Kirklees is a region in West Yorkshire, steeped in a rich industrial history including cotton milling. Kirklees is home to the burial place of legend Robin Hood, as well as delicious local food, beautiful landscapes and hundreds of activities for outdoors enthusiasts. There is always something new to experience in Kirklees. Here are some of the best things to do in this region.
1. Castle Hill
Castle Hill is an ancient site that overlooks the important Kirklees town of Huddersfield. This site has been occupied for over 4,000 years, with the remains of an Iron Age hill fort still present today. A medieval castle also once stood here, with the remains of the castle well still visible. Amongst these ruins you will also find the Victoria Tower, built in 1899 to commemorate Queen Victoria. The tower reaches 32m tall, and visitors are welcome to climb the tower for stunning views across the countryside and Huddersfield. Castle Hill offers spectacular vistas and an extensive history, perfect for learning more about Kirklees.
2. Kirklees Light Railway
A trip to Kirklees Light Railway is a must for any visitor to the region. The railway spans 5.6km, originally running from 1879. The railway was closed almost 100 years later but re-opened in 1991 to preserve the important cultural heritage of this railway. Today you can take a ride on a classic steam train for an idea of rail travel in the 19th and 20th centuries. The trains will take you on a journey through the foothills of the Pennine mountains, offering beautiful views and a totally unique experience. There are tea rooms available, outdoor play areas and even a shop where you can pick up some timeless souvenirs. This railway is a true treasure of Kirklees.
3. Standedge Tunnel
The Standedge Tunnel is a canal tunnel lying beneath the Pennine mountains in Kirklees. This tunnel has been open since 1811 and remains the longest canal tunnel in Britain, spanning 5.2km. Take a ride on a boat along the canal with extraordinary views of the surrounding countryside and, of course, a spectacular journey through the tunnel. The tunnel is brick-lined with sections of hewn rock providing a close encounter with the heart of the mountain. After your boat ride, stop by the Visitor Centre to learn more about Kirklees heritage or grab a bite to eat at the Watersedge Café. This is a special experience that is utterly unique to Kirklees.
4. Red House Museum
The Red House Museum is based in a historic house in Kirklees. The house was built in 1660 for a wealthy family and has a rich history. The house and its original inhabitants were the inspiration for Charlotte Bronte’s novel ‘Shirley’, as the author stayed in the Red House for a short time. Today, the house is a museum dedicated to preserving the history and heritage of this home. Here you will find rooms decorated in authentic period style as well as beautiful 19th century gardens outside. Take a tour through the house to learn more about its story or visit one of the exhibitions on Charlotte Bronte and Kirklees. This is a wonderful day out and a carefully restored slice of traditional Kirklees life.
5. Marsden Moor
Marsden Moor is one of the wildest expanses in Kirklees, spanning a massive 5,000 acres. Here you can walk, hike or bike through valleys, hills, crags and moorland, alongside Victorian reservoirs and some stunning wildlife. Spot some local creatures including the golden plover, hares, foxes and weasels. Visitors are welcome to join a walking group on a number of trails, ranging in pace and terrain from leisurely to challenging. Events take place on the moor too, including fairs and markets, and guided historical tours designed to teach you about local heritage. Marsden Moor is the perfect way to experience wild Kirklees.
6. Colne Valley Museum
Colne Valley Museum is a great place to go to learn about Kirklees’ industrial history. The museum has been built into converted cottages from the early 19th century, which were once the homes and workplaces of weavers. Today, the museum examines the life of weavers from this period through restored rooms and interesting displays. You can explore workshops, living areas and rooms designed to cater for specific processes like looming and spinning. There is a traditional craft class every week and regular temporary exhibitions, making this a lovely place to get crafty as well as learn about an important piece of Kirklees’ heritage.
7. Ashley Jackson Art Gallery
Kirklees is home to the only gallery dedicated to the work of artist Ashley Jackson. Jackson is a native of Yorkshire and an internationally acclaimed artist, specialising in watercolours and landscapes. The Ashley Jackson Art Gallery is nestled in the Pennines, offering dramatic views – perfect for appreciating Jackson’s own landscape imagery. This gallery is a delightful place, highlighting Yorkshire artistry and an authentic portrayal of moorland life.
8. Tolson Museum
Tolson Museum is located in a Victorian mansion, built in the mid-19th century. The museum examines a wide range of topics including natural history, local heritage and industrial history. Exhibits showcase items from prehistoric settlers, as well as tools used in the textile industry, and modern everyday items which reflect life in Kirklees. You can also find vehicles, stuffed animals, and beautiful painted ceilings. After strolling through the museum, visit the surrounding Ravensknowle Park with sports facilities, children’s play areas, and idyllic green lawns. There is also a shop and café on-site for souvenirs, gifts and snacks. Tolson Museum is a wonderful place to learn more about Kirklees and its heritage.
