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Exploring Yorkshire: 3 Ideas for a Cute, Last Minute Valentine’s Getaway

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Leeds chapter.

During my time at Leeds, I’ve tried to make the most of not only what Leeds has to offer, but the surrounding areas too. Being from the Midlands, it is much more convenient to explore Yorkshire during term time and with places like Harrogate, Knaresborough and York only a short train journey away, it is so affordable and easy! Just being able to hop on a quick train for under a fiver makes this a perfect last minute Valentine’s or Galentine’s treat. Personally, I don’t think Valentine’s Day is a big deal, but, if anything, it’s the perfect excuse to go out and explore greater Leeds.


I’ve been fortunate enough to visit Harrogate twice over the course of my 3 years at Leeds. With frequent trains to and from Harrogate running throughout the week you won’t need to plan ahead; just jump on a train at Leeds station, Burley Park or Headingley and get to Harrogate in less than 30 minutes. Or, you can catch the ‘36’ from Leeds Bus Station to get there in just under 50 minutes. The main tourist sites that Harrogate is recognised for are ‘The Turkish Spa’ and ‘Betty’s Tea Rooms.’ With both of these being practically next door to each other on the same street, along with restaurants like Nando’s and Wagamama, you’ve got a Valentine’s Day out all in one place. Either, or both, would make the perfect couples day out, though they are quite pricey. If you are a bit strapped for cash, having a walk around the beautiful Valley Gardens and stopping for a drink at the many pubs and cafes Harrogate has to offer would be just as romantic. A stroll around the town centre is also lovely and provides many window-shopping opportunities. The Wetherspoons, ‘Winter Gardens,’ is also one of the nicest Wetherspoons I’ve ever been to, so if you want student-friendly cocktails in a nice venue, this is also a good shout. Harrogate is a gorgeous spa town and a nice change from the busy centre of Leeds for a romantic occasion. Beyond Valentine’s, if you’re in your first year at university and have more free time than you know what to do with, invite your new flat or course mates on a fun day out and get to know each other. If you’re catching the 36 bus, it also stops at Harewood House before Harrogate and they offer 50% discount for car free visitors (reducing the entry free from £13.50 to £6.75 when booked online). This is a beautiful country house in scenic rural Yorkshire with over 100 acres of gardens, a farm experience and contemporary art exhibitions. Unfortunately, while this isn’t available on Valentine’s Day (it reopens on Saturday 21st March 2020), it is an option for the summer term.


Knaresborough is just a bit further out than Harrogate from Leeds and is much smaller, yet there is still so much to explore. Like Harrogate, the train can also be caught from Burley Park and Headingley, and is roughly a 50 minute journey. Knaresborough castle, based at the top of a hill, is both interesting in its history and provides a beautiful (very instagrammable) view of the Knaresborough viaduct: the bridge that forms the central feature of the town’s beautiful landscape. Also a famous feature of Knaresborough castle is its infamous talking Raven (if you’re interested, you can look it up on YouTube – it’s real). Who knew a talking bird lived just miles away? Like Harrogate, there is a town centre with shops to explore. There is also ‘Mother Shipton’s Cave,’ a historic park linked to a legendary prophesising witch. If you fancy braving the cold and putting on your walking boots this Valentine’s (what a look), there are also many walking trails such as ‘Nidd George,’ where you can further explore Yorkshire’s rural landscape. You can also rent a little rowing boat if you fancy recreating a scene from The Notebook this Valentine’s (it will be easy enough to replicate – it’s always raining in Yorkshire). Knaresborough is perfect for couples who love a walk, a country pub and can handle the chilly outdoors. An added bonus is that the Castle, ‘Mother Shipton’s Cave,’ and the walking trails are all free, which proves you don’t need to spend an arm and a leg to have a memorable Valentines’ day with your partner or friends.


York is roughly a 25 minute train journey from Leeds. You can also catch this train from Burley Park and Headingley, so those living in student areas don’t need to trek any further than necessary into town. York may be a more obvious option; nevertheless it is a necessary trip to take whilst you’re in Leeds. A trip to York’s Cathedral and The Castle is perfect for a touristy Valentine’s Day out. There is also ‘Clifford’s Tower’ which, like Knaresborough Castle, is situated at the top of a hill, providing a beautiful scenic view of the city. Similar to Harrogate and Knaresborough, York is saturated with history. ‘The Shambles,’ for instance, is the perfect means of educational shopping (any excuse to shop, I guess), with the narrow, wonky pebbled street dating back as far as the 14th century. If you’re a couple who love horror films, you can also take the ghost walk with a tour guide around the city at night. If you’re planning on eating out, there are several restaurants on the riverside such as ‘Dyls’ or ‘Missoula Montana Bar and Grill’ which provide the perfect romantic, scenic set up for a Valentine’s dinner. There are also many chain restaurants; Pizza Express River House is currently offering 25% off the total bill, or a Valentine’s Sharing Set Menu for Two for £29.95. There’s also a 25% UNIDAYS discount at ‘Revolution’ on the riverside, which is great for post-dinner cocktails and anyone whose like me and abuses their student discount on the regular.

I hope this has inspired Valentine’s or Galentine’s day plans and, of course, that you’re not cursed with a Northern Rail train instead of a nicer LNER or Cross Country one. You shouldn’t need to pay more than £15 for these days out, including train fare and a bite to eat. But if you wish to go that extra mile (and can afford to do so) for your Valentine’s, I’ve tried to include an equal mix of cheaper and more expensive options to cater to everyone.

Ultimately, the most important thing is to enjoy your time together, whether that’s by indulging yourselves in a trip to the Turkish Spa in Harrogate or searching for the talking Raven at Knaresborough castle. Even if you hate Valentine’s Day and want to spend Galentine’s slagging off your ex over cocktails, you can do this whilst enjoying all of the glorious bars Yorkshire has to offer.


Words by Holly Kelly.

Edited by Kirti Shah.

Hi, I'm Holly Kelly, I'm an third year English Literature student at the University of Leeds!