Yorkshire offers some of the best outdoor adventures as well as curious cities and attractions to explore. Here are some of my favourite things to do in glorious Yorkshire:
1. Visit Saltaire
A world heritage site, Saltaire sits on the outskirts of Bradford in West Yorkshire. Located on the river Aire and the Leeds-Liverpool Canal it offers a variety of intriguing shops, cafés and restaurants as well as Roberts park, the Glen Tramway and of course, the ever popular; Fanny’s Ale House.
There is also the famous Salts Mill. Attracting visitors from all over the globe, the former textile mill now contains an art gallery, shopping centre and restaurant. It features many paintings by the local artist David Hockney as well as visiting exhibitions.
After a potter around the shops and a pint or two of real ale or cider at Fanny’s, there is nothing better to do than relax in Roberts Park. Though technically in Baildon, the park is linked to Saltaire via a pedestrian footbridge. Saltaire Park, as it was originally named, was initially designed for Sir Titus Salt but was later purchased by Sir James Roberts, who renamed it Roberts Park in dedication to his son. The park features a bronze status of Sir Titus Salt and in the summer months there is often live music in the bandstand for the whole family to enjoy.
A short walk from the park you can enjoy a trip on the Glen Tramway. Now solely staffed by volunteers, this historic funicular tramway ascends through the wooded Glen and also houses a small museum showing the history of the tramway. For just £1, it is a little trip through history that cannot be missed. Once you reach the top you can also treat yourself to a drink or meal at The Old Glen House or enjoy a walk along Baildon Moor.
2. Hike across Ilkley Moor
There are various starting points for this walk including Saltaire village and the aforementioned Glen. From both, you can enjoy a reasonable walk across the moors into Ilkley. If you choose one of these routes, I would strongly recommend a pit stop at Dick Hudsons, for a refreshing drink or bite to eat: a lovely pub with wonderful views, good food and a friendly atmosphere.
From there you can access the Moors and hike across into the centre of Ilkley. Although bleak in some seasons, the moors offer some great views of the Yorkshire countryside and the opportunity to spot local wildlife, including (my personal favourite) the ‘laughing’ grouse. While in Ilkley there is plenty to keep you occupied, from shops and restaurants to bars and parks. And if you don’t fancy the hike back to your starting point, it’s easy to catch the train and arrive back in Shipley/Saltaire in a matter of minutes.
3. Take a Trip to Knaresborough
Growing up on the “wrong side of the hills” (Lancashire), I had never heard of Knaresborough until recently. I was intrigued by its petrifying well and decided to take a trip to see what all the fuss was about. I wasn’t disappointed. Knaresborough is a historic market town, only a few miles from the centre of Harrogate, North Yorkshire. Sights include the remains of the castle, a railway viaduct over the river Nidd and my favourite; Mother Shipton’s Cave.
Mother Shipton’s cave is shrouded in mystery and I was very much gripped by the famous tales as I wandered through the visitors attraction now dedicated to her legacy. Ursula Southeil, better known as Mother Shipton, is said to have been an English prophetess who’s prophecies were first published in 1641, eight years after her reported death. Legend has it she was born in Knaresborough in a cave, now aptly named Mother Shipton’s cave. The cave can be found next to the petrifying well which forms part of the visitors’ attraction telling the story of her life and predictions. The petrifying well is a fascinating spectacle and the oldest entrance charging tourist attraction in England, opened in 1630.
I won’t ruin the full details of the charming story of Mother Shipton’s life and prophecies but it is well worth a trip to discover this legend.
4. Visit York
York is a must see spot for those visiting the UK and escaping the famous London attractions to venture further north. Founded by the ancient Romans, it is a walled city with a striking 13th century Gothic Cathedral: York Minster. The walls form walkways on both side of the River Ouse, from which you can take in many of the city sights.
York Minster is York’s most iconic and well-known landmark and is one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe. It is a magnificent structure with its gothic decoration, gargoyles and heart-shaped West Window: known as the ‘Heart of Yorkshire’.
York also boast its own castle, which fell into disrepair in the 15th and 16th centuries while being used to imprison local felons and political prisoners. During the outbreak of the English civil war it was refortified and repaired before being destroyed again by an explosion in 1684. The ruins of the famous Clifford’s Tower have now become a well populated tourist destination and an English Heritage site. The other remaining buildings house the Castle Museum and Crown Court which you can visit for a fee.
If you fancy learning even more the city’s history there is also the York Dungeon. The Dungeon promises to take you on a trip through the darker side of times gone by, with live shows and frightening encounters with some of the city’s most despicable characters.
