Expansive, picturesque moorlands give way to quaint villages right on the doorstep of vibrant metropolitan cities, in the heart of the north of England. Take a holiday in Yorkshire, for the historic county with everything.
Whether you’re aiming to occupy the kids at one of the many attractions, enjoy a ramble through the moors or soak up some history and culture in the city, the opportunities are endless in Yorkshire.
Places to Visit
York is undoubtedly the historical capital of the North. Although now a modern university city, you can’t turn a corner without being greeted by a quaint cobbled road or ruin while you’re in the centre. Whilst you’re there, why not visit the monumental York Minster. The building, considered the largest and one of the finest medieval buildings in Europe, actually has roots stretching all the way back to 627 AD. Simply breathe in the sights of the ornate architecture and stained glass windows or take a visit to The Undercroft, a new interactive exhibition and collection of artefacts held in the depths of the cathedral. If you’re lucky you might even catch one of the Cathedral Choir’s concerts. Once you’ve been in the minster, you simply have to take a stroll along the ancient city walls, which are just a stone’s throw away from the train station.
Although best known for its extensive moorland, Yorkshire is also home to some of the best coastlines in the country. None is more beautiful than Whitby in North Yorkshire, a small town nestled in a picturesque bay on the North Sea. Visit the town’s famous harbour for the authentic experience of a northern fishing town – you can even try your hand at catching your own crabs! If you have your sea legs, then there are plenty of boat trips on offer, too. Although fishing isn’t the staple of the town economy it once was, they still produce some of the finest seafood in the country. Stop by Quayside, once voted Britain’s best fish and chip shop, for a simple and tasty meal.
A popular tourist spot just south of Bradford, Haworth is famously the home of literary siblings, the Bronte Sisters. Visitors flock from all over the world to see the settings of some of their favourite works of literature as well as the home of the Bronte sisters. A picturesque town in the heart of West Yorkshire, even if you’re not an avid reader, the town’s winding streets, preserved Victorian shop fronts and dramatic surrounding moorland are well worth a visit. It’s the perfect spot for afternoon tea and scones in one of the village’s tea rooms before heading out to see some of the literary attractions. Take a stroll out to the Bronte Falls, across Bronte Bridge and you can even take a seat in the Bronte Stone Chair, where it’s said the sisters wrote their novels.
Handily located right next door to York train station, the National Railway Museum is a treat for all the family. Opened in 1975 and the hub for all train memorabilia and artefacts in the UK, the museum is one of the most popular attractions in the region. Discover over 300 years of history, from the invention of the steam engine up to the present day, with over 1 million fascinating artefacts and railway objects keep you occupied for hours. The museum has one of the biggest collections of model railways in the world, a newly restored miniature railway ride and spaces for younger children to learn and play. With so much on offer it’s sure to keep adults and kids alike enthralled and, best of all, it’s free!
This stately home and garden is just a short drive outside Leeds. Designed by famous landscaper Capability Brown, the grounds also feature the more recently opened ‘Himalayan Garden’, curated by TV gardener, Alan Titchmarsh. The estate is owned by David and Diane Lascelles, Earl and Countess of Harewood, but it’s open to visitors between March and October every year. The extensive grounds are home to wildlife including deer, hares, foxes and badgers and even the rare red kite, so definitely a must see for wildlife lovers. Inside the house itself, visitors can expect to see some of the finest 18th century interiors, exquisite paintings of the aristocracy through the ages and even regular contemporary art exhibitions.
Image credit: Harewood House Trust
Yorkshire Wildlife Park
Yorkshire may be the home to natural British wildlife such as deer and rabbits but, just outside Doncaster, there are more exotic species lurking in the grass. Yorkshire Wildlife Park is home to over 300 animals and over 60 different species, with a distinct ethos of promoting the conservation and protection of endangered animals. From the polar bears of the Arctic to the capybaras of South America, you can discover and learn about wildlife from all over the world, all in South Yorkshire. One of the highlights has to be the ‘Lion Country’ enclosure, which is home to a pride of lions, including rescued big cats from a zoo in Romania.
Leeds Festival has been running annually since 1999 and is one of the biggest festivals in the country. Held in Bramham Park, just outside the city, headliners in recent years have included Arctic Monkeys, Radiohead and Guns ’n’ Roses. Traditionally taking place on the August Bank Holiday every year, it’s the perfect festival for families with older children who want to experience a festival together.
White Horse Walk
This short and iconic walk is a must for those visiting the region. Named after the historic turf cut landmark that it passes, the 3-mile ramble does feature some inclines but is generally suitable for the whole family. Situated in Sutton Bank National Park, the route first trails along the plateau of the park leading up to a view of the region’s famous ‘Kilburn White Horse’, a horse-shaped pattern cut into the hillside and marked out with limestone chips. The Kilburn White Horse is an astounding 97 metres long and was initially constructed by schoolmaster John Hodgson and his pupils. It was restored in 1925 and has been a popular tourist spot ever since.
Just a couple of miles longer, this 5-mile ramble takes in fantastic views as well as passing right by some of the fascinating archaeological remains found in the area. The route passes the epic ‘Hole of Horcrum’, a natural 400 ft. deep, half a mile-wide amphitheatre cut into the landscape, otherwise known as the ‘Devil’s Punchbowl’. There’s also an opportunity to catch a nostalgic view of a steam train passing if you fancy a diversion to the ruins of Skelton Tower, about another 2 miles all in.
The Yorkshire Three Peaks
This walk isn’t for the faint-hearted. Taking in the three biggest peaks in Yorkshire (Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside, Ingleborough), the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge is the smaller alternative to its national cousin, but that isn’t to say it’s easy. It can take up to 12 hours and is generally undertaken in independent groups or organised by the Three Peaks Challenge organisation. Although it’s 24 miles long, don’t be put off by the distance as you get an unrivalled view across the Pennines that makes it all worth it. Celebrate with a well-earned drink afterwards at the Old Hill Inn, situated at the end of the route.
My Perfect Stay
Known for its Roman and Viking heritage, the county of Yorkshire is absolutely stunning, from it’s seamlessly never-ending countryside, to its Norman castles and medieval abbeys – there’s something on offer for everyone!
I’ve spent the last 2 Christmas’ in lovely York, and it’s such a beautiful city to visit for a wander around the shops and to sample the cosy pubs. Enjoy an Afternoon Tea at stunning Gray’s Court, the UK’s oldest continuously occupied house, dating back over 900 years, followed by a meander around ‘The Shambles’, a maze of twisting narrow lanes and cobbled streets. Stop for dinner at The Old White Swan, offering traditional pub food and cask ales in this cosy 16th century building – and make sure to watch out for the ghost!
Just 20 minutes outside of York, you can find Griffon Forest tucked away in 100 acres of woodland. Offering a network of walks and trails and ‘Wild Watch’ cameras which beam live footage of the abundant wildlife, as well as outdoor hot tubs on every lodge, Griffon Forest is a haven of peace and tranquillity and the perfect rural retreat.