According to the National Caravan Council, Yorkshire is the largest purchaser of new caravans. That's potentially an unsurprising statistic given that Yorkshire is England's largest county. Nonetheless, Yorkshire is also one of the most appealing counties for visiting with a caravan, and there are plenty of excellent caravan sites in Yorkshire.
Split into more manageable chunks, there are four individual 'districts' to Yorkshire: North, South and West Yorkshire plus the East Riding of Yorkshire. These are not just arbitrary governmental boundaries; each area has its own distinct landscape, characteristics and flavour.
North Yorkshire is, arguably, the most attractive for caravanners and certainly the most well known, with its two very distinctive national parks – the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors. You can find out more about caravan holidays in North Yorkshire in a separate travel guide, here on this website. There are plenty of campsites in North Yorkshire to suit everyone.
South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire are predominantly made up of townscapes – an interconnecting web of urban sprawl that really is worth exploring. Visit Wakefield, with its Yorkshire Sculpture Park, for example – and the 9-square mile area between Wakefield, Morley and Rothwell. It’s known as the Wakefield Triangle and produces some of the very best rhubarb in Britain. Grown in darkness, picked by candlelight and presented on the tables of top restaurants, you can even go on a rhubarb triangle experience, witnessing for yourself 'The Secret World of the Rhubarb Triangle'!
If you think this all sounds a bit odd, perhaps instead you should take a look at Sheffield's civic buildings, particularly the recently developed Sheffield Winter Garden. It's a great place to keep warm during a cold snap. Or try Halifax, home to Eureka! The National Children's Museum. It’s perfect when the youngsters are in tow along with the caravan. And if you're just dying to get out of town, opt for the moors around Haworth, right on the very edge of West Yorkshire. You can even take the kids on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, home of The Railway Children, by E Nesbit.
Perhaps the least known of Yorkshire's districts is the East Riding of Yorkshire. There, you'll find the Yorkshire Wolds, a delightful undulating ridge of chalk hills. The Yorkshire Wolds Way allows walkers to make the most of the countryside, spotting both the Vale of York and the Yorkshire coast all in one. Look out for charming market towns like Market Weighton, Beverley, Pocklington and Driffield. The quartet offers a quiet and relaxing break away from the crowds of visitors to neighbouring York and Hull. Oh and by the way, Sewerby Hall and Gardens, near the seaside town of Bridlington has been voted the Best National Picnic Site before now, should you be keen to spread out a rug for al fresco dining.
Top five things to do in Yorkshire
There's nowt quite like a proper brew so treat yourself to afternoon tea in one of Yorkshire's many tearooms. Bettys tearooms, pretty much a symbol of Yorkshire, in York, Harrogate, Ilkley and Northallerton is synonymous with refined tea-taking. Other greats include Lempicka Café in Beverley, The Spiced Pear at Hepworth and The ArtHouse Café in Penistone. If you really want to get to grips with toasted teacakes and Yorkshire Fat Rascals, why not take Yorkshire's Tea Trail, for a tour of some of the finest places to eat in Yorkshire.
Spend a day at the races. Yorkshire boasts more top racecourses than any other UK region, offering the very best in British horse racing. Choose from Catterick Racecourse, Redcar, Ripon, Thirsk, Wetherby, York and Beverley. Or you could try Doncaster Racecourse or Pontefract. The Go Racing in Yorkshire Summer Festival throughout July celebrates racing at all venues.
Climb one (or all) of the Three Peaks in the Yorkshire Dales National Park – Ingleborough, Pen-y-Ghent and Whernside. Or go underground and explore Ingleborough Caves. If that sounds just too strenuous, opt for short walks in the National Park or a leisurely stroll along one of the Dales’ sparkling rivers such as the Swale (along The Swale Way), the River Wharfe or the River Ure.
Make the most of Yorkshire's coastline, whether your choice is a bracing walk in Spurn Head National Reserve, within calling distance of Lincolnshire, or the windswept Flamborough Head, making sandcastles at Bridlington, enjoying the theatre at Scarborough, exploring Captain Cook in Whitby or exploring the rocky coves and atmospheric harbours of Staithes, Robin Hood's Bay and Runswick Bay.
When to visit Yorkshire
If you're deciding when to visit Yorkshire, the good news is that events take place very much all year round.
In February events are kicked off in York by the huge Jorvik Viking Festival where boat burning and all-things Nordic come to the city. Indeed, York is a big festival lover and the Viking festival is followed in March by the York Literature Festival, the York Chocolate Festival in April, the York Early Music Festival in July, the York Food Festival in September and the York Christmas markets and St Nicholas Fayre, plus numerous other seasonal events, in November and December.
Elsewhere in Yorkshire you've got the Wakefield Rhubarb Festival in February, the Whitby Goth Weekend in April, marking the town's connections with the novel Dracula, and the Dales Festival of Food and Drink in May.
Other big annual celebrations include the two Harrogate Flower Shows in April and October, the Great Yorkshire Show, also in Harrogate, during July, and the Yorkshire Wolds Walking Festival in September. Head to The Crucible in Sheffield for action around the table at the World Snooker Championships in April and, specifically in 2015, the CLA Game Fair (field sports), held at Harewood House in August.
Finally, following on from the 2014 success of Yorkshire's Le Grand Départ, as the first stage of the Tour de France, this year sees the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire at the start of May, covering three stages of this strenuous cycle race across the county.
How to get to Yorkshire
The M1 motorway is one of the quickest routes to get to Yorkshire from the south, and it runs as far as Leeds or the A1(M) from the north, which divides the Yorkshire Dales from the North York Moors.
Travelling east-west, the M62 is a useful link from the M6 and the southwest and, further east, also serves the East Riding of Yorkshire. Consideration on the stretch of M62 over the Pennines, and the more northerly A66 cross-Pennines route between the M6 at Penrith and the A1 (Scotch Corner), should be particularly taken during the winter months when, potentially, both roads can be closed at a moment's notice and when blustery. Also when approaching the East Riding of Yorkshire from the south, using the M18 link road between the M1 and M62 cuts out two sides of a triangle.
The A59 links York and Harrogate with the southernmost parts of the Dales, while the A19 is one of the easiest routes to the North York Moors, although caravans are not allowed on the A170 at Sutton Bank; coming from the south, caravans should approach the Moors via the A64 around Malton and A169 through Pickering.
The A171 from Scarborough to Middlesbrough offers one of the best coastal routes, skirting the edge of the North York Moors; again, given its location on high ground, weather conditions can change unpredictably fast in winter.
You'll find rural country lanes to be considerably quieter than in other parts of the country, particularly in the more remote areas of countryside. Only a few minor country roads are best avoided while towing a caravan – routes within the centre of the North York Moors National Park and, in the Yorkshire Dales, avoid the route from Thwaite, Swaledale to High Tan Inn, and the road from Kettlewell to Leyburn. Take care on your way to campsites at Malham owing to tourist traffic during the day – consider phoning ahead to check for the best arrival and departure times for caravans to avoid meeting oncoming traffic along very narrow lanes.