When visiting York, take time to meander through the various streets, admiring the old buildings and exploring the diverse shops and eateries. The Shambles, an old street in the centre with overhanging timber-framed buildings, is also a must, as well as the Snickelways. These are a collection of small streets and footpaths in the city leading between buildings that seem to take you back in time.
5. Hang Out in Leeds
Leeds is located in West Yorkshire and is an up and coming hub of entertainment, culture and commerce. It is served by four universities and has the fourth largest student population in the UK. Reachable via Leeds-Bradford Airport, National Rail or local transport links, it is a city easily accessible. Leeds has plenty to offer people of all interests and ages; from theatres and museums to shopping and bars.
Leeds has a vibrant music scene with various venues, from small grass root pubs and bars to the newly construction Leeds Arena (First Direct Arena). The arena is a 13,500 capacity venue, opened in September 2013, which plays host to many world famous acts including Sir Elton John, Bruce Springsteen and Rod Stewart. As well as its music scene, Leeds is also a nightlife hotspot. Whatever your taste, Leeds has a bar, pub, club or venue to cater for it.
For those more interested in cultural experiences Leeds has those covered too, with several museums, theatres and art galleries located across the city. These include the renowned Royal Armouries Museum and Leeds Art Gallery.
For those wanting to take advantage of the shopping amenities, Trinity Leeds is the place to be. The shopping and leisure complex houses a Cinema, 120 shops to suit every budget and even a great in-house cocktail bar. There are also fabulous restaurants and Trinity Kitchen which hosts both permanent and ‘pop-up’ vendors, so you are never short of somewhere to grab a tasty meal or snack.
There’s so much to discover in Leeds. Take a day and I’m sure you will find something that suits your needs. If that fails, you are only a few train stops from all the other places on this list, so you’ll never be stuck for something to do!
6. Go and See Malham Cove
Malham Cove is a limestone formation in North Yorkshire. The curved feature was formed by a waterfall at the end of the Ice Age more than 12,000 years ago. Now a well known beauty spot, it is a great place for a walk, picnic or just to sit and admire the rare view. For fans of Harry Potter, Malham was also the set of many scenes from The Deathly Hollows.
7. Complete the Yorkshire Three Peaks
Whernside, Pen-y-ghent and Ingleborough are collectively known as the ‘Three Peaks’. They form part of the Pennine range in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Known as the ‘Yorkshire Three Peaks’, to separate them from the ‘National Three Peaks’ (Ben Nevis, Snowdon and Scafell Pike), the complete route is 24 miles and includes 5,200ft of ascent. The usual challenge is to complete it in less than 12 hours but even if you tackle these peaks one at a time they are still a great venture to undertake.
8. See a show in Bradford
Bradford, despite its often bad reputation, is home to the beautiful Alhambra theatre. A jewel in the city, the Grade II listed building underwent extensive refurbishment in 1986 and today is a receiving house for large scale touring theatre of all genres; ballet, comedy, opera, musicals and everything in between, including Yorkshire’s biggest Panto!
While in Bradford, it would be foolish to not take advantage of indulging in a traditional (and delicious) Bradford curry! Inexpensive and with plenty of choice, Bradford has some of the best curry houses in the UK and is well worth a try.
9. Visit Skipton Castle
Skipton is a market town in North Yorkshire, located on the River Aire and the Leeds-Liverpool Canal. Skipton is a town that you can enjoy simply by wandering through its streets and admiring the views but it is also home to Skipton Castle. This medieval castle was built in 1090 and has been preserved for over 900 years. Visitors can enter the castle, which is also a private residence and explore all corners of the historic structure from the Dungeon to the Privy! The castle gives visitors a glimmer into Skipton’s past and a chance to discover all its interesting features; including the recently uncovered well which helped archaeologists to explain how the castle garrison survived the siege of 1643-5.
10. Spend a few hours in Hebden Bridge
Hebden Bridge is a small town in West Yorkshire, in the Upper Calder Valley. This town retains an old town feel and is known for its creative arts scene. The Arts Festival and Fringe Arts Festival take place every year in June as well as the midsummer Hebden Bridge Handmade Parade: a vivid, non-commercial small town parade. The BBC One crime drama series Happy Valley, written by Halifax-born Sally Wainwright, was also filmed and set in and around the town.
The town has a diverse music scene and you are never far from live music: from buskers and open mic nights to workshops and jam sessions. The town also hosts a Blues Festival during the Spring Bank Holiday, in May.
It is a small but vibrant town and the creative scene is clearly visible. Not somewhere to spend days or weeks but definitely somewhere for a stop while in Yorkshire.
Not by any means a definitive list but some highlights of my time in Yorkshire so far. Have you been to Yorkshire? What are your highlights?