Great Things to Do in Yorkshire
Following in the footsteps of the Brontës: our guide to Yorkshire
Here’s one for you: Yorkshire is no longer actually a county in England. It’s basically just a myth; a legend; the cradle of the Yorkshire pudding and the birthplace of the Brontë sisters and their literature the mounds and valleys of this misty terrain inspired. It’s whatever you want it to be; the moors and the dales, the steely heart of an industrial revolution or the home of the preserved medieval layout of York. At its heart is the student city (locals will shudder at that description) of Leeds, with its fashionable hangouts, bars and clubs. Not to mention some of the most sought-after shops and department stores in the north of England. It’s a big place – in fact, it’s the largest of the UK’s ‘historic counties’, so you might need a bit of Plum Guide expertise in narrowing down the best things to do in Yorkshire.
Visit your kids in Leeds (or just see the city without kids)
We used to study here. Or you did. Or someone you know did. Everyone knows someone who studied at the University of Leeds or Leeds Metropolitan University, meaning paying a visit to the city is one of the top things to do in Yorkshire. There’s also a music college there, don’t you know? So, if you’re reading this, and you’re going to be in Leeds, there’s a fair chance you’re visiting relatives or kids. So, why not explore the historic buildings of the university campus, with the Brotherton Library and the Great Hall among the highlights. Hang out in the Students’ Union and prepare to feel (very) old.
Leeds is far more than its university, as locals will protest. And that’s true. After all, everyone goes on about the Harvey Nichols luxury department store (basically, the Harrods of Yorkshire). Head inside and check out the upmarket brands across its many levels. Pick out some luxury chocolates (which, for the price, you’d hope are somehow better than Maltesers and a Mars Bar or whatever else).
Now, make your way to some of the city’s most iconic sights. These include the Royal Armouries Museum, the Harewood Museum and Kirkstall Abbey. On a fine day, hang out in Hyde Park or Bramham Park. The Roundhay Park is another highlight, with its canal gardens and rose gardens. Relax with a picnic by its large lake. A little south of Leeds, book a stay in Plum Guide home Wuthering Heights or go to the North York Moors for cosy cottage Daisy Chain.
Step back in time in York
With its uniform medieval layout, York is the elderly statesperson to Leeds’ trendy fashionista. That is, it has a slower pace of life, its old-world pubs dating back hundreds of years and its historic landmarks stealing the show. It is also sort of a university city, but then, is every city with a university one? This one is a little less central than the Leeds Uni, so the city centre of York is all about wonder and history, and fewer annoying students.
Visit the ridiculously enormous York Minster, which dates back to 1230. It’s so large that by the time you’ve skirted around its edges, it will have aged another millennium. Disclaimer: that’s a wild exaggeration and this blog is turning into a total shambles. Speaking of which, wander along the Shambles street, which is said to have been the inspiration for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter universe. For the unacquainted, it’s a narrow, winding lane, with a hodgepodge of timber-framed and brick cottages and pubs. Lanterns and quaint signs hang from awnings, which jut out and linger over passing heads.
The fun doesn’t stop there. Visit the National Railway Museum York at the back of the city’s train station and clamber up the nearby hill to reach the Clifford’s Tower that lords it over the centre of York. Pick up something to eat from one of the many restaurants in the city core, such as Melton’s or Oxo’s Restaurants. Fresh (or the opposite) from a huge 7-course-meal, waddle along the side of the York City Walls and try not to fall off the edge.
Explore the countryside
There’s nothing wrong with the other cities, it’s just that York and Leeds are the most famous of Yorkshire’s Titans. In fact, the municipalities of Bradford, Keighley and Halifax are situated in some of the country’s most gorgeous terrain. One of the best things to do in Yorkshire is to explore the great outdoors. The historic county is known for its seemingly endless green countryside of hills, valleys and everything in between (meadows?)… and these cities are right in the heart of Brontë Country. Follow in the footsteps of the famous Brontë sisters Charlotte, Anne and Emily, in the sweeping parks and hills that inspired much of their work. Hey, perhaps this is where you’ll pen that best-seller you’ve always wanted to write. Climb aboard a train on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway and watch this famous countryside pass you by, making sure to stop in at a local pub or café in the traditional villages of Damems, Oakworth and Haworth among others.
Once you’ve written the next Wuthering Heights, there’s plenty more to see. The historic county is totally packed full of gorgeous landscapes, with the North York Moors one of the most famous examples. Stop off at some of the prehistoric vestiges dotted around the park. These range from remnants of forts and burial chambers to stone circles that could have just been put together by your partner when you weren’t looking. You'll never know.