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50 Free Things to Do in Yorkshire

· Joseph Sheerin · Culture

Discover the best of Yorkshire without spending a penny.

Three Peaks

Natural wonders, art galleries and architectural gems – Yorkshire is chock full of incredible free things to do.

Days out don’t have to be expensive, especially in Yorkshire – God’s Own County is known for its thriftiness after all! Whether you’re saving up, keeping an eye on the pursestrings or just hunting for a downright bargain, there are loads of amazing things to see and do in Yorkshire, all for free. From museums and galleries to natural landmarks, stately homes and abbey ruins, we’ve rounded up 50 perfect ideas for your next day out.

The Piece Hall

The Piece Hall

Credit: The Piece Hall

The recently restored, Grade-I listed Piece Hall is one of Yorkshire’s finest days out. It’s an 18th-century cloth hall and this sprawling Georgian complex has a stunning interior plaza which is surrounded on all four sides by three tiers of balcony-style walkways. These lead you around the incredible selection of independent shops, eateries and a museum that covers the history of the site, but you don’t need to spend a penny to enjoy all the beauty it has to offer.

The Piece Hall, Blackledge, Halifax, West Yorkshire, HX1 1RE.

Hull and East Riding Museum

Wooly Mammoth, Hull and East Riding Museum

If you fancy digging into Yorkshire’s far-reaching history, the Hull and East Riding Museum is a perfect place to start. The region might’ve had a short stint away from Yorkshire as part of Humberside, but it started life in God’s Own County and is again today, so it’s chock full of interesting Yorkshire finds. Travel back 235 million years to meet wooly mammoths, walk through an Iron Age village and enter a Roman bathhouse, before checking out their wooden warriors.

Hull and East Riding Museum, 36 High Street, Hull East Riding of Yorkshire, HU1 1NE.

North York Moors National Park

Levisham Moor, Newtondale, North York Moors

Another fine example of Yorkshire’s natural beauty, it’s time for a trip out to the North York Moors. They’re absolutely chock-full of free things to do – you can enjoy an almost endless array of walks, hikes and drives depending on how you’re feeling. Covering 554 square miles with 23 hills to summit, you can weave your way across gorgeous moorland, join trails like the Cleveland Way and The White Rose Way or even take on the cycle and horse riding tracks.

North York Moors National Park, North Yorkshire, YO62 5BP.

National Coal Mining Museum

National Coal Mining Museum

Credit: Simon Dewhurst Photography

What was once the working Caphouse Colliery is now the National Coal Mining Museum. It’s a true one-off and absolutely free to enter. You can discover remnants of its past, from the underground tunnels to the pit head baths, paddy trains and pit pony tracks, before wandering around the fact-filled museum that tells you about the history of coal mining in Yorkshire. You can even go on a guided underground tour for a £5 deposit, which you’ll get back at the end.

National Coal Mining Museum, Caphouse Colliery, New Road, Overton, West Yorkshire, WF4 4RH.

Shibden Park

Shibden Park

You’ll find the beautifully restored grounds of Shibden Park around the hall of the same name, but unlike the house, the park is absolutely free to visit and the perfect place to unwind amidst beautiful greenery. You have loads of attractions to discover, from the tranquility of the Wilderness Garden’s cascades and pools to the Victorian bedding designs of the Paisley Shawl. You can even enjoy a riverside ramble along The Mere and visit their dry stone walling exhibit.

Shibden Park, Lister’s Road, Halifax, West Yorkshire, HX3 6XG.

Millennium Gallery

Millennium Gallery, Sheffield

Credit: Andy Brown


One of the best cultural days out in Sheffield, the Millennium Gallery is absolutely free to visit. It’s home to a unique perspective of Yorkshire’s history, with the city’s rare Metalwork Collection at its core. It features a whopping 13,000 pieces, with around 800 on display at one time. They sit alongside the Ruskin Collection, a collection of classic artworks which John Ruskin donated to inspire Sheffield’s workers 130 years ago and it still does the job to this day.

Millennium Gallery, Arundel Gate, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S1 2PP.

