Yorkshire never stops surprising me. I think I know it fairly well, especially for a Southerner, but I am always discovering new roads, places and vistas as I travel around Yorkshire delivering our Go Yorkshire guides. Here are seven villages that you may have heard of but not had time to discover, some are off the beaten track and others just off a main road, but all are worth making the effort to visit.
1. I always forget how pretty Bishop Monkton is, situated just off the A61 between Ripon and Harrogate, you would hardly say it was hidden but unless you live there or have reason to visit it is one of those places that you would pass by oblivious to the charms of the lovely houses and a stream running down the centre of the village. Bishop Monkton was established around 1000 years ago and now large enough to support two pubs. The Masons Arms has a good reputation for its food and the Lamb and Flag Inn offers more traditional hospitality with local beers. For those wanting to tackle a circular walk from Ripon, the village makes a good halfway stop but do check to make sure either pubs are open first.
2. Reminiscent of an Italian hill village is Middlesmoor in Upper Nidderdale, perched on a steep hill at the end of the valley, it is a steep climb whether by car or foot. The Nidderdale Way a 53-mile circular walk of the valley starting and finishing in the main town of Pateley Bridge takes in each side of the valley crosses the village which has a magical air of a place where time has stood still, often is seems deserted, probably dates to 12th century. In the centre of the village the Crown pub and a church called St Chad’s. The seat outside the church commands a magnificent view of a landscape that has not altered for hundreds of years. The views down the valley to the Gouthwaite Reservoir in the distance below is breath taking. Enjoy a circular walk of Angram and Scar House Reservoirs (approximately 4 miles) and for more information about this and other walks an excellent website is The Walking Englishman.
3. The beautiful and secret valley of Dentdale and the charming village of Dent is often bypassed by tourists and not many Yorkshire people outside the Dales know it either. Steeped in history it is as if time has stood still as unlike many parts of England currently being transformed by new housing estates little can or has changed. Characterised by whitewashed houses as well as the traditional Yorkshire stone the river Dee runs through the valley joining up with the confluence of four rivers at Sedbergh. A day spent exploring the valley is a magical experience. In spring and summer, the valley is full of wildflowers and in the autumn the trees turning golden is a beautiful sight. Begin your day at Dent Station situated on the Settle to Carlisle line it stands at over 1100 feet above sea level and is the highest station in England. In the peak of its day 90 trains would pass through the station and there was a loading bay for transporting cattle, coal and marble from the local quarries together with a signal box which were decommissioned in the 1960s. Now only 8 trains a day use the line in either direction, mainly transporting walkers and tourists but also local people use the line commute to other towns and cities. The station house has been beautifully restored and converted into luxury self-catering accommodation. The centre of Dent is cobbled in its centre is a fountain giant memorial stone with a dedication carved in gold in commemoration to Dent’s famous son Adam Sedgwick. Educated at the local grammar school and then nearby Sedbergh School he was a renowned 18th century geologist. The village offers two pubs and two delightful teashops and a heritage centre of wonderful artefacts and memorabilia about the area. For those that want to stay longer there is a campsite by the river.
4. Leaholm was recently named by the Sunday Times as one of the prettiest villages in England. Situated in the beautiful Esk Valley, the village developed as an important crossing point on the River Esks. Originally a farmstead, records date back to the Doomsday survey that there was a settlement here. Today the Esk Valley Railway from Middlesbrough to Whitby is a wonderful journey and if you are wanting to undertake a linear walk the railway gives you great options to follow the River along the valley between stations. Leaholm boasts a good pub, the Board Inn, a couple of quality tea shops and a garage reminiscent to how garages were back in the 1950s with traditional petrol pumps and a friendly service. Only 5 miles from Whitby the road takes you through Glaisdale to Stokesley over the top of the moors and is one of the most scenic and undiscovered drives in Britain and you rarely meet another car on the journey to Stokesley. So, make sure that you fill up with fuel at the garage in Lealholm before continuing your journey!
5. Levisham near Pickering is another gem worth making the effort to discover. To reach the village you have two options. By car take the Pickering to Whitby road and turn off at Lockton, Levisham’s twin village and home to several artists. You can see their work at the village café which serves excellent coffee and delicious cakes. Passing through the village you must cross a very steep valley to reach Levisham. Perched on top of the opposite hill there is a very steep climb up the other side to reach it. But it is worth making the effort. It is a pretty village with handsome houses and as you enter it opens up before you with wide green verges and a wonderful pub, the Horseshoe facing the small village green.
Alternatively, hop on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway to Levisham Station and walk the mile 1.3 miles to the village. But be warned, you will need the stamina to walk up the very steep hill to the village. However, knowing that there is a welcoming pub when you arrive and can celebrate with a well-earned drink will make it worthwhile.
6. Mytholmroyd which means “clearing where rivers meet” is on the confluence of the Elphin Brook which flows through Cragg Vale and the River Calder. Only 1.5 miles from Hebden Village and over 6.5 miles from Halifax it is a gem waiting to be discovered. There are plenty of footpaths and bridleways that traverse the moors and valleys, and the tow path along the Rochdale Canal which flows the rough the village is a lovely walk. Its famous son was the poet laureate, Ted Hughes and his first wife Sylvia Plath is buried at nearby Heptonstall. Another famous son was a notorious robber, David Hartley, called by locals "King David" he was the leader of a gang of counterfeiters called the Cragg Coiners. Today there would have been a film created about them but in the late 18th century when they were eventually caught, they met a grislier end, and Hartley was hung at York Tyburn.
7. A truly hidden village on the Wolds Way in East Yorkshire is the charming village of Thixendale. Situated in a delightful setting at the bottom of several intersecting dales you approach the village along a single-track road that wends its way across the valley floor. A close community the village offers a warm welcome to walkers and visitors and the local pub the Cross Keys is a welcome resting place for those walking the Wolds Way the 79-mile national path that runs from Hessle near Hull and ends at Filey. This is the area was where David Hockney painted some of his fantastic pictures of the Wolds that won international acclaim at his exhibition at the Tate in 2012 and is also the home of the renowned wildlife artist Robert Fuller who has a gallery at Fotherdale Farm.
Recommended places to Visit, Eat and Stay
If visiting Dent situated on the Hawes to Ingleton road is White Scar Caves that has the longest show cave in Britain. It is well worth stopping off for a visit.
The North York Moors Railway that runs between Pickering and Whitby takes in some of the most stunning scenery in Yorkshire.
The Horseshoe Inn is a wonderful resting place either for a meal after walking up that long hill or to stay a while.