The East Riding is one of the four counties that form Yorkshire. It is centred on Hull, a large port on the Humber estuary. The rest of the county is very rural, with wide plains such as the Holderness, and small seaside resorts on the North Sea. The East Riding is separated from the rest of Yorkshire by the Yorkshire Wolds, a range of low chalk hills. The Wolds reach the North Sea at Flamborough Head, a promontory renowned for its white cliffs.
The name of the county is different from the others in Yorkshire (namely West, South and North Yorkshire), because it makes reference to a very old district, the East Riding. Before the 1972 reform, Yorkshire was indeed divided into three ‘ridings’, one in the North (now part of North Yorkshire), one in the West (now shared between North, West and South Yorkshire), and one in the East. The East Riding as it exists now is slightly different to the pre-1972 district – its former boudaries followed the course of the Ouse and Derwent and passed very close to York. Filey, now part of the ceremonial county of North Yorkshire, used to be in the East Riding, but Goole, which is now part of it, was in the West Riding.
Because it is mostly flat and scarcely populated, the East Riding is not the most touristic area in Yorkshire. There are few places of interest, but it does not mean that it should be overlooked. The East Riding is in fact quite charming, with its distinct spirit. In some parts, one can feel an almost Dutch or Flemish atmosphere. The East Riding is the region of origin of painter David Hockney, and it has inspired many of his paintings.
Despite its bad reputation, Hull has a charming old town and its museums figure among the best in the region. Immediately outside the city, the small town of Hedon is worth a visit for its medieval church and its ‘market town’ atmosphere. Just north of Hull, Beverley is a must-do in Yorkshire and it is reputedly one of the best places to live in England. Between Hull and Beverley, Skidby Windmill is one of the last working windmills in Yorkshire. Burton Constable Hall, located some 8 miles east of Hull, is a stunning Elizabethan country house.
The East Riding coast is mostly flat, with sandy beaches and low cliffs. At the very end of the coast, where the Humber meet the sea, Spurn Head is one of the most incredible natural wonders of England. The sandy headland, some 3 miles long, is a nature reserve. Going North, you’ll find Withernsea, a small and very typical seaside resort, and then Hornsea, which offers not only a beach on the sea, but also a natural lake. Close to that lake is Wassand Hall, a lovely Georgian mansion. Bridlington, the largest seaside town in the East Riding, is a fishing port as well as a resort. Next to it is Sewerby Hall, a country house overlooking the sea. Flamborough Head is a must-see for nature lovers. Its white cliffs, which reach 330 feet at some points, are home to hundreds of seabirds.
The rest of the East Riding comprise several country houses, the largest being Burton Agnes Hall near Bridlington. There is also Kilnwick Percy Hall on the road to York, and Sledmere House in the Yorkshire Wolds. Located on the Ouse, the town of Goole was founded to trade the coal extracted in Yorkshire mines. Nearby Howden is a quintessential market town renowned for its minster. In Pocklington, you can visit the delightful gardens of Burnby Hall. Driffield, another small market town, is considered as the capital of the Wolds.