Beverley prepares for 2018 Tour de Yorkshire launch and a summer of fun
PUBLISHED: 00:00 27 April 2018
Credit: Derek Schultz / Alamy Stock Photo
The Tour de Yorkshire peloton might be rushing through Beverley, but you can afford to stay awhile, as Jo Haywood discovers
Those Lycra-clad cyclists of the Tour de Yorkshire are a funny bunch, aren’t they? Why on earth would you hurtle along the A164 through Beverley at 25mph when you could park your bike at County Hall and go for a long, slow sightseeing saunter instead. The 2018 Tour de Yorkshire will run over four days, starting in Beverley on May 3rd with an 182km race to Doncaster. The East Yorkshire town will also host the start of the women’s race, which will run for two days for the first time.
This isn’t the first time the race has come to town. Beverley featured in stage two of the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire in 2015 and, in 2016, hosted the start of stage one with a parade around town starting at Saturday Market.
This year, the men’s peloton, which includes seven of the top 12 teams in the world, will be given a ceremonial start in central Beverley before heading out of town towards Tickton, where the race will officially start. The cyclists will then race out towards Hornsea, looping around the Mere before heading back to Beverley for the first sprint.
When they leave town for a second time, the racers will pedal like mad through the rural beauty of Skidby, Walkington, Cherry Burton, Middleton on the Wolds, Pocklington, Holme upon Spalding Moor, Howden, Airmyn and Rawcliffe before ending the stage, some four and a half hours later, in Doncaster.
The women’s race will largely follow the same route, except for the Hornsea loop – but they can always come back to feed the birds at the Mere when the race is over and their thighs have sufficiently deflated.
In fact, we’d strongly advise all the racers to come back to East Yorkshire for a slower paced visit when they get the chance. It’s not a part of our county you should rush through, and Beverley in particular bears considered and repeated visits.
This picturesque market town has been a place of pilgrimage since the Middle Ages, which means all modern visitors – cyclists and otherwise – are following in some very well-worn footsteps. By the 12th century, tourists started to notice Beverley’s quiet beauty; a beauty only enhanced in later years by its pretty cobbled streets, charming buildings and awe-inspiring Minster (honestly, it’s a whopper).
Beverley Minster is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful Gothic buildings in Europe and, at 333ft long, is larger than most English cathedrals. It was built between 1190 and 1420 and is renowned for its 13th century stone carvings and stained glass.
If you haven’t had your ecclesiastical fill, you can always get a second helping at St Mary’s Church, which 19th century landowner and church-restorer Sir Tatton Sykes described as ‘lovely St Mary’s, unequalled in England and almost without rival on the continent of Europe’.
‘If you walk from one church to the other, you’ll see the story of our whole town,’ said Helen Watson, town clerk for the last decade. ‘Medieval, Georgian, gothic, Victorian – we pack a lot in to a relatively small space. And there is just so much to do here. Barely a week goes by when we haven’t got some festival or other to enjoy.’
There are indeed many (many!) events happening in the town throughout the year. Among the highlights for 2018 are the award-winning Beverley Food Festival (October 7th), which was the first event of its kind in East Yorkshire when it launched 14 years ago and now boats more than 140 local stalls; the Christmas Festival of Food & Drink (on November 24th) in Beverley Minster, where you can browse in peace whatever the weather; the National Garden Scheme Open Allotments Day at Queensgate, during which more than 200 plots are open for people to pop in and learn about growing their own; the Great Get Together (June 23rd) based on the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party in Alice in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll was apparently inspired by a white rabbit carving in St Mary’s Church); and the Flower Festival of Remembrance (August 9th-12th), which will commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War and the formation of the RAF with a host of creative floral displays.
When they’ve got a moment, the army of willing volunteers who make sure Beverley is always booming will be doing their bit to ensure it’s blooming too for when the Britain in Bloom judges arrive in August. ‘We’re very proud to have been invited to take part in Britain in Bloom this year – the first time we’ve represented the county at this level,’ said Helen. ‘The Britain in Bloom campaign rests on three pillars of horticulture, environment and community, which we in Beverley have very well covered.
‘We’ll be able to demonstrate our rich market town history, culture, beautiful horticulture and pasture lands and, of course, our active community to a wider audience. It’s always great to be able to tell people what a wonderful place Beverley is to live, work and visit. We can’t wait to spread the message far and wide.’