In Greek mythology the Hyperboreans were mythical beings who dwelled beyond the North Wind. Boreal regions are sub arctic regions in the northern hemisphere.
In England we often speak about the ‘North South divide’. It refers to the socio-economic divisions between the more prosperous South and the post industrial North. People in the south are regarded as having a softer climate, an easier life and (consequently) not being quite as tough as their northern counterparts.
Geology has had a large bearing on this too. During the ice ages, the glaciers reached as far south as modern day Birmingham. The south would have been tundra and as any northerner will tell you, that’s not as rough or tough as glaciers, moraines and glacial tarns! Many of the people in the north are descended from Vikings , so maybe the toughness idea does have some historic substance!
England’s north country boasts no fewer than five National Parks: the Peak District, the Lake District, the North York Moors, the Yorkshire Dales and Northumberland. In addition there are a number of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a number of other conservation areas as well as Heritage Coast in Yorkshire and Northumberland.
The best known of the northern national parks is the Lake District. It is England’s only true mountain region and is the landscape which inspired a generation of poets. This dramatic, glacially sculpted area is a mecca for walkers, hikers and climbers.
The Yorkshire Dales National Park is one of the ‘heartlands’ of walking in England. Green hills, rivers, tumbling streams, waterfalls, cosy villages and welcoming pubs with great beer – that’s my wish list dealt with!
The highest hill outside of the Lake District is Cross Fell which towers over the village of Dufton. The summit of Cross Fell is the highest point on the Pennine Way National Trail and has its own distinctive weather system. We don’t usually give names to winds in Britain, but the wind that blows over Cross Fell is the exception and is known as the Helm.
Northumberland is the wildest part of England. Hadrian’s Wall marches across the Win Sill, Kielder Forest is a great refuge for wildlife including the Red Squirrel. Northumberland also possesses a hauntingly beautiful coast.
The North Yorks Moors National Park lies on the east coast of Yorkshire and consists of heather moorland stretching across to a spectacular coast. Wainwright’s classic long distance path stretches across three national parks; the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors and ends at pretty Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Sea coast.
One of the ‘hidden gems’ of the North is Teesdale. Where the infant Tees rises on the moors and begins its journey towards the port of Middlesborough, by which time it has become the mighty Tees estuary. Teesdale was the last place to lose its glacier at the end of the last ice age and is still home to an abundance of rare alpine and arctic flora, the like of which which cannot be found elsewhere in England. Teesdale also boasts England’s largest waterfall, High Force.
Next time you fancy a walk in England, you could do a lot worse than visit ‘our friends in the north’.