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My favourite national park celebrates its 60th birthday this year, which means that I was two when it was born.
All the UK’s national parks are splendid, including the new one which they’ve somehow managed to squeeze in down south, but the North York Moors get my top vote. The word ‘numinous’ might have been coined for them; I have had all sorts of eerie experiences and feelings on night crossings of the Lyke Wake Walk (once with the future Sir Terry Pratchett, no less, when I was a cub reporter on the Bath & Wilts Evening Chronicle and he was a helpful sub).
The park would have been in its mid-twenties then. Subsequently, I discovered the old Roman road, the history of the jet industry and the glories of the final section of the Coast to Coast walk (handy guide here). So it’s good to know that the national park staff are celebrating this year’s diamond jubilee in an imaginative way.
Among the moors’ less obvious virtues is the fact that ten percent of those who work for the natonal park were apprenticed from local families, a blessing in an area where house prices can squeeze such people out. The park is also home to a remarkable number of artists, including the head of art at Eton college and a couple of his colleagues.
No surprise, then, that an exhibition by five resident artists is part of the coming bunfight; a National Lottery grant of £8000 is paying for Inspired Landscape, a collection of works by Peter Hicks, Len Tabner, William Tillyer, Joe Cornish and Gillies Jones Glass. That’s at the Inspired by… Gallery in Danby from 13 May to 17 July with free entry.
A second exhibition at the same venue, underwritten by the same grant, is offering 60 places to ‘up-and-coming artists of all genres’, whose work will be on show from July 21 to August, also free. If you’re interested in having a crack at this, contact Sally Ann Smith on 01439 770657 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
There’ll also be a moorland festival at Sutton Bank, home of the white horse which Leeds university students once turned black with binliners (how about a diamond prank, guys?) and performances at various unusual places in the park by Yorkshire Dance. Schools are being enlisted in a short story competition based on the many unusual place names. Don’t all choose Ugglebarnby, now.
The moors were the sixth of our 15 national parks to be created, on 28 November 1952, and along with the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales, Northumberland and Peak District, they offer a hefty counter to those who persist in going on about the ‘grim north’. The national park office’s chief executive, Andy Wilson, wants everyone to come. He says:
The UK’s National Parks are as important today as they’ve ever been providing a wide range of opportunities to experience the great outdoors and enjoy a wide range of heritage and natural beauty.
Please join us in celebrating the 60th anniversary of the North York Moors either by coming along to one of our events or just getting out and about in the wonderful countryside of this much-loved place.
More info about the celebrations will be posted shortly on the national park’s website. The old Lyke Wake club has recently been revived and has a new website. The walk, with its challenging 24-hour maximum time, is still one of the best in the UK.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010