Here’s a snapshot of five varied days Yorkshire days out in what us local folk call – without a sense of irony – “God’s own county.”
The Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Best for short walks with a bit of art thrown in
Barbara Hepworth. Henry Moore. Just two of the internationally famous sculptors whose works you’ll see in the countryside setting of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Even if you’re not too fussed about art or sculpture, the YSP makes for a pretty gentle stroll in rolling parkland (complete with woods and lake). Visiting exhibits include international names such Ai Weiwei, and are housed indoors or outdoors depending on their medium.
- Free to enter. Car parking costs £8 per car for the whole day.
- A bus runs from Wakefield and Barnsley, both of which have train connections to elsewhere in Yorkshire.
The North Yorkshire Coast
Best for picturesque fishing towns and villages, paddling in the North Sea, fish and chips
Whitby – a bustling fishing port famed for Dracula and its Abbey. Reach the abbey by climbing – count ‘em – 199 steps.
Robin Hood’s Bay – impossibly pretty fishing village and former smugglers hideout housing numerous art, gift and bookshops. It’s a steeeeeep hill down to the bay, but there’s a top chippie (fish and chip shop) at the bottom. Just don’t eat too many chips before attempting the climb back up.
Runswick Bay – paddle your feet in the bracing North Sea and look back over the cute cottages that line the cliff down to the water. Good ice-cream can be found by the small harbour.
There are some lovely walks along this part of the coast; you can have some great Yorkshire days out walking from one town/village to another before cooling off in the North Sea – if you’re brave!
- Car parking can be truly horrific on summer weekends, get there early (or late) to beat the rush and get a parking spot. Most car parks are pay and display.
- A bus runs from Scarborough to Whitby via Robin Hoods Bay; an infrequent train goes from Middlesbrough to Whitby. Buses run from Middlesbrough and Whitby to Runswick Bay.
Rievaulx Abbey & Helmsley
Best for gift shopping and ancient ruins
Helmsley is a pretty market town around 20 miles north of York that comes complete with castle, a good craft and gift shopping scene, and a very upmarket spa. Popular with bikers, it makes for an enjoyable couple of hours roaming and browsing.
From Helmsley, you can walk the well-marked (sometimes muddy) footpath for three miles to the former monastery of Rievaulx Abbey (pronounced Ree-voh).
An audio guide provides a great insight into the history of the Abbey from the 12th-16th centuries, when it became victim of the Tudor dissolution of the monasteries. Don’t miss the on-site café, which has a mouth-watering selection of home made cakes.
- Buses run from York, Scarborough and Malton to Helmsley.
- Rievaulx Abbey costs £6.20 for adults (less for children/concessions); the price includes the interesting audio guide. Car parking at the Abbey is £4, which is refunded when you buy an entrance ticket. The Abbey isn’t open every day during the winter.
Brimham Rocks & Nidderdale
Best for releasing your inner child and getting outdoors
Get your boots on and explore the outdoor playground of Brimham Rocks and surrounding Nidderdale.
Brimham Rocks sits 11 miles west of the spa town of Harrogate, and is a top spot to scramble about. Go on, you know you want to! Some rock formations are for the hard-core only (ie for those with climbing gear), but for the most part you can pretend you’re seven again to your heart’s content and clamber where you will. Great fun.
Walks lead directly from Brimham Rocks into surrounding Nidderdale, which is also home to several easily-walked reservoirs, and the pretty riverside town of Pateley Bridge. Pateley is also a good base for walks – most of which involve a steep uphill jaunt out of the valley at their start.
- Entrance to Brimham Rocks is free, but car parking costs £5 for up to 4 hours, or £6 all day.
- Buses run the route between Harrogate and Pateley Bridge, stopping 2 miles from Brimham Rocks at Summerbridge. Summer Sunday buses go directly from Harrogate to Brimham Rocks.
Best for museums and all things historical, city pubs
Ah, York. A thousand superlatives could be said about the place. From gentle walks by the river Ouse, to explorations of the famous gothic Minster, race days and live music; it’s a city that could easily keep you entertained for several Yorkshire days out.
The Castle Museum is a good bet for kids and adults alike. It’s brilliantly curated and will happily keep you occupied for a few hours. Visit the recreated Victorian streets, or lock yourself up in the old city jail.
In sunny weather, you can’t beat a walk around the old city walls. Call at one or two of York’s independent coffee shops en-route; or stop for a beer in the Lamb and Lion Inn, whose beer garden has a stunning view of both walls and Minster.
- York is a mere two hours north from London by train. Tickets from the capital are expensive in peak hours and/or if you just show up. Avoid the main business travelling times and book in advance if you can.
- Trains from York go directly to Wakefield, Scarborough, Middlesbrough and Harrogate to allow you to link up with the other sights here.