Harrogate Valley Gardens

Harrogate Valley Gardens

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If you love the sight of beautiful flowers and lovely landscaped green spaces, then Harrogate Valley Gardens is one of the best free things to do in Yorkshire. Covering 17 acres, you can explore the vibrant plants and flowerbeds, before turning your attention to the incredible architecture – this is a Grade-II listed site after all. But it’s not just the natural beauty – from April to October, the Gardens are home to bandstand concerts and outdoor games for all ages.

Harrogate Valley Gardens, Royal Parade, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG1 2SZ.

The Brontë Way

Helens Heritage Walks Bronte Country

Credit: Simon Warner

The Brontë family and their works are intrinsically wrapped up with Yorkshire and the wild scenery of its natural world, so the Brontë Way is a great way to explore the lives and inspirations of the talented literary kin. It takes you through landmarks that appeared in their works or inspired their settings, from Thursden Valley to Wycoller Hall, Spen Valley and Top Withens. It even stops by Brontë Parsonage, now a museum for all things Brontë, but there’s a fee to enter.

The Brontë Way, Mirfield, West Yorkshire, WF14 9NT.

Bolton Abbey

Bolton Abbey

Yorkshire and abbeys go together hand-in-hand, and one of the best is Bolton Abbey. These historic ruins are set in 33,000 acres slap bang in the middle of the beautiful Wharfedale countryside. Of course, the awe-inspiring abbey will be high on your list to see, but that’s not all on offer. Take a walk around the ancient Strid Wood, full of trails and landmarks like a marine fossil quarry and Grade I-listed architectural beauties. It’s free for pedestrians but car parking fees apply.

Bolton Abbey, Skipton, North Yorkshire, BD23 6EX.

St Ives Estate

St Ives Estate, Bradford

If you’re looking for a nature-filled day out in Yorkshire, St Ives Estate is ready and waiting. This sprawling 550 acre country park is full of greenery, from the dappled woodlands to the open moor and wildflower meadow, with winding paths to lead you all around. Got little ones? You can visit the adventure playground and the Coppice Pond for a spot of duck feeding after you’ve explored the grounds. It’s all free to explore – but there is a small parking fee.

St Ives Estate, Harden, Bingley, West Yorkshire, BD16 1BW.

Aysgarth Falls

Aysgarth Falls, waterfall

Aysgarth Falls have been a tourist destination for over 200 years, the roaring triple waterfalls a cascading gem in North Yorkshire’s crown. Follow the well-signposted routes up to the falls to soak up the amazing views, before following it downstream. On your way back to the start, keep an eye out for birds and deer in the nearby Freeholders Wood Nature Reserve. You’ll soon see why the area has been a muse for artists like Turner and Wordsworth.

Aysgarth Falls, Aysgarth, Leyburn, North Yorkshire, DL8 3TH.

Roberts Park

Roberts Park, Baildon

Roberts Park isn’t just your average town green space. That would be a disservice to a park that’s been given the prestigious Green Flag award for being one of the best in the UK. Yes, it’s a lovely spot for a stroll or a picnic, but there’s also a skate park and playground. You’ve got more to do – dating to 1871, it’s part of Saltaire’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, emphasised by the incredible landmarks within, from the bandstand to the cricket pavilion, follies to statues.

Roberts Park, 80 Higher Coach Road, Baildon, West Yorkshire, BD17 5RH.

Bishops’ House

Bishops' House, Sheffield

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Once a yeoman’s house surrounded by fields, the timber-framed beauty of Bishops’ House is one of South Yorkshire’s finest architectural treasures that doubles as a brilliant day out. Dating back to the 15th century, the story of the house provides a fascinating, priceless insight into the history of Sheffield, giving you an idea of what it was like to live in the long-gone village of Norton Lees and wider Tudor England, as well as its connection to the wider story of the city.

Bishops’ House, Norton Leeds Lane, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S8 9BE.

Dean Clough Gallery

Dean Clough

The worlds of industry and culture collide at Halifax’s Dean Clough. It’s a 22-acre mixed-use mill complex, stretching half a mile in length and consisting of 16 Grade II-listed Victorian mills, complete with one of the best free art galleries in Yorkshire. Their Permanent Collection features over 300 works of art, from paintings to drawings and photography, representing a glance at the working practices of artists in Northern England, sitting alongside touring exhibitions.

