Last week I was celebrating Yorkshire Day with Northern on a trip up to Ribblehead for a walk and picnic. Of course we went by train and it was full of surprises. A day well worth celebrating and one that I will remember for some time to come!
As I arrived at Leeds station, I was presented with a lovely white rose to wear. The symbol of Yorkshire as the red rose if of Lancashire. And I eagerly asked for more information about Yorkshire Day (as you know, I’m a total geek!)
Yorkshire Day was first celebrated in 1974 as part of a protest but has gone on to be a celebration of the landscape, culture, food, drink and music. It sounded like a perfect reason for a celebration. So I pinned my white rose to my bag, practiced my Yorkshire accent (badly!) and headed to the train.
I have to say that Yorkshire Day certainly held some surprises! Not least of which was when we were walking onto the train platform to discover that there was a live band playing Yorkshire tunes. Now you don’t get that every day, do you?
It certainly made for a very exciting atmosphere, too. There were curious faces peering from the train window and camera phones held high capturing the unusual event. I was one of those people welding a camera while tapping my feet to the beat. Swinging my hips would have been a lot more appropriate, but that makes for shaky pictures. As the time drew closer to our train’s departure I watched the band expertly pack away their instruments (including a sousaphone, which is the big one that you wear) and board the train too. Curious and excited about what else was to come, I hurriedly got on behind them to take my seat.
Onto the train
As regular readers, you will know I love a train journey. For those new to the blog, I love a train journey! There is just something about being able to sit back and relax, take in the views, people watch and even strike up a conversation with someone new. There is a never-ending supply of exciting people to meet when you travel and I’m a sucker for learning about people, their stories and where they are going. You have that time that you crave to get on with things too. Hobbies, work, reading or even a spot of colouring in. All while the world spins by outside the window. As you can tell, I really do enjoy train rides.
I think the thing for me is how exciting it is to be travelling and going on an adventure. Especially last Tuesday when I was meeting lots of new people and heading out for a surprise walk. I got chatting to the ladies beside me; a Mum and daughter. The Mum had won a competition run by northern to come on the train trip and she brought her daughter along for the ride. Both as curious and excited as me. They passed the time with a bit of Amigurumi (which reminds me I should do some more miniature crochet myself) We also got onto the recent Manchester Comicon and immediately found more common ground. See, making new friends out of strangers, what’s not to love about that?
Our party also increased in size after an announcement inviting anyone to join us. If that wasn’t a sign of the Yorkshire hospitality, then I don’t know what is. A couple on a day trip and a solo lady traveller over to take part in the celebrations with us.
Music while you travel
As I settled into my seat, watching the fields zoom by and chatting to my new-found travel friends. I heard the gently plucking of a banjo. Then the beat of a drum. Slightly bemused, it suddenly dawned on me that the band were at it again! They were playing in the doorway of the train; sousaphone and all! There was barely any room for me to fit in, so how they managed it is beyond me. They did, however, return to their seats later for a smaller performance.
Yorkshire Day was jam-packed with things that I love and that included a picnic of local goodies. From sandwiches made with local Wensleydale cheese, freeze-dried fruit and delicious crispy bread snacks from local companies to my ultimate favourite, the Fat Rascal from Betty’s. (I’ll tell you more about that later) The band were certainly ready for it too. I decided to save mine for after the walk, but it was certainly tempting to tuck right in there and then.
Before I knew it we were pulling into Ribblehead Railway station. Greeted by a looming dark sky we optimistically stood watching the cloud formation move closer to us.
Shortly after I snapped this picture, the sun was enveloped in the clouds and the rain began to pound us. No amount of optimism was going to save us from having to don our waterproofs. Indoors we went for a few more photographs and to kit up before the sky began to clear again. It has certainly been a strange summer for rain, that’s for sure. We managed to snag a few last photographs of the band before it was time to head out into green countryside to begin our walk.
Whether it was going to rain or shine we headed into the greenery to begin our walk. The walk was led by Andrew White of Walks Around Britain with his very helpful sidekick (or daughter) Olivia to keep us all in check. It was only a short walk, but one that would get the best of the views over the valley and towards the Ribblehead viaduct.
It really was a lovely group to be wandering the Yorkshire paths with. Everyone so friendly and there was no shortage of facts, figures and tales, which I absolutely loved. Despite the downpour the footing was good and the damp made the green grass look even more lush than usual.
As well as getting to know my fellow walkers on the Yorkshire Day hike, there were plenty of animals for me to chat to as well. And they posed perfectly well to highlight the view of the viaduct too. There are very few posts of mine that don’t have some kind of animal in them, so I just had to include Mum cow and her calf.
Of course the real highlight was the Ribblehead Viaduct itself. An impressive 400 m long bride with 24 arches built in the 1870s. It is impossible not to feel awe when you see the grand scale of it, especially knowing that it was built without modern machinery to do the hard work.
I was hoping to catch a steam train over the bridge, but our timing just wasn’t right on that day. I did spot a Norther though, which was consolation enough.
Tummies grumbling, we headed back to the station for our picnic and to explore some of the artifacts and information in the station visitor centre. I was certainly ready for my food.
Digging into our Yorkshire themed lunch is where I come back to earlier in my post where I mentioned a new favourite. This favourite is the Fat Rascal. I had never heard of it before and without internet connection to find out what it was, I just poured myself a cuppa and started eating it. Wow, it is like the most delicious scone ever and now a firm favourite of mine. I am now planning a trip to Harrogate to Betty’s to have one in situ. That is how good they are!
After stuffing myself to the brim with delicious Yorkshire treats, I had just enough time to enjoy looking through the archives in the visitors centre before the train rolled in to take us back to Leeds.
Out of the ordinary
If there was ever a day that was out of the ordinary, it was certainly the one where I was celebrating Yorkshire Day with Northern.
As the train pulled in, we boarded and took our seats for the way home, I pulled out my camera to reflect on the day. It is not every day that you hear a live band on the train platform, let along inside the train as you travel. The train announcements were tailored for the day too and were both funny and factual making for an even more entertaining journey. I met new people, I enjoyed a lovely walk and some delicious food. I certainly hope to be celebrating Yorkshire Day with Northern again next year and if not, I’ll simply do it with a large cup of Yorkshire tea and a Fat Rascal. I’ll use any excuse for another and I’m not even ashamed of it either!
As we whooshed through the countryside back to Leeds, I smiled to myself at the fun day I had. Looking forward to sharing it with you too. That was my first ever Yorkshire Day and with the fun I had, will be doing it again next year!
Here’s to having Fat Rascals in my life! (and a probably wider waist!)
What did you think of my experience of celebrating Yorkshire Day with Northern?
Did you even know about Yorkshire Day? Or about the joy that is Fat Rascals?
Let me know in the comments.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Northern. I received compensation for writing this post. However, as always, all photographs, content and opinions are honest and my own.