great Britain’s Best Trips (2nd ed). A smart commercial move, seeing as most of us will be making the best of it in Blighty this summer.

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Yorkshire, named by Lonely Planet in 2014 as one of the top places to visit in the world, gets a good show.

Filming of Emily in Haworth - the visitor destination would feature in columnist Jayne Dowle's alternative Lonely Planet guide to Yorkshire.

The guide recommends a tour of the North York Moors, ending up in “the picturesque fishing village of Robin Hood’s Bay”, taking in York, Castle Howard, Malton, Danby and Goathland along the way. There’s also a separate route through the Yorkshire Dales.

Now I know I’m biased because I live here, and in South Yorkshire to boot, but I expected a little more pioneering spirit. The appeal of the book has to be broad, sure, and every single one of these places is outstandingly lovely, but doesn’t it all feel a bit safe?

With respect, it sounds like the sort of tour I’d take my parents on, not a couple of teenagers and a husband who is 50 this year, but young at heart.

I’d divide it into four trips, actually. Cities, starting in Sheffield, for the culture, the industrial history and the brooding moorland. Then to Leeds, because no trip to Yorkshire should bypass this bustling city which forms the bedrock of modern Yorkshire. And York, of course, because when it comes to layers of history, there is nowhere else like it in the world (except perhaps Rome).

No trip tp Yorkshire is complete without a visit to Spurn Point, writes Jayne Dowle.

Then countryside. If you only ever drove from Malton to Goathland, what kind of impression would you get of Yorkshire? Dramatic, sure, but difficult to pin down, unless you happen to be a fan of Heartbeat. I’d start around Haworth, because West Yorkshire was home to that world-famous Yorkshire export, the Brontës, and drive up to Skipton and the Yorkshire Dales from here.

And how could the Lonely Planet leave out the Yorkshire Wolds? Possibly the most beautiful and unspoilt part of the entire county, in my humble opinion. Perhaps I’m going to regret saying this next time I’m pottering through Burton Constable.

From there would be a nice way to approach the Yorkshire coast. Incidentally, why does the East Riding and the coastline from Bridlington to Hull always get forgotten in these guides? Don’t the compilers know that they inspire that world-famous Bradford-born landscape artist David Hockney?

I’d definitely include a trip out to ghostly Spurn Point, the very tip of Yorkshire, to muse a while on our seafaring links to Europe. And another to Flamborough of course, where the limestone cliffs are the most northerly in Great Britain and home to flocks of rare seabirds.

Castle Howard features in the Lonely Planet's latest guide.

And finally towns. Such scope for imaginative planning here. Would you do “market towns”, calling in perhaps at Easingwold, Driffield, Knaresborough and Bawtry, such an important Georgian staging post on the ancient north/south road?

What about spa towns? I can think of three straight off the top of my head; Harrogate, Ilkley and Boston Spa, all with superlative places to stay and eat and drink.

And to understand what really did built Yorkshire’s reputation abroad, entire weeks could be enjoyed travelling around the hills and valleys of Saltaire, Slathwaite, Todmorden, Brighouse and Hebden Bridge, discovering the stunning architecture of former textile mills and learning about the enterprising individuals who made Yorkshire the envy of the industrial revolution.

I’d love to help, next time. I love planning a road trip. My kids, now 15 and 18, grew up in the back seat of the car, never quite knowing where they would end up but always (mostly) enjoying the adventure on the way.

It’s worrying really, that millions of people have never explored their own country, yet will happily hop on a plane to a purpose-built resort abroad. And I know – because I’ve done the sums many times – that a big part of the reason is because it’s relatively cheap. That and the weather, but not everybody likes it hot.

And not everybody appreciates what we have to offer at home. If we are to encourage new generations to find out what’s out here, we have to think outside the box.

A deeper and wider approach to Yorkshire tourism can only be good for the economy too.

However, unless we tell people, too many of our Yorkshire gems will remain hidden, diamonds in the rough, waiting to be polished by the steady tread of most-welcome tourism.

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