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7 Under the Radar Escapes for When You Need to Get Out of Leeds

· Joseph Sheerin · Yorkshire

Flee the city and discover Yorkshire’s wonderful towns and villages.

Roseberry Topping

We all need an escape every now and again, and Yorkshire’s full of great places to get away from it all…

As great as city life can be, sometimes you just need to get away from it all – and in Yorkshire, we’re absolutely spoilt for choice, so much so, in fact, that the best escapes often slip under the radar. Well, no more! We’ve put together a list of seven incredible getaways that you’ve probably never thought of, but should absolutely check out.

Rosedale Abbey

Rosedale Abbey

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It doesn’t get much prettier than Rosedale Abbey. This is a wonderfully quaint and tranquil village in the heart of the North York Moors and it’s only 90 minutes from Leeds. Its stunning landscape reveals glimpses of the past, from the Cistercian monastery of the same name, which was occupied by nuns from 1158 to 1535, to the ironstone mines, which fuelled local industry until the 1920s – you can see remains of both across the village.

There’s loads to see and do here. It’s great if you love walking and cycling. The Old Railway promises a gentle walk with incredible views, and if you’ve got a bike, take on Chimney Bank, the steepest public road in England. In the village, you can dabble in a bit of culture at the Gillies Jones Glassmakers Gallery, enjoy a bit of R&R at the Sycamores Spa and Beauty or hit a few balls at the Rosedale Abbey Golf Course. While you’re here, take tea in The Dale Head Farm Tea Gardens, or stop by The Coach House Inn and The White Horse Farm for home-cooked food, real ale and a place to stay.

Stokesley

Roseberry Topping

Credit: Chris Combe licensed under Creative Commons for commercial use.

Take the hour-long trip to the top of North Yorkshire to experience a real hidden gem – Stokesley. You’ve got the best of both worlds here – you can explore a beautiful little market town and take in the breathtaking Yorkshire scenery. Make a beeline for the River Leven that runs through the heart of the town, and stand on the ancient Pack Horse Bridge to take in the impressive Georgian and Victorian buildings that make up Stokesley.

The paths along the river promise great walks on their own as you head out of town to the beautiful Roseberry Topping or you can use it as a base to discover what other beauties the North York Moors has to offer. If you get hungry, you can enjoy Italian eats at Uno Momento or Asian treats at Y’Thai, and if you fancy a pint in a charming Yorkshire pub, nip to The Spread Eagle. There are loads of great places to stay if you’re making a few days of it, including the picturesque Treebridge Hotel or the aptly named Gorgeous Cottages.

Pateley Bridge

Credit: Andrew licensed under Creative Commons for commercial use.

You’ll see why Nidderdale is ‘An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ with a trip to Pateley Bridge. Just under an hour away from Leeds, it’s got everything you could want when you escape the city – it’s a charming, picturesque market town surrounded by incredible nature. This is both the start and end of the Nidderdale Way, so make sure you bring your walking boots, but also make sure you leave time to enjoy the town.

You can delve into the area’s past with a trip to the Nidderdale Museum, which is home to an old cobblers and school room, as well as pay a visit to The Oldest Sweet Shop in the World, which is decked out from floor-to-ceiling in sweet jars. Be sure to stop by The Coldstones Cut, a massive sculptural installation by Andrew Sabin which overlooks the old quarry, or you can head further out to nearby natural attractions like Brimham Rocks, How Stean Gorge and Stump Cross Caverns. Hungry? Book ahead to get in to The Yorke Arms, a Michelin-starred restaurant where you can stay the night.

Leyburn

Leyburn Shawl

Credit: Lee Roberts licensed under Creative Commons for commercial use.

Leyburn is only 70 minutes from Leeds, so you could do it as a day trip, but you might need a few days to explore everything it has to offer. It’s nestled right on the edge of Wensleydale and is the perfect place to go if you appreciate a good walk through the countryside. On your adventures, you can take in breathtaking views – the stunning Aysgarth Falls are nearby, as is the famous Leyburn Shawl, a limestone ridge which overlooks the town below.

