Since I first moved to Leeds in 2013, I’ve come across some amazing places in and around Yorkshire. They’re all outdoors and free to visit, so they make for a great day out – especially when the weather’s nice! The Yorkshire countryside is renowned worldwide for its beautiful scenery and spectacular views, and the places on these list do not disappoint…
1. Brimham Rocks
This is definitely one of my favourites on the list. It’s a place made up of natural rock formations, which you can just walk around and look at, or (if you’re feeling brave and steady) you can climb them. I’m not a great climber, but I made the effort on a couple of them and it was so worth it for the views.
2. Bolton Abbey
Here you’ll find the ruins of a 12th Century abbey, and it’s a lovely place to go if you want to relax and have a gentle walk around. There’s a little stream with stepping stones you can walk across (I went in winter and was too scared of slipping and falling in so didn’t attempt this!), and the ruins themselves are lovely to look at and offer a great Instagram shot.
3. Otley Chevin
The Chevin is made up of a lot of woodland and dirt tracks, so I’d recommend a solid pair of shoes. You can stay on the flat, or you can commit to the climb to the vantage point and see the countryside sights that it has to offer. The town of Otley is just down the hill as well so you can snuggle up in a nice pub or explore the shops post-walk.
4. Kirkstall Abbey
Another abbey! I actually prefer Kirkstall to Bolton. It’s not as big, but I just really like the vibe there – plus it’s a 5-minute drive from our flat so it’s very handy! We went there for a BBQ a few weeks back and it was such a nice atmosphere as a lot of people were out eating, running or having a kick-about with a football. It’s ideal for a chilled Sunday afternoon in my opinion!
5. Roundhay Park
This is probably the nicest park I’ve ever visited – I love it here! It’s huge, and there’s a great big lake in the middle that you can do a lap around. It often gets busy, but you’ll easily find a good spot to commandeer. In the summer, there’s always an ice cream van or two knocking about, and they also do live theatre productions, so there’s plenty of ways to entertain yourself there.
6. Yeadon Tarn
I’d never heard of this place before; I just stumbled across it when I was googling places we could visit one weekend. It’s not a particularly large place, there’s a lake that you can walk around and a small playground, but it’s a lovely place to visit. Yeadon Tarn is a bit of a hidden gem, so if you’d prefer a bit of a quieter place, this is your spot!
Pugneys is amazing! You’ll find it in Wakefield so it’s bit of a drive for us from Leeds, but it’s worth it. The lake is gorgeous, and there’s a little train that runs to take you from one side to the other. They have little stone BBQ stands set around the place that you can use as well – they always get taken up fast though (just like the parking spaces!), so you have to be there early. Just up the hill from the lake is the ruins of medieval Sandal Castle. There’s a little café next to it which is handy after the climb up, and there’s boards dotted around full of information about the history of the castle which is really cool.
Knaresborough is a gorgeous little place. It feels very quiet and just like your typical Yorkshire town. I won’t lie, there’s not an awful lot to do there, but the walk along the river is very picturesque and there’s a few nice pubs you can stop at as well. It’s definitely worth a visit, but if you want a bit more variety, maybe check out one of the other places first.
9. Hackfall Woods
It feels like you’re in a fairytale walking through these woods. There’s ruins scattered around, and a little waterfall and it just feels really magical. We went in winter, so we probably didn’t see it at its best – the trees and greenery will be beautiful now. As the name says, it is a forest so be prepared for mud, uneven ground and some steep climbs.
I lived in Harrogate for 5 months, and it’s a beautiful part of Yorkshire and a really lovely place to be. It’s the perfect middle-ground between a city and a village. It feels very quaint and rustic, but it also has your standard high-street chains, cinemas and lots of restaurants. There’s some lovely spots to explore (Valley Gardens is my personal favourite), and there’s the infamous Betty’s Tea Room on the main street as well – the perfect place to indulge!
There can be a lot of emphasis on big cities like London or Manchester, but the countryside of Yorkshire really is something else. There’s so much to see and do, and best of all, everything on this list is easy accessible and free to visit! So, you’re if you ever find yourself in the good ol’ north of England, it’s definitely worth checking out these places!