Are you in Leeds over the summer? Need to get out of the city for a while? Do you want to do all this without breaking the (very measly, student finance fueled) bank? Well LS may well have the answer for you. In Leeds, we are very lucky to have extraordinarily beautiful countryside within a stone’s throw: The Yorkshire Dales. The Dales can provide anything from scenic moorland walks to picturesque town visits, and its natural beauty has very recently been featured as a very important part of the opening stages of the Tour de France 2014. This guide will tell you how to benefit from this gorgeous National Park and the surrounding areas on a student budget.
Thankfully, it isn’t too difficult to get to the Yorkshire Dales from Leeds, and there is a multitude of public transport options available for those of us without cars. By booking your train the day before, you can get a return to Skipton for £6.15, or to Ilkley for £3.90 with a 16-25 Railcard. You can also get to Ilkley and Skipton on the X84 bus, or to Harrogate and Ripon on the 36, and go further into the Dales on local bus services. Additionally, on Sundays and Bank Holidays, DalesBus offers a Student Dales Rover all-day pass for just £5, which covers most DalesBus services.
The Cow & Calf Rocks, Ilkley Moor
Although the beginning of the walk is 30 minutes away from Ilkley Rail Station, the complete trek around the rocks only takes about an hour, and the journey is well worth it. All you Monty Python fans out there may recognise this rock formation, as they have featured heavily in their works! As well as the rocks themselves, the walk takes you through the famous Ilkley Moor, the subject of Yorkshire’s unofficial anthem.
Bolton Abbey and Strid Wood
Bolton Abbey is a ruined 12th century monastery surrounded by 30,000 acres of countryside, including 80 miles of paths and 6 areas of special scientific interest (Strid Wood being one of these). Bolton Abbey can be accessed by bus from Ilkley on the 74, and 75 on Saturdays; however Strid Wood can only be accessed by bus on Sundays and Bank Holidays via the 843 route. To sweeten the deal, entry to the Priory and grounds is free to those who have travelled on public transport. Strid Wood is home to a wide variety of plant species, and is one of the best places to see birdlife in the Yorkshire Dales.
For those of you who aren’t so keen on the whole “nature” thing, there is always the option of visiting one of the many picturesque towns and villages throughout the area, with the most convenient of these being Harrogate in North Yorkshire. As well as the usual shopping experience you might expect, there are also several parks that you could eat a picnic in on a sunny day. If you’re feeling particularly cultured, there is the Mercer Art Gallery, and the Royal Pump Room for those interested in learning more about Harrogate’s history as a spa town. You could also visit the original Betty’s Tea Room if you happen to be the sort of person who enjoys spending extortionate amounts of money on biscuits and queueing.
There are many more places that you can get to in the countryside surrounding Leeds, and if any of the places above aren’t taking your fancy, then make sure to check out the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority website for further ideas!
Photo: T.J. Blackwell