Yorkshire’s Sporting Highlights 2015

by Tom Ashurst


2015 will undoubtedly go down as the most memorable year in the history of Leeds Rhinos as they won an historic treble.

It was a particularly fitting finish for three players who have become synonymous with the Rhinos: Jamie Peacock, Kylie Leuluai and Kevin Sinfield who between them rack up over 35 years of service and over 1,000 games for the amber and blue side. Kevin Sinfield went on to become the first Rugby League player to be shortlisted for the BBC Sport’s Personality of the Year in December. He amassed nearly 30% of the final vote but was narrowly pipped to the post by Andy Murray.

In a season of highlights, one of the greatest moments must surely be Ryan Hall’s last-minute try (pictured above) for the Rhinos in the League Leaders’ Shield which changed the score and sealed a dramatic win at Huddersfield Giants in late September.



In 2014, Yorkshire hosted the Grand Départ of the Tour de France for the first time in what turned out to be an iconic, stand out moment for the White Rose county. Tour de France organisers, ASO, called it the “Grandest of Grand Départs”, such was it’s impact.

Off the back of this resounding success, a new race was formed and in May 2015 the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire took place for three days. Taking place on some of the roads used in 2014, but also visiting other stunning parts of the county like the North York Moors National Park and the Yorkshire Coast – the race saw spectators once again turn out in huge numbers to cheer on icons of the sport such as Sir Bradley Wiggins, Thomas Voeckler and Marcel Kittel.

There was an exciting Women’s circuit race on the second day in York, over 6,000 people took part in a mass-participation sportive on the third day and the men’s race was ultimately won by Team Sky’s Lars-Petter Nordhaug in Leeds. This was a great first race for Yorkshire and 2016’s route promises to keep the county’s passion for two wheels going.



With Yorkshire rapidly becoming Europe’s cycling capital, it is perhaps fitting that the 2015 women’s World Road Race Champion, Lizzie Armitstead, hails from the White Rose county.

The year got off to the perfect start for Otley’s finest, with victory in the Ladies Tour of Qatar in February. Between March and August, Lizzie took part in the UCI Women’s Road World Cup, winning races in Italy, USA and France which helped her to retain the overall title for the second year in a row. In the middle of all that, she also took the British National Road Race Championships title in June with a victory in Lincolnshire – a particularly remarkable achievement bearing in mind she had suffered a nasty crash only 10 days previous to the race.

The racing highlight of 2015 came surely in Richmond, Virginia though. Here, in September, Lizzie delivered a cycling masterclass and won the UCI Road World Championships for the first time in her career. To cap off a brilliant year, Lizzie was shortlisted for BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year in December.

With the Tour de Yorkshire women’s race beginning in Lizzie’s home town of Otley in next year, who would rule out a home victory for her in 2016.



In 2015 Yorkshire County Cricket Club retained the County Championship title for the first time since 1968.

Led expertly by captain Andy Gale and with contributions from throughout the team, Yorkshire won the league by 68 points – a huge margin. Jonny Bairstow looked unstoppable with the bat, averaging nearly 100 in his 15 innings, all-rounder Tim Bresnan averaged nearly 50 with the bat in 22 innings and took 45 wickets with the ball and the evergreen Ryan Sidebottom took 41 wickets at an incredible average of 17.90.

Yorkshire’s achievements seem particularly impressive considering many of their stars (including the ICC’s number one ranked batsman, Joe Root) have been called upon for England throughout large periods of the season.

Having lost only 3 of 61 games since 2012 under head coach Jason Gillespie, and with what seems like a constant conveyor belt of talent coming through the ranks at Headingley, things are beginning to look ominous for all of Yorkshire’s rivals as a period of dominance seems more than achieveable.



2015 saw Sheffield’s Jessica Ennis-Hill produce a hero’s display to be crowned World Heptathlon Champion once again and complete a remarkable sporting return.

Jessica had only returned to the sport in Autumn 2014 following the birth of her first child in July, and so for her to deliver a performance of such steel and quality with just over a year’s full training was a remarkable achievement. This was Jessica’s second World Championship victory having won the crown in 2009. In December, Jessica came third in the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year award. Her fourth time nominated and fourth time in the top three.

With the Olympics returning next year, this performance will no doubt give Jessica immense satisfaction and confidence as she heads to Rio to defend her crown in 2016.



Finally, last but by no means least, a remarkable achievement from a young man from Doncaster that will melt even the steeliest of hearts.

In July, 8 year old Bailey Matthews, who has cerebral palsy, was cheered over the line by hundreds of emotional spectators after completing a 100m lake swim, 4,000m bike and 1,300m run as part of the Castle Howard Triathlon. Watch the video here as Bailey crosses the line – he even completed the last 20 metres solo of his walker. A true superstar.