The town itself is full of things to do. It’s a classic market town, so take in the stalls or pop by one of their intriguing independent shops, like chocolatiers The Little Chocolate Shop. The Forbidden Corner is a must – it’s a unique complex of tunnels, chambers, follies and surprises across a 4-acre garden that both kids and grown-ups can appreciate. And if you get hungry, tuck into pub grub at The Sandpiper Inn or classic British eats at Thirteen. Staying the night? The Golden Lion Inn is a cheap and cheerful hotel, or you can treat yourself to an idyllic cottage stay at Eastfield Lodge.

Beverley

Westwood, Beverley

Credit: Donald Judge licensed under Creative Commons for commercial use.

There’s a good reason why Beverley is regarded as one of the jewels of East Yorkshire – it’s a pretty market town packed full of history. About 70 minutes from Leeds, you’ll find cobbled streets and courtyards, as well as a 13th-century gothic minster and a classic market that gives it a picture-perfect feel.

If you like the great outdoors, you can go walking in the picturesque Yorkshire Wolds. Or why not make the most of the ancient woodland, known as Westwood? It’s a massive open space on the edge of town great for walking and cycling – look out for the sheep, cattle and old kilns from their days making bricks. You can also visit historic landmarks like Skidby Windmill, which is the last working windmill in Yorkshire, and Black Tower, a spooky abandoned mill. You can nip for lunch at the cycling-themed Caffe Velo or go for dinner at the Michelin-starred The Pipe and Glass, followed by a few drinks at Nellie’s, a 500-year-old pub which is something of a local institution. Staying the night? Rowley Manor is an old Georgian mansion that’s now a hotel.

Helmsley

Helmsley Castle

Credit: Sam Saunders licensed under Creative Commons for commercial use.

If you want to escape to an idyllic Yorkshire market town for a few days, Helmsley is a great shout. It’s just 70 minutes from Leeds and it’s got everything you need. You can visit the bustling market square surrounded by cool attractions like castle ruins and the North York Moors are within walking distance. It’s brilliant if you want to explore Yorkshire’s countryside as it acts as the starting point for both the Cleveland Way and the Ebor Way.

You can also make your way to the National Centre for Birds of Prey in beautiful Duncombe Park – it has the biggest collection in the North of England. The remains of Byland Abbey and Rievaulx Abbey are both nearby, or you can take in the majestic Nunnington Hall on the banks of the River Rye. Just above the town, you’ll also find Helmsley Castle, which oozes history, and the pretty Helmsley Walled Gardens are just next door. Once you’re done exploring, head a little out of the town to The Star at Harome, an award-winning gastropub, where you can stay for the night.

Great Ayton

View from Roseberry Topping

Copyright: Yorkshire Photo Walks licensed under Creative Commons for commercial use.

If you fancy a Yorkshire escape in a quaint town awash with incredible countryside, make Great Ayton your destination. It’s a combination of two small villages in Hambleton on the edge of the North York Moors – High Green and Low Green attract outdoor lovers all year round thanks to their proximity to the stunning scenery nearby, including Roseberry Topping mountain.

There are plenty of landmarks to seek out nearby. Give your walking boots a rest and head over to the Captain Cook Schoolroom Museum to learn about the explorer’s life in his old school. You can also visit a range of Neolithic sites within the parish boundaries, or take a picnic at one of the two village greens. If you need something to eat or a few drinks, The Royal Oak will cover both with local ales and home-cooked food, while Whinstone Bistro is a classy restaurant surrounded by incredible greenery. You can also stay the night in one of its cool wooden cabins or try your hand at glamping over at the luxury Angrove Country Park.

Cover image copyright Tony Coates licensed under Creative Commons for commercial use.