Dean Clough Gallery, Halifax, West Yorkshire, HX3 5AX.

Ribblehead Viaduct

Ribblehead Viaduct

You can gaze in awe at one of the great feats of Victorian engineering with a visit to Ribblehead Viaduct. Its 24 gigantic arches tower over the Yorkshire Dales and it still carries trains over it on the Settle-Carlisle line. Built in 1870, hundreds lost their lives making it, and you can find out all about its past in the visitors centre. There’s even remnants of an old workers camp underneath one of the arches which has now been dedicated a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

Ribblehead Viaduct, Ribblehead, North Yorkshire, LA6 3AS.

Jervaulx Abbey

Jervaulx Abbey

Credit: Matt Buck licensed under Creative Commons for commercial use.

Despite the relentless pillaging of Henry VIII, Jervaulx Abbey remains an icon on the Yorkshire landscape nearly 500 years after its dissolution. Today, the dramatic, rugged ruins are a spectacular attraction, with wildflowers, shrubs and trees reclaiming their place amongst the rocky nooks and crannies. When you’re done exploring the past, you can venture out into the vast green expanse – they have 126 acres of Yorkshire Dales beauty for you to discover.

Jerveaulx Abbey, Ripon, North Yorkshire, HG4 4PH. Free entry, but donations are gladly accepted in a honesty box.

Loup Scar

Loup Scar, Hebden

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If you’re into wet and wild adventures, this little Yorkshire gem outside Burnsall offers plenty of free things to do. Loup Scar is a short limestone gorge through which the River Wharfe flows. While it’s a pleasant enough sight to behold on its own, it’s much more than just a local beauty spot. Folk love to take to the water and ascend the rocks – it’s a popular spot for climbing and wild swimming, with a big plunge pool and another shallower pool further downstream.

Loup Scar, Burnsall, North Yorkshire, BD23 6DM.

Sutton Bank

Sutton Bank North York Moors

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

How would you like to see the ‘finest view in England’ for free? That’s exactly how the vista from Sutton Bank was described by Yorkshire icon James Herriot, and who are we to disagree? When you get to the top, you’ll be able to look out over the Vale of Mowbray and the Vale of York with the life-giving greenery popping out for miles all around. It’s a joy just getting there with access on one of the five walking trails or three cycling routes from the National Park Centre.

Sutton Bank National Park Centre, Sutton Bank, Thirsk, North Yorkshire, YO7 2EH.

Janet’s Foss

Janet's Foss waterfall

It’s only small, but Janet’s Foss is one mightily picturesque waterfall. Just a short walk from Malham, it takes Gordale Beck over a limestone lip before thundering down 16 feet into a deep pool below. Named after Janet, Queen of the Fairies, it was said she lived in the cave covered by the waterfall. In fact, the pool and waterfall are best known nearby as a former sheep dip used by local farmers – don’t worry, the sheep are long gone these days.

Janet’s Foss, Gordale Lane, Malham, North Yorkshire, BD23 4DA.

Sheffield Winter Gardens

Sheffield Winter Gardens

Credit: Marketing Sheffield

Take a trip to the Steel City to visit the largest urban glasshouse in the whole of Europe. The Sheffield Winter Gardens are one of the best free things to do in Yorkshire, this city centre oasis home to more than 2,500 different species of plants under its 22-metre arching greenhouse roof. From eucalyptus trees to Norfolk Island pines, many come from far flung shores like Madagascar and China. Take your time to admire the flora and pop by the cafe for a brew.

Sheffield Winter Gardens, 90 Surrey Street, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S1 2LH.

Yorkshire Three Peaks

Pen-y-ghent, Three Peaks

What’s the toughest way to see the best of Yorkshire for free? By taking on the Three Peaks, of course. This is for the brave – you’ll take on three of the highest peaks in Yorkshire, all in one go. It starts at Pen-y-ghent which reaches 2,277 feet, then onto Ingleborough’s 2,372 feet and finally to Whernside at 2,145 feet. If you bag all three in under 12 hours, you’ll join the exclusive Three Peaks of Yorkshire Club, but with so much natural beauty to see, what’s the rush?

