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West Yorkshire and Pennines tourist information & travel guide

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West Yorkshire and the Pennines
West Yorkshire is dominated by two diametrically landscapes, the metropolitan Leeds-Bradford conurbation, and the South Pennines. Leeds was a centre for the wool and weaving industries in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and has recently been overhauled and rebranded. So welcome to 'the Knightsbridge of the North', a mecca for everyone who doesn't want to go to London for haute couture, and is becoming increasingly popular for a city break in Leeds, and the Victorian arcades make a beautiful setting for some retail therapy. Leeds, which was once driven by steam, now jumps to one of the biggest nightlife scenes in the country. The restaurants can serve any palate, from sushi and sashimi, via French and Italian, to Modern British and steaks so large they fall over the side of the plate. As you would expect there is a pub or bar for all tastes, and many are licensed to 2am. Leeds has two art galleries, but the most interesting by far is the Royal Armories, situated on the banks of the rive Aire. This was originally built as an overflow from the Tower of London, but has since expanded to cover over 3000 years' of fighting technology and has something for everyone in the family.

Bradford is only 9 miles west of Leeds and has a thriving Bangladeshi/Pakistani community and at the end of June they hold a colourful celebration of Asian dance and music. The Colour Museum is a little visited place, which tells the story of the town's history in the wool-dying trade, and has an excellent section on colour perception so you can tell how colour-blind you really are. Bradford is a honey-pot for curry lovers and to help you make your choice the Bradford Curry Guide has a web site.

On the outskirts of Bradford is the model village of Saltire, built by the Victorian philanthropist, and teetotaler, Titus Salt. There are rows of neat cottages beneath what was once the largest factory in the world and Salt spared no expense on his employees, with one exception; he refused to build them a pub. The vast factory, now Salt's Mill, has a permanent exhibition by the area's favorite son, David Hockney.

The small village of Harewood is 6 miles north of Leeds and has only one redeeming feature, Harewood House, its gardens and park. This is a classic example of the English country estate, built in the latter part of the 18th century, with an interior by Robert Adams; it was furnished by Chippendale, with grounds by Capability Brown, the 'A' team of the era. Europe, and especially Italy, was scoured for the art collection, and the collection is much the same now as it was then. In the grounds, you can relax in the Bird Garden, which has lots of colourful species, go rowing on the lake, and there is a network of paths and trails through the parkland.

To the south of Leeds is the National Coal Mining Museum for England situated in one of the few remaining coalmines in the area at Claphouse. The highlight of the visit is a tour underground, complete with helmet and head-torch. You descend 450 ft in a steel cage and then follow the tunnels till you reach the coalface, guided by former miners who explain all the details. Up on the surface there are audio-visual displays, and the mine workings, including the bathhouses, untouched since the last workers left.

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