Now that winter’s drawing in and the days are shorter (and a whole lot wetter) I’ve been thinking about some of the indoor activities you can do in Leeds. The first thing that springs to mind is The Royal Armouries – a museum based at Leeds Dock full of arms and armour throughout the ages.
A museum full of weapons doesn’t sound like the most appealing way to spend the day, but I used to go to the Royal Armouries all the time as a kid and loved it. I recently went there again on a day out with my mum and it’s still really impressive.
If you think you’ll find it hard to persuade the kids to go to a museum, I assure you there’s plenty to do to keep them entertained. As well as floors full of objects, there’s also a “jester’s yard” for younger children where they can dress up and have fun in the play area; a crossbow range on the fifth floor; and an outdoor courtyard for live jousting, archery, falconry and horse shows. (The live jousting will take place over Easter in 2017.)
You don’t have to be interested in armoury (who really is??) to enjoy looking around the exhibits. I think there’s enough history on the six floors to appeal to most people in some way or other. The thing that always strikes me is how small all the really old armour is. People were a lot shorter in previous centuries! Some of the sword and knife scabbards and handles are incredibly ornate as well – I’m always amazed when I look at them.
There are often themed exhibitions at The Royal Armouries. I remember going a few years ago when they had loads of props from the Lord of the Rings films on display which, as a bit of a movie geek, I really enjoyed seeing.
Keep an eye out for their events as well – they have family-friends activities on during the school holidays such as a super hero themed day.
The best thing about the museum is that it’s free. You can also easily spend a whole day there or just visit the sections you’re interested in in half an hour. If you can’t soak it all up in one visit, you can just come back another day – the joys of not having to pay an admission fee!
There’s a car park just opposite the museum (although I seem to remember it’s quite expensive) and The Royal Amouries is just a short walk from the city centre. If you’re at Granary Wharf, you can get the water taxi straight to Leeds Dock (for free!). I did it for the first time on my day out with mum a couple of months ago and loved travelling by boat; it was a fun way to see Leeds from a different angle.
There’s a cafe in The Royal Armouries, although there’s also a pop-up Laynes Espresso cafe just across the entrance. I’m not sure if it’s still there, but it’s worth having a look to see if it is as Laynes does fantastic coffees (my coffee-drinking friends and family tell me this) and they sell Noisette Bakehouse treats which are amazing.
So whether you need to find something to do when it’s pouring with rain, or are just enjoying a day out in Leeds, the Royal Armouries is well worth a visit.