It isn’t often that places look better in the winter, but Kirkstall Abbey is one of them. When the skies are dark and dramatic, the medieval stone walls make fantastic black and white photos. The BBC saw its dramatic potential in 2011 when they converted the site into a film set and recorded Frankenstein’s Wedding starring David Harewood and Lacey Turner. I was an extra in the filming and it was a great event to have in the region.
The success of this live show was mirrored in 2013, when Carmen was filmed live in Bradford City Centre. The BBC seem to have a love of all things Yorkshire! I imagined I’d be a famous actress one day, so it was great to be able to take part in a slice of the action and one of the reasons I love this place.
One of the most complete Cistercian Abbeys in Britain, Kirkstall Abbey was built in the 12th century and is located just 3 miles from Leeds city centre set in green parklands and backing onto the River Aire. It is easy to get to by bus from the city centre - the journey takes about 20 minutes – and even easier if you come by car as the car park is free and there is no entrance fee to the ruins either. There is a good value café on site, toilets, visitor centre and also a play area amongst the ruins for younger children. The area is flat, with signage inside the abbey so you can see what historical room you would have once been standing in and there is plenty of open space for a picnic in the summer.
Visit on the last Saturday of the month from March to November and you’ll be met with a wide variety of stalls at the Deli Market. Throughout the year there are many events at the ruins so it is worth keeping an eye on their website.
Kirkstall Abbey is so near to Leeds, I’d recommend heading into the city for some retail therapy afterwards. Trinity Leeds opened in 2013 bringing great new shopping and restaurants. When with friends, we love to drop into Angelica’s for a champagne cocktail overlooking the rooftops of Leeds, before we window shop in the stunning boutiques of the Victoria Quarter, where the Prada handbags hang out with their Mulberry friends before they venture into Harvey Nichols.
If you extend into the night in Leeds, you normally find yourself gravitating to a particular area; my favourite is Call Lane for its funky bars. Granary Wharf is another area I love for lazy summer nights as it is set on the canal side and most of the bars and some of the restaurants have outdoor seating.
I have to let you into a secret, I wasn’t born in Yorkshire, but having lived here since I was three I certainly classify myself as a Yorkshire Lass.
I’m a fan of the great outdoors and we clearly have some great countryside in Yorkshire, think Emmerdale (originally filmed in the village of Esholt, where you can still enjoy a drink outside The Woolpack!). Last of The Summer Wine was filmed in Holmfirth, The Railway Children was shot alongside the Keighley Worth Valley Railway, with the children’s home, Three Chimneys, located in Oxenhope. For months I walked the dog past the back of the house without realising!
I have to let you into a secret, I wasn’t born in Yorkshire, but having lived here since I was three I certainly classify myself as a Yorkshire Lass, and Yorkshire people are proud to be from Yorkshire. This is the thing I love most about being from the UK’s largest county, and I don’t know if it is the same for everyone, but I have a real sense of belonging and county pride. Generally Yorkshire people are honest, they will support you, be straight with you and generally keep their worries within their tight knit friendship group. I love going back to the street where my parents live and where I grew up, as everyone knows each other, there is always an excuse for a street party and if someone is ill you have an endless offering of lifts, apple pie and dog walkers. These small villages still hold a sense of what most of England used to be with a strong sense of community pride. The village farmers market is well attended, the pubs are busy and the annual scarecrow walk and Harley Davidson Rally are a great excuse to catch up with old friends.
In my role for Cedar Court Hotels I travel the whole of the UK, visiting various business travel agents, tour operators and event management companies to encourage them to bring their events to our hotels in Yorkshire. But I always love coming home to my Yorkshire.
That's my Yorkshire, now discover yours!
Two night short breaks in Yorkshire from only £99