Bailey’s achievements were recognised at The Pride of Britain Awards and he also won the Helen Rollason Award at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards. Well done Bailey!

Thanks to SWpix.com for many of the pictures above.

5 of the best – Festive walks


If you love a good walk with trails to explore in a beautiful setting, Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal is the right place for you. So wrap up warm, get your boots on and head on over!

This Christmas, the wonderful people at the 12th century monastic ruins have supplied you with a treat of historic festive strolls. The World Heritage Site has experienced a flurry of sparkling snowflakes float down and land in and around the abbey, each flake is different so keep your eyes peeled to spot them all.

Walk off that Christmas dinner with the Boxing Day Pilgrimage, walking in the footsteps of thirteen monks on a cold day in 1132 who walked from Ripon to a completely deserted valley by the River Skell, where they started their own community from nothing, and so Fountains Abbey was born.



On Monday 28th of December, Shibden Mill Inn, the heart of life in West Yorkshire’s Shibden Valley, hosts the Annual Twixmas Stroll to raise funds for the Shibden Valley Society, a great Christmas tradition.

The day begins at 10:30am, you will receive a complimentary bacon sandwich accompanied by a hot tea or coffee, and the guided walk will start half an hour after and will involve a two hour walk around the beautiful setting that is Shibden and its surrounding area. After witnessing the valley in all its seasonal splendour, it’s time to treat yourself to a premier gastro lunch at the Inn afterwards, but be sure to book in advance!

The stroll is not too strenuous and suits all ages, wear sturdy footwear and waterproof clothing. It costs just £4 per person and all the proceeds go to a good cause.



All year round, Malham Cove offers a stunning backdrop of the Yorkshire Dales. It has quickly become one of Yorkshires most iconic scenes as Harry Potter camped on the limestone pavement in the Deathly Hallows. It recently, for the first time in living memory, saw England’s highest waterfall brought back to life as the treacherous Storm Desmond hit the National Park.

The picturesque, curving, amphitheatre shaped cliff formation of limestone rock has been attracting visitors and helping shred Christmas pounds for centuries. Begin your walk in the village of Malham, one of the most spectacular and most popular villages in the Yorkshire Dales and take the gentle half hour stroll up from the village, to the cove. Continue on for something more challenging past Malham Cove and walk along the Pennine Way to the Tarn, a glacial lake and National Nature Reserve.

If the notorious Yorkshire weather holds up, come with a camera and snap away at the glorious landscapes and scenery on offer.



Sledmere House is a beautiful 18th century country house, owned and lived in by generations of the Sykes family. The estate throws itself into the festive period, making it perfect for a lovely winter walk.

As you parade around the estate you will come across the graceful Sledmere House and other architectural gems in the surrounding buildings, charming gardens and if you’re lucky you may see some deer in the woods.

The grounds are open Tuesday to Sunday throughout the festive season until 5pm, leaving you with enough time to pop over to The Triton Inn after for a fine ale or a good wine.



There’s an unimaginable number of great walks in the North York Moors National Park, so to narrow it down here’s a choice of three to consider for a festive jaunt depending on how much Christmas pudding you may have devoured.

In one is the Roseberry Topping and Cook’s Monument trail, this 7 mile walk covers much of Captain Cook country, whom spent hours walking this area in his early years, said to give him the taste for adventure. Over to Roseberry Topping, an unusual landmark of the Moors and on to Newton Wood, the 400 year old woodland.

Slightly shorter, yet not in terms of grand landscapes and big views, is the 5 mile stroll across Levisham Moor and the Hole of Horcum. It includes one of the most spectacular features in the National Park, the 400 foot deep, Hole of Horcum, moving on to Levisham Moor and the ruined Skelton Tower.

Finally, for those who have only divulged in a cracker or two and a slither of Wensleydale is the 3 mile White Horse Walk, a classic from Sutton Bank to the famous turf-cut hillside landmark, the White Horse of Kilburn.

5 of the best – Christmas Activities

Blog written by @Alex92Hooker


Grab your skates as Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland returns once again to the York Designer Outlet this Christmas. Home to the north of England’s largest outdoor ice rink, with its giant 30ft Christmas tree as the centre piece for the event. Surrounding the rink is the illuminated forest, log cabins, heated outdoor viewing platform and an Alpine café.

The annual festive event has it all, from vintage and modern fun fair rides to Santa’s grotto, and live weekend entertainment. It the perfect place for discounted Christmas shopping with more than 120 stores inside the outlet, as well as some speciality stalls outside.