The Yorkshire Three Peaks starts at Pen-y-ghent Cafe, Horton-in-Ribblesdale, North Yorkshire, BD24 0HE.

National Science & Media Museum

National Science and Media Museum

Credit: National Science and Media Museum

The National Science & Media Museum isn’t just one of the best days out you can do for nowt in Yorkshire, it’s also the jewel in Bradford’s cultural crown. You can immerse yourself in the history of film, television and photography across seven floors, before looking into the future at the next big scientific and technological developments. Get lost in a mirror maze, explore the Wonderlab and gaze at the UK’s first IMAX cinema, but you’ll have to pay for that.

National Science & Media Museum, Little Horton Lane, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD1 1NQ.

Cow & Calf Rocks

Cow and Calf Rocks, Yorkshire Dales National Park, England

Nestled at the top of Ilkley Moor, overlooking the pub of the same name, you’ll find the Cow and Calf rocks. There’s an old tale that suggests these rock formations were made when the giant Rombald stepped on them fleeing an enemy, but they’ve actually formed over 320 million years. Now, they’re a popular spot for hikers and climbing – you can appreciate the sheer scale of them as you walk between them and up to the top to enjoy incredible views.

Cow and Calf Rocks, Hangingstone Road, Ilkley, West Yorkshire, LS29 8BT.

Shepherd Wheel Workshop

Shepherd Wheel, Sheffield

If you want to see how Sheffield got its Steel City nickname, pay a visit to the Shepherd Wheel Workshop. This is a working water-powered knife grinding museum where you can get an active insight into the metalworking past of South Yorkshire. Check out the restored waterwheel and machinery in action and hear stories about the grinders who worked here over the centuries – just a warning, it’s now only open on Saturdays and Sundays for the foreseeable.

Shepherd Wheel Workshop, Whiteley Woods, Hangingwater Road, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S11 2YE.

Spurn Point

Spurn Head

Credit: David Nichols

You can get back to nature with a trip to Spurn Point. It’s a unique sand spit on the East Yorkshire coast – when the Holderness Coast tide comes in, it’s Yorkshire’s sole tidal island, but when it comes in you can walk the 3.5-mile journey out to its furthest tip. On your way, you can try and spot all this nature reserve has to offer, from birds like bar-tailed godwits, black redstarts and whitethroats to grassland residents like butterflies, dragonflies and moths.

Spurn National Nature Reserve, Kilnsea, East Riding of Yorkshire, HU12 0UH.

The Graves Gallery

If you’re looking for free things to do in Yorkshire with a cultural twist, head to The Graves Gallery in Sheffield. It’s been the home of the city’s visual art collection since 1934, founded by local philanthropist J.G. Graves. You can discover four centuries of art across eight galleries and it’s a diverse offering – works from J.M.W. Turner, Damien Hirst and Sam Taylor Wood sit alongside Turner Prize-winner Grayson Perry’s eight-metre-long Comfort Blanket.

The Graves Art Gallery, Leader House, Surrey Street, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S1 2LH.

Impressions Gallery

You can check out work by ground-breaking photographers without spending a penny on a visit to Impressions Gallery in Bradford. It was one of the first specialist photography galleries in the country when it opened in 1972 and it’s still leading the way today. It aims to open up visitors’ eyes through new, exciting exhibitions that prompt important, sometimes overlooked, discussions on a variety of social topics, like race, politics and gender.

Impressions Gallery, Aldermanbury, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD1 1SD.

Farndale Daffodil Walk

Farndale Daffodil Walk

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How would you like to explore one of Yorkshire’s best kept secrets for free? Farndale is a secluded valley, perfect for appreciating the beauty of God’s Own County, between the hamlet of Low Mill to High Mill and Bitchagreen. But it’s in spring when it comes into its own, because every year, daffodils spring up and blanket the rolling moors, scenic meadows and banks of the River Dove – take the 3.5-mile linear walk through the valley and enjoy the yellow spectacle.

