The Ultimate Yorkshire Road Trip

22 February 2017

Dramatic, heather-clad moors, remote valleys, miles of pristine beaches and lively, cosmopolitan cities - Yorkshire is one of the most diverse regions in the UK and it's beauty needs to be seen to be believed. After all, it's not known as God's Own Country for no good reason.

From world-class shopping and history-soaked sites, to haunted pubs and ancient stately homes; this unique part of the world has it all - and a road trip through its varying scenery will be one to remember.

Highlights:

Distance: 117 kilometres

  • Visit the birthplace of Bram Stoker's Dracula.
  • Shop till you drop in northern England's style capital. 
  • Experience life as a Viking.
  • Spend a night in one of the UK's most haunted pubs. 
  • Take in the wild Yorkshire moors and visit the home of Wuthering Heights author, Emily Bronte.
 

A photo posted by Rick Haigh (@richardhaigh) on

Day 1-2: Leeds

Having arrived into Leeds, spend a day or two exploring the city and indulging in the local favourite activity: shopping.

Said to be the street style capital of the UK, Leeds was the birthplace of high street giant Marks & Spencer and gained the very first Harvey Nichols store outside London. And handily – given the precarious British weather – most of its shopping is indoors.

In the Victoria Quarter, the historic redeveloped shopping arcades are home to more than 70 luxury shops. At the other end of the scale, the adjoining Kirkgate Market sees lively butchers hawking their wares, alongside greasy spoon cafes selling wallet-friendly Yorkshire teas.

And just when you think your stamina – and your credit card – can’t handle anymore, enter the Leeds Corn Exchange. One of the largest covered markets in Europe, it’s a mecca for designer-lovers, with brands such as Louis Vuitton, Mulberry and Vivienne Westwood rubbing shoulders under its giant glass dome roof.

 

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Day 3-4:Leeds to Haworth

A pleasant 35-minute drive west of Leeds will take you to the pretty village of Haworth, which was where literary giants, the Bronte sisters, spent their short lives. 

Their former home, the Bronte Parsonage Museum, is now a great visitors centre, but to get behind the minds of the three sisters – whose works included Jane Eyre, Agnes Grey and Wuthering Heights – walking around the village and its surrounding countryside is a must.

The local church holds the family vault, and the aptly named Bronte waterfalls was a regular stop on their walks. The adjacent moor to the parsonage is also said to have inspired Emily to write Wuthering Heights.

The famous sisters aside, the village itself offers plenty to while away a few hours, including antique shops, traditional Yorkshire tea rooms and souvenir shops.

Day 5-6: Haworth to York

Journeying 57 kilometres from Haworth along the A64 will take you to York. Known as one of the most historic cities in the country, its origins stretch back more than two millennia. Here, Roman emperors were crowned, Guy Fawkes was born, and on its battlements, Scottish rebel, William Wallace had his decapitated head displayed for all to see. And while there are stories to be told of its epic battles, there's much more to York.

Kick off your exploration at York’s most famous landmark, the gothic Minster cathedral. Those with a sweet tooth can get their kicks at York’s Chocolate Story. A fully-guided experience, visitors are taken through the history of chocolate and the city’s most famous chocolate-making families.

Another must-do is the Jorvik Viking Centre. Built on the site where archaeologists found amazingly well-preserved remains of Viking York – or ‘Jorvik’ – the museum recreates the sights, sounds and smells of Viking life and has welcomed more than 18 million visitors over the past 30 years.

Given that York was bestowed with the title of ‘most haunted city in Europe’ staying in its most haunted pub, the Golden Fleece, is a must for thrill-seekers. Dating from 1503, there are said to be 15 ghosts in residence, including a Canadian airman who fell to his death from one of the upper windows during World War II. Spooky.

Day 6-7: York to North York Moors

Rise early and drive 24 kilometres north of York for your first pit stop, Castle Howard.  Widely reputed to be the most beautiful historic house in all of Yorkshire, this stately pile has a world famous art collection and was used as the filming location for hit TV series "Brideshead Revisited".

Continue further north along the A169 and eventually the scenery will change to wide expanses of moor.  Around 70 per cent of the world's heather moorland is in the UK and the largest continuous expanse of moorland in England and Wales is in the North York Moors. Sea views, cobbled lanes and pretty seaside villages abound throughout the area, and the walks are some of the country’s most beautiful.

Hike across the bleak but awe-inspiring moors to the dramatic rock crags known as the Wainstones or navigate the pristine coastline to the fishing village of Robin Hood’s Bay, where you can indulge in a spot of rock-pooling and fossil-hunting. 

 

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Day 7: North York Moors to Whitby

Hit the road on your final day and make the easy 10-minute drive (depending on where you've stayed) east to the fishing town of Whitby.

Here you can sink your teeth (literally) into its fascinating history and enjoy both its pretty waterfront and the dramatic cliff-top remains of the medieval Whitby Abbey, reached via the famous '99 steps'. But of course, Whitby’s biggest claim to fame is Dracula. It’s here that the immortal horror classic was born, after its author, Bram Stoker, spent a few weeks in the seaside port.

Another famous resident – this one actually real – was Captain Cook. The explorer called Whitby home for several years and you can visit a museum dedicated to his life housed in the 17th century building he once lodged in as an apprentice.

Paul Ewart

Originally from the UK, Paul has lived and worked in three different continents: from the heady metropolis of Dubai, to North America and - as of six years ago - Sydney, Australia, a place he now calls home. His travel career spans 13 years across various print and digital outlets. Until recently, he worked as a senior TV producer for Channel 7. Now, he's back doing what he does best: travelling.