For most of us late December and the New Year is a time for family, friends and festive celebration. Christmas Eve in particular brings a great sense of relief as, hopefully the shopping, wrapping, decoration and travelling is all done and the children (well, all of us actually, of course!) anticipate with excitement Father Christmas’ arrival. Obviously Santa Claus has to plan a complicated route from the North Pole to everybody’s house – so whose home is closest to Father Christmas and so perhaps most likely for early delivery and least likely to be forgotten?
Compass villages are those which are the easternmost, westernmost, southernmost and northernmost in a county, region or country. And it is the northernmost compass places that are closest to the North Pole and Father Christmas’ home. Where are the ‘Father Christmas First’ villages, therefore?
Overall in the UK it is the village of Skaw on the Isle of Unst in the Shetland Islands of Scotland (Grid Reference HP66171541).Skaw is a tiny hamlet on an island with only 630 residents, and is “only” 3230 km from the North Pole, which is quite close in terms of Santa Claus’ Christmas schedule.
In England the most northerly settlement is Marshall Meadows (Grid Reference NT97915630), a hamlet on the coast of Marshall Meadows Bay, 4km north of Berwick-upon-Tweed in Northumberland. It sits very close to the England/Scotland border, and although remote within the UK is very close to the main A1 road and also the London to Edinburgh East Coast railway line. The hamlet has a hotel, a farm, a caravan site and a few isolated houses. Marshall Meadows is 3801km from the North Pole!
In Northern Ireland the most northerly settlement is Rathlin Island (village) which lies 8km off the north coast of County Antrim (Grid Reference NR34390678). The island has a population of c75, and is a 45 minute ferry trip from the nearest mainland town of Ballycastle. Rathlin Island is 3893km from the North Pole.
And in Wales the northernmost village is Talacre, near Prestatyn, in Flintshire, which is in the ceremonial county of Clwyd (Grid Reference SJ12368452). Its population is c150, and it is principally a holiday retreat on the North wales coast. It is 4078km from the North Pole.
Closer to home you might be interested in where the northern compass village is in your own county. In Greater London, for example, the northern compass village is Bulls Cross, 2km north of Enfield. It was first recorded as a village in 1465, but is most famous today as the home of Tottenham Hotspur FC’s training ground (Grid Reference TQ34209950).
Two questions arise from all of this. Firstly, if Skaw might expect Father Christmas first, who might expect to be last on his list in the UK? Most probably it’s the southernmost village which is St Agnes in the Isles of Scilly (in the county of Cornwall), which is 4458km from the North Pole (Grid Reference SV88770720).
The second question is “who gets the New Year first in the UK?” In practice we all get it at the same time, as the clock strikes midnight in all places at the same moment across the whole of the UK. But actually of course, the true moment of the start of a new day (and year) progresses continuously from East to West, so the place in the UK which technically gets the New Year first is the easternmost compass settlement, which is the town of Lowestoft in Suffolk (Grid Reference TM54709210). The western compass settlement is the town of Belleek in County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland (Grid Reference NV00822544), which in universal time terms actually welcomes the New Year last in the UK – if true global time was in use this would be about 45 minutes after Lowestoft!
Happy New Year!!!
The Must Get Out More Question !
Where in the UK is the oldest football ground in the world which is still in use?
(Hint- it isn’t a club ground in the main professional leagues in the UK!)
The Answer to the Last Question
Where is the remotest place in England i.e. the place that is furthest from a public road?
The most remote place in England is close to the summit of Glendhu Hill in Northumberland, which is 7.627km from the nearest classified road. It is close to the Scottish border to the west of Kielder Forest.
(Grid Reference NY58008558))
The Record Locations
You can use the Grid References provided to locate record locations on a map at www.streetmap.co.uk