When all is said and done, the North will always be my home: I grew up there, studied there and hope – one day – to move back there. In mid-November, Laurence and I spent a long weekend in Leeds reliving our student days, visiting old haunts and eating our way across the city. (Mostly eating, if I’m honest, but we did clock up a lot of steps zig-zagging from LS1 to LS6.) Hopping aboard the 18:03 to Leeds, I was only too happy to be trading the pancake-flat South for the rolling hills of the North.
As anyone who takes delight in picking up the free Evening Standard and accompanying ES magazine (myself included) can tell you, they do a great feature called ‘My London’, whereby a particular celebrity details what makes them tick in The Big Smoke. As of tomorrow, I’ll be a graduate of the University of Leeds – and that’s where this adaptation of the aforementioned ES magazine feature comes in: a collection of recommendations, anecdotes and things to eat, see and do in the city I called home for ¾ of my degree – Leeds.
Tuesday rolled round, and with it our third peak of the trip: Whernside. The diamond in Yorkshire’s crown, Whernside is the highest of the Yorkshire Three Peaks – and arguably the peak with the best views. From the lofty heights of 736m above sea level, the summit offers views of the Lake District and Morecambe Bay on a clear day – and if you bring your binoculars, you might even spot Blackpool Tower!
The morning after our short but sweet ascent of Pen-y-ghent, we were all fuelled up on Morrison’s golden syrup porridge and hot chocolate and ready to attempt Yorkshire’s second-highest peak: Ingleborough. At 723m high this is hardly the Himalayas, but it did feel like a bit of a slog compared to the previous day’s hike.
Living on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, it would have been rude not to have attempted the Yorkshire Three Peaks. So attempt it we did – though not within the challenging twelve-hour time frame! Instead, we booked ourselves a pitch at Holme Farm campsite for three nights, with the aim of doing a peak a day.
If asked to name a British spa town, I suspect that for many people Bath would spring to mind. Head 200 or so miles further north and you’ll reach Harrogate, a spa town in the heart of Yorkshire which is frequently considered to be the happiest place to live in the UK. Easily accessible by train from Leeds, Harrogate is another of Britain’s gems. It’s surrounded by the Yorkshire Dales and the Nidderdale AONB, and the characterful city centre is full of boutique shops and cafés, fine architecture and sprawling green spaces.
If you’ve seen Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1), it’s likely you’re no stranger to the stunning limestone pavement of Malham Cove. Although it’s located only a stone’s throw from the village of Malham, we took the train to Settle and hiked from there, notching up 25km (or 43,446 steps, according to Laurence’s iPhone) on our round-trip route . . .
Rain or shine, with its spectacular viaduct and labyrinth of cobbled streets and stone-flagged steps, Knaresborough is one of my favourite day trips from Leeds. A stone’s throw from the spa town of Harrogate – and a direct train away from Leeds – this picturesque market town was the perfect pick-me-up after my brain-draining French speaking exam (une discussion sur l’immigration et le «Brexit», je me suis éclatée!).
The Dales Way links Ilkley, a picturesque market town in Yorkshire, to Bowness-on-Windermere, a beautiful tourist honeypot in the Lakes, taking in 84 miles of moorland, pastures, valleys and fens along the way. Before returning home for Easter, Laurence and I decided to walk a chunk of it – and have since bookmarked the entire route for a future trip . . .
Skipton is a quaint, picturesque market town on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales. The bustling town centre is filled with independent tea rooms, boutique shops and is surrounded by beautiful moorland. Almost a fortnight ago, my sister and I spent a lovely (albeit stereotypically drizzly) day wandering around this beautiful town and exploring the remarkably intact Skipton Castle.