Farndale, Low Mill, North York Moors National Park, York, North Yorkshire, YO62 7UY.

Bradford Industrial Museum

Bradford Industrial Museum

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Moorside Mills was a working hub for textile manufacturing until 1970, having been one of the most important factories in the area for 95 years. Today it’s one of Yorkshire’s best free things to do, documenting the region’s rich industrial history. Across four floors, it shows off everything from the machinery and processes of manufacturing to printing equipment and vintage transport, all of which tie in to tell important stories of the region’s past.

Bradford Industrial Museum, Moorside Mills, Moorside Road, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD2 3HP.

Cliffe Castle

Cliffe Castle, Keighley

Cliffe Castle was once the home of Victorian millionaire and industrialist Henry Isaac Butterfield, but now the Keighley landmark stands as a reminder of days gone by. It’s been carefully preserved and the renovated Victorian rooms still house incredible furniture, paintings and artefacts. You can also visit the numerous exhibitions covering natural history, archeology and social history, alongside an impressive display of Morris and Co. stained glass.

Cliffe Castle, Spring Gardens Lane, Keighley, West Yorkshire, BD20 6LH.

Otley Chevin

Otley Chevin Surprise View

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Otley isn’t just one of Yorkshire’s finest market towns, it’s also home to one of the best natural attractions in the region. Chevin Forest Park is a designated nature reserve covering 700 acres and overlooking the Wharfe Valley. The sights from the Surprise View are worth visiting for alone, but there’s much more to do here. The heather-strewn moorland, wild forests and rocky outcrops make walking and exploring a must, but it’s also popular for cycling and horse riding.

Chevin Forest Park, Otley, West Yorkshire, LS21 3DD.

Goit Stock Waterfall

A highlight of the Harden Valley in the heart of Brontë Country, Goit Stock Waterfall is one of the best free things to do in Yorkshire. It’s a real sight to stop and behold, set against a picture-perfect backdrop of leafy branches, twisting tree roots and moss-covered stones. The falls are nearly 10 metres high, so when the water cascades over the layers of rocks it creates a dazzling display, a rich reward after the pleasant ramble along Harden Beck to reach it.

Goit Stock Waterfall, Hallas Lane, Cullingworth, West Yorkshire, BD13 5BT.

Bolling Hall

Bolling Hall, Bradford

You can go on a journey through history with a visit to Bolling Hall, just a mile outside of Bradford. It’s one of the oldest buildings in the city with parts of it dating back as far as the 14th century, since when it’s been the seat of two important land-owning families, the Bollings and the Tempests. You can see how people lived during different periods in the hall’s history, see Thomas Chippendale furniture and visit The Ghost Room to meet the ‘White Lady’.

Bolling Hall, Bolling Hall Road, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD4 7LP.

Cusworth Hall

Cusworth Hall, Doncaster

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One of the must-see landmarks in Doncaster, Cusworth Hall is a great shout if you’re looking for free things to do in Yorkshire. This Grade-I listed gem is set in 60 acres of stunning parkland, complete with lakes, gardens and incredible views across the local countryside. Not forgetting the hall, its incredibly detailed architecture first and then the amazing museum inside which tells the tumultuous story of how Doncaster has evolved since the 18th century.

Cusworth Hall, Museum and Park, Cusworth Lane, Doncaster, South Yorkshire, DN5, 7TU.

Cayton Bay

Cayton Bay North Yorkshire

A trip to the beach doesn’t have to be a battle with other sand–seekers, not when you have Cayton Bay to visit. This quiet, peaceful beach is one of the best free days out on the Yorkshire Coast. Go for a walk down the long, sweeping sandy bay to enjoy the views and take in a dose of history at the WWII pillboxes that remain on the north end. Time it right and you can even watch the daredevil surfers and windsurfers using the North Sea as their playground.

Cayton Bay, Scarborough, North Yorkshire, YO11 3NJ.

