25 June 2012
The Torch begins its journey on Day 38 in Leeds, the beating urban heart of West Yorkshire. To learn more about the city or come face to face with the Leeds mummy, head to Leeds City Museum. With its four floors of interactive displays and exhibitions, it’ll keep history fans, budding archaeologists and excitable children entertained throughout the morning after seeing the Torch set off. If you fancy discovering a wilder side to the metropolis, make a side trip to Roundhay Park and Tropical World, a 10-minute drive north of Leeds city centre. You’ll be transported to a more exotic land, with waterfalls and tropical plants waiting to be explored. You can also spot a variety of exotic fauna, including turtles, snakes, lemurs and meerkats. And if you simply can’t resist the wide-eyed baby meerkats, you can even adopt a South African one for a year and help their conservation.
As the Olympic Torch heads south to Wakefield later in the day, Yorkshire Sculpture Park is an unmissable stop for visitors to the area. Where else can you commune with nature and be surrounded by Henry Moore sculptures? You can also hide from any summer showers in the Park’s Deer Shelter, where James Turrell’s Skyspace allows you to meditate on a small patch of sky and light. The Park is also great for walks and discovering unexpected artworks in the woods or amongst flocks of sheep. If industrial heritage is more your thing, head to Wakefield’s National Coal Mining Museum, where you can learn about an industry that has been at the heart of Yorkshire life for centuries and travel 450 feet underground down one of England’s oldest working mines.
As the Olympic Torch and Torchbearers take a break at Barnsley, grab a picnic and your binoculars and head to RSPB Dearne Valley Old Moor, a conservation area full of interesting birdlife. Species to spot include goldfinch and wild geese, and you can also search out butterflies and orchids in the grasslands as the area comes into bloom over the summer months.
The last stop for the day, and the setting for the evening’s free London 2012 celebrations, is Sheffield, a welcoming city on the edge of the Peak District. The city has undergone a series of regeneration projects over the last few years, with fun architecture and art projects dotted across its centre. Sheffield’s Winter Garden is one of the city’s unique public spaces, offering visitors a place to relax amongst palm trees and enjoy a sub-tropical climate on grey days. But if the sun is shining down on your visit to Sheffield, you can head to the ‘summer’ Peace Gardens that are situated nearby. The award-winning gardens are home to monuments that link us to our European neighbours and other Olympic competitors. A Spanish Civil War memorial commemorates the South Yorkshire residents who died in the conflict and a German bell stands as a gift from Sheffield’s twin town of Bochum in Germany – international links that would be perfect for a future Walk the World walk.
After an evening of London 2012 festivities, the Torch leaves Sheffield on Day 39 and continues its journey east towards the coast. If you joined in the local celebrations last night and need to clear your head in the morning, head to the Rivelin Valley near the Hallam Moors (just north west of Sheffield), where you can follow its popular Nature Trail. Walking along this 3.5 mile-long woodland valley is not only a peaceful way to spend the morning, but also an opportunity to uncover the natural resources, such as the river’s fast flowing waters, that powered Yorkshire’s industrial revolution.
As the Torch nears the north east coast of England in the afternoon, it crosses from Yorkshire into Lincolnshire, taking a break at Scunthorpe for an hour or so. If you are looking for things to do after welcoming the Torch to the town, the 20 21 Visual Arts Centre in the converted St John’s Church is the perfect place to pass the time, especially on a rainy day. For heritage aficionados, the conversion of the Grade II listed building is a great example of how a derelict place of worship can be brought back to life and the local community. For art lovers there are ever-changing displays of work by contemporary artists, such as that of Simon Mckeown, whose Motion Disabled exhibition will be on display from 17th March to 18th August 2012.
The Torch Relay route’s final stop for the day is Cleethorpes, a seaside town looking over the estuary of the River Humber. One of the town’s main attractions is the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway, whose small trains will carry the Torch and its bearer to its final stop on Day 39. Why not also take a ride on this miniature railway from the Leisure Centre to the Pleasure Island Family Theme Park and the Buck Beck estuary? You’ll be rewarded with lovely coastal views and maybe even some ice cream from the vendors at the Theme Park.
Day 40 sees the Torch travelling deeper into Lincolnshire, starting at Grimsby early in the morning. A charming market town worth exploring after you’ve cheered the Torchbearers on is Louth. The town has its own Art Trail, especially designed by contemporary artists to help locals and visitors discover the area’s history, cultural heritage and hidden stories.
For an afternoon of traditional seaside fun, including donkey rides on the beach and amusements on the pier, head to the town of Skegness on England’s east coast. As one of the country’s best-known seaside resorts, a visit to Skegness is a way of experiencing a very British quirk: the need to picnic and build sand castles on a beach, whatever the weather. If you’d prefer to be further inland (away from the bracing waters of the North Sea), the port town of Boston is an attractive stop along the Torch Relay route. As well as St Botolph’s Church (aka the ‘Boston Stump’), Boston’s Maud Foster Windmill is another striking landmark in this traditional market town. It is one of the oldest windmills in the UK, dating back to 1819, when its owners (the Reckitt family) worked as millers, corn factors and bakers. Having been restored to full working order in 1988, you can now climb its seven floors and see this traditional windmill in action.
The final stop of Day 40 for the Torch Relay route is the historic city of Lincoln, famed for its winding streets and beautiful cathedral. Whilst waiting for the Torch Relay celebrations to start in the evening, pay a visit to Lincoln Castle, home to two of the UK’s most important historic documents, the Lincoln Magna Carta (dating back to 1215) and the Charter of the Forest. There are free guided tours of this Norman castle and former prison and the castle walls offer the visitor great views of Lincoln Cathedral and the surrounding town.
We hope you have fun exploring the regions of Yorkshire, Humber and Lincolnshire over the next few days. We will be back on Thursday with more suggestions of things to do and places to visit along the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay route.
Post by Hannah, Discovering Places Team
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