When you know of a place that feeds all of your favourite things, it is somewhere that needs to be visited! Yorkshire Sculpture Park is one of those places for me as an artist (and art lover), picnic fanatic and walking enthusiast. What’s more, it is under an hour in the car from Manchester which is an absolute bonus.
If there were cats there, I would be totally uncontrollable! But that is quite another story altogether. There are dogs, so I’m almost as crazy…
Getting there from Manchester
To get to the park you have a choice of taking the A-roads through Glossop or taking the motorway route which then meanders around Huddersfield and into Wakefield. The scenic and most picturesque is the route through Glossop, but be prepared for sitting in traffic as you’ll be travelling through small village that are desperate for a bypass. If you have the time, like we did on the way there, then do it. It won’t add too much to the journey, but can be a bit on the boring side. We took the less interesting roue on the way back and ended up being diverted anyway, because of an accident, so got to explore some other routes we haven’t seen before. Either way, don’t go in for a rushed journey.
Parking is from £2.50 for 1 hour and £8 for all day, which I think is very reasonable considering the space available to play and explore as well as the fact that they are a charity managing the park. Plus, there are so many other places that would charge you £8 each!! We always go for a whole day ticket to support them and so we don’t need to keep an eye on the time, which makes the visit pleasantly relaxed.
Plenty of space
The sculpture park is set in huge grounds and surrounded by its own parkland too, so there is certainly more than enough space to explore and have fun. We visited yesterday, which happened to be a gloriously sunny Bank Holiday Monday, so as you would expect, it was pretty popular. We ended up parking in the overflow, overflow, overflow! Not that we minded, we’re always up for a walk anyway – got to get that seep count up!
That being said, we were still able to quickly us the toilets (no queue for the ladies, would you believe) and because the park is so big, we had acres of land to choose from for our picnic, meaning that we were’t parked closely to anyone else. It was bliss, sitting in the long grass looking out over the hills and lake.
Taking it easy
We usually clock up an average of 10 miles everyday with our walking and hiking, so we decided that we needed a rest day. Having sculptures to explore and discover as well as views to take in, we knew we could take it a bit slower than our usual power pace.
We always have to purposely slow down after lunch as we have tendency to walk at our usual pace, so keeping to busier paths helped to keep us to a snail’s pace. Just long enough for our food to digest while we worked our way around the lake, through the woods and towards the path leading to the Longside Gallery on the hill.
You’ll see to the right, one of Brooklyn based artist, KAWS’ outdoor sculptures. This is one of six and as you can see, they are huge! We visited Yorkshire Sculpture Park shortly after the pieces were installed and it was wet and drizzly on that day. However, I would recommend that you visit in both sunshine and rain to see these sculptures as the material changes with the weather and look absolutely stunning no matter what the background. You’ll be impressed by the sheer size and smoothness of them too.
‘One & Other’
Following the path around the lake, you lead into the start of the incline into the woods. This is where you’ll discover Anthony Gormley’s ‘One & Other’. Gormley has a big presence in the North of the country with The Angel of the North and the ‘Another Place’ sculptures on Crosby Beach in Liverpool, so to see more in the woodland setting is lovely.
With being set in luscious parkland, it is not just about the sculpture and juxtaposition-ed pieces, there is plenty of natural art that you can discover too. Nature draws you in and the work here (often created by resident artists) links well into the parkland.
Take a look at this stunning fungus, just nestled below the trees and sculptures.
Always something to discover
One of my (other) favourite things about the park is how the work integrates so nicely into the environment that you have to explore to find some of the pieces and go off the beaten track to discover more about it. There is always something to discover wherever you are in the park, like this circular boat by JocJonJosch which is tucked away in the disused boat house.
We hadn’t adventured around this part of the park before as it does get pretty muddy in the winter (which, for some reason, has been our preferred time to visit!) so make sure you take some wellies or your gaiters if the weather has been wet.
Heading back down and around the lake, you get to peep through to see ducks and ducklings and the glistening sunshine on the water.
Up to the gallery
Our wandering took up onto the slowly sloping hill leading to the upper gallery – where Ryan Gander had curated the exhibition. I didn’t take many photos in the Longside Gallery (only a sculpture with a haircut I might try next!) as it was pretty busy. The walk up is really pleasant, with lots of benches to take in the views (each with a personal dedication) and gave us the opportunity to get our power walking moves going. So many of our friends refuse to walk with us because of our pace – so wandering with us is kind of offbeat!
OK, so here she is! I love her clothes too – I think I could carry it off, but perhaps not in white!
Back into the woods
Our route took us back over the hills and into the woods again to explore in the shade. It was really quite welcome after spending time in the Longside Gallery as the air seemed pretty thick in there for a hot and sunny day, so the shade and breeze helped us to become more comfortable again.
We counted 69 of David Nash’s Seventy-One steps (I suspect the big gaps were supposed to have one in too!) back down to the lake and the newly completed dam which was the perfect opportunity for a mini photo shoot! 😉
Bearing in mind that we had almost an hour to travel home, had some other bits left to see on the route we had chosen and wanted to visit the shop and drink another cuppa, we decided to start making our way back to the visitor centre. I made sure to grab some more pictures on the way through as everything was just so gorgeous in the sunshine!
From the Visitor Centre, we caught a glimpse of what we thought to be white rabbits! On further investigation, we discovered that they were even better than that! As explorers of the great outdoors, we often see the remnants of picnics left behind – those tied up supermarket bags, strewn to the side after the contents has been consumed. This is exactly what the white rabbits were about too. I knew that if you like the outdoors too, you’ll appreciate these as well.
And back we wandered back to the car for a snack and some tea before our journey home. It had been an absolutely gorgeous day to visit and a surprise that there was so much space between us and the other people considering how many there were at the park.
While drinking our tea, we made a pact that we would visit much more often than we do already, so keep an eye out for more sculpture from Yorkshire Sculpture Park!
Get outside and enjoy all the weather! (especially the sunshine while we have it!)
What did you get up to on the Bank Holiday? Where did your adventures take you?
(If you didn’t have a bank holiday, what is your favourite place to visit when you have time off?)
Share in the comments! 😀