Stately homes and historic villages
The rich and varied history, geography, culture and topography of the East Riding is the stage for a wide variety of indoor and outdoor attractions for day trips, and the relatively small size of the Riding ensures that virtually everything is within an hour’s drive. You can mix and match many attractive options to keep everyone in your party happy. There is something for every age group and ability, from the scenic and serious to the action-packed adventure centres which are perfect for releasing the kids to let off some steam.
The biggest is the Yorkshire Wolds, 80 miles of gently undulating chalk hills from the Humber Bridge up to Bridlington and Flamborough. While they may lack the stark drama of the Moors or Dales, they speak of centuries of beautiful land carefully cultivated by generations of sensitive farming. You can explore and discover the Wolds by simply travelling along them. One way of doing this is to walk the Wolds Way, which runs from under the Humber Bridge at Hessle to the North Yorkshire Coast at Filey. The whole walk may be too much, so you could just pick a section to dip your toe, or take the car and wind your way through some of the villages along the route. This way you’ll see the lovely sights of the handsome church in Brantingham; the village green in North Newbald; the pretty estate houses of Nunburnholme and Londesborough; the stunning pasture land around Millington; the picturesque thatched roof houses of Warter.
Just off the Wolds you can enjoy historic farming villages like beautiful Bishop Wilton or the historic market towns of Pocklington and Market Weighton. To the east of the Wolds, the plain of Holderness runs from Hull out to the River Humber and the North Sea. Here you’ll find fen-like farming land dotted with small villages like Patrington, Burton Pidsea and Brandesburton. The best options around Holderness for days out are probably the stunning country houses. The Elizabethan houses of Burton Constable and Burton Agnes boast extensive grounds, galleries and family-friendly gardens and play areas to explore. They also host special events throughout the year, notably at Christmas and Easter.
Elsewhere, there is Sledmere, a stately home with gardens and a handsome estate village with its art gallery and magnificent monuments. Most northerly and arguably most spectacular is Sewerby Hall. As well as the handsome Georgian house, there are landscaped and walled gardens, a zoo and a museum dedicated to Hull-born aviation heroine, Amy Johnson. You can see cricket and bowls being played, listen to the sounds of brass on the bandstand and take in views from the chalk cliffs that mark the most northerly point of the Wolds over the North Sea, or across the bay of Bridlington.
You can explore and discover the Wolds by simply travelling along them. One way of doing this is to walk the Wolds Way, which runs from under the Humber Bridge at Hessle to the North Yorkshire Coast at Filey
Beverley brings together an inviting combination of old and new, with the stand-out attractions the Minster and the Westwood, a vast area of common land with commanding views of the town. The Westwood is particularly popular with walkers, golfers and racegoers. The racecourse dates back more than 300 years and is a big part of the history and the future – work will start during 2019 on a new grandstand which will improve facilities for racing and for visitors to the many non-racing events hosted by the venue. The town itself has been significant since the 7th century and is rated one of the best places to live in the UK. The Minster is over 800 years old and is considered one of the greatest Gothic churches in Europe. It is undeniably impressive and remains the last resting place of Saint John of Beverley, who founded the town around AD 700.
At the other end of the town, near the beautiful North Bar, is St Mary’s Church which, while lesser known than the Minster, can support the proud boast of being part-inspiration for Alice in Wonderland. One of the carvings in the church – known as the messenger rabbit after the bag it is depicted carrying – holds a distinct similarity to Alice’s friend the White Rabbit and it’s probably no coincidence that author Charles Dodgson – better known as Lewis Carroll – spent time in Beverley and St Mary’s as a youth.
A popular route to navigate through Beverley is to follow the trail of Fred and Mary Elwell paintings, copies of which are mounted in many locations throughout the town. The Elwells lived locally and many of their paintings were inspired by or featured local places and people. Flemingate dominates the more modern attractions as a shopping centre which also houses a cinema and an indoor inflatable theme park and hosts a range of visitor events.
Hull has gained recognition as a place where a day really isn’t enough. Though heavily bombed during the Second World War, the city still boasts magnificent buildings, some dating back as far as the 13th century. The Museums Quarter, on the striking, cobbled High Street, offers the heaviest concentration of history. Here you will find the Streetlife Museum, where exhibits and events shed light on the travel and social history of the city; the Hull & East Riding Museum, which tells the ancient history of the area and where you can see one of the Ferriby Boats, believed to be the oldest sea-going vessels discovered anywhere in the world; and Wilberforce House, the birthplace and childhood home of Hull’s most famous son, William Wilberforce. The house is now a museum dedicated to his life and work and features a slavery collection, explaining Wilberforce’s role in the abolition of slavery and the history of slavery itself, right up to the present day.
At the other end of the town, near the beautiful North Bar, is St Mary’s Church which, while lesser known than the Minster, can support the proud boast of being part-inspiration for Alice in Wonderland
Museums, galleries and The Deep
The River Hull, to the rear of the Streetlife Museum, will be the home of Hull’s next big cultural project, a £27.5 million maritime heritage scheme due for completion in 2022. Meanwhile the city tells fascinating stories of its whaling and fishing heritage through the Maritime Museum and the Spurn Lightship, a floating museum which shows how the dangerous shifting sand banks of the River Humber used to be patrolled.
