If you’re camping in Yorkshire and looking for a inexpensive day out, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park is a good option, so I thought I’d write a blog about our recent trip there.
Nestled between Wakefield and Barnsley, the YSP is basically a huge country park in the grounds of an old manor house – Bretton Hall. It’s well-signed from the M1 and has a couple of car parks. Parking seems expensive – it’s £2.50 for up to an hour, £5 for 1-2 hours and £7.50 all day – but there is no other entrance fee, so £5 for the five of us to spend a couple of hours there wasn’t bad value.
There are a few formal exhibitions in buildings, but we mainly spent our time wandering the grounds looking at the sculptures dotted here and there. It was like a good walk in the countryside with the added interest of sculptures along the way. I’m not sure The Tinies were that impressed generally – Buddy declared many of the sculptures “rubbish” – but it certainly meant there was lots to look at on our 90 minute walk.
The views from the main car park are pretty stunning, with glimpses of Wakefield in the far distance and rolling hills in between. There are also a couple of cafés, one at the top and another further into the park with a lovely sun-trap of a terrace to sit on. I can’t vouch for the price, quality or variety of the fare at either of the cafés as we didn’t stop for a drink.
At the far end of the estate is a large lake and, beyond that, another formal gallery. If you don’t fancy the walk there’s a free mini bus every 30 minutes from outside the main building. We didn’t walk all the way to the gallery, but if you were to wander down to it you could make it in less than an hour.
We seemed to get down to the lake without really going downhill, but it was most definitely uphill on the way back. The Tinies were getting tired and Buddy became fixated with how much sheep poo there was in the field. Helpfully Husband decided to pretend to eat some and declared it not sheep but rabbit poo “because it tastes like carrots,” which started an interesting discussion about what other varieties might taste of. Nice.
Having lugged ourselves back up to the top we spent 10 minutes in the shop, which is full of quirky items and also contains lots of jewellery handmade by various artists from Yorkshire and some from further afield. I am a bit if a magpie, so do enjoy looking at trinkets even if I’m not in the market for a purchase so Husband was keen to hurry me along at this point.
We rounded off our day with a meal at one of our regular real ale haunts and other customers were most amused by the sculpture charades of our favourite sculptures (Buddy = the bunny with boobies, Mimi = the colourful not-quite-a-Buddah with three eyes, Husband = the men with no heads) and Husband bemoaned the absence of “Kung Foo Rabbit on Anvil” which used to be a regular feature at the park. (Disclaimer – these are probably not the names given to the sculptures by the artists, and for that I apologise).
Not being art connoisseurs we took a lot of the sculptures rather literally and the children tended to have a good giggle about the anatomy on display. On that basis I’m not sure we got a lot out of the sculpture park over and above the nice walk. But it would be easy to make a day of exploring the mix of formal and informal gardens, take a picnic and have a good walk in to the bargain. There will even be some blackberries to pick in a week or two, although Husband will probably tell me I can buy them for less at the supermarket once you take the parking charges into account.
So of the exhibitions at the YSP rotate so find out more at their website
Of course, if you’re staying in the Wakefield area and like your art you could also visit the new Hepworth gallery, which is right in the centre of Wakefield on the banks of the River Calder. If you do, be sure to look across the road at the beautiful tiny Chantry Chapel, which is itself a work of art in my humble opinion.