Yorkshire Life magazine runs an interview feature each month called ‘Your best Yorkshire life’ and the last question they ask their pundit is to name three words that sum up your best Yorkshire life. These are some examples: ‘Stunning views everywhere’, ‘God’s Own County’, ‘Wild new adventures’, ‘Countryside, friendliness and food’, ‘Sky, moors and sea’.
Yorkshire is renowned for its breathtaking scenery. Lush green rolling pastures dotted with sheep and ancient field barns with miles of undulating dry-stone walls. Stunning heather moorland and charismatic villages threaded through the landscape. The Tour de France highlighted this to 3.5 billion people worldwide back in 2014.
I am proud to be from Yorkshire and hail from the countryside just outside a small country town which sits in the middle of our two national parks. So, for me seeing Yorkshire attract so much attention was heart-warming, what’s not to love? However, it struck me that while the cycle routes showcased our finest countryside and villages, what about our wealth of historic sites, impressive country houses and imposing castles, abbeys and gardens? Our UNESCO World Heritage Sites? What activity could highlight them in the same glorious manner. What could I do that would allow visitors to be connected to these places as more than tourists?
The answer was right in front of me. For many years I had created and delivered singing tours all over Europe and the UK, even as far as America. Taking groups to sing in special places had occupied me for almost 20 years. I had now qualified as a Yorkshire blue badge tourist guide as a direct result of seeing guides at work on the tours I had run. That was it! Take people to sing in the amazing Yorkshire sites. So off I went!
Seeing and hearing people sing in the ruins of Yorkshire Abbeys at Riveaulx, Fountains, Whitby, Bolton and Byland, at the UNESCO listed United Reform Church at Saltaire, in the ruined chapel at Skipton Castle and the great chamber in Bolton Castle is so uplifting. Listening to the voices floating on the breeze in the garden at Raven Hall overlooking the sea, at Flamborough Head Lighthouse or on the clifftops at the RSPB nature reserve at Bempton Cliffs makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
Championing Yorkshire and hearing people sing amongst our amazing heritage is the perfect union for me. Being able to bring years of experience in choir tours and singing holidays and combine it with my guiding career is very satisfying.
Of course, the current climate has put a halt to singing and choirs as well as travel. Experiential travel was certainly something people were looking for pre-Covid and I have no doubt will be looking for it again when the tour world opens up and people can sing together once again.
There is an abundance of amazing sites in Yorkshire and visiting a site with the added bonus of being able to sing there creates a special association with lasting memories of the visit. Learning about the history, archaeology and topography of a place brings people closer to its story and its heart and soul which heightens the singing experience and musical journey. Inspiration is all around us, but knowing you are singing in a place where Emperors, Kings, Queens and Popes have been and creating your own history or being at one with nature is the best feeling in the world. Sharing that with fellow singers and travelling companions ensures that you arrive as a tourist and leave with local knowledge, images of breathtaking vistas and amazing places and your own footprint of personal achievement.
I can’t wait to welcome visitors back to Yorkshire and share its history and beauty and in return enjoy the sound of voices floating through that very same heritage and beauty in God’s Own County!
About the author:
Linda Metcalfe is a Yorkshire Blue Badge Tourist Guide. Her passion for Yorkshire is as big as the county itself as she explains. She was born and raised in this wonderful part of the world and is fortunate to live in-between the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors with York, Leeds and Harrogate just on her doorstep. For details about choir tours and singing holidays please contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org and visit Unlimited Voices Travel. For walking tours of York, Harrogate or Leeds, tours around the Yorkshire Dales or North York Moors, James Herriot tours, Bronte Tours, please contact email@example.com and visit Yorkshire Tours and trails. You can also follow her on Instagram: @lindastravelclub