IN January of this year we moved to live in Scotland, so these thoughts are by way of a farewell reflection on leaving Yorkshire (and Craven in particular), after living there for over 40 years.

Yorkshire people are well known for several particular character traits; perhaps the first is pride in their place of origin. “Never ask a man if he comes from Yorkshire”, the saying goes, “if he does, he’ll already have told you”.

Now that I’m at a safe distance however, I do wonder about the often repeated claim that Yorkshire is “God’s own country” - I don’t know when and to whom this preference was revealed, but as a native of Cumbria I might want to debate it...!

A habit of straight talking is often regarded as characteristic too. Yorkshire people tend not to call a spade a digging implement. This may be seen as a virtue, but can lead to foot in mouth situations at times where greater subtlety or gentleness is needed. At its best, Yorkshire humour has more than a hint of self-deprecation about it; as one native said to me once “I’m a true-born Yorkshireman – I have chips on both shoulders”.

In terms of land area, Scotland is about six and a half times larger than Yorkshire, but at about five and a half million they each have similar populations. According to one online comment, what they also have in common is that they have both been neglected and forgotten by Westminster for years…..but that’s an issue for another day. What is evident to anyone who knows either Yorkshire or Scotland at all is the beauty and grandeur of the landscapes. In places, both bear the scars of industry past and present, but at their unspoilt best, there is a sense of spaciousness, wide horizons and beautiful contrasts between rugged peaks and secluded gills and glens.

So I count myself greatly privileged to have been born in Cumbria, lived in Yorkshire, and now in Scotland. Like the Psalmist I can say “The Lord has brought me into a spacious place”. And of course that spaciousness is not just about the landscape, but about the people in the communities to which we belong, where we are encouraged to flourish and live to our potential. Above all it is about the God who travels with us, and under whose care we live out our days.

That has been my experience, and I pray you are similarly blessed.

Jim Hope

Formerly Skipton and Grassington Methodist Circuit.