City life may be exciting, but you’ll also want to take advantage of everything the area surrounding Leeds has to offer. There’s masses to do, but here are some favourites!
The Yorkshire Dales (home to James Herriott, Last of the Summer Wine and Emmerdale) are delightfully pretty, with stone-walled fields and vivid green fields lying like a patchwork over the hillsides. The Dales are packed out with great walking routes, pubs, teashops, and quirky surprises.
The North York Moors form another national park, stretching from the high, heather-clad tops above Ampleforth to the heritage coastline and seaside towns of Saltburn, Runswick Bay and Whitby. Explore the area’s ruined abbeys, its market towns, and its stately homes.
In nearby Bradford, the perfect leisurely Sunday is to be enjoyed at Salt’s Mill, with its David Hockney Gallery. The National Media Museum is a must, with its own BBC radio station and cinema (including an IMAX screen). And Bradford’s large Asian population makes for fantastic eating out and shopping (don’t miss the huge Bombay Stores on Shearbridge Road).
The ancient minster city of York, with its significant Roman and Viking histories, is a half-hour’s drive away. Explore the exceptionally narrow cobbled streets, follow a ghost trail, go to the races, or visit one of the many museums, for example the York Castle Museum.
Harewood House is about 12 miles north of Leeds; there’s a beautiful stately home, grounds and gardens, and a packed calendar of events (including the O2 music festival). Or head further north-west to Castle Howard, one of Britain’s finest historic houses and the setting for the movie versions of Brideshead Revisited.
Just north of Harewood is the Victorian spa town of Harrogate, with its Pump Rooms and Turkish Baths, beautiful grassy Stray (covered in a carpet of crocuses in spring) and the world-famous Betty’s tea-rooms. Close to Harrogate is Knaresborough, where houses tumble down to the river and you can hire a rowing boat under the enormous arches of the railway viaduct, visit the castle, Mother Shipton’s Cave, and poke around in the many antique, second-hand and junk shops.
Head south-west out of Leeds to Halifax, with its intriguing Piece Hall—a relic from the wool trade and now a sprawling catacomb of small shops, from arts and crafts to fashion, antiques, books, jewellery, music… another great Sunday day out!