"Those good folk of Yorkshire who claim 'you don't get owt for nowt' clearly need a rethink, because there are a wealth of options for days out in and around the north and Scotland to be had without being hit in the pocket."
Those good folk of Yorkshire who claim 'you don't get owt for nowt' clearly need a rethink, because there are a wealth of options for days out in and around the north and Scotland to be had without being hit in the pocket. Leading the pack are all the national museums plus many art galleries which open their doors to the public without an admission price in sight. Take our tour around the region's free for alls.
If art is your thing, you're in luck with the Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow, easily accessible on the network. Opened just over 10 years ago, GoMA is the second most visited contemporary art museum outside London (keep reading to find out which takes the top spot).
If you're further east, then Edinburgh is the place to head with a wealth of attractions on offer for the cash-conscious. The People's Story Museum is worth noting for the clever way oral history and written sources tell the story of everyday folks' lives, work and leisure from the late 18th century to the present day. The museum is filled with the sights, sounds and smells of the past: feel the despair of the dungeon, the convivial camaraderie of the 'pub' and the demands of political and social reformers who, no doubt, would take great pleasure from knowing that the world can still be your oyster without paying a princely sum.
Taking a trip 'down line' on the network takes you to Carlisle Cathedral (left), which has provided 900 years of sanctuary from the surrounding chaos of Roman invasions, Viking raids and a history of tug-of-war for the city's ownership between the Scots and the English. Further south on the Barrow-and-Furness line is the tranquil setting of Conishead Priory, home to Manjushri Buddhist Centre. Here you can soak up the peace and indulge in your own private meditations as you walk through the 70 acres of gardens and woodlands, with their rich variety of flora and fauna.
For something a bit wilder, follow the screams of excitement (and terror!) to Blackpool's world-famous Pleasure Beach. And you needn't be worried about being taken for a ride, as the Pleasure Beach has sensibly frozen plans to charge for admission and, for now, entry remains free - although rides and roller coasters come with a fee.
At the southern end of the network, make a beeline for The Quays, a waterfront destination two miles from Manchester city centre. The Quays is home to the Imperial War Museum North, which was built to resemble three shards of a shattered globe, representing conflict on land, air and sea. Inside, the museum explores the way that 20th-century combat has shaped our lives.
If you want to escape the bustle of the city, beat a retreat to Heaton Park, just four miles north from the hub of Manchester city centre. Despite its size (over 600 acres), the park is well kept and beautiful to walk around,
or if your feet are tired from window shopping in the city (another free activity), you can use its own tram system. Family friendly, with two good play areas for children, Heaton Park also has a delightful animal centre where you
can meet the three resident alpacas.
Head to the western end of the line for a spot of art at the most visited contemporary art gallery outside London, Tate Liverpool. Despite having just relinquished its crown as European Capital of Culture, Liverpool remains a vibrant city with plenty to offer that won't break the bank.
Or go east to another Yorkshire gem: the recently refurbished and award-winning Museums Sheffield: Weston Park, home to interactive displays demonstrating the life and times of the great Steel City. You can even go back to the Ice Age to learn how to build an igloo.
If Leeds is your destination, put the Royal Armouries on your agenda. Opened in 1996, this national collection displays 8,500 objects throughout its five themed galleries. As well as the impressive range of armour and other war-related objects, such as a scary-looking horned helmet and spears, you can see horse shows (including jousting), falconry displays and live combat by knights in shining armour - although some events may incur an entry fee.
While you're in the area, hop on a train heading east to Garforth station and visit Lotherton Bird Gardens, home to 200 rare and endangered species, the black hornbill included. Every continent in the world is represented and beautifully displayed in large enclosures, so you can see birds from as far afield as South Africa and the Philippines without the need to clock up any air miles in the process.
Carry on along the line to the east coast and spend the day exploring Hull's unique Museums Quarter. Set in the heart of Hull's Old Town, it consists of Wilberforce House - home to the man who helped bring an end to slavery - the Hull and East Riding Museum, Streetlife Transport Museum and the Arctic Corsair trawler. With so many choices there's something for everyone.
Further north along the line is another classic option which proves that being on an economy drive doesn't have to mean settling for second best: the National Railway Museum in York. Just a few minutes' walk from York station, this celebration of 300 years of railway history attracts around a million visitors a year, who come to marvel at legendary locomotives such as The Flying Scotsman, Mallard and a replica of Stephenson's Rocket, without having to pay a penny for the privilege.
These are just a few of the fun day out options open to you, and there are plenty more to be discovered that prove you don't need money to have a good time.
More good value destinations:
Roundhay Park Tropical World, Leeds, roundhaypark.org.uk Admission: adults £3.19, children £1.96
Scarborough, peasholmpark.com Admission: adults £3.20, children £1.70
Malton near York, edencamp.co.uk Admission: adults £4.75, children £3.40
The Tall Ship,
Glasgow, glenlee.co.uk Admission: adults £5.95, children free with adult, additional children £3
Museum of Lakeland Life, Cumbria, lakelandmuseum.org.uk Admission: £13.60 family ticket (2 adults and up to 4 children.
Find out more:
taking the train to Leeds, the Royal Armouries is a 15-minute walk from the station
National Railway Museum:
the NRM is just a few minutes walk from York train station
Hull Museums Quarter:
taking the train to Hull, the Museums Quarter is a 10-minute walk from the station
taking the train to Sheffield, the museum is a two-minute walk away in Weston Park
Imperial War Museum North:
take the train to Manchester, then the Metrolink Tram towards Eccles, getting off at Harbour City. The museum is a 15-minute walk from the tram stop
Take train to Manchester, then the Metrolink Tram to Heaton Park. It takes 10 to 15 minutes to walk from the station into the historic core of the park
Lotherton Bird Gardens:
take the train to Leeds, then the 64 bus to Aberford. The gardens are about a 20-minute walk from there
Blackpool Pleasure Beach:
take the train to Blackpool North, then jump on the tram to the Pleasure Beach
take the train to Ulverston, then take bus service 11 Coast Road from Victoria Park (by the library)
taking the train to Carlisle, the cathedral is a 10-minute walk from the station
taking the train to Manchester Piccadilly, the People's Museum is a 20-minute walk from the station
Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art:
taking the train to Glasgow Central, the museum is a few minutes walk from the station
taking the train to Liverpool Lime Street station, the Tate Liverpool is a short walk away and is well signposted