I love Leeds, I really do. Sometimes though, you need a little break from the hustle and bustle of the city (especially when it's condensed with Christmas shoppers).
You don't need to travel far for a breath of fresh air. If you're looking for a December retreat, here's where to venture on a day trip:
My grandparents have lived in Ilkley for the past fifty years, so it holds a special place in my heart. You can see my post all about my Granny's house here - my favourite place in the world. Ilkley is roughly 25 minutes by train from Leeds, and about 45 minutes by bus. There's loads of things to do here! If it's sunny (maybe wait until summer) you can go swimming alfresco at the Ilkley Lido. If you're looking for shops, hit up The Grove and Church Street. Go for a walk through the Riverside Gardens and along the river. Go to Bettys for a cup of tea, or Bar T'at for a pint. Then drive up Cowpasture Road up towards the clouds to the Cow and Calf - a variety of beautiful, jutting rocks. While you're up there, on Ilkley moor bartat ('without a hat' if you didn't already know), you can enjoy the breeze and the breathtaking view.
Saltaire's only ten minutes from Leeds by train, and is an amazing change of scene. It's a Victorian model village built by mill owner Titus Salt in 1851 for his workers, away from the fumes of Bradford. Once you've arrived in Saltaire, head to Salts Mill and if it's still on (!) check out David Hockney's iPad Drawings exhibition. See colourful, wild strokes blend together into Yorkshire scenery. While there, go for food in Salts Diner. When finished, walk around! Walk across the river and around Roberts Park. It's beautiful! Be warned though, it's renowned for being extremely breezy so maybe wear an extra layer. Head to Rad Studio and buy some delightfully cool design-led items. Stop. Breathe. Absorb. Take in the beautiful architecture and the history steeped within this village. If you fancy a bevvy once you're done, Saltaire Brewery is down the road in Shipley. That's the good stuff.
I find myself in York quite often. I have friends who live there, and it's also halfway between Leeds and Northallerton meaning it's a perfect meeting point for me and my more Northern friends. Also, I just love it! If you're looking for a drink, go to Evil Eye for cocktails, go to Leeds Brewery's Eagle and Child for a pint, and go to Fossgate Social for the atmosphere. There's more and more bars opening all the time. While away the hours wandering by the river. Go into York Minster and then through The Shambles, through the Tudor streets, and feel like you're in a Dickensian book/ Diagon Alley! For a coffee, venture to Brew and Brownie for blue cups and beautifuul coffee beans. For food, head to Oscar's for a varied, cheap and delicious menu. Head to Stonegate Yard for fish and chips and an amazing setting. There's also Jorvik, the Viking museum, and York Dungeon for the quintessentially York experience!
4) Hebden Bridge
Hebden Bridge is just like any other West Yorkshire town, except- you know- loads of awesome artists moved there in the 60's and now it's super cool. Honestly, I feel like I'm in Brighton when I'm there. There's vegan restaurants, independent book shops, record stores. If you want to see a film, head to Hebden Bridge Picture House. For food, go to Shoulder of Mutton - I had the fish and chips, it came on a fish-shaped board, and was bloody great. If you have the time, go on a Boat Tour along the canal. Pop in all the shops. Feed the ducks. And when you've done all of that, get the number 596 bus up the hill to the quaint (and slightly spooky) Heptonstall. Up here, in the ground of the church, you can find Sylvia Plath's grave. You can also venture over to Haworth (Bronte country) on a bus from Hebden Bridge - get lost in the Wuthering Heights!
My final recommendation for a daytrip is somewhere I haven't been yet, so I'm a little unqualified to tell you all the places to go. BUT if you find yourself in Wakey (about a 15 minute train journey) take yourself to Hepworth Gallery, as pictured above. Also- when the weather's a little nicer - head to Yorkshire Sculpture Park, an open-air gallery.
Do you have somewhere to add to this list? Do you have any restaurants/cafes/shops that are a must-visit in any of the above places? Let me know below!