Linda Barker's favourite Yorkshire day out, hidden gems and restaurant recommendations

What’s your first Yorkshire memory?

I’m part of a big family, and my growing up was in West Yorkshire, where we had a farm. It was blissfully happy, lots of fields and barns to play in and around, making dens in the mown hay. I think the time I recall the best was when we were sent out to get things for dinner – we also had a large vegetable garden – and asked to pick whatever it might have been. Fresh peas were always my veg of choice.

What’s your favourite part of the county – and why?

It has to be Holderness, where we live now. Everyone knows of Spurn Point, but very few know this area well. I like that, the slight mystery to it all, the “other-worldly” feel of the whole peninsula. There are villages out here where they are very much of themselves. It’s sparse, dramatic, very beautiful, and there are amazing “big skies”.

Linda Barker and Martin Green, Chief Exec Hull 2017.Linda Barker and Martin Green, Chief Exec Hull 2017.
Linda Barker and Martin Green, Chief Exec Hull 2017.
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What’s your idea of a perfect day, or a perfect weekend, out in Yorkshire?

I’m a passionate wild swimmer, so doing that somewhere would have to figure very large in the day’s events.

Do you have a favourite walk – or view?

Some friends and I went for a complete traipse around North Yorkshire, recently, up in the Rosedale area, and we happened upon some works by Andy Goldsworthy, the sculptor whose work is so empathetic to and with the landscape. He has always been one of my heroes. It was just breath-taking.

Date: 7th June 2016. Picture James Hardisty.
Actor John Godber at East Riding Theatre, Beverley.Date: 7th June 2016. Picture James Hardisty.
Actor John Godber at East Riding Theatre, Beverley.
Date: 7th June 2016. Picture James Hardisty. Actor John Godber at East Riding Theatre, Beverley.

Which Yorkshire sportsperson, past or present, would you like to take for lunch?

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Alex Mellor, the Halifax-born professional rugby league player, who is now a member of the Castleford Tigers. He’s a bit of a star, that lad - he’s also my nephew, my sister’s lad, and all the family are very proud of him.

Which Yorkshire stage or screen star, or past or present, would you like to take for dinner?

John Godber, who is not only a marvellous playwright and observer of human nature, but also a very nice man indeed. I’ve seen just about everything that he’s brought us over the years, and I love the way that he combines a very genuine humour with a wry and very honest observation.

Date: 7th June 2016. Picture James Hardisty.
Actor John Godber at East Riding Theatre, Beverley.Date: 7th June 2016. Picture James Hardisty.
Actor John Godber at East Riding Theatre, Beverley.
Date: 7th June 2016. Picture James Hardisty. Actor John Godber at East Riding Theatre, Beverley.

If you had to name your Yorkshire ‘hidden gem’, what would it be?

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The area around Thomason Foss Waterfall, including Goathland and Beck Hole. The special part to me is the ravine on Eller Beck. It’s all “water-led”, everything feeds off something else. The old Holderness gravel pits are also worth discovering.

If you could own, or have access to, one thing in Yorkshire for a single day, what would that object or place be?

Right in the middle of the Humber Estuary there are a couple of ancient forts, Bull Sands and Haile, both of which were constructed as WWI began, to protect the vital shipping lanes in the river and to its approaches. Give me the keys to either, and we’ll have a great party out there, preferable on a day when the wind is howling, and the waters are crashing on the masonry.

What do you think gives Yorkshire its unique identity?

The sheer diversity of the place. I went to school in Bradford, and the way that cultures have mixed, mingled and become far more accepting and tolerant over just a few years is quite wonderful. But there’s diversity in the landscape too. Everything from glacial dumping grounds to the moors and the coastline, the rocks and crags. The old industrial areas and the new cultural hotspots.

Do you follow sport in the county, and if so, what?

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Following my nephew is top of the list. And, like so many other folk, I was absolutely over the moon when our Yorkshire athletes did so superbly well in the Commonwealth Games. What an inspiration for young folk they all were – and are.

Do you have a favourite restaurant, or pub?

The very thought of all those wonderful Bradford curry houses gets my taste buds going. Top of the list is Prashad, where they have taken their own cuisine to a whole new and delicious level.

Do you have a favourite food shop?

It’s not one, but several – all of Beverley market, and particularly on a Saturday, when there’s a lovely atmosphere, and lots of great food of all descriptions. Everything is fresh and local, and the people are super-friendly.

How do you think that Yorkshire has changed, for better or for worse, in the time that you’ve known it?

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Mostly for the better, I’m glad to say. Hull improved beyond measure when it was awarded the City of Culture bid, and I am praying that Bradford is going to get the same attention and love that it needs to transform itself. It’s certainly not the city that it was when I was growing up. Leeds is now amazing, and the county as a whole is definitely a big “destination” draw.

Who is the Yorkshire person that you most admire?

The extraordinary force of nature that is Eliza Carthy. Singer, songwriter, performer, and so accomplished in everything that she tackles.

Has Yorkshire influenced your work?

So very much that you wouldn’t believe it! I have always loved “natural” materials, textures of stones, plants, rock formations, vegetation, the colours of landscapes. When Terry’s asked me to design a new range for them, I jumped at the offer, and I’ve included so many of the “landscape naturals” in that.

Name your favourite Yorkshire book/author/artist/CD/performer.

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It was about four or five years ago that I discovered the remarkable Charlotte Jane, who was born in Hull and who is a soul music singer par excellence. She writes and performs very profound lyrics, but in her own unmistakable style.

If a stranger to Yorkshire only had time to visit one place, it would be?

If I’ve just got a day, we’re off to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, with a delicious picnic, some sturdy walking shoes, a coffee to start with at their café, and a bit of retail therapy in their shop afterwards. In the middle, it’s a long amble through the landscape, with all of that magnificent artwork to admire. Perfect heaven.