In association is York’s only pop-up bar, Thor’s Tipi Bar, a secret bolt-hole in the heart of the cities Christmas festivities. Feast on wholesome winter fodder from the outdoor BBQ, washed down with local ales, lagers and mulled wine. The Wonderland is open now until January 3rd 2016 and its worthwhile booking skate tickets in advance!

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What better way to enter into the Christmas spirit than a trip to Santa, Elves and Sleigh Bells at Sheffield’s Tropical Butterfly House, Wildlife and Falconry Centre. Hitch a ride aboard a magical sleigh to meet Father Christmas in his esoteric Enchanted Grotto, visit the nativity scene in the cosy stable to meet friendly farm animals, lemurs, meerkats, owls and snakes. Grab a seat for the pantomime-style free-flying Bird Shows each day, and give the elves a helping hand in the Christmas craft workshop, where you can write a letter to Santa.

Enjoy festive food in the Butterfly Café and browse a selection of stocking fillers in the Jungle Gift Shop, there’s daily children’s fancy dress competitions, and for the adults who come to the centre in a Christmas jumper you will be entered in to a prize draw to win a family day ticket in the New Year!

Santa, Elves and Sleigh Bells is open weekends in December and every day from the 19th up until Christmas Eve!

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This December get in the mood, for a banquet of food, for the eyes and the ears, there’ll be laughter and tears, at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough.

It’s time to brace yourself for Mike Kenny’s unique adaptation of Hansel and Gretel in the friendly setting of the Yorkshire coast. With a captivating acapella soundtrack by Oli Steadman from the band Stornoway and designs by Lucy Weller, it’s a positive feast of festivities and the happy ending comes just in time for Christmas pudding!

The show will go on between the 10th and the 27th of December with tickets priced between £9-£16 per person, £40 Family tickets or upgrade for £10 to VIP (2 adults 2 children).

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Head to the picturesque mid-Victorian country house, Brodsworth Hall and Gardens this festive period for bundles of Christmassy events happening throughout December.

Join in on the unique Christmas carol performance featuring fine Yorkshire Choirs, and beat the rush to enjoy a leisurely Christmas shopping experience in Brodsworth beautiful grounds, with a variety of crafts and tasteful gifts to treat your loved ones. Father Christmas will be there too enjoying tales of Christmas past, yuletide stories and poems, and for those brave enough, gather in the entrance hall for an evening of restless spirits and malevolent ghouls!

All events take place throughout December but keep an eye on the calendar because it’s bound to be a cracker!

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You don’t need to go to Lapland this year for a true Christmas experience. In the heart of Yorkshire Stockeld Park’s festive season is ‘open for Christmas’ from now until the 4th of January for magic and adventures.

The opportunities are endless, Stockeld boasts a whole range of activities, with a real outdoor ice rink, an Enchanted Forest filled with interactive sculptures and playgrounds, the snowflake maze, Nordic ski trail and of course, Santa will be there in his grotto.

After all the excitement, if you’re short of a Christmas tree, don’t forget to pick up a hand-pruned, home-grown tree on your exit. A memorable day for the whole family, giving you that ‘Christmassy’ feeling.

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5 of the best – Christmas Markets

Blog written and researched by @Alex92Hooker


In early December, Kelham Island Museum hosts its biggest event of the year filled with festivities, the Victorian Christmas Market.

Join in on the fun over the first weekend of December. With over 120 stalls, the market is a great opportunity to fill yourself with Christmas spirit. Head over to Santa’s Grotto with the kids to see the big man himself and his reindeer, brass bands, choirs and carollers.

Shepherd along to the family fairground and take a look at the amazing creations of the traditional craftspeople and artists. It kicks off on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th of December, at £6 per adult and free for children, yule be sorry to miss it.

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Travel back in time to the Dickensian Festival in Grassington. During the 3 Saturdays before Christmas bear witness to one of Yorkshire’s most traditional Christmas markets, as shopkeepers and villagers dress in Victorian costume.

Visitors are treated to a vast array of entertainment, from musicians and dancers to traditional country crafts. The village is adorned in Christmas lights as the streets come alive.

Each weekend is slightly different with a packed programme of events happening throughout the day. The action begins at 11am on the 5th, 12th and 19th of December, a family fun day out, wrap up warm, wear suitable footwear and be sure to keep an eye out for those pesky pick pockets!

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One of the most established German Christmas markets in the UK, let alone Yorkshire, is Christkindelmarkt, Leeds. The market attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, so prepare yourself for a not so silent night.

With over 40 traditional wooden chalets, Millennium Square is once again transformed into a scenic winter village. The Christmas carousel, handcrafted toys, jewellery, decorations and of course traditional food and drink means there’s something for all the family.

