While Mike Bagshaw might admit to being a “Lancastrian townie”, he has spent more time in his adopted Yorkshire than his birthplace. From holidays in Whitby in the 1960s to school trips to Dentdale, he quickly fell in love with the Yorkshire Dales and, having spent the last 30 years living and working here, he was a natural choice when travel publisher Bradt was looking for someone to compile a new guide to the area.
“I was 10 when I first came to Yorkshire,” says Bagshaw, who was a teacher of outdoor education before becoming a freelance travel and nature writer. “For someone used to the Gulf Stream waters of Wales, swimming in the North Sea came as a very rude awakening, but blossomed into a love affair.
“To be honest I thought I knew pretty much all there was to know about this part of the world, but when I set out to write the guide it forced me to look at familiar places in a new light and discover corners that I had missed.”
Rather than a whirlwind tour, the book was written to encourage people to explore off the beaten track and where possible on foot or by bike. It’s an approach Bagshaw suspects his old neighbour Frank would have approved of.
“During all of his 70-odd years, Frank never left Yorkshire, not a single step over the border,” he says. “He was born on a farm in Goldsborough, near Whitby, worked there all his life and brought his family up in the house next door.
“In his spare time he played football and cricket for the village and occasionally took exotic holidays – to a caravan on another farm in the Yorkshire Dales. When I asked Frank why he hadn’t travelled more, his reply was that he had no need, that Yorkshire was as good as anywhere else, and gave him all he wanted for a happy and contented life.”
While many places are rediscovering the value of the traditional and renewing connections with their history and landscape, Bagshaw believes that many corners of rural North Yorkshire never lost them in the first place.
“It really is at the forefront of the push to preserve those things that make places different and interesting and well, real. Folk are fighting hard to keep their village shops open, promote locally produced, high-quality food and drink and encourage their own artisans and artists.
“It’s the brewers, the potters, farmers and woodcarvers that have managed to capture a little of the essence of their corner of this singular county and who allow the rest of us to feel it too.
“I hope the book encourages people to climb a few hills, stroll through the woods, eat a pork pie from the village butchers and finish the day in an old stone pub. Who knows, it may even make them realise that Frank was right after all.”
Slow Travel – North York Moors and Yorkshire Wolds by Mike Bagshaw is published by Bradt, priced £12.99.