Coast, countryside … AND cities … Yorkshire has it all in abundance. Heaps of heritage, stylish shopping, brilliant bars, café culture, meandering through museums and admiring the arts … step out in the county’s cities for a day trip or an overnight stay.
It’s no surprise that the cosmopolitan city of Bradford is bidding to be the 2025 City of Culture. With a wealth of world-renowned arts venues, museums, award-winning parks, world-class food and so much more to offer. From the Brontës to Hockney, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Saltaire and being the world’s first UNESCO City of Film, plus it boasts stunning historic buildings and theatres which have hosted such greats as Bowie and Dickens, its culture and creative legacy is outstanding. There are art galleries, concert halls and where else has been awarded Britain’s Curry Capital six years in a row?
Top TV and fabulous films have been shot here amongst its amazing architecture, from Gentleman Jack, Peaky Blinders and Victoria to The King’s Speech, Official Secrets and Downton Abbey, plus so much more.
Take a short train ride from the city centre to Saltaire, a village with cobbled streets, canal barges, independent shops and restaurants serving delicious delicacies, plus the magnificent Salts Mill, home to Hockney galleries, stylish stores and excellent eateries.
Bradford’s Industrial Museum has a motorbike ridden by man of the moment and This Is Y star Captain Sir Tom Moore on display. The international hero and local lad rode it competitively in his younger years.
You can visit the city centre’s National Science and Media Museum to see a whole host of excellent exhibitions from days gone by to the present day, in a venue with spectacular views across Bradford.
Haworth on the outskirts of this great city was home to the world-renowned literary legends The Bronte sisters (Charlotte, Emily and Anne) and their home the Bronte Parsonage Museum now reopened to the public, has a special exhibition dedicated to youngest sibling Anne in her bicentenary year (200 years since her birth). Hike, as the Brontes would have done up to Top Withens, said to be the inspiration for Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights or wander down the steep, cobbled main street lined with tempting tearooms, sweet shops and cute cottage stores to the heritage Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the film The Railway Children, the location for the 1970’s classic film and offering ‘Back in Steam’ special rides.
The spa town of Ilkley is on the doorstep with the colossal Cow and Calf Rocks nestled on the surrounding moorland of this stunning town offering stylish shopping, brilliant bars and restaurants, a Bettys Café Tea Room and spectacular walks along the riverside or across the majestic moors. Ilkley Manor House has an ‘Inside Out’ series of podcasts and self-guided walks.
Visit Hull the UK City Of Culture (before the title’s sent to Coventry in 2021). Look out for updates from its top entertainment and events venues, including the Bonus Arena with its colourful collection of world-class acts from the rescheduled Blossoms to Simply Red and although temporarily closed due to COVID-19, top theatre productions have also been rescheduled at the city’s multi-award-winning venues Hull New Theatre (following an extensive and impressive £16 million refurbishment) and Hull Truck Theatre, that will continue to present inspiring productions that reflect the diversity of modern Britain.
Maritime history is abundant in Hull and a wander on the Fish Trail is a fun way to discover a unique piece of public art and to trawl the city centre catching sight of 41 fish, taking in the picturesque Old Town and thriving Fruit Market en route.
You can’t miss The Deep, an incredible piece of aquarium architecture on the water’s edge and home to 5,000 animals, where conservation is ‘quay’. Stay at Hideout Apartment Hotel, beautiful boutique accommodation located in the heart of the historic Old Town and only a 5-minute mooch to Hull’s hot spots. Marvel at the magnificent Hull Minster steeped in heritage, combined with contemporary art installations. For overseas visitors there are frequent ferries to the Port of Hull.
A cosmopolitan city, packed with cultural creativity, outstanding architecture, amazing arts, stylish shopping, excellent eateries and so much more.
Look out for its world-class theatre productions planned post-pandemic from Opera North, Northern Ballet, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Phoenix Dance and many more.
The city’s shopping is second to none and was described by The Lonely Planet Guide to Britain as the ‘Knightsbridge of the North’, consistently being ranked as one of the UK’s top five retail destinations. In 1996 the Harvey Nichols Leeds store was the first to open outside of London and is part of the incredibly impressive Victoria Quarter. For contemporary surroundings Trinity Leeds is a hub of excellent eateries and spectacular shopping under a giant glass roof. Leeds Corn Exchange is full of quirky independent shops. While the majestic Grade I listed Kirkgate Market, built in 1857, on opening was the largest indoor market in Europe. It’s also the birthplace of one of Britain’s biggest global brands, Marks and Spencer.
The city has a vibrant visual art scene with Leeds Art Gallery home to diverse collections and its neighbouring Henry Moore Institute is dedicated to celebrating historical and contemporary sculpture from across the world.
With such an incredible range of museums the award-winning Leeds City Museum has six galleries to visit, including; Life on Earth, Ancient Worlds and The Leeds Story. The Royal Armouries Museum, Britain’s national museum of arms and armour is home to many treasured objects including Henry VIII’s original suit of armour.
There’s a wealth of wonderful hotels to stay at across the city, from the luxury boutique Dakota Hotel Leeds to The Queens Hotel located just outside Leeds Train station.
