Hull is our next City of Culture . Get there now, before all the tourists descend in 2017.
You see, the thing about Hull is that you have to go there. I don’t mean that in a travel agent advert kind of way; I mean that you actually have to decide to go there. It isn’t somewhere like Nottingham or Cambridge that you could technically pass through whilst on the way somewhere else.
Sitting on the Humber, one of the brownest rivers you are ever likely to see, Hull built its industrial reputation on the fishing industry, now sadly gone.
As a student at Hull University, I remember Thursdays being particularly unpleasant if the wind was in the wrong direction, the day when most trawlers seemed to return with their ever-dwindling catch. The smell wafted over the campus, distracting us as we tried to concentrate on our snooker – sorry, I mean ‘studies’, yes, – concentrate on our studies…
But treat yourself. No, I mean it, and I do mean it in a travel agent kind of way. Have a weekend in Hull and its lovely countryside.
Maybe even splash out, have a week up there, and don’t wait until 2017 to do it.
I don’t think the ‘culture’ you might be looking for will be the type found on my old street full of student houses. And certainly not at The Lawns, the student ‘village’ halls of residence a few miles off campus. But have a look around Cottingham, a lovely village where many students will probably be stumbling about, oblivious to the charms of a thriving independent retail trade.
Nip up the road to one of the nicest market towns you’ll ever see, Beverley – complete with its own minster, not to mention one or two charming hostelries.
Be amazed at the charms of Market Weighton, Cherry Burton, Holderness or Walkington. Or go a little further north to Nafferton – I don’t think there’s anything much there, it’s just a funny name and a chance for a posed photo next to the road sign to post on Facebook later. The kids will love you for it. Eventually.
Or go across to the coast. Hornsea is quite pretty, much less pottery there than there used to be, but still worth a trip. You could venture even further north to the seaside towns of Bridlington and Scarborough, both pleasant enough, and the former now the base of artist David Hockney. But personally I’d head further south to Spurn Point, or Spurn Head as it is also called, the long spit that runs in to the mouth of the Humber. An absolute must for any bird watchers.
And then there’ Hull itself. Not a particularly remarkable city, not yet anyway, but it has taken the setbacks of the declines in its shipping and fishing industries, and invested in The Deep, a massive sea life centre. I’m told there’s an enjoyable “Fish Trail” which takes you on a tour of the old town. From the cobbled High Street you can visit slavery abolitionist William Wilberforce’s house among a number of other small but delightful museums. Nearby there’s a fascinating guided tour of a trawler, the Arctic Corsair.
The reasonable shopping centre and pop-up markets make Hull worth a visit pre-Christmas. Or if the bite of the North Sea wind is a bit much, perhaps wait until spring!
If you do go, try a diversion either on the way there or the way back, and get on to the Humber Bridge. It is a remarkable feat of engineering, and there’s one heck of a view when you’re driving over it (eyes on the road please, let the passengers look). Though no one is quite sure why it was a good idea to link North Lincolnshire to the delights of East Yorkshire. I’m sure that the residents of Scunthorpe and Grimsby think the same about Hull.
So yes, Hull is worth a visit. And no, I am not from the Hull Tourist Board. I’d be surprised if such a board existed – but it definitely will do in the future…..GO HULL!
Tip: There is a Holiday Inn on Hull Marina, perfectly located for visiting the old town and city centre. Double rooms cost around £60-70 per night, more for a marina view.
And despite Ross’s doubts, you can visit Hull Tourist Information here: www.visithullandeastyorkshire.com