In 2017 I rode to Hessay, a village west of York, to find the Centre of Yorkshire. At the point suggested by the Ordnance Survey as the county’s centroid, all I found was a cowpat.
Since then, however, the OS has refined its calculations. It now reckons the exact geographical middle – the point on which a Yorkshire-shaped cardboard cutout would balance, if you could wait long enough for the wind to stop blowing it around – is at BNG 449849.854 454205.65.
Or, as Google Maps would prefer it, 53.981513, -1.241358.
Whichever way you put it, the CoY is just outside Hessay, off a publicly accessible farm track, about a mile from where I went in 2017.
The Yorkshire Society (which asked the OS for the information in the first place) said they wanted to mark the spot with a plaque, but the only place I could see that you could fix a sign to is a tree a few dozen yards from the centre itself.
You can’t quite get to the point. (Just like those people on trains who talk incessantly to me about themselves; I clearly have a listening face.) It’s a handful of yards inside a field next to that farm track. Handily, there is a white stone almost exactly at the right spot.
There’s not much to see around here. This is flat farmland in the Vale of York, much of it underwater in this dreary wet weather pattern.
If you venture a mile or two away, though, there are a few things I’ve cycled to in the past that are worth a look. Nun Monkton, with England’s tallest maypole; the site of the historic Battle of Marston Moor; a Silly-Walks-inspired piece of road sign adulteration in Bilton-in-Ainsty.
And there are various other candidates for the ‘Centre of Yorkshire’ which I’ve cycled to, as well. Moor Monkton’s church; Barkston Ash’s ash; Cattal’s pub; Hessay’s cowpat.
But – at least at the time of writing, according to the OS’s latest calculations – the muddy field west of Hessay, possibly marked by a stone possibly not, is the exact centre of Yorkshire, and therefore the exact centre of the civilised world.
I rode home with a big tailwind back to York, stopping off for a bacon roll at the excellent, friendly community cafe in Rufforth, and negotiating fallen trees and flooded towpaths on my journey back home.
I’m not an egotistical person at all. But it was nice to know that, for a few minutes today, I was at the centre not just of my own world, but everyone else’s.