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North Yorkshire Area Guide

Helmsley, North Yorkshire Image courtesy of Flickr user Allan Harris

The largest ceremonial county in the UK, North Yorkshire is characterised by its wide open spaces. Most of the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors are in the county, and almost half of the land in North Yorkshire is part of a national park.

The local districts in the county are Craven, Richmondshire, Harrogate, Selby, Hambleton, Ryedale and Scarborough. Craven is home to the town of Skipton. With Richmondshire, it includes much of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Richmondshire's main town is Richmond. Harrogate, like Craven and Richmonshire, is shaped by the Pennines, though to a lesser extent. Its council headquarters are in Harrogate, but there are many other villages and towns, as Harrogate is the most heavily populated district in North Yorkshire. It is also part of the Leeds City Region.

Selby shares its name with the council seat of Selby. Hambleton is run from Northallerton, which is also the county town, and it has many charming market towns and villages. Ryedale has much of the North York Moors National Park within its borders. It shares most of the park with Scarborough, which is the coastal district of the county. Its largest towns include Whitby and Scarborough.

There are four unitary authorities which are in the borders of the county: the City of York, Redcar and Cleveland, Middlesbrough and Stockton-on-Tees.

The main industries in the area are agriculture, mining and power generation, though it also has strong tourism, service and high-tech sectors. The unemployment rate is 6.4%, lower than the national average of 7.9%.

Demographics

Over 600,000 people live in North Yorkshire, and the largest towns are Harrogate (with more than 158,000 residents), Scarborough (108,000 residents), Hambleton (89,000), Selby (83,500) and Craven (55,500).

About 17% of the population of North Yorkshire is aged 15 and younger, and almost 21% are aged 65 and over. About 94% of the population of the county categorise themselves as white British, and only 3% of people aged between 16 and 74 are unemployed.

Education

Most primary schools in North Yorkshire are rated good in their Ofsted inspections, but there are a fair number of schools rated outstanding. Amongst these are the Leeming RAF Community Primary School in Northallerton and Hutton Rudby Primary School. Quite a few outstanding primary schools are nestled in the eastern part of the North York Moors National Park, like the Glaisdale Primary School and the Castleton Community Primary School.

There are fewer secondary schools throughout the county, nevertheless there are several good options. Amongst the secondary schools rated outstanding are Ripon Grammar School and the Ryedale School. Harrogate especially has a great many secondary schools which have converted to academies. Those rated outstanding include Harrogate Grammar School and Rossett School.

There are only a few colleges in North Yorkshire. These are Craven College, Scarborough Sixth Form College, Selby College, St Aidans and St John Fisher Associated Sixth Form and Yorkshire Coast College of Further and Higher Education.

Transport

The A1(M) is the main route between the north and the south of the county and connects it to both London and Edinburgh. The other motorways, the A66(M) and the M62, are much shorter. Bus routes serve the both the larger built-up areas and the more rural parts of the county.

Train services are fairly comprehensive in North Yorkshire. The East Coast Main Line stops at Northallerton and Thirsk, linking those towns with London, Edinburgh, Newcastle and many other areas. Branching off of the East Coast Main Line are lines from York to Scarborough and from Northallerton to Eaglescliffe in Stockton-on-Tees. The Yorkshire Coast Line runs from Hull to Scarborough, and the Hull to York Line goes via Selby. The Esk Valley Line links Whitby and Middlesbrough, and the Settle-Carlisle line connects the county to the north west corner of England. The Tees Valley Line runs from Darlington to Saltburn. Commuter services include the Harrogate Line, Airedale Line and York & Selby Lines.

Amenities and Shopping

Museums and galleries

Many museums in the area explore the history and culture of their areas. Amongst these, the Dales Countryside Museum looks at the history of Yorkshire Dales, and the Royal Pump Room Museum has exhibitions on Harrogate's heritage as a spa town. The Robin Hood's Bay Museum shows the history of shipping, from legitimate fishing to smuggling and shipwrecks, in the bay. The Ryedaly Folk Museum is Yorkshire's most popular open air museum.

North Yorkshire also has museums dedicated to certain time periods. Several are dedicated to the Victorian era, including the Museum of Victorian Science in Whitby, the Beck Isle Museum of Rural Life in Pickering, the Museum of Victorian Whitby and The Yorkshire Law & Order Museums. Eden Camp recreates the effect of World War Two on Britain just outside of Malton.

A few of the museums also pay tribute to the famous residents of North Yorkshire. The Herriot Centre in Thirsk is a museum dedicated to James Herriot, the author of and other books based on his experiences as a vet. The Captain Cook and Staithes Heritage Centre shows the effect on the young James Cook of the town of Staithes, where his love of the sea was born. Mother Shipton's Cave in Knaresborough takes visitors through the history of the supposedly prophetic poet, and it also has the Petrifying Well, said to be England's oldest visitor attraction.

Other museums and galleries have varied exhibitions. The Whitby Museum has extensive collections on natural history pieces, fine artworks and archaeological items. The Mercer Art Gallery in Harrogate has about 2000 pieces of 19th and 20th century art. Flamingo Land is the is a large zoo and theme park and is the 12th most visited theme park in Europe, and Sealife Scarborough is an aquarium that also has a mini golf course.

Theatres and venues

The Robinson Institute is a 100-seat auditorium which is home to the Esk Valley Theatre Company. The Helmsley Arts Centre is a versatile space that hosts theatre, music, dance, cinema, exhibitions and more. The Milton Rooms in Malton often puts on touring theatrical productions. Scarborough's Stephen Joseph Theatre has two auditoriums, The Round and The McCarthy, which show theatrical productions and can also be used for events. Also in Scarborough, The Spa has two main auditoriums as well. The Grand Hall is the home of the Scarborough Spa Orchestra, and the Spa Theatre is a 600-seat Victorian theatre. The Kirk Theatre in Pickering is a converted church and is the base for the Pickering Musical Society.

Sport

North Yorkshire has several football clubs. Middlesbrough play in the Championship League, and Whitby Town represents the town of Whitby in the Northern Premier League. Although there are no rugby league or rugby union teams in the county, the York City Knights play rugby league in York. The Yorkshire County Cricket Club regularly plays at Scarborough, though the team is based in Leeds.

Racing of all kinds is very popular in North Yorkshire, as demonstrated by the large number of racecourses and tracks in the county. The most notable horseracing courses include the Catterick Bridge, Redcar, Ripon and Thirsk racecourses. The Croft Circuit hosts motor racing events such as the British Touring Car Championship and the British Superbike and Pickup Truck Racing race series.

Shopping

Many residents of North Yorkshire head to cities like York and Leeds for shopping, though the county has a few options. The Darley Mill in the Yorkshire Dales is both a three-storey shopping centre and visitor attraction. It has homewares, confectionery, clothes and more on offer, surrounded by a listed building with many original features, including a working water wheel. Joseph Turner is a traditional Yorkshire clothing company based in Thirsk, most renowned for its men's clothing.

Bedale is a cobblestoned market town known for its locally produced Wensleydale cheese and many independent shops. The Montpellier Quarter in Harrogate has more than 20 antiques shops surrounding it. Helmsley is the gateway to the North York Moors, and its shops are largely independently owned and run. Malton is a food lover's paradise: it hosts the Food Lovers Festival, and it has a large number of culinary shops and local producers. Northallerton has the usual range of high street shops lining its streets, but mixed in with them are independent butchers, greengrocers and other shops.

Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure the above information is up to date, some inaccuracies may occur. If you notice any inaccuracies please contact editor@primelocation.com

All information was correct at time of publication and is provided in good faith.