A place of outstanding natural beauty with bucket loads of attractions, Yorkshire has everything you need for a brilliant summer day out.
Looking for a summer day out that’s absolutely jam-packed? No problem. You can take in Yorkshire’s famous countryside while visiting modern art, exploring quaint market towns or delving into literary history. You can do pub crawls and witches caves, model towns and old mills, hell, you can even squeeze in a trip to the region’s most famous minster after a spot of afternoon tea. The question is, which will you do first?
A picturesque market town and the famous Chevin
Just 20 minutes from Leeds city centre, Otley is one of the best days out in Yorkshire. Start by exploring the charming town centre, which is full of cool indie shops and pubs where you can grab a bite to eat (or maybe even a pint) – try The Fleece, a riverside pub with a straightforward food menu.
What really makes Otley a must-visit though, is the stunning countryside right on its doorstep. Otley Chevin is a twenty-minute walk or a 5-minute drive from the town centre and there’s so much to do. It’s perfect for a summer walk, or a cycle if you’re taking your bike, with loads of trails to choose from. You’ll find a medley of bouldering problems at Caley Crags, if you want an adrenaline rush, but for something more serene, head to the Surprise View, where you can take in the breathtaking views.
An art gallery in the heart of the countryside
There’s so much to see at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, you can lose a whole day exploring it. Spread across 50 acres of the Bretton Estate, you’ll be able to take in stunning art installations in a beautiful countryside setting.
There are three different trails for you to follow which will show off the different sculptures around the park. You can see permanent displays from iconic Yorkshire sculptors Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore, alongside temporary works from the likes of Ai Weiwei, Zak Ové and Simon Armitage. But there’s more to Yorkshire Sculpture Park than art – if you’re there as the sun sets, head to James Turrell’s Deer Shelter Skyscape to watch it through an aperture in the ceiling. Top tip – take a picnic with you and enjoy a bite to eat surrounded by art.
A restored cloth hall where you can shop, eat and drink
The Piece Hall in Halifax is a must-visit this summer. The Grade I listed building is a stunning architectural wonder and a former cloth hall dating back to 1779, with the iconic courtyard at its centre. Its £19 million restoration has given it new life and there’s so much going on that you can spend all day exploring its shops, galleries and eateries.
Take a tour of the site with one of their heritage guides, which will see you learning about its history and local importance, before popping into The Yorkshire Gallery, a new exhibition and art space. Want to pick up a few gems? Explore the array of independent shops, covering everything from vintage fashion to records, jewellery and homeware. After you’ve shopped, get a bite to eat at The Deli Cafe or the Elder Restaurant, or toast your day before your trip home with a drink at Gin Lane. Oh, and don’t miss Chow Down, the ever-popular street food market at Piece Hall this summer.
A cathedral, a few drinks and a day at the races
It will take you just under an hour to get to Ripon in the car, and it is without a doubt one of the best days out in Yorkshire. Kick things off with a walk around the historic town centre, taking in the Market Square, the Ripon Obelisk and, of course, Ripon Cathedral which dates back to 1160.
When you need a bite to eat or something to drink, The Royal Oak is renowned for its gastropub fare and you can get a great pint of Timothy Taylor’s ale. You might well want to line your stomach for the next attraction – Ripon Racecourse. It’s a 20-minute walk along Ripon Canal to get there and they host regular fixtures throughout the summer, including family days. If you’re not a fan of the racing, take a drive to the picturesque Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A historic village that mixes nature and culture
Haworth is the perfect place for a day of summer exploration, a wonderful mix of culture and nature. Just under an hour away from Leeds, you can start the day with a unique trip – an 18-minute steam train journey from Keighley.
Once there, your first port of call will be the old Haworth Parsonage, where the Brontë family once lived. It’s been turned into a museum and is now an absolute treasure trove for bookworms. Across the road, you can have a breather in The Old White Lion, where they serve real ale and classic pub grub, before going on a bit of an adventure. The Parsonage is a great starting point for walks along the Brontë Way – it’s 43 miles long in full, so you can’t do it all in one day, but you can see local landmarks like Brontë Falls, Brontë Bridge and the Brontë Stone Chair.
