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Top Beauty Spots in North Yorkshire, England: God's Own County
North Yorkshire Facts
North Yorkshire - known as God's Own County by those that live there - is a county in England covering 3,341 square miles, making it the largest county in England by area. Around 40% of the county is covered by National Parks, including most of the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors.
The birthplace of W.H. Auden, Dame Edith Sitwell, Guy Fawkes and Henry I, North Yorkshire is usually equated with the tales of James Herriot, author of All Creatures Great and Small, who worked as a veterinarian in Thirsk, North Yorkshire for almost 50 years.
North Yorkshire's boundaries embrace the seaside towns of Scarborough and Whitby on the east coast, while visitors are equally drawn to its many cathedrals and abbeys from York Minster to Ripon Cathedral to Bolton Abbey. The county's largest city is Harrogate, whose spa waters contain iron, sulphur and salt and attract millions of tourists every year. Once known as The English Spa it was the place where the elite flocked to "take the waters" - a fact that contributed to its growth in population and wealth.
It will come as no surprise to those that have visited the area, whose vast regions of rugged, unspoiled open spaces provide landscapes to die for at every turn, that the county contains three designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty: the Howardian Hills, Nidderdale and the Forest of Bowland.
North Yorkshire Howardian Hills
The Howardian Hills cover 79 sq miles of the North Yorkshire countryside where they nestle between the North York Moors National Park, the Yorkshire Wolds and the Vale of York. Designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1987, this unique and breathtaking landscape affords rolling countryside and a patchwork of instantly recognizable Yorkshire fields, the whole dotted with scenic villages and historic country houses.
The Howardian Hills make up a near-rectangular area of undulating countryside between the vales of Pickering and York. Its ridges are an extension of the rocks of the Hambleton Hills, themselves a feature of the North York Moors.
This area contains no towns but visitors will spot a series of villages between Brandsby in the west and Coneysthorpe in the east. Of special note are the red pantile-roofed buildings made of Yorkshire stone, and the many country houses that dot the landscape, including Newburgh Priory and the famous Castle Howard.
North Yorkshire Nidderdale District
Nidderdale is the upper valley of the River Nidd. One of the Yorkshire Dales, it lies just outside the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The Nidd flows south underground and runs along the dale, forming reservoirs on its eastward journey to join the River Ouse.
The only town in the area is Pateley Bridge, although the dale also contains parts of lower Wharfedale, a name synonymous with quality stereo speakers, and parts of lower Wensleydale, famous for its cheese and a specific breed of sheep. The district of Wensleydale also includes the village of Castle Bolton, in whose castle Mary, Queen of Scots, was once imprisoned.
Nidderdale was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1994.
Map of North Yorkshire's AONB
The village of Terrington looks along the Howardian ridge eastwards towards Castle Howard and Malton.
Pateley Bridge ia small market town on the River Nidd, home of the oldest sweet shop in England.
The Forest of Bowland is an area of barren gritstone fells, deep valleys and peat moorland within North Yorkshire and Lancashire.
North Yorkshire Forest of Bowland
The Forest of Bowland AONB covers a large area extending across Lancashire and North Yorkshire at the geographical heart of England. The term "forest" refers to its traditional use as a royal hunting ground, and most of the land still belongs to the British Crown. These days its uses include grouse shooting, walking and cycling, although it is not a frequent visiting place for tourists.
Once described as the "Switzerland of England", it was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1964. 13% of the Forest has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to its large covering of heather moorland and blanket bog. A must-see feature is Pendle Hill, whose summit rises 1,827 feet above sea level.
St Hubert, the patron saint of hunting, is also patron saint of the Forest of Bowland, and there is a chapel dedicated to him in Dunsop Bridge.