The market returns for the 14th year between the 13th November and the 20th December, it’s free to enter so be sure to ho ho hop on over.

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Beverley Festival of Christmas is arguably the largest festival of its kind in Yorkshire. It includes a market with over 100 festive stalls, a fair ground, live performances, Victorian street entertainers and even a classic car show on Sunday 13th of December, entry free.

Santa on his sleigh is drawn through the town by live reindeer from the Cairngorms in an exciting parade for the kids, accompanied by elves and other animals. Enjoy sampling some of the interesting food and drink in an opportunity to gather some traditional and contemporary inspiration of your own.

Filled with activities, entertainment and a vast array of different stalls, you’re destined to have a merry good time!

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The 4 day Country Living Magazine Christmas Fair will embark on the Harrogate International Centre this December. Come along to meet makers, designers, artisans and growers and discovers unique gifts to delight your loved ones with.

If you enjoy simple pleasures, you’ll go crackers for the fairs lively programme of talks, demonstrations and hands-on workshops, a great source of practical inspiration.

The fair is a shopping haven, with 300 stands showcasing handmade or British-sourced products, it’ snow joke!

The fair touches down in Harrogate on the 3rd of December through to the 6th, be sure to book in advance for reduced ticket prices of £11 per adult.

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The perfect winter break with Holiday at Home


With winter well and truly on its way, why not treat yourself and the ones you love to a cosy, winter warmer with one of Holiday at Home’s stunning accommodation options.

Holiday at Home is a family run holiday rental company that have numerous varying accommodation options in and around Richmond. Whether you’re looking for a luxury lodge or a chic townhouse, they’ve got you covered and all their properties are carefully chosen and then stylishly decorated to give you an elegant yet comfortable break from the hustle and bustle of the world.

Below we take a further look at 3 highlights on offer:

Brompton Lakes

Brompton Lakes is perhaps Holiday at Home’s most recognisable option– a collection of 20 unique, natural retreats that sleep up to 6 people, so they are perfect for families and couples looking for an escape to the countryside. The majority of these lodges are situated round lakes and there’s nothing more relaxing than sitting on your decking and looking out across the tranquil waters. The keen angler will be happy too as fishing is an option at Brompton Lakes too.

There’s a tennis court to keep you busy or if you prefer to get out and explore the area then you’ll be happy as Brompton Lakes is surrounded by stunning terrain for cyclists and walkers too.



30 Frenchgate is similar to Brompton Lakes in that it is stylishly decorated and ideal for a relaxing break but this is perhaps where the comparison stops. Unlike Brompton Lakes, 30 Frenchgate is located in the centre of Richmond, and this lovingly refurbished townhouse is a large 5 bedroom option that sleeps up to 10 people. As a result this is an ideal location for large families or for a fun trip away with friends.

The property has an impressive, spacious kitchen, all the bedrooms have large, comfy beds but arguably the greatest feature of it is its stunning large private terraced garden. This is over 3 levels, gives you a great view of Richmond and is ideal for a BBQ & drinks with all your other guests.

With Richmond having lots of stunning landmarks to visit like Richmond Castle, tasty eateries like the nearby Frenchgate Hotel and plenty of things to do like a trip to the stunning Georgian Theatre Royal, there’s plenty to keep you entertained.


New York Public Library

To say New York Public Library is not your usual self catering cottage is an understatement to say the least! This truly unique cottage sleeps up to 6 and is described by locals as “the Grand Designs place” due to its unique design. Designed and built by widely recognised writer, art collector and curator, Greville Worthington, the holiday accommodation was created to be a calming Yorkshire retreat for all its guests.

Inside, there’s a spacious living and dining area – the kitchen it top notch and the living area has huge glass windows to watch the world go by outside. There’s an Etna log burning stove, fuelled by peat, which adds to the warmth and general atmosphere. Ideal for winter nights!

The property has a natural wood hot tub, built for relaxation and ideal at this time of year as you can take in all the autumnal colours that surround the place. Outdoor also there is a wood burning pizza oven that is simple to use and helps you create the perfect pizza in minutes. There’s also a Look Out tower too, a secure den that the children will love.



This is just a selection of what Holiday at Home have to offer – there’s also Holly House Farm; three beautifully converted holiday homes, Woodcroft Cottage; a cosy 2 bedroom cottage for a romantic getaway and Greenbanks Barns; two stunning large Yorkshire holiday barn conversions in Ravensworth, one of the North Yorkshire Dales prettiest villages. All of their properties have hot tubs and all are dog friendly – which is an added bonus too! For full information on all options, head across to www.holidayathome.co.uk and find your perfect escape today!