Yarm is one of the North East's most colourful towns
PUBLISHED: 23:16 17 October 2012 | UPDATED: 22:05 20 February 2013
Some people go to Yarm to paint the town red – while others prefer yellow, green or blue. Andrew Smith dons his sunglasses to check out this most dazzling location
Think of Yarm and you think colour. This attractive Tees Valley market town is a veritable palette of bright, vibrant colour.
The Georgian-style brickwork of its High Street buildings and alleyways exudes rustic, warmth, the cobblestones create an ever-changing hue underfoot, especially after rain, and the colour washes used on the many rendered frontages of buildings create a rainbow that spans the entire town centre. And theres gold aplenty at the end of the rainbow here.
On entering the town from the north, across the road bridge that spans a huge meander of the River Tees that defines the boundaries on three sides of this artistic masterpiece, the strong, dazzling azure blue of a computer shop sets the confident tone for the High Street over which it stands sentinel.
Greens, yellows, creams, pinks, reds, and purples of many hues, from subtle to strident, create brightness on even the most overcast day.
And this is reflected in the people of Yarm the traders, the shoppers, the innkeepers and the visitors. Yarm doesnt do grey, unless its deliberately used to suggest quality.
If the North East was a department store, Yarm would be among the designer concessions.
The town, established more than 900 year ago, is always a pleasure to visit. Thanks to the loop of the Tees in which it nestles, its a compact town comprising a wide High Street typical of several in South Durham and North Yorkshire, from which short tentacles of beautiful and secluded alleyways extend to the river.
And Yarm achieves what so many towns find difficult these days its High Street shops are fully occupied and include a wide range of bespoke, quality shops in addition to the almost obligatory banks and business outlets and a smattering of charity shops. Theres also a small branch of Sainsburys, but its so discreet that you could almost pass it by.
So the colour extends beyond the shop frontages, into window displays that offer a comprehensive range of clothing from undies to formal attire, nick-knacks and jewellery, antiques, art, gifts, food, sweets with magical names served in the traditional way from large jars, cafs, restaurants and a great selection of bars that act as a magnet for partygoers and visitors of all ages.
When Prince Harry was stationed at RAF Leeming for a spell of training he reportedly visited Yarm with friends to enjoy the social life and managed to keep his clothes on and the singles nights for the more mature revellers are legendary. Its no wonder Yarm was once voted by BBC Breakfast as the Best High Street for something old and something new.
And its no surprise either that the town, with its deserved eputation for good living, good food and great shopping is a popular base for footballers and other celebrities.
For those seeking more peaceful enjoyment, Yarm provides a beautiful location for window shopping, people watching or taking a walk along the riverside. The 43-arch viaduct, which took just four years to build starting in 1848, still dominates the skyline to the west of the High Street.
It is best approached along Atlas Wynd, once the site of a pungent skinnery but now fragrance itself. The path joins the True Lovers Walkway, running along the rivers edge and this in turn reaches the 65ft arches of the viaduct.
The viaduct still carries an operating railway line and, while in some locations such a dominant structure would be regarded as a monstrosity, the blend of stonework and old brickwork combined with its sheer, enormous grace, make it a fabulous backdrop to the town.