Five reasons to visit Barnsley

PUBLISHED: 17:17 04 September 2014 | UPDATED: 17:17 04 September 2014

Shopping is varied in Barnsley including visiting continental markets

Shopping is varied in Barnsley including visiting continental markets

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Fancy a grand day out? Set your sat-nav for the south of the county

Barnsley's transport interchange is in the heart of the townBarnsley's transport interchange is in the heart of the town

Heritage highlights

Barnsley’s culture is firmly rooted in its industrial heritage of coal mining and glassmaking. Experience Barnsley Museum & Discovery Centre is the best place to discover more about the town’s incredible story, told through centuries-old artefacts, documents, films and recordings.

With more than 90 per cent of the pieces contributed by locals living and working in the borough, this really is a museum created by the people for the people.

Elsecar Heritage Railway is perfect for those of you who get steamed up about trains. It operates a passenger service between Rockingham Station and Elsecar Heritage Centre, through scenic countryside along the Dearne and Dove Canal.

The 5.7 tonne sculpture called Crossing by Nigel Hall, was moved about six miles (10km) from Yorkshire Sculley town hall as part of new public gardenThe 5.7 tonne sculpture called Crossing by Nigel Hall, was moved about six miles (10km) from Yorkshire Sculley town hall as part of new public garden

If you’re looking for a grade one attraction, Wentworth Castle and Stainborough Park, just three kilometres south-west of Barnsley, should be top of your list. This wonderful historic home sits in grade one listed gardens amid nationally significant monuments and some of the earliest gothic follies in the country.

Worsbrough Mill is also well worth a visit as this 17th century working water mill sits in 240 acres of tranquil country park that’s perfect for picnics and wide-ranging games of hide and seek. You can stock up your pantry while you’re there too as Worsbrough Mill Flour is widely regarded as a premium quality artisan product, traditionally created by water-powered stone grinders.

Animal magic

Millions of pounds have been invested in Cannon Hall Farm over the years to make it one of the UK’s best farm attractions. There’s an exciting adventure playground, deli, farm shop and tearoom but, for most people, the abundance of animals is still the main draw. Around 750 lambs make a grand entrance every spring, as do 50 pygmy goats. And there are piglets, Highland cattle, Shetland ponies, llamas, rabbits, guinea pigs and caged birds all year round.

If you want to see wildlife in its natural habitat, pack your binoculars in the car and head off to Old Moor in the heart of the Dearne Valley, where the skies, fields and open water are teeming with birds (including 8,000 golden plovers) throughout the year. The RSPB recommends setting aside at least three hours to make the most of the reserve (and the well-stocked café, which specialises in home-cooked goodies).

Where the art is

Barnsley Civic Theatre reopened in 2009 after being closed for 11 years. Five years on, it’s built an enviable reputation for showcasing local artists and regional theatre companies as well as top class national and international shows.

On the bill for September are Red Ladder Theatre Company’s production We’re Not Going Back about the miners’ strike (more or less) and The Rain That Washes, the compelling story of a young man’s early life in turbulent Zimbabwe.

If you’re looking for the beating art of Barnsley, look no further than The Cooper Gallery. Not only does it offer a programme of touring exhibitions and a local craft showcase, it’s also home to a collection of 17th-20th century paintings including watercolours and drawings by JMW Turner, Wadsworth and Atkinson Grimshaw.

It’s great outdoors

Barnsley is in the middle of the Transpennine Trail which takes hardy walkers, cyclists and horse riders coast-to-coast from Southport to Hornsea (that’s 215 miles, in case you were wondering), providing a useful stopping-off point for you to get your breath back.

Closer to home, the 47 green and pleasant acres of Locke Park sit just a mile from Barnsley town centre, offering world-weary folk in need of a green fix the chance to enjoy gardens, woodland, an historic tower, a children’s play area, bowling greens and a café.

All in all, Barnsley has around 15 parks to choose from, running the gamut from Ardsley to Worsbrough. To find out more, visit barnsley.gov.uk, where you’ll find practical information about all of them.

Pop in for shopping

Barnsley is not called a market town for nothing, you know. It’s blessed with an exceptional indoor and outdoor market, boasting more than 300 stalls, as well as numerous specialist markets throughout the year.

To make it easier to navigate your way round the numerous stalls, you can now download a free My Barnsley app, featuring priceless information on stall locations, opening times and special offers.

The town has a good crop of independent stores – including Rita Britton’s iconic fashion store Pollyanna – but if it’s well-known high street names you’re after, then point yourself (and your wallet) in the direction of The Alhambra shopping centre, home to more than 40 stores welcoming upwards of 135,000 shoppers a week.

Dates for your diary

:: Great paintings from York Art Gallery are currently touring the six regional venues while the gallery is closed for major refurbishment. The Masterstrokes exhibition will be on show at Cannon Hall Museum until October 12th.

:: To celebrate the end of a packed summer of football, Experience Barnsley is staging an exhibition – It’s Just Like Watching Brazil – looking at local players who’ve performed at world-class level. Among those featured are Mick McCarthy, Tommy Taylor and the Robledo brothers. The exhibition runs until September 14th.

:: A ceramic installation of 444 loving cups – one for each of the armed service personnel killed in Afghanistan – is on show at the Cooper Gallery until September 25th. Each vessel has been individually made from 300g of porcelain (the average weight of the human heart) by artist Catherine Wilson.

:: Elsecar Heritage Festival Weekend on September 6th-7th looks set to be a fun-packed event with costumed tours, steam engines, Victorian theatre, street entertainment and traditional refreshments.

:: For more information about events in Barnsley, click on visit-barnsley.com.

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