Policeman turned author Mike Pannett has penned a successful series of autobiographical books about his North Yorkshire beat – and has now turned his attention to the landscape which forms the backdrop to his escapades.
Mike Pannett’s Yorkshire takes the readers on a tour of the real-life places behind Now Then, Lad; Just the Job, Lad and Not on My Patch, Lad.
He has spent the last year touring the county with award-winning York-based photographer John Potter. The pair collaborated to produce the hardback book packed with stories and pictures from locations mentioned in the ‘Lad’ series.
Mike said: “If working in Yorkshire was a delight and a privilege, then being asked to compile this book is a real honour.
“When the photographer John Potter asked me for a list of the places that feature in the books – places where I’d chased poachers and burglars, investigated incidents involving wildlife, or gone out to join the search for missing hikers – I told him to brace himself. It would be quite a list. I think it ran to 14 pages.
“It has taken John a full year, seeking out those very specific locations and waiting for ideal conditions. Occasionally he invited me to join him as he compiled a set of pictures which truly do justice to this great piece of country.
“North Yorkshire has a place deep in my heart.
“I love it for its natural beauty, for the diversity if its landscape, for the space and solitude I find there.
“And also for the characters it produces, the warmth of the welcome I receive in the tea shops, pubs and market places.”
Born in Yorkshire, Mike applied to join the police force and was turned down because he wore glasses – so it was off to London for the young man where he joined the Met.
He served for 10 years before returning to Ryedale in 1998 and taking on a rural patch which stretched from Staxton to Helmsley and beyond.
He settled first in Leavening. “No matter what else was happening, I only had to lean on a gate and look out across the Vale of York towards the Pennines and my mood lifted,” said Mike.
His times at the Jolly Farmers in Leavening with Algy, Walter and Soapy are recounted in Now Then, Lad.
A chapter on My Roots takes his readers to Staintondale, just outside Scarborough, where Mike spent many childhood holidays.
“We would run down to the waterfall at Hayburn Wyke and lark about on the beach.
“Mum and dad would treat us to fish and chips in the town but we’d usually have lunch at the Hayburn Wyke Inn, a place I still visit with my wife to enjoy a pint of real ale,” said Mike, who lives with Ann and their children in the shadow of the North York Moors.
Many of the chapters in Mike’s picture celebration of North Yorkshire and the Wolds, include scenes from what he and his fellow coppers called the Crime Corridor – the A64.
“It was the senior management team that came up with the name and it sounds a lot more exciting than the plain old Malton bypass and we adopted it straight away – albeit with our tongues planted firmly in our cheeks.”
No wonder when you hear the crimes he investigated – students who put their lives in peril trying to paddle a boat down Kirkham weir and mysterious footprints at Ganton golf club – feared to be left by the Ryedale Panther.
Mike formed an organisation made up of residents called Country Watch which had their first meeting at the Dawnay Arms in West Heslerton – which is featured in the book.
Wildlife also gets a look in – deer in Hovingham Woods, owls and other birds of prey, badgers and poachers’ fare including rabbits.
Mike was based in Malton so it’s not surprising that it is at the heart of his book.
It is also where he met his wife Ann who was also a member of the force – and won her heart by buying her a turkey at Malton Christmas market.
He reserves special praise for Yates’ shop. “It’s a Malton institution. All human life is there. You can get a ride on a lawnmower, a quad-bike, buy a yard brush or pair of wellies – or if you fancy a pig’s ear – there’s a bin of them by the door.”
North Yorkshire Moors Railway is one of Mike’s favourite places . As a boy he was fascinated by trains and would walk from his home to the Scarborough line.
“Through my work promoting the Now Then, Lad books I got to know the folks at the railway and have been privileged to ride behind the legendary number 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley, now that’s what I call a treat!” said Mike.
Staintondale and Scarborough hold a special place in Mike’s heart but his favourite seaside resort is Whitby.
“Narrow streets, the macarbre associations with Count Dracula and of course the famous fish suppers. You can’t beat them,” he said.
“My patch embraced 600 square miles of the most beautiful landcapes the county has to offer – John and I have tried to capture the essence of them in words and pictures for this book.”