An old abbey, a walk and afternoon tea
A day out in the sunshine at Bolton Abbey is well worth the hour-long trip from Leeds. In the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, it’s a stunning landmark with plenty to keep you busy. Start off at the Abbey ruins, before walking along the River Wharfe, through Strid Wood. A pitstop at the Strid Wood Tea Rooms will make a nice spot for lunch, before you head up to Barden Bridge.
If you’ve got little ones with you, try the Welly Walk, which will see you head out on a woodland adventure trail. Start at the Stepping Stones and make your way up to the Cavendish Pavilion, with tunnels, slides and bridges to play on along the way. After all that exploring, make your way to The Devonshire Arms, which is home to two restaurants – The Burlington offers exquisite fine dining if you fancy something special and the Brasserie is a more relaxed, gastropub affair.
A castle, a cave and views across Nidd Gorge
Just over half an hour from Leeds, Knaresborough is a picturesque market town that’s got loads to offer. The walk alongside the River Nidd is a must – not only is it picturesque, but you can stop for a bite beside the river or even go out on a rowing boat.
Afterwards, you can head up the hill to Knaresborough Castle and Museum – it sits on a cliff above the town, so you can learn all about the areas past, as well as looking down on the old railway viaduct that stretches across the Nidd Gorge. Alternatively, visit Mother Shipton’s Cave. It’s home to a petrifying well that’s believed to have magical powers, and the kids will absolutely love it. The medieval streets are worth exploring too with plenty of indie shops and bars. Peckish? Make a beeline to The Mitre Inn for hand-pulled ales and home-cooked food before the train home.
A model town with parks, pubs and a famous old mill
Why not start the day with a canalside bike ride? You can ride the 15-mile stretch of the Aire Valley Towpath from Leeds to Saltaire in under two hours, taking in the likes Kirkstall Abbey, Rodley Nature Reserve and Apperley Bridge as you go. Once you arrive in Saltaire, you’ll soon see why it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s a model town, built by mill owner Sir Titus Salt for his workers – take time to wander its quaint streets, it’s remarkably complete to this day.
At its centre is Roberts Park, which is perfect for a stroll and a picnic. If you’d rather meet the locals, you can’t pass up the opportunity to have a drink in Fanny’s Ale House, a proper local boozer that’s been lauded for its real ale offering. Before you make the ride home (or jump on the train), head over to Salt’s Mill, the former textile mill which has been transformed into an art gallery and shopping space showing off the work of local artists – there’s a restaurant too if you need to fill up.
A riverside market town with cool shops and stunning scenery
Hebden Bridge is one of the most picturesque parts of West Yorkshire. It brings together nature and culture, all in one place. You can be there in under an hour if you drive, so park up and take a walk along the River Calder into the town centre.
Here you’ll find quaint old streets, filled with cool independent shops, where you can pick up a few one-off gems. As you wander around, you’ll find plenty of places to grab a bite to eat or perhaps a drink. The White Lion is famous for its pub grub and the new Vocation Brewery bar is the place to go to try their latest brews. Want to see more of the area’s famous scenery? Jump back in the car and take the 10-minute drive to Hardcastle Crags, which is at the top of the hill, overlooking the town – it’s a beautiful riverside walk that will lead you to Gibson Mill.
Afternoon tea, castles and cathedrals
York is one of the most popular cities in the UK, so it’s the obvious choice for a summer day out. Take the 20-minute train journey, which is half the time it takes by car, and make a day of it. Climb to the top of York Castle and look out across the city, before you explore The Shambles and its five Snickleways – it’s a small, historic old street with timber-framed buildings dating back to the 14th century. Expect cool, indie shops with a few old school pubs to boot.
While you’re here, why not indulge in a spot of afternoon tea at The Garden Room? You can sit and take in the stunning views of York Minster, while sipping Rare Tea Company brews and eating a selection of delicious cakes and savouries. Afterwards, why not get a closer look by going inside one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the country?Cover image credit: © Copyright Leeds-List 2019 by Ali Turner