Yorkshire is the largest county in the UK. Within its boundaries lie the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the North York Moors and the Peak District National Park – large swathes of its countryside are designated as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Yorkshire’s distinctive, heritage coastline is punctuated by resorts such as Scarborough and small, hidden fishing villages like Whitby. The northern coast backs on to the picturesque North York Moors, which consists of heather moorland and deep valleys.
The villages of Pickering, Kettlewell and Skipton remain, like the windswept moors and heathlands that surround them, largely unspoilt. Other picturesque towns like Slaithwaite, Marsden and Holmfirth make the rugged beauty of the Pennine Way more accessible to visitors.
Yorkshire’s industrial past is still evident in the old centres of Leeds and Hull. However heavy industry has now been replaced – places like Leeds have experienced extensive redevelopment and now feature new shopping precincts, restaurants and bars. Read on as we look at some of the most notable Yorkshire visitor attractions and places of interest.
History and Culture
Yorkshire, like many other counters in Britain has a diverse and varied history. Its literary heritage is vividly exhibited in Haworth with The Bronte Parsonage Museum – the family’s well-preserved house contains many of their original possessions and personal effects.
The visitor will also find a wide collection of superbly preserved castles and keeps – some of the best include those at Bowes, Pickering, York, Skipton, Ripley and Consibrough Castle. This is evident through well preserved castles like those at Bowes, Pickering and York.
Many of these magnificent fortifications date back to Norman times and are protected by the National Heritage – they are among the finest of their kind in all of Britain.
The award-winning Go-Ape Forest Park, in Dalby Forest is one of the best activity centres in the county and features a tree-top adventure course, consisting of rope bridges and zip slides – bookings can be made on the website.
The Dalesbridge Centre, in the Forest of Bowland, is also worth visiting and includes supervised abseiling, canoeing, rock climbing and cycling.
Airbourne pastimes are also popular in Yorkshire, with a number of centres offering a range of activities such as hot-air ballooning, gliding and Parascending. For alternatives visit the Yorkshire Dales Guides in Settle for guided caving and pot-holing excursions.
Towns and Villages
As well as the numerous Yorkshire visitor attractions mentioned above, the county’s beautiful landscape is populated by countless villages and hamlets that excude character and charm. Here are some of our favourites.
Grassington is a market village located in Upper Wharfedale, North Yorkshire. Set in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, it is Wharfedale’s principal village and a centre for tourism. Grassington Cottages are a popular form of accommodation and provide a convenient base from which to explore this picturesque region of Yorkshire.
Lead mining was Grassington’s main industry during the late 18th century and remains can still be seen on moor, north of the village. Other historical sites of interest include Grassington bridge, a medieval construction which spans the River Wharfe and leads to the town’s small cobbled market square.
Grassington Festival is the town’s most important annual event. First staged in 1981 it showcases a variety of musical genres including classical, jazz and popular music throughout the month of June. The Kilsney Show, Upper Wharfedale’s agricultural fair is also a popular event and features animal exhibits, sheep dog trials and fell racing. Held at Kilnsey Crage, it takes place during August.
Pony Trekking and hiking are popular activities in and around Grassington, enabling visitors to truly appreciate the charms of the Yorkshire countryside. The Stump Cross Caverns are also worth visiting and consist of a collection of show caves.
Kettlewell is set in Upper Wharfedale, North Yorkshire. It is one of the most picturesque villages found in the area and is close to the towns of Grassington and Kilney.
Kettlewell began life as a market town in the 13th century before the cotton and lead mining industries took over. Mills such as Old Providence brought prosperity to the town and played a major part in its history. The remains can still be seen on the outskirts of the village.
This region is now popular amongst climbers and ramblers; Kilnsey Crag attracts experienced climbers from all over, while Mastiles Lane offers an isolated yet magnificent 5 mile walk along the moors to Malham Tarn.
Kettlewell is reached by an old stone bridge which crosses the River Wharfe. It leads into the village which consists of a number of 17th and 18th century houses. St Mary’s Church is one of the town’s most significant historical sites and dates back to Norman times.
The Kettlewell Scarecrow Festival is one of the most important events that takes place in the town. It is held for the benefit of the Church and the town’s local school, with local children building and renovating scarecrows – various trails run in and around the town displaying scarecrows of all shapes and sizes.
Middleham is set in Wensleydale in the Yorkshire Dales. It is an historic market town dating back to Roman times and also boasts one of the largest castle keeps in England. The town’s long history is beautifully showcased through much its architecture.
The Georgian houses that surround the market place and the ruined castle overlooking the town add to the town’s character and are illustrative of an eventful past. The latter, Middleham Castle is the town’s most celebrated landmark and was acquired by Richard III in 1471. Its keep was built by Robert Fitz Ralph and is the biggest in North England.
The surrounding moors are used by the a number of local stables for training purposes – the town is an important horse racing centre and is home to the Middleham Training Association. Horses and riders can often be seen during the early morning.
The Wensleydale Railway is nearby and runs between Leeming Bar and Redmire. The line runs for 17 miles and passes through some of the finest scenery in the Yorkshire Dales – it is a landscape of narrow country lanes, windswept moorland and secluded valleys.
Sandsend is an attractive seaside village near Whitby on the Yorkshire Coast. Located in the North York Moors National Park, it commands some wonderful coastal views and has a fine sandy beach.
The Alum Industry thrived in these parts during the 17th century and played an important role in Sandsend’s development. It also had a significant effect on the Yorkshire Coast, altering its shape and geological make-up forever. All that remains near the town is a quarrying site and a disused railway which runs along the seafront.
Sandsend Beach is a popular feature of the town and was recently awarded the ENCAMS seaside award. It’s well-suited to children with a collection of rock-pools and hidden caves located near the surrounding cliffs. Sandsend town itself consists of a selection of cottages, cafes, pubs and a fine restaurant. It is well-connected with other towns and has regular bus route that travels to Whitby and Runswick Bay.
Local beauty spots include Mulgrave Woods which offers some scenic walks through the Yorkshire countryside. The Cleveland Way National Trail is also nearby and provides some impressive views of the heritage coastline.
Whitby is a fishing port and seaside resort located in North Yorkshire. Set at the mouth of the River Esk, it is one of the most historically significant towns in the region. We’ve provided a collection of Whitby cottages below that can be rented or alternatively visit the link which provides a wider choice of self catering accommodation.
Set on headland overlooking the town are the jagged sandstone ruins of Whitby Abbey. The ground on which they stand was originally the site of the first abbey which was founded in AD 657. This was destroyed by the marauding Danes, eventually to be rebuilt by the Normans whose work also passed into history – the present ruins actually belong to the 13th century construction.
The Norman tower of St Mary’s Church dominates the Whitby skyline and looks down over the red roofs and steep alleys of Old Whitby. A variety of craft shops populate the narrow, cobbled streets selling local crafts, antiques and maritime memorabilia. Fisherman can still be seen tending their nets – it is still an important trade in Whitby. A number of local museums celebrate the town’s proud history; the Captain Cook Memorial Museum and Whitby Museum are the best examples.
You can learn more about the major Yorkshire visitor attractions and places of interest at: https://www.yorkshire.com
Thinking about taking a short break cottage holiday in the region? Then take a look at our hand-picked collection of Yorkshire holiday cottages and self catering properties.