Why Yorkshire has some of our greatest views... despite what poll says

Stunning: Sutton Bank in North Yorkshire, looking towards Lake Gormire. Picture: Ross Parry.
Stunning: Sutton Bank in North Yorkshire, looking towards Lake Gormire. Picture: Ross Parry.

Yorkshire didn’t feature in a recent poll of Britain’s greatest views. But, as Chris Bond points out, we are still home to some of the country’s most stunning landscapes.

When Flying Scotsman made its triumphant return to the fully reopened Settle-Carlisle railway line the other week, it made news headlines around the country. And rightly so.

Perhaps it’s down to being the embodiment of a bygone era, or perhaps it’s simply because it is wrapped up in so many personal memories that this grand old steam locomotive stirs such powerful emotions in people.

Hundreds of spectators lined the route eager for the best vantage point and few sights could rival that of the famous train, plumes of smoke in tow, as it sped majestically across the Gothic arches of the Ribblehead Viaduct, with the stark beauty of the Pennine landscape in the background.

The historic Victorian-era viaduct is famous all over the world yet it failed to make a list this week of the top 10 best views in the UK.

Snowdonia, in Wales, was voted the most spectacular view in the UK, in a poll of more than 2,500 people.

It was an impressive list that ranged from prehistoric archaeological sites like Stonehenge to Victorian buildings in Westminster.

But while scenic spots such as Buttermere, Cheddar Gorge and Scotland’s Glencoe Valley also made the cut, Yorkshire was conspicuous by its absence, which was greeted with surprise by some and howls of outrage by others.

All lists, whether it’s to do with people’s favourite films or records, are subjective, of course. Nevertheless, given the size and scope of Yorkshire some people perhaps understandably feel a bit miffed that we didn’t make the top 10.

Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time here knows that Yorkshire has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to stunning vistas – whether it’s fishing boats bobbing in Whitby harbour, or Swaledale hay meadows ablaze with colour.

I’ve been living in Yorkshire for the past 17 years, during which time my job has taken me all over this wondrous county. But even now I still stumble across views that have the ability to stop me in my tracks.

There can be few places in the world, never mind the UK, that have such a plethora of breathtaking viewpoints. Even travelling on the A61 from Leeds to Ripon you’ll find more impressive views on this single stretch than you will in some counties in England.

It’s difficult to know where to start (and stop) and perhaps that’s the problem – Yorkshire has so many stunning views it’s almost impossible to narrow them down to a handful.

Sutton Bank in the Hambleton Hills with its sweeping panorama is perhaps an obvious choice, but with good reason. James Herriot once proclaimed that the view from its summit over the Vale of Mowbray and the Vale of York was the “finest in England”. And many will agree.

The journey across the North York Moors to Whitby takes in some spectacular views, as does the drive from Masham to Middleham where the Yorkshire Dales open up around you.

Many people’s favourite is from the famous Cow and Calf rocks perched high on Ilkley Moor overlooking the bustling West Yorkshire town in the valley below.

Local boy Alan Titchmarsh is, unsurprisingly, among its numerous fans. “I grew up in this Dales town, and the view reminds me of how lucky I was to grow up in such a wonderful part of the country,” he said in an interview last year.

One of my own personal favourites is Otley Chevin with its cinematic views across the Wharfe Valley and from where you can see York Minster on a good day.

So whether it makes a ‘best of’ list or not, the truth is Yorkshire is home to innumerable stunning views. After all it’s known as God’s Own County for a reason.