When my boyfriend invited me to join him for a few days of cat-sitting in Yarm, its name was nothing but a vaguely funny four-letter word to me. Almost as funny as cat-sitting which to my great relief did not involve using kittens as cushions.
My flatmates were equally confused when I told them I was going to Yarm. “You mean Yarmouth?” they asked. I paused for a second. “Nope. Just Yarm, whatever the hell that is.” Before boarding my train from London I managed to locate it on the map near Eaglescliffe (which sounded equally made up) but that was the full extent of my knowledge, because Google was not exactly overflowing with helpful information.
Assuming Yarm would be a small cluster of houses with more cows than people (not a tough feat for a town with ten thousand residents), I only brought a small suitcase full of sporty winter jackets which were to accompany me to Iceland afterwards. It was early April but the temperatures were still low and who was I going to be impressing in this forsaken corner of Northern England?
As is often the case with unfounded snap judgments, my idea of Yarm couldn’t have been further from reality. I arrived just before the Easter weekend and when my boyfriend and I pulled into the centre, I suddenly found myself surrounded by a crowd of well-dressed people pouring into shiny gastropubs. We parked between a black Porsche Cayenne and a slick red Ferrari for crying out loud! There I was – the fashion blogger in shapeless bright pink sneakers and no makeup amidst blonde women with Louis Vuitton handbags on their forearms… The shame!
After managing to put together a semi-presentable outfit, I left the house once again in search of answers. Seriously – what the hell was this place, why was it so nice and why had I never heard of it before?
Despite being what I have shamelessly dubbed the most romantic town in Northern England, it’s not on most travellers’ radars. That seems unfair, given all Yarm has going for it. It’s small, it’s friendly and it’s safe. According on a 2012 study which examined factors like school quality, childcare provision, affordability and crime levels, Yarm is the tenth best town to bring up a family in England and Wales.
Of course there’s nothing sexy or romantic about academic studies, but I just want to give you an idea of how quietly perfect Yarm is. Yarm is the girl who sits in the first row in class but still manages to be effortlessly cool. She’s nice to everyone, rarely gets into trouble and is adorably preppy. She’s timelessly beautiful but unafraid to try new things. In short, she’s absolutely rad and you will want to be friends with her regardless of her silly name.
Because there seem to be so few good articles about Yarm on the Internet, I’m taking it upon myself today to show you all of its cutest corners and tell you all about the best things to do in Yarm, should you choose to visit it. Here are my romantic suggestions befitting of this romantic English town…
True Lovers’ WalkWhat better place to begin your romantic getaway than True Lovers’ Walk? The riverside path is named after a tomb in the nearby St Mary Magdalene church but don’t worry, it’s not too morbid! The tomb dates back to the 15th century and its original occupants – a man and a woman whose origin remains a mystery to this day – are known as the True Lovers. See? Simple.
The path will take you on a scenic walk alongside River Tees and the town’s iconic bridge, which you can see in the first photo. The original structure was built way back in 1400 and although that’s no longer standing, the new one is just as pretty. Definitely don’t leave your camera at home!
Shopping and SightseeingAs we’ve already established Yarm is not a big place, so when you get bored of your romantic stroll you can quickly get thee to the centre. If you’re feeling peckish you won’t struggle to find a cute cafe to satisfy your cravings – but don’t eat too much, because dinner time is where it’s at! But more on that later…
Instead, might I suggest a little sightseeing and retail therapy? The sightseeing will be pretty brief and mainly consist of looking at the town hall, which is the building in the photo above. Got that? Good, let’s move on to the shopping! In Yarm, you’ll be spoilt for choice with boutiques for all styles and budgets – although higher budgets are definitely favoured here, especially at The House which sells high end designer clothes.
If shopping isn’t your thing, there is lots of amazing nature nearby. You could take the car and drive up to Roseberry Topping for a lovely view or check out some waterfalls in the nearby North York Moors National Park. Or just grab a bike and explore the area – there are lots of little villages nearby which will surely disappoint neither the adventurer nor the romantic in you. My boyfriend also just reminded me to tell you that said villages have lots of amazing pubs, which definitely counts for something.
Dinner For TwoDinner time! I know I built it up in your head, but for good reason. Yarm is full of amazing restaurants – although be warned, they do have the price tag to match the food quality. The boyfriend and I had a lovely meal at Lucia’s Italian Kitchen – think fried scallops, roasted pork loin and succulent tomato pasta. They seem to have a new menu now, but it sounds delicious. Some other good tips would be Muse for a lovely Parisian vibe, Chai Wallah for Indian food or Santoro for more Italian.
If you’d like to go out afterwards, there are a few options. The Black Bull is a fun pub which used to be frequented by the likes of Oasis and is a great place to have a drink or four in their beer garden. If you’re after a night of dancing, The Cross Keys recently underwent a major refurbishment and it has a club upstairs. Saturday is your best bet for a bigger night out, but you could also come along on Tuesday for a slightly older crowd – it’s affectionately referred to as Grab-a-Granny night by locals.
And that just about concludes our romantic outing in Yarm! If you’re still scratching your head about the town’s silly name, here’s the simple answer. The name Yarm was likely derived the Old Norse word yarum meaning an enclosure to catch fish or from the Old English gearum with the same meaning. That’s as inoffensive a four-letter word as you can get…
You can obviously visit any time of year, but there are a few fun things to do in Yarm which you should know about. Every second Sunday of each month, the town has a Farmers’ Market. There is also a funfair held in the High Street during the third week of October – you can check out a few photos here.
Have you ever heard of Yarm? What are your favourite romantic
places to visit in the UK? I’d love to hear your recommendations!