One of the greatest things about England, and in particular,
Yorkshire, is the accessibility of the countryside. Coming from Canada, which has a huge amount of natural space, and an abundance of wilderness, you wouldn't think England's more limited green space would be especially impressive. The difference is, here in England, you can get to it! While much of Canada's wilderness is relatively "uncharted," you can't walk 100 feet in an English village without encountering a public footpath or bridlepath, many of which meander through fields romantically smattered with sheep and surrounded by drystone walls. Even the walls are divided by styles so you can pass through easily.
A recent visit to Flamborough in East Yorkshire finds us walking miles along the coastal headland from one pretty little cove to another, always on well-worn, and well sign-posted footpaths with stunning views of the white limestone cliffs, so dramatic flanked by the blue sky and the surprisingly almost-turquoise water of the North Sea.
While in Yorkshire, we also spend time just north of Leeds in the Wharfdale area - an afternoon walking amongst the purple heather on Ilkley Moor, made famous in Yorkshire by the traditional song, "On Ilkley Moor Bhat'at," bouldering and hiking at Otley Chevin Park, and rock climbing while soaking up the panoramic views at Almscliffe Crag.
These are beautiful areas, picturesque villages full of old stone cottages, and yet only about twenty minutes outside the hustle and bustle of Leeds, one of the biggest cities in England. There are miles and miles of footpaths, fell-walking trails, and climbing opportunities. An outdoor enthusiast's paradise.
Even in metropolitan areas, such as Wakefield, with a population roughly the same as the whole province of Prince Edward Island, we find places to enjoy the countryside. Newmillerdam is an easy hour-long stroll around a dam filled with ducks and geese (don't forget to take bread to feed them!), or try Temple Newsam, one of many old stately homes that are now open to the public. Here, the older folks can take a tour of the house, or meander through the gardens where there are plenty of paths and benches, the younger can visit the barns and stables, or play in the wooded areas or among the massive rhodedendran trees.
One of the drawbacks, of course, of having so many people enjoying the same countryside, is the impact on the land, and the amount of garbage that inevitably ends up on the ground, but on the whole, the beauty of the varied terrain - from meadows to mountains - and the ability to access it, is every bit as powerful as the Canadian wilderness.
Jane Hastelow is a former high school English teacher and curriculum coach currently enjoying a year of family travel and education with her husband and three children. She has a BA in English and a Masters in Communications. Jane loves to combine her passion for writing with family travel. You can also follow her adventures at