Visiting the Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP)

Updated on June 29, 2018
chef-de-jour profile image

Andrew has been writing for decades, publishing articles online and in print. His many interests include literature, the arts and nature.

A fantastic giant rocking horse at YSP.
A fantastic giant rocking horse at YSP. | Source

Sculpture and Nature Combined

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park is roughly 500 acres in size and attracts visitors from all walks of life and from around the world. Set in gently rolling hills and undulating farmland near the higher Pennine hills, all manner of high-quality sculptures stand beside trees and on thick grass. Sheep graze next to Henry Moore classics. Canada geese sit peacefully among contemporary installations.

Yorkshire is England's largest county and sits stubborn and grand, slap bang in the middle of the country. This part of Yorkshire was once the coal mining capital of the country, and it was here that one of the world's most famous sculptors was born. His name was Henry Moore. The son of a coal miner, he went on to become a renowned and innovative sculptor, and there are several of his works on display in the park.

Henry Moore captured in his studio mirror.
Henry Moore captured in his studio mirror. | Source
Henry Moore sculpture.
Henry Moore sculpture.

Background of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park

If you're a first time visitor to this park, I recommend spending a whole day getting to know it inside out! You'll have woods to walk through, a huge lake to take in and perimeter walks to negotiate, plus several galleries and open-air pieces to visit.

From a distance, you can be fooled into thinking that the gentle wooded slopes and surrounding green fields are just countryside, beautiful old English farmland. You see the lake and river, and as you get closer, stone walls and rather large buildings. A path leads you past an arrangement of metal cylinders lying in a meadow. What are they? Who put them there? Then you set eyes on what can only be described as an enormous mansion of cream stone.

Welcome to the sculpture park, a huge estate once owned by a wealthy man by the name of Wentworth who rebuilt the house and created the modern, managed grounds. The history of the place is just wild; Henry VIII is said to have visited when the old hall was still standing back in the 16th century!

As is the way with the aristocracy, times got a little too hard for them, so they had to sell the mansion in 1947 to a local council. Since then, the building and estate have been more or less in the public domain.

Bretton Hall, originally built in 1720.
Bretton Hall, originally built in 1720. | Source
Henry Moore piece, outdoors in a sheep field.
Henry Moore piece, outdoors in a sheep field.
Sophie Ryder piece in front of the Camellia House.
Sophie Ryder piece in front of the Camellia House. | Source

The advantage of being in a sculpture park is that you can completely take off once you've had enough of the sculptures! If you're the quiet type, there's plenty of open space to get lost in. If you want a drink, treat yourself to a wine or a Treacle Stout, which is brewed locally. Kick a ball around, run with the dogs and the hares and rabbits. Talk to a cow. Walk up to higher ground and take it all in—the huge oaks, the clattering jackdaws, the greenery.

The landscape somehow tolerates the sculpture. There isn't too much of a clash. The atmosphere is rich, creative, fun and inviting. I see the whole spectrum here, from babies in a buggy to silver-haired professors studying the latest from James Turrell.

Sky through radiant wheel.
Sky through radiant wheel.
Looking up at the sky from inside one of the sculptures.
Looking up at the sky from inside one of the sculptures.
A giant hare-woman relaxing on the grass.
A giant hare-woman relaxing on the grass.

How I Learned to Appreciate Sculpture

Sculpture is something I've grown to love over the last 10 years or so. Living close to the Yorkshire Sculpture park has heightened my senses when it comes to looking at a piece of work. I can now appreciate what an artist is trying to achieve, even if I don't like what's in font of me.

Before the YSP came into my life, I was somewhat on the fence about sculpture. Sculpture as an art form was perhaps just a block of marble or statue or a classical figure. Now, being informed, I can relate contemporary pieces to what's gone before. I'm more confident when looking at a piece of work.

Having this sculpture park to roam around in has also given me new insights into nature—the shapes and textures that abound in a wood (or even in a single tree), the way rocks handle a stream, how things grow and mature.

Above all, I think I've learnt about how sculptors take different materials and work them into incredible shapes. From polished granite to embroidered costume, from great monoliths of rusty iron to intricate, crafted paper models.

Sculpture is about using the hands to shape any kind of material into what is in the artist's soul.

YSP entrance from West Bretton.
YSP entrance from West Bretton. | Source
Mature trees as seen from the park.
Mature trees as seen from the park.
Sheep with Henry Moore sculpture.
Sheep with Henry Moore sculpture. | Source

How to Get to the YSP

YSP is roughly three hours from London by train, four hours by coach. Head for the city of Wakefield. The nearest airport is Leeds-Bradford. From here you can get to the park in about 90 minutes.

You can get to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park by train. Coaches also run regularly between major cities and Wakefield. From Wakefield, buses go directly into the park.

Going by Car?

Park up for free in the small village of West Bretton, a 10 minute walk away from the entrance. The walk takes you through quiet picturesque lanes, past the very English cricket ground and down into the tree lined avenue of YSP.

The YSP Is Between the Cities of Sheffield and Wakefield

yorkshire sculpture park:
Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, West Yorkshire WF4, UK

get directions

All photographs by chef-de-jour unless otherwise stated.

© 2013 Andrew Spacey


Submit a Comment
  • innerspin profile image

    Kim Kennedy 

    7 years ago from uk

    The park was on my to-do list already, this hub has made me want to go even more. It seems like every time we think of heading for a day trip, the weather takes a turn for the worse. Maybe I'll buy some wellies and go anyway. Love the pictures here, thanks.

  • chef-de-jour profile imageAUTHOR

    Andrew Spacey 

    7 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    I much appreciate your visit and comment - this park is a true world class facility. With the warmer weather coming on and brighter days the exhibits will look even more stunning. Thanks for the vote.

  • prasetio30 profile image


    7 years ago from malang-indonesia

    Nice review about Yorkshire sculpture park. From the picture we all know this place so beautiful among unique sculptures. I hope I can see this park one day. You have done a great job by share this hub with us. Thanks for writing. Voted up!


  • Deborah-Diane profile image


    7 years ago from Orange County, California

    What a delightful park! I would love to see it in real life.

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 

    7 years ago from Houston, Texas

    I have seen Henry Moore sculptures in other places but it must be terrific to see them in these wide open spaces amidst farmlands and roaming sheep. Thanks for the information about the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. If I ever get to that part of the world, I will be sure and put it on my bucket list of places to see. Up, useful and interesting votes and will share with my followers.

  • Jhanson profile image

    Jessica Hanson 

    7 years ago from Colorado

    Love the pictures. Looks like an interesting place to visit.

  • livingsta profile image


    7 years ago from United Kingdom

    An interesting hub with beautiful pictures. Thank you for sharing ! Indeed a place well worth a visit.


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