Yorkshire is a legendarily beautiful county, but also steeped in history and British folklore. Leylines, ancient standing stones, crumbling abbeys and other mysterious features punctuate the often-misty landscape of this expansive county. But what are some of the most exciting and interesting things you can do here?
Explore Ancient Cave Systems
The Yorkshire Dales are a world famous upland area that attracts thousands of ramblers, hikers, holidaymakers and other tourists every year. But what many of them don’t know, is that is also home to one of Europe’s (and the UK’s) largest cave system. Crossing three county borders and spanning 53 miles, the Three Counties System is one of the greatest natural wonders of the UK.
Highlights include the cavernous Gaping Gill, a 322 feet deep pothole that’s big enough to swallow the nearby York Minster Cathedral, and the 210 ft Death’s Head Hole. One stalactite in this system was carbon dated as 350,000 years old. But be warned – 15 people have lost their lives exploring these dank and dangerous natural tunnels.
Brave the Forbidden Corner
This extremely popular manor house garden near Coverham in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, markets itself as ‘the strangest place in the world’. Built as a tribute to the Victorian folly gardens of the late 19th century, it contains all sorts of architectural oddities. Attractions at this four-acre site include a pyramid made of crushed glass, an underground labyrinth (with revolving floors), trick statues that squirt water or *ahem* urinate on passing guests, towers built to look like gaping mouths and a 20ft giant Green Man.
The Brimham Rocks are one of Britain’s only example of naturally occurring balancing rocks. A truly prehistoric experience, some of the miraculous natural standing stones were formed millions of years before people (or even the dinosaurs) walked the Earth. This primordial landscape, just 11 miles from the town of Harrogate in North Yorkshire, attracts thousands of visitors every year who clamber over, under and through the ancient stones that come in a variety of shapes.
The Dancing Bear, the Rocking Stones and the Eagle are just some of the nicknames locals have come up with over the years for these fantastic natural formations. They are open all days of the year from 9am to 9pm or dusk, whichever is earlier.
Chill Your Bones at The Dracula Experience
The Yorkshire town of Whitby was probably already spooky enough before Victorian author Bram Stoker visited in 1890. Whilst there, the sweeping vistas of this quaint Yorkshire town’s craggy coastline and ruinous 7th century abbey inspired the young writer to pen his most famous novel, Dracula. In fact, several parts of this legendary book were set in Whitby and many of the locations mentioned can still be visited to this day.
From the haunting coastal graveyard, to the ruined abbey itself (which was once ransacked by Henry VIII’s troops) and the 199 steps from the beach up to the Abbey walls – Whitby remains a destination of choice for fans of gothic horror and literary history alike.