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Yorkshire - Heartbeat Country

Welcome to North Yorkshire

The author and his county

Yorkshire's popularity as a tourist destination has increased as a result of the Heartbeat TV series: hence such publications as the Discovery Guides to Heartbeat Country, which will prove useful to anyone trying to trace the roots of Nicholas Rhea's Constable books and the consequent Heartbeat TV series through the reality of North Yorkshire.

Peter Walker has also written non-fiction about Yorkshire, both under the name Nicholas Rhea and writing as Peter N. Walker. Some of these articles appear on these pages, and in his Country Diary on this site, and you will also find a mixture of background reading and practical information.

Murders and Mysteries of the North York Moors

He has also written a number of books about the folklore of Yorkshire, full of fascinating stories about his home county. Murders and Mysteries of the North Yorkshire Moors is a chilling investigation of foul deeds and mysterious deaths. Peter N Walker leads the reader through his native countryside in search of the truth behind many unexplained mysteries and unsolved murders. Isolated moorland inns and quiet dales conceal memorable tales of passion and despair from ancient times right up to the present day. This wide-ranging and breathtaking collection of murders and mysteries is intriguing and informative, whether you know the North York Moors or not - and it is available from Amazon UK in a Kindle edition.

Notable characters

Two pieces of Nicholas Rhea's writing present portraits of two very different Yorkshire characters. The serious one is his book Blessed Nicholas Postgate, the Martyr of the Moors, an in-depth study of this charismatic priest of the North York Moors, a project he has nurtured since the earliest days of his writing career (you can now follow Nicholas Rhea's research on Nicholas Postgate on its own section of this website).

In total contrast, he also contributed a light-hearted piece to a book published by Bettys of Harrogate, which attempts to answer the question: "Who was Betty?" Nicholas Rhea explains: "Many of you may have visited Bettys and enjoyed a pleasant afternoon tea in one of the famous restaurants. But have you ever asked yourself: Who was Betty? No one seems to know, not even the family who own the business. Frederick Belmont, who founded Bettys in 1919, steadfastly refused to divulge her identity and so the mystery remains.

Who Was Betty - the book

"Jonathan Wild, Group Chief Executive of Bettys, has always been curious as to who Betty really was. He also happens to be a keen conservationist and hit on a bright idea for bringing these two interests together. He asked Yorkshire writers to suggest the identity of Betty with a view to publishing their theories in a book, the profit to be donated to a special Yorkshire Rainforest Project. Jonathan and his family have been instrumental in raising funds to replace thousands of trees which have been destroyed in the rainforests, but still more effort is needed as acres of rainforest are being destroyed every day.

"Several famous authors were approached, including Joanne Harris, Kay Mellor, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Jilly Cooper and others, so I was extremely flattered and delighted to be invited to contribute my own theory."

You can read his solution in Who was Betty?, a whimsical collection of tall stories, published by Bettys & Taylors of Harrogate; it costs £5.99 from all Bettys outlets or can be ordered at Bettys online shop or from Amazon. And you can read more about the Yorkshire Rainforest Project here.

Nicholas Rhea, Yorkshireman

Yorkshire, and in particular North Yorkshire, are at the heart of Nicholas Rhea's books, especially, but not only, the Constable series. So it was a particular delight for Peter Walker - Nicholas Rhea's real name - to be honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Yorkshire Rural Awards on May 22nd 2008. The award was given in recognition of his years of hard work and dedication to his craft. He has had more than 130 books published, both fiction and non-fiction - and most of them are inspired by and set in the dales and moors of North Yorkshire.

Peter Walker and Sir Ken Morrison holding their awards

The award was presented by former schools inspector, and now author and raconteur, Gervaise Phinn. Peter Walker received his award alongside Sir Ken Morrison, founder of the supermarket chain Morrisons, who was pronounced Yorkshireman of the Year. (They are pictured together above.)

Peter Walker said: "I was most surprised and delighted to receive this wonderful award. The Yorkshire Rural Awards are highly significant because they reflect the work, skills and enterprise of people within the county. I feel extremely proud and honoured to be included in this year's presentations."

The awards, which are sponsored by the Dalesman magazine, recognise successful small and large businesses, community groups and individuals based in rural Yorkshire.

North Yorkshire Moors Railways

Heartbeat's Aidensfield Station is, in real life, Goathland Station on the unique steam railway line that crosses the moors from Grosmont to Pickering. A trip on the Evening Star train is a must for fans of Heartbeat and for steam railway enthusiasts - but everyone will appreciate the spectacular scenery.