Yorkshire is the UK’s largest county and I think it’s a great place to live in! There’s no bias going on here, as I’ve got no reason to be; especially because I’m not from here. However, after moving to Leeds in 2000, my penchant for a good old day trip has allowed me get to know the place a bit better.
When I thought about the old-school stereotypes often associated with Yorkshire, the phrase ‘flat-cap and whippet’, Last of the Summer Wine, Yorkshire Pudding and Wensleydale cheese, amongst others, sprung to mind. These were things that as a person uneducated on the area had thought before actually living here. But there’s so much more to the county, and it has a great deal to offer with coastal regions, National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and loads of cultural and historic landmarks.
As you can imagine with food, I’ve documented much of what I’ve seen with photographs, literally thousands. I often look back, open an album and happily day dream about trips and mini jaunts around the county. So I thought it’d be a nice idea to share some of the places I’ve enjoyed visiting, I hope you don’t mind. Being the largest in the country, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to see and do everything on offer in Yorkshire, but here’s a selection of the places that are memorable to me.
There’s no order as such; I’ve just started with landmarks in Leeds and then worked my way outwards.
Kirkstall Abbey – I used to live just up the road in Leeds and see this gem every day. With the River Aire running alongside the grounds surrounding the abbey, it’s an amazing sight whether strolling through the park, driving past or nowadays when I run passed. The abbey and grounds are still used for local cultural events, such as monthly Kirkstall Deli Market and yearly held Classical Fantasia. One memory that’ll always stick in the mind was a friend’s birthday celebrated with a sports day in the grounds! Three-legged, sack, egg and spoon and wheel barrow races galore all went on, all whilst swans gracefully swam passed us!
Bolton Abbey is slap bang in the Yorkshire Dales on the banks of the River Wharfe. With the Priory ruins surrounded by beautiful countryside, and mile after mile of footpaths. There’s plenty of space to explore and relax in, whatever age you are, I always like to test my nerve and cross the river using the 57 stepping stones which span it. The Strid Wood down the river is another lovely part to see if you get the chance.
Bingley Five Rise Locks – a well known landmark of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, it first opened in the 1700’s and is operated by long-standing lock keeper Barry Whitelock MBE. Five Rise Locks are the tallest set of locks in the country.
Yorkshire is crazy lucky to have so much art and creativity in abundance, across the region. Highlights include The Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle; made up of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, The Hepworth Museum, Leeds Art Gallery and the Henry Moore Institute. If that’s not enough, Salts Mill built by Sir Titus Salt in Saltaire is home to the art of David Hockney.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park is one of the best, if not the best, outdoor art space currently in the UK, just this year it was named Art Museum of the Year 2014, by the Art Fund. With indoor galleries, acres of beautiful parkland and the River Dearne in West Bretton, they showcase contemporary and modern art from some of the world’s leading artists. There’s always something new to see and experience and is one of my favourite places in the county.
Hepworth Museum – I like to think of the Hepworth as a modern beauty on Yorkshire’s landscape, located on the edge of the River Calder in Wakefield. It exhibits contemporary art, the museums central focus is the work of Barbara Hepworth, and contemporaries such as Henry Moore and Ben Nicholson.
Haworth, Keighley & Worth Valley Rail – the in-laws are very knowledgeable on Yorkshire as a whole, and were the first to introduce me this part of the world. I’d watched the film The Railway Children as a child, but had no idea it was filmed on location near here. A trip to Haworth on an original steam train is the start of a lovely day out for the family! It’s not just the railway that attracts visitors, but the areas connection to the Brontë sisters, quaint shops, such as Rose & Co’s Apothecary and the rugged outdoors of Haworth. The area is synonymous with beautiful countryside, and often called Brontë country due to its links to the books.
Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden found near Ripon, is Grade I listed and on the prestigious list of UNESCO World Heritage sights. A Cistercian monastery, one of the largest in the England which was disbanded by Henry VIII in the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The Abbey itself is stunning to wander through, but hours could be easily spent meandering around the water gardens surrounded by follies and other hidden treasures. One of the highlights for me is the view from Anne Boleyns’ seat which shows how the River Skell winds itself around the landscape.
Malham Cove, Gordale Scar and Janet’s Foss in Malhamdale are three of the areas main draws. Well known for its limestone pavement, I remember spectacular views and gasping when the other half dropped off the edge to take a photo for me. Luckily he was on a lip, even to this day looking at the photo makes my stomach turn. The unusual landscape full of Clints (limestone blocks) and Grykes (gaps) created by acid erosion have resulted in a unique environment, so you’ll often see the likes of plants Wood Sorrel and Herb Robert. Gordale Scar is something that caught me unawares, as you don’t actually see it until you walk around and into the Scar. The waterfall was formed after the Ice Age and is often climbed by many a brave soul. Then a short walk away is waterfall Janet’s Foss, which carries the water from Gordale Beck into a pool.
Knaresborough – this North Yorkshire market town is found around the River Nidd, Knaresborough Castle and Mother Shipton’s Cave are well-known landmarks easily within reach on a day trip. The view of the aqueduct spanning the river is stunning, and definitely worth a moment of anyone’s time for a photo opportunity. Other local gems York, Harrogate and Ripon are close by.
Skipton Castle – I love Skipton Castle! I’m a big castle fan anyway, I don’t know why, I just love ’em and have visited quite a few! This one is particularly special because at over 900 years old it’s been very well preserved and still has it’s roof intact! When you visit you get an excellent map which sends you on a trail around the castle to explore. The area of Skipton is lovely in itself and this year came top in The Sunday Times’s annual survey to find the 101 Best Places to Live in Britain, not bad eh?!
Ribblehead Viaduct – the 24 arches of this viaduct is an attraction of the Settle-Carlisle Railway. The train journey provides you with lots of beautiful landscapes, such as Bingley Five Rise Locks and the Three Peaks Ingleborough, Whernside and Pen-y-Ghent.
Brimham Rocks in Nidderdale is where’ll you find unusual rock formations, some seem to balance as if by magic. The other half remembers visiting as a child and is often frequented by families as it’s a fab day out with tonnes of exploring potential. Views stretch out as far as 40 miles in some parts and throughout the year, the views change as plant types change with the seasons. A few miles away is the delightful Pateley Bridge too.
Rievaulx Abbey – one of county’s most beautiful abbey ruins, found in the North Yorks Moor National Park, close to Helmsley and has the River Rye running nearby. I just love how beautiful and peaceful the place is!
Yorkshire is fortunate to benefit from some beautiful coastal areas, such as Whitby and Scarborough, all have a unique character of their own and great fish and chips! Whitby with their ever present red-roofed houses, Whitby Abbey and the 199 steps which need to be ascended to reach it, for those lovers of fish and chips the famous The Magpie Cafe is a landmark.
Now as you can imagine with Yorkshire being so vast, looking after it is by no means an easy task, so Yorkshire Water has put together a plan called Blueprint to ultimately ‘take better care of our little part of the world’ and try to do their bit. Such as improving the quality of water at our beaches to increase the number achieving blue flag status. Make sure the regions sewers and reservoirs are well maintained and working with the Environment Agency to improve the areas natural environment. Hopefully the work they’ve already done and plans they have for the future will bring even more tourism and draw in new businesses to the county.
So if you’ve got this far, I’ll just say ‘thanks for reading!’ I personally think any investment to improve the area is fantastic, and as part of writing this post and looking at the county, it’s given me a thirst to explore the region even further. I know I’ve only scratched the surface of the beauties in Yorkshire, where in the county do you love to visit and why? I’d like to read some of your ideas!
DISCLAIMER: I am writing this post to promote Yorkshire as I’ve always loved the area and what it has to offer, part of this was to mention Yorkshire Water’s Blueprint for Yorkshire as a sponsored post.