Ripon Cathedral

Ripon

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One of the smallest cities in Yorkshire is also home to one of the finest cathedrals in the country. Ripon’s ecclesiastical monolith features Saxon crypts from the original church, but the building above actually dates to the 1220s apart from the nave which was rebuilt in the 16th century. This mis-match of Anglo-Saxon and Gothic architectural styles make it a real treasure to savour, both inside and out. It’s free to look around, as are concerts and services.

Ripon Cathedral, Liberty Court House, Minster Road, Ripon, North Yorkshire, HG4 1QS.

Hackfall Wood

River Ure at Grewelthorpe flowing through Hackfall Wood, North Yorkshire, England

The nature of Hackfall Wood might be an illusion, but it’s sheer beauty isn’t up for debate. It’s a one of a kind and looks like it’s been growing for millennia, but it’s in fact a man-made landscape. These breathtaking gardens were designed by the influential Aislabie family in the 18th century, just outside of Masham. It’s now a Grade-I listed garden, protecting its combination of beautiful flora with an impressive centrepiece fountain for future generations to marvel at for free.

Hackfall Wood, Ripon, North Yorkshire, HG4 3DE.

National Railway Museum

National Railway Museum

Credit: National Railway Museum

If you love trains, you can have plenty of fun-filled days out at Yorkshire’s National Railway Museum. It’s home to the UK’s national rail collection, with over 300 incredible trains and carriages on show, alongside a huge display of memorabilia. You can jump aboard a Japanese bullet train, walk through royal carriages and explore a model railway village. Top tip – climb up to the Viewing Balcony on the first floor to see trains coming in and out of York Station.

National Railway Museum, Leeman Road, York, North Yorkshire, YO26 4XJ.

Yorkshire Wolds

Millington, Yorkshire Wolds

Credit: Andrew Bowden licensed under Creative Commons for commercial use.

The Yorkshire Wolds might not be as famous as its natural neighbours like the Peaks and the Dales, but it’s well worth a visit for a countryside adventure. You can explore oodles of rolling fields and meadows across a 79-mile stretch of hills that take you from Hessle in the west to Flamborough Head on the east coast, via picturesque villages like Pocklington, Thixendale and Kilham. Plan a walk and uncover the region’s natural beauty and man-made charm.

The Yorkshire Wolds start off near Hessle, North Yorkshire.

Brimham Rocks

Brimham Rocks

One of the most incredible natural wonders in Yorkshire, Brimham Rocks is a great day out on the cheap. They’re a series of balancing rock formations nestled in some of the most beautiful landscapes of God’s Own County. You can wander across the heather-strewn moorland and through charming woodlands to spot The Dancing Bear, The Eagle and The Gorilla, all formed over thousands of years as water, wind and glaciation eroded the millstone grit.

Brimham Rocks, Summerbridge, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG3 4DW.

Locke Park

Locke Park, Barnsley

If you head a mile outside of Barnsley town centre, you’ll find Locke Park, a beautiful slice of Yorkshire that’s just waiting to be explored. This 47-acre park has loads of things to see and do for free – there’s a historic tower and fountain, both built in 1875 and allowed it to be named a park of special historic interest by English Heritage. The kids will love it too – they can explore the pretty gardens, walk through the woodlands and visit the adventure playground.

Locke Park, Barnsley, South Yorkshire, S70 6NQ.

Painted Illusion Trail

Staithes

A charming little village on the Yorkshire coast just a few miles in between Whitby and Saltburn, Staithes is one of Yorkshire’s best-kept secrets that’s got a whole load of artistic mystery waiting for you. The area is popular with artists, and one, world-renowned trompe l’oeil artist, Paul Czainski, has created a trail around the picturesque throwback of narrow streets and ginnels, that show off a series of incredible works that will require more than a glance to work out.

Painted Illusion Trail, Staithes, North Yorkshire, TS13.

The Hepworth

Hepworth Gallery

Credit: Hufton and Crow

Few art galleries are as impressive, both inside and outside, as Wakefield’s The Hepworth – and its regular exhibitions are completely free to look around. The largest purpose-built gallery outside of London was designed by the renowned David Chipperfield who created 1,600 square metres of gallery space where you can find key works by Barbara Hepworth, alongside exhibitions and displays from contemporary artists and items from Wakefield’s art collection.