London’s Daniel Defoe described Ripon Market Square as 'the finest and most beautiful square that is to be seen of its kind in England' and to this day the square remains the heart and soul of the city, with the hornblower still 'setting the watch' every evening around 9pm, a tradition said to have originally started back in 886. The spectacular 7th Century Ripon Cathedral dominates the skyline and if it’s history you’re after, then a visit to the city’s marvellous museums is a must. For a feel of life in Ripon in times past, head to the Workhouse Museum and Garden (for the grimmest of Victorian life), the Prison and Police Museum (a history of Yorkshire policing from Anglo-Saxon times to the formation of professional policing, plus crime and punishment with hands-on activities imagining the horror of the Victorian prison regime) and the Courthouse Museum (an elegant Georgian property which remains virtually unchanged since built in 1830).
Stay at The Royal Oak, a renovated 18th century coaching inn right in the centre of the historic city. A short drive away is the world-class Grantley Hall, an idyllic indulgent experience with its spectacular spa and wellness facilities, luxury gym, fine restaurants and sumptuous suites set in gorgeous grounds.
Steal some time to visit ‘Steel City’. Sheffield gained its international reputation for steel production in the 19th century and its population boomed during the Industrial Revolution. Although many may still think of Sheffield as an industrial hub, it’s actually one of the greenest cities in the UK. Staggering statistics show that Sheffield has the highest ratio of trees to people in Europe, with over two million across the city.
Sport and the outdoors score high here, with Sheffield United Football Club back in the premier league. Have an action packed break in the home of The Blades, stay at the Copthorne Hotel Bramall Lane close to the heart of the city and enjoy a drink and bite to eat at Riverside Kelham, just outside Sheffield's centre. Open 7 days a week and passionate about catering to your every need, from a pint or a gin and tonic in the beer garden on a sunny evening to a Sunday roast by the fire on a winter's day. Brocco on the park is brilliant for a boutique hotel break and you can take a stroll through the picturesque Sheffield Botanical Gardens. City stays can be combined with more of the outdoors in a full-on activity weekend, add parasailing, boat hire, running, walking, climbing, horse riding and paragliding in the nearby countryside, part of the Peak District National Park.
From art to adventure, plus heaps of history and creativity to catch kids’ imaginations … wake up to Wakefield. Its picturesque landscapes have inspired great artists for centuries, so it’s no surprise that renowned sculptors Dame Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore were both born here. Celebrate amazing art and impressive contemporary architecture heritage with visits to The Hepworth Wakefield and check out the world-class work of local lad (grew up in Leeds) Damien Hirst at the sprawling and spectacular Yorkshire Sculpture Park, both multi-award-winning venues, showcasing top international artwork.
Dig deep (140m underground) at the National Coal Mining Museum, head to National Trust Nostell and experience the grandeur of an impressive 18th century mansion set in gorgeous grounds with a tempting tearoom, or experience the fascinating conservation work of the medieval Pontefract Castle.
Escape to Xscape for full-on adventure under one roof. Ski, snowboard, shop or sample the cinema, when you’ve worked up an appetite, grab a bite to eat.
Step back in time and mosey around the museums for an educational trip down memory lane at Castleford Museum (Bronze Age to the present day), Pontefract Museum (archaeology, archives, decorative and applied art, fine art, photographs, social history) and Wakefield Museum (local history from prehistoric times onwards.
Stay at the wonderful Waterton Park Hotel & Spa, a Georgian mansion, surrounded by its own lake, a backdrop of ancient woodland and a championship golf course.
Centuries of fascinating folklore, impressive history, amazing architecture and now named the greenest city in the UK. Researchers looked at the nation’s eco-friendly habits and discovered York was the best! With many of its most iconic attractions reopen post-pandemic, surely now is the perfect time to plan a visit. Marvel at York Minster, one of the most impressive and largest of its kind in Northern Europe, with its Great East Window being the biggest medieval stained glass window in Britain. Indulge in York’s Chocolate Story, take a trip on the river with City Cruises York, explore the Museum Gardens or take a city sightseeing tour on an open top bus. The JORVIK Viking Centre can take you back to discover a time past on the streets of York. World-renowned artist Van Gogh’s work can be seen in the spectacular Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience at York St Mary’s. Pop into the historic Mansion House and then step across the street to sample delicious delicacies at Bettys Café Tearoom. Wander around the York City Walls for spectacular views across the city and amble down the Shambles for shopping in one of the country’s most spectacular streets, amongst overhanging timber-framed buildings dating back to the fourteenth century. The National Railway Museum is home to some of the world’s most impressive locomotives and excellent examples of engineering.
For the more adventurous, take a trip through Europe’s most haunted city on The Original Ghost Walk or head down into the York Dungeon … if you DARE! Ideal for Halloween.
Top nosh is available at a whole host of impressive eateries across the city. Overlooking the river is The Star Inn the City, serving fantastic food. In 2019 three independent York restaurants, Skosh, Le Cochon Aveugle and Roots made it into the top 100 UK restaurants in the Estelle Damm National Restaurant Awards. Approaching November 5th, Bonfire Night, and remembering York’s notoriously famous plotter Guido Fawkes, stay or dine at The Guy Fawkes Inn a medieval marvel in the shadow of York Minster, also in the shadow of the magnificent Minster is Grays Court, a spectacular setting for a break away. Or step outside York Railway Station and step into the very grand The Grand Hotel.
This article was originally written for This Is Y magazine digital edition – Sept/Oct 2020. To view the full magazine, click here