The Archbishop of York on Nicola Adams, Sir Michael Palin, and his honeymoon in Yorkshire

The Most Reverend Stephen Cottrell is the 98th Archbishop of York and took up his new role earlier this year. He is married to Rebecca and they have three grown-up sons.

The Archbishop of York says he would like to have lunch with Nicola Adams. Photo: Matt Crossick/PA Wire

What’s your first Yorkshire memory? Spending my honeymoon here. My wife Rebecca comes from Harrogate and moved away before we were married. But in 1984, just after our wedding, we came up here and stayed near Skipton and we walked all over the place, just exploring and drinking in the beauty of the countryside. We also came across to York and visited the Minister, which had just re-opened after that disastrous fire. It was, and still is, a very powerful experience. Of course, not for a single second did I think I would ever be returning to take up such a challenging role.

What’s your favourite part of the county – and why? We lived in the county for nine years in the Nineties and two of our three sons were born here. My appointment was as Diocesan Missioner for the Diocese of Wakefield and my bishop asked me to base myself in Huddersfield. We set up home there and were extremely happy. Just thinking about it all brings back some very happy memories.

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What’s your idea of a perfect day, or a perfect weekend, in Yorkshire? We both love to walk so it would be over to the Dales, maybe to Malham Tarn and particularly to Janet’s Foss, which is stunningly beautiful. It carries Gordale Beck into the pool below and even on a bleak day it looks (and sounds) wonderful.

The Most Reverend Stephen Cottrell is the 98th Archbishop of York.

Do you have a favourite walk or view? We used to walk up Castle Hill in Huddersfield with the boys and our dog and, again, there are a lot of fond memories of those days. We must have done it hundreds of times. At the top, and on a clear, sunny day, you can see for miles.

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Which Yorkshire sportsman, past or present, would you like to take for lunch? I have yet to meet her but it’s Nicola Adams who has that sort of smile – when she is being interviewed – which is so natural and engaging. She really does light up the room. Her story is remarkable and what she has achieved is quite amazing. She’s a role model in so many ways, for women everywhere, for the LGBT community, for all of us.

Which Yorkshire stage or screen star, past or present, would you like to take for dinner? Sir Michael Palin. I’m old enough to remember him as part of the Monty Python team, who were scurrilous, irreverent and very naughty but also completely glorious. He’s gone on to reveal so many things about our world to his viewers. He’s also a very good actor and, perhaps best of all, he always seems to have a twinkle in his eye.

If you had to name your Yorkshire “hidden gem”, what would it be? There are two and the first is hardly hidden since it is the Great East Window of York Minster. But I wonder how many people appreciate they are seeing one of the masterpieces of European art when they stand and look at it. Now that it is cleaned and restored, it truly is one of the wonders of the world. The second is the little crypt at Ripon Cathedral, which is actually part of the original Anglo-Saxon building and where St Wilfred preached and ministered. He was, apparently, a bit of a bruiser and made as many enemies as he made friends but I rather admire him for his no-nonsense approach.

If you could choose somewhere, or some object, from or in Yorkshire to own for a day, what would it be? Any painting at all from the series that David Hockney created in the woods of the east coast of the county. I would just love to have one of those on the wall.

What do you think gives Yorkshire its unique identity? You can debate this for ever but I think it has a lot to do with fundamental honesty. We’re very blunt but we see things as they are – there’s no spin, or froth or flannel.

Do you follow sport in the county, and if so, what? Yes, and just about everything. I played some cricket, football and rugby, but these days it is all viewed from my armchair. And I used to go a lot to Huddersfield Town matches. Now that I’m back in the county, I shall have to see about going over to give a little support.

Do you have a favourite restaurant or pub? This hasn’t been the best of years for starting to discover different eating and dining experiences, has it? That is all to come. But I have to admit that we have – after moving into Bishopthorpe Palace – become great fans of our local fish and chip shop, which is called Bish and Chips. I went in for our supper not so long back and asked the lovely lady behind the counter why it wasn’t called Archbish and Chips? We had a lovely chat about that idea – and then I revealed that, yes, I was indeed the “Archbish” himself.

Do you have a favourite food shop? There are so many delights on Bishopthorpe Road it is hard to know where to start. “Bishy Lane” has so many great independent and individual shops and long may they prosper.

How do you think Yorkshire has changed, for better or for worse, in the time that you’ve known it? I’m a positive sort of person so I’m saying, on the whole, for the better. There are more cycle lanes, for example, and there is more regard for the environment. But I feel we should be re-doubling our efforts to tackle the many inequalities around us.

If you had to change one thing in, or about Yorkshire, what would that be? Extend the boundaries. Goodbye, Durham, farewell, Lancashire, adios Nottinghamshire and welcome aboard the Big United Yorkshire Bus.

Who is the Yorkshire person you most admire? It’s a collective of people I discovered when I first came to the county and went to local poetry readings in Huddersfield. They are all the fine poets that we have produced and nurtured over the centuries.

Has Yorkshire influenced your work? I believe that it has, in that (hopefully) the gift of speaking out, and seeing things more clearly, has rubbed off on me.

Who is your favourite Yorkshire author/book/artist/CD/performer? Simon Armitage, who is one of the greatest living poets and who has helped make Yorkshire the “poetry capital” of England.

If a stranger to Yorkshire only had time to visit one place, it would be? York, for all the infinite varieties that it offers and at its heart, the Minster.

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