Yorkshire, known to readers of Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights and James Herriot's All Creatures Great and Small, embraces the moors and dales of North Yorkshire.
Across this vast region came Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, monks of the Middle Ages, kings of England, lords of the manor, craftspeople, hill farmers, and wool growers, all leaving their marks. You can still see Roman roads and pavements, great abbeys and castles, stately homes, open-air museums, and crafts centers, along with parish churches, old villages, and cathedrals.
Some cities and towns still carry the taint of the Industrial Revolution, but you can also find wild and remote beauty -- limestone crags, caverns along the Pennines, mountainous uplands, rolling hills, chalk land wolds, heather-covered moorlands, broad vales, and tumbling streams. Yorkshire offers not only beautiful inland scenery but also 161km (100 miles) of shoreline, with rocky headlands, cliffs, sandy bays, rock pools, sheltered coves, fishing villages, bird sanctuaries, former smugglers' dens, and yachting havens. And in the summer, the moors in North York Moors National Park bloom with purple heather. You can hike along the 177km (110-mile) Cleveland Way National Trail, which encircles the park.
Yorkshire's most visited city is the walled city of York. York Minster, part of the cathedral circuit, is noted for its 100 stained-glass windows. In West Yorkshire is the literary shrine of Haworth, the home of the Brontës.
Northumbria is made up of the counties of Northumberland, Cleveland, and Durham. The Saxons, who came to northern England centuries ago, carved out this kingdom, which at the time stretched from the Firth of Forth in Scotland to the banks of the Humber in Yorkshire. Vast tracts of that ancient kingdom remain natural and unspoiled. This slice of England has more than its share of industrial towns, but you should explore the wild hills and open spaces and cross the dales of the eastern Pennines.
The whole area evokes ancient battles and bloody border raids. Space constraints don't permit us to cover this area in great detail, and it's often overlooked by the rushed North American visitor, but we suggest at least a venture to Hadrian's Wall, a Roman structure that was one of the wonders of the Western world. The finest stretch of the wall lies within Northumberland National Park, between the stony North Tyne River and the county boundary at Gilsland. And about 64km (40 miles) of the 242km (150-mile) Pennine Way meanders through the park; Pennine Way is one of Britain's most challenging hiking paths.
On the way north to Hadrian's Wall, we suggest you spend the night in the ancient cathedral city of Durham. This great medieval city is among the most dramatically sited and most interesting in the north.