The Hepworth, Gallery Walk, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, WF1 5AW.

Nosterfield Nature Reserve

Dragonfly, Denso Marsten Nature Reserve

If you’re looking for days out to connect with the natural world in Yorkshire, Nosterfield Nature Reserve is ready and waiting. It’s regarded as one of the finest natural sanctuaries in God’s Own County, based just west of Masham. You can spot all kinds of amazing things, from waders and waterfowl (and the birdwatchers that come from all over) to dragonflies, butterflies and insects – just make your way around along the 1.5-kilometres of paths around the site.

Nosterfield Nature Reserve, Moor Lane, Bedale, North Yorkshire, DL8 2QZ.

Hardcastle Crags

Hardcastle Crags, Hebden Bridge

Hardcastle Crags is a nature lover’s paradise, just minutes from the picturesque town of Hebden Bridge. This is a walking wonderland – it covers 400 acres of unspoiled woodland, complete with streams, waterfalls, millstone grit stacks and over 15 miles of footpaths. Not that you have to stay on the paths, there’s plenty of rewards to be had by off-roading safely. When you’re done admiring the natural scenery, visit the gallery and cafe at Gibson Mill.

Hardcastle Crags, near Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, HX7 7AA.

Ogden Water Country Park

Ogden Water

If you want to escape the stresses of daily life with a free adventure into the great outdoors, Ogden Water Country Park offers plenty of grand days out. It covers 60 acres and has loads of paths to take you through ancient woodlands and across vast open moorland. The gem at the heart of this nature reserve is a 160-year-old, 34-acre reservoir that helps attract over 300,000 visitors every year. When you’re done exploring, pay a visit to the picnic area or visitor centre.

Ogden Water Country Park, 5 Ogden Lane, Halifax, West Yorkshire, HX2 8XZ.

Cartwright Hall

Cartwright Hall, Bradford

Cartwright Hall is one of the UK’s leading regional art galleries and it’s free to enter. There are four permanent galleries which show off the highlights of Bradford’s civic art collection. It includes works from a range of 19th and 20th century British artists, including local hero David Hockney alongside South Asian art, contemporary prints and crafts. You can also check out its programme of touring exhibitions and outdoor exhibitions in the picture-perfect Lister Park.

Cartwright Hall, Lister Park, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD9 4NS.

Malham Cove

Malham Cove

© Copyright Leeds-List 2021 by Ali Turner

One of the best free things to do in Yorkshire has to be a visit to a truly awe-inspiring natural wonder. Malham Cove is a limestone scar with an iconic pavement formed by glacial erosion – there are incredible views over Malhamdale at the top, but keep an eye on the weather, because it can transform into the tallest unbroken waterfall in England. There are steps up and down, with a stream at the bottom – look out for the brave climbers ascending!

Malham Cove, Skipton, North Yorkshire, BD23 4DA.

Salt’s Mill

Salts Mill

Credit: Salt’s Mill

You can explore a UNESCO World Heritage Site for free in Yorkshire – Salt’s Mill was once the largest industrial building in the world and the town of Saltaire was built around it. Since it closed in 1986, the mill has been transformed into one of the best days out in Yorkshire, with the 1853 Gallery at its very heart, home to the work of the renowned David Hockney. You’ll also find restaurants, cafes and shops there, but you’ll have to dig into your pocket to enjoy them.

Salt’s Mill, Victoria Road, Shipley, Saltaire, West Yorkshire, BD18 3LA.

The Yorkshire Dales

Whernside & Ribblehead Valley

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

It’s the wondrous natural beauty of God’s Own County that has allowed the formation The Yorkshire Dales National Park and helped it become one of the finest free things to do in the whole country. Whether you’re wandering around pretty market towns like Settle, Skipton or Ilkley, visiting natural landmarks like Malham Cove, Aysgarth Falls or Buckden Pike, or checking out man-made joys like Fountains Abbey, Bolton Abbey or Skipton Castle, the Dales are a must.

Yorkshire Dales National Park, Colvend, Grassington, Skipton, North Yorkshire, BD23 5LB.