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Breaking boundaries: Getting beyond York

A new university and for many of you a new home. Whether Leeds' clubbing culture or the countryside's stately homes, Yorkshire has lots to offer just a short train ride away, as Rosalind Hayes finds out.

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The Christmas market is just one thing that draws students to Leeds (you might be able to guess the other big one...)
The Christmas market is just one thing that draws students to Leeds (you might be able to guess the other big one...)

Once you've settled in, after exploring all the snickelways (it's a thing - promise), historical sites and had your fill of York's cocktail offers you may want to stretch your legs a little further than the medieval City Walls. There's something to offer for all tastes - whether you want to experience nights out in different centres or explore idyllic countryside, everything is accessible.

For those of you who get a bit sick of the endless trips to Willow there are alternatives. The obvious answer is Leeds, only twenty minutes on the train, where you can tackle the infamous Otley Run (a mile of pub crawling) and encounter clubs bigger (and better!) than York's selection, as well as there being more niche clubnights to choose from. The music scene is definitely one to keep an eye on for big names and emerging artists.

Further afield are Sheffield or Newcastle, each only about an hour away, and Manchester which is two hours and home to 'LGBT heaven', Canal Street. Any of these promise nights to remember and those inevitable details you will want to forget.

When you can't face another hangover, Yorkshire's countryside has rolling hills and ruggedly romantic scenery aplenty. A good start may be Outdoor Soc which organises weekly walks open to members and nonmembers. If you want to be intrepid of your own accord the Coastliner bus service is an excellent way to get around - travel through the moors (via Flamingo Land) to the beautiful North Sea coast of Whitby, famous for its association with Dracula. This charming fishing village is perfect for a day at the seaside with all the trimmings. Haworth Village also has literary connections, known as Bronte Country, where you can run around pretending to be Cathy and/or Heathcliff if that's your bag.

Majestic stately homes are everywhere, and the best of the bunch is Castle Howard, recognisable as the set for numerous Brideshead Revisited adaptations.

Other local gems include Harrogate, popular for its flowered grassland The Stray (it's so prized that there's a 'Stray Defense Association' of local residents. It's like real-life Hot Fuzz.) Harrogate also has a one-up on York in the shape of a Primark store if you're having withdrawals.

Talking of shopping, Leeds is packed full of a range of shops, a great market and independent outlets. Liverpool has some big names which are worth a check if you're willing to travel to the opposite coast. While you're there, Tate Liverpool always interesting exhibitions to add to their excellent permanent collection. Art lovers should also make sure to find their way to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in Wakefield.

Last but not least: food. The antidote to pitiful student cooking can be found in Leeds with the likes of the meat feasts at Red's True Barbeque, Nation of Shopkeepers' burgers or the Global Tribe Cafe for veggies and vegans alike. The Christmas German Market is also a hit with York students.

Whatever your will, whatever the way, Yorkshire is bound to have something lined up to suit you. Don't wait too long to get stuck in to your new home!

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