Making the most of our local hospitality and leisure venues
Miriam Cates MP | The Barnsley Chronicle | June 2021
With the weather finally having made a turn for the better, it feels as though summer is just around the corner. It’s great to see hospitality and leisure venues open once again, and a relief to be able to socialise with friends and family after such a long time apart.
In many ways, normal life is gradually returning, and I am immensely grateful for the success of our vaccination programme in allowing us to do this safely. But even given the progress that has been made over recent months, it seems clear that the summer holiday season this year will not be an ordinary one. In 2019, there were 93 million overseas visits by UK residents but this year, with travel restrictions still in place, many of us will be staying at home.
‘Staycations’ might not be quite what we had in mind after a very difficult 15 months, but in the Barnsley area we are fortunate to have plenty of green spaces, outdoor attractions, and leisure activities nearby.
For families with children, Cannon Hall Farm near Cawthorne offers a fantastic day out. A visit to the Farm has been a staple of my family’s summer holidays for over a decade, and there really is something for everyone, from indoor and outdoor animal enclosures, a huge soft play centre, ferret and sheep racing and some excellent food and drink outlets.
Another delightful family day out is Wentworth Castle Gardens near Stainborough. With dramatic views of the surrounding area, the Gardens were taken over by the National Trust and re-opened to the public in 2019 with some significant improvements including to the adventure playground. My kids love exploring the ‘castle’, which although it looks like the real thing, is actually an elaborate mock ruin built by the Earl of Strafford to amuse his children.
Wortley Top Forge near Thurgoland is another hidden local gem, and once the Model Engineers Railway starts running again, it’s a perfect Sunday afternoon visit for a picnic and a ride on the narrow-gauge steam railway. Further afield, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park offers a stunning landscape and interesting artwork, and if the weather disappoints, Penistone Paramount cinema has now re-opened after extensive refurbishment.
Of course there are many more fabulous local attractions not to mention our parks, pubs, cafes, and restaurants. Getting out and about again is vital for our health and well-being but it’s also important to support local businesses, many of whom have struggled over the last year. We’ve been rightly focussed to protecting the NHS and essential services, but I believe that now is the time to focus on helping our local businesses and culture to recover. Let’s embrace the ‘staycation’ and make the most of some wonderful days out that are right on our doorstep.
This article was originally published in the Barnsley Chronicle in June 2021