The Ferens Gallery, which boasts paintings of international importance, earned acclaim as the venue for the 2017 Turner Prize and now displays many significant works permanently and on a temporary basis. Christ between Saints Paul and Peter, a 14th-century work acquired by the Ferens for £1.6 million, is the only picture in the UK by Pietro Lorenzetti. It is of historic significance and part of a collection which is impressive in its own right and frequently enhanced with works on loan from sources including The National Gallery and the Royal Collection. All of these museums and galleries are free to enter, which is helpful because most visitors find there is too much to see in one go.
Charges at The Deep are modest, with great family packages available, and the tour of one of the largest aquariums in Europe is worth every penny. The striking exterior has secured the building’s status as one of the most iconic in the country and the exhibits inside are both spectacular and fascinating, from sharks, rays and jellyfish to penguins and even turtles. Conservation and research are at the heart of The Deep’s work, and a visit is an education as well as an experience.
A favourite way to explore Hull is to follow one of the trails winding through the city’s streets. The Fish Trail features sculptures and reliefs of all manner of marine animals embedded in various pavements and walls. Another is to join one of the guided walks presented by Paul Schofield, resident and award-winning expert on all things Hull! The Larkin Trail is dedicated to the world-renowned poet Philip Larkin – a former resident of the city – and takes in the places which inspired him to write many of his most famous works. At each location on the trail is a plaque with a line of his poetry and an explanation of the significance of the place to Larkin and his work. The trail begins at Larkin’s statue in Paragon Station and much of it is to be found in the city centre, but, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can also follow it as it also stretches wider into Hull and out and about through the Riding.
Charges at The Deep are modest, with great family packages available, and the tour of one of the largest aquariums in Europe is worth every penny
Back in the countryside, even a simple walk around the market towns will reveal a wealth of social and industrial history. Driffield has canals with traditional locks and towpaths. In Pocklington you can enjoy the beautiful and fascinating Burnby Hall Gardens, home to the national collection of water lilies. In Howden you can visit the minster, some of which dates from the 13th century. Beyond Hull to the east is Patrington, whose St Patrick’s Church, known as the Queen of Holderness, was built by local stonemason Robert de Patryngton, subsequently master mason at York Minster.
If you want a quintessential English town to explore, then Snaith and Cowick is ideal. The town has been shaped over the centuries through its main role as a market and trade centre for the surrounding countryside from the medieval period. Today the market town is being discovered by an ever-increasing number of visitors especially cyclists and walkers who can enjoy 15 heritage walks of different lengths around the town. The most dominating landmark is the Priory Church of St Lawrence. Snaith is also famous for the Old Mill Brewery and its narrow York-like streets. Fancy a couple of drinks or somewhere to stop for lunch? There are six pubs in the town, including the Yorkshire Ales Beer Cafe and Bottle Shop.
For an eerie day out, Wharram Percy is one of the largest and best preserved of Britain’s deserted medieval villages. Archaeologists have pioneered new techniques to understand what life was like in the village and why it was eventually deserted. For nature lovers, as well as the beautiful Wolds, there is Spurn Point – a four-mile long spit of land reaching into the North Sea at the mouth of the River Humber and narrowing to just a few feet wide at some points. It is the only peninsula in Yorkshire and marks the most easterly point of the county. Spurn offers incredible, primeval beaches to its east and tidal mudflats to the west. Both, as well as the dune land in the middle, attract an array of wildlife, from rare native and migratory birds, to deer, butterflies and seals.
Spurn has been used for various purposes over the centuries – you’ll find relics from the Second World War all over the promontory and in the Middle Ages it was even a busy port. But because Mother Nature has always ruled over any man-made settlement, what continues to amaze is the raw, natural beauty and dramatic scenery. Take a coat if you go, though, because even on the warmest days the wind lets you know it’s there.
For an eerie day out, Wharram Percy is one of the largest and best preserved of Britain’s deserted medieval villages
Further up the coast you’ll find the cliffs at Flamborough, known in part for the dramatic Jurassic geology, but mainly for the seabird colony at Bempton on the north side of the headland. One of the most significant nature reserves in the country, Bempton boasts a huge population of gannets, kittiwakes and puffins, all of whom nest in the vertiginous chalk cliff faces.
There are numerous secluded beaches to explore, all the way from Spurn up to Flamborough, in between the traditional seaside towns of Hornsea, Withernsea and Bridlington, where you can get out the bucket and spade and have an ice cream. They offer the usual array of high-energy activities for lively children, and other options can be found at new adventure parks which have opened inland. William’s Den was inspired by children attending family parties at Castle Farm, near North Cave, and never wanting to go home! It now combines an outdoor play area of zip wires, tyre swings and places to make dens with an indoor section of rope tunnels, platforms and more.
Let Loose, which can be found at Woodmansey on the old road between Beverley and Hull, has used recycled and locally-sourced materials to create high and low ropes courses, long slides and a log-built adventure playground. All-weather climbing, skateboarding and BMX can be enjoyed under one huge roof at Rockcity in Hull, and elsewhere the main shopping centres have also invested to expand their indoor leisure facilities. On the edge of the city at Kingswood you’ll find Cineworld and Hollywood Bowl and in the city centre Princes Quay offers a Vue Cinema, Superbowl UK, Qasar and Crazy Club as a distraction from the shopping.
St Stephen’s Shopping Centre, home of Reel Cinema, has added to its Laser Station and the bowling at Fun Station with indoor climbing at Rock Up and wall-to-wall trampolines at Gravity. In addition to the year-round attractions, Hull and the other population centres present a busy schedule of art, culture, sport and food festivals but watch out also for the smaller events, such as the scarecrow festivals in Nafferton, Skidby and Wetwang and the countless carnivals which showcase the sights, sounds and tastes of the East Riding.
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