Huddersfield is Kirklees’ largest town and a beautiful Victorian town. Pay a visit to Huddersfield to admire the historical architecture, including that of the railway station, considered to be as beautiful as St Pancras in London. The town has been inhabited for millennia and established as a market town since Anglo-Saxon times. Here you can learn about Huddersfield’s history as a textile producer or attend the annual Huddersfield Food and Drink Festival to enjoy delicious cuisines from around the world. Go shopping in the Pack Horse Centre where pack horses were once used to carry products through the Pennines from Huddersfield. There is plenty to see and do in this important Kirklees town.
10. Beaumont Park
Beaumont Park is one of Kirklees’ most popular public parks, located at the heart of Huddersfield. The park has been open since 1883 and still retains some features of its period, including architecture and flower arrangements. The park regularly hosts local events, including a weekly walking group, exercise classes, nature trails and musical events. Beaumont Park is a lovely place to spend a sunny day or to spend some time with nature in bustling Huddersfield.
11. Trans Pennine Trail
The Trans Pennine Trail is a network of long-distance paths running across northern England from coast to coast. The trail passes through the Pennines, spanning a total of 941km across all routes. The trail consists of easy terrain, making it easily accessible to walkers, cyclists and horse-riders no matter your experience or skill level. Traverse part of the trail, stopping off at one of the many fascinating towns and villages along the way, or hike for a few days at once. Any trip along the Trans Pennine Trail will provide you with glorious vistas and unique experiences.
12. Woodsome Hall Golf Club
Golfers and enthusiasts won’t want to miss a visit to Woodsome Hall Golf Club. This superb golfing venue features a skilful course attached to a 16th century club house, full of history. There is home-cooked local food on offer in the club house alongside a wide selection of cask beers, and even accommodation for those who would like to stay a little longer. This is a great place to spend a day or more for lovers of golf and history.
13. Denby Dale
Visit the quaint village of Denby Dale for a taste of rural life in Kirklees. Denby Dale was historically used as a supplier of textile materials as well as coal, making it a vital part of Kirklees’ industrial heritage. Denby Dale is most famous, however, for its giant pies! The village tradition began in 1788 and reoccurred at intervals over the decades since. The most recent giant pie measured 12ft long and weighed 12 tonnes. Today, Denby Dale is an ideal base for biking or hiking out into the surrounding countryside, or stop in a local tea room for some scones and famous Yorkshire tea.
14. Pule Hill
Pule Hill is a must for climbing enthusiasts and thrill-seekers. Pule Hill is a crag that towers over part of the Trans Pennine Trail, making it readily accessible. Pule Hill is known for its height and beautiful views, particularly when climbing at sunset. Pule Hill is also a great place to go walking, with the top of the hill seeming to glow with gold as the sun sets. Pule Hill is set in the heart of the wild Kirklees moorland, offering spectacular vistas and fresh air for fans of the outdoors.
15. West Yorkshire Print Workshop
The West Yorkshire Print Workshop is a great place to spend a day for anyone who likes getting creative. The workshop is an open access printing facility aiming to support artists and creativity through the art of printing. Here, you can learn how to print using a variety of methods including letterpress, screen-printing and block-printing. You can even learn other artistic techniques such as bookbinding and life drawing. There is a gallery on-site for those who prefer to admire art from a distance, with regularly changing exhibitions. There are even a number of studio and workshop spaces for a variety of arts, including dark rooms for photography. This is the best place in Kirklees to go to find art, local talent, or to get crafty!
Holmfirth is a small town in Kirklees, located in the centre of rolling countryside. Holmfirth has historically been important in Kirklees’ industrial history, playing a role in the local textile and quarry industries. More recently, Holmfirth has been known as the home of the BBC TV show ‘Last of the Summer Wine’. This show was the longest-running sitcom in the world, focussing on three elderly men enjoying the later years of their lives. Holmfirth is popular with visitors for its gorgeous countryside, featured heavily in the TV show, and ideal for hikers, photographers and wildlife fans alike.
17. Dewsbury Heritage Trail
The Dewsbury Heritage Trail offers an insight into local heritage in Kirklees, leading you on a fascinating journey through the region’s history. Here you will learn about Kirklees’ connection to the infamous Yorkshire Ripper, as well as the children’s favourite ‘Mr Men’. You will also learn about Kirklees’ textile industry which has been so important in the area’s history. This trail is a great opportunity to discover Kirklees’ rich heritage whilst enjoying some exercise in the gorgeous Yorkshire countryside.