West Yorkshire is an inland county peppered with scenic valleys while taking in the Pennines’ mountainous chain. The area’s abundant natural resources have lured industrialists over the centuries. These days, industry, urbanity and transport routes collide with plenty of open, rolling countryside in between. The network of roads, canals, railways and urban developments confined by broad valleys creates diverse scenery.
The county includes the West Yorkshire Urban Area – the biggest urban area within Yorkshire’s county boundaries. West Yorkshire consists of five boroughs: the city of Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, the city of Leeds – its greatest hub – and the city of Wakefield. It shares borders with Derbyshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, North Yorkshire and South Yorkshire.
Both coal and iron ore are abundant here. Wakefield, Castleford, Pontefract and Leeds were traditional coalmining areas. Bradford, Halifax and Huddersfield developed wool mills while Leeds manufactured cloth. ‘The Rhubarb Triangle’ is in West Yorkshire, producing the vegetable in vast quantities. (Local farmers successfully had ‘Yorkshire forced rhubarb’ added to the list of foods legally protected by the European Commission’s Protected Food Name scheme.)
West Yorkshire has a Lord Lieutenant, a High Sheriff – and an estimated population of 2.2 million. The local dialect is known in Yorkshire as 'Tyke'.
Road: West Yorkshire lies in a strategic commuting location: the M62, M1 and the A1(M) pass through the county, as well as motorways in Leeds and Bradford.
Rail: There are two mainline railway stations: Leeds and Wakefield Westgate. Leeds railway station is the only Network Rail principal station in northeast England. Other important stations include Bradford Interchange, Bradford Forster Square, Huddersfield, Halifax, Dewsbury, Keighley and Shipley. Leeds may become a terminus for a northeast limb of High Speed 2 (HS2), the UK’s planned high-speed railway.
Air: West Yorkshire contains Yorkshire's largest airport: Leeds Bradford International Airport.
Bus: Public transport runs under the authority of the West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (Metro). Eleven bus companies operate: Arriva Yorkshire; Connexionsbuses, Geldards Coaches, Halifax Joint Committee, HCT Group, Keighley Bus Company, Stagecoach Yorkshire, Stotts Coaches, Tates Travel, West Riding Automobile Company, and Yorkshire Tiger.
Water: The canals in Bradford, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield are used more for leisure cruising purposes than public transport infrastructure.
The county’s current positive property outlook is expected to continue. Expect the area’s key hotspots – including Leeds – to remain competitive as locations of choice for house-hunters nationwide. Terraced properties have accounted for most recent property sales in West Yorkshire. Its priciest area has been Collingham; and the least expensive, Fagley.
New Home Finder recently published its list of great areas to live in Yorkshire. Aside from Yorkshire’s metropolitan heart, Leeds, the organisation recommended Otley market town in the heart of the Wharfdale Valley thus: "An abundance of natural scenery and the town’s homage to its historical roots make this town a truly spectacular place to live." Horsforth was summarised as "a hotspot for families" due to its great schools and reputation: "Just 10 minutes from Leeds City Centre, Horsforth is a world away from bright lights and hurried traffic, but a great location for those looking to commute into the city," opined New Home Finder.
Several quality new schemes are supplanting the supply of housing stock. Some areas will likely see meaningful change – including Hunslet Riverside, where CITU will build significant numbers of Passiv Homes and a footbridge to Clarence Dock; and Holbeck, where new tower works and ironworks are underway.
Leeds is the modern powerhouse of Yorkshire. It’s a stylish city – as well as the birthplace of Marks & Spencer back in 1884. These days, its shopping centre is one of the most glamorous in northern England.
You’ll find everything from expensive designer names around the glittering Victorian arcades to big-name international chains in the sleek Trinity Leeds shopping centre. Funky vintage boutiques are housed in the Corn Exchange – a local architectural landmark and one of Britain’s finest Grade I-listed Victorian buildings. From bargain-basement finds in labyrinthine Kirkgate Market, Europe’s largest undercover market, to stylish gifts and rare vinyl finds, there’s something for everyone.
The Victoria Quarter hosts Leeds’ most exclusive shopping – including upmarket department store, Harvey Nichols; the first to open outside London. It’s an elegant destination for top-end fashion plus jewellery and skincare products. And its Food Market sets the standard for local gastronomes.
Two of the biggest supermarkets are from West Yorkshire. Morrisons is based in Bradford while Asda is in Leeds. Smaller chain Netto has its British headquarters in South Elmsall.
Sport: West Yorkshire’s four major football clubs are Bradford City, Huddersfield Town, Guiseley AFC, Halifax Town and Leeds United. Rugby league is also big; the major teams are Bradford Bulls, Huddersfield Giants, and Leeds Rhinos. Other rugby league clubs include Castleford Tigers, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, Featherstone Rovers and Halifax. The county’s main rugby union club is Yorkshire Carnegie.Headingley Stadium is home to Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Leeds Rhinos and Yorkshire Carnegie.
Outdoors: City Park is Bradford's award-winning central square and home to the Mirror Pool, the country's largest urban water feature. Elsewhere, sign-posted walks meander alongside rivers and the escarpment of the Pennines, wandering by the Leeds-Liverpool Canal and Rochdale Canal (which are navigable by barge, canoe or kayak). The villages of Hebden Bridge and Wharfedale offer scenic riversides and cherry blossoms. Yorkshire Sculpture Park sprawls across the 18th-century Bretton Park estate, showcasing the work of dozens of sculptors – especially local heroes Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore.
Cultural: Bradford's top attraction is the National Media Museum, which chronicles photography, film, TV, radio and the web. Film yourself in a bedroom scene; play a TV newsreader or retro video games; or visit the IMAX cinema. The National Coal Mining Museum preserves evidence of the three centuries Yorkshire was synonymous with coal production. It’s a fascinating testament to the workings of a coalmine offering an underground tour.
Events: Leeds Festival runs over August Bank Holiday and sees 50,000-plus music fans converge on Bramham Park. Spread across four stages, it's one of England's biggest rock-music bonanzas. The colourful Bradford Festival in July is a multicultural celebration of music, dance, arts, crafts and food – with happenings based around City Park in the town centre.