Ian Weightman

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Getting the bigger pictures of The Yorkshire Wolds

David Hockney has helped to put the Yorkshire Wolds onto the tourism map of Great Britain.  But for all that, there’s an even bigger picture of “A Bigger Picture” still waiting to be explored.

You only need drive across, through and around The Yorkshire Wolds once to realise both its scale, and hidden depths.

Sweeping fields, dominant woodlands, rolling hills, wide-open spaces, scattered villages and market towns punctuate the landscape in such a way that it’s hard to argue with the guide books’ comment that “The Yorkshire Wolds are nothing short of stunning”.

Add to that the fact that you can drive for several miles without passing another car, and there’s a whole new vocabulary to call upon: quiet, undiscovered, peaceful and somehow incredibly English.

Hit the right day, when the sun is shining and the colours of the golden fields and verdant landscapes are at their best, and it’s difficult to image yourself find a nice part of the British countryside.

Technically, of course, it forms the northern-most part of a chalk belt witch actually runs all the way from the English Channel, to finish in an impressive climax on the East Yorkshire coast, at Flamborough Head.

And such is the beauty of the area that it has inspired numerous poets, writers and artists - not least, the world-renowned David Hockney, who has produced a collection of art which took centre stage in The Royal Academy of Arts’ “A Bigger Picture” exhibition at the start of the year.  Those images of his favourite stomping ground have themselves inspired a growing number of visitors to the area - and word-on-the-street is that still more will come once his paintings have been on show in Bilbao and Cologne.

But there’s plenty of room up here.  And any number of ways of exploring the countryside - especially now that the local tourist board has produced a new set of walks (“Walk the Wolds”) and a series of bicycle trails (“Big Sky Bike Rides”).

The best tip is to make somewhere like Beverley to the south, or Malton in the north, the base for your stay.  And then set out to explore the market towns of Driffield, Pocklington and Market Weighton, and historic villages such as Cherry Burton, Leconfield, Etton, South Dalton, Watton, Bishop Burton and Walkington.

You’re likely to find plenty of refreshments available in the traditional inns and pubs, not to mention some hungry ducks in the village ponds, along the way.  As well as some little-known facts….

Look out for Millington Pastures Valley, for example - a narrow road with wildflowers on the hillsides which was shared by farmers for sheep grazing; the Giant Bradley Heritage Trail in Market Weighton which follows in the footsteps of England’s tallest man, William Bradley, born in 1787; the “lost villages” of Wharram Percy and the Hamlet of Eske; the meteorite on the outskirts of Wold Newton which crashed to earth on December 13th, 1795; and the Sykes Churches – the 15 churches of the Wolds rebuilt by the Victorian landowner Sir Tatton Sykes.

And if you happen to time your visit right, you could even watch the oldest horse race in England, at Kiplingcotes, where the Kiplingcotes Derby has taken place every year since 1519!

For more details, visit the Visit Hull and East Yorkshire website.

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