Market town Pontefract in West Yorkshire is famed for its flat race course and is conveniently placed just off the M62 and A1 motorways, within easy reach of the M1. Historic castles also feature in the area including Pontefract Castle and Sandal Castle – both of which were royalist strongholds during the Civil War and hence took quite a battering. Discover the story of Pontefract at the town’s museum housed within in an attractive Art Nouveau building.
A selection of impressive modern sports and leisure centres plus a popular shopping village can be found in the Pontefract and Castleford areas, all easily accessed just off the M62.
Multi award-winning extreme sports and leisure activities are all year round at Xscape Castleford. Main attraction is the huge real snow slope,. The complex also features two rock climbing walls, an aerial assault course, Laser Zone, a multiplex cinema, bowling, a choice of bars and restaurants and a selection of retail outlets. Free events run throughout the year and the venue is a popular choice for corporate events, team building days out and Stag & Hen Parties.
Junction 32 Shopping Village
The fabulous Junction 32 Shopping village just off the M62 motorway as its names suggest at Junction 32 Castleford is a real shopping mecca for bargain hunters. Up to 60% off major brands, both designer and high street, are to be found here and for fashionistas the village offer a fantastic range of discounted favourite fashion clothing and footwear brands including Mango, M&S, Next, Billabong and more.
Pontefract Castle & Sandal Castle
The ruins of Pontefract Castle with underground magazine chamber was once one of the country’s most important fortresses during the Middle Ages. It started life as a humble wooden fort straight after the Battle of Hastings. Although now in ruins it was once a mighty Royal residence around 1399. Richard II actually died in the castle! Pontefract was held as a Royalist stronghold during the Civil War, when it was besieged three times. You can still go down into the 11th century cellars which were used to store military equipment during the Civil War. Admission is free into the castle grounds with on-site visitor centre.
Sandal Castle just south of Wakefield overlooks the River Calder, Wakefield and Pugneys Country Park. Famed as the site for the Battle of Wakefield fought close by in 1460, Sandal was a Royalist stronghold during the Civil War. The Castle was besieged two times by Parliamentary forces, however the 13th Century castle’s motte and bailey survives. Find out more in the on-site visitor centre and in Wakefield Museum.
Find out more about Pontefract Castle’s history in the friendly free entry Pontefact Museum situated in the heart of the town centre on Salter Row. The museum building dates from 1904 and is a stunning Art Nouveau building – an attraction in itself. Formerly the town’s Carnegie public library, the Pontefract Museum features exhibits including the world’s first secret ballot box and quirky gems including a pair of liquorice roller boots! Sweet making town Pontefract has strong links to liquorice manufacture and coal mining, developing around the barracks. Don’t miss the annual Pontefract Liquorice Festival every July!
Pontefract Racecourse is just a half a mile off Junction 32 of the M62 motorway. A popular historic Yorkshire racecourse, Pontefract is a flat race course and makes a superb family day out. Accompanied under 18s get FREE admission. The course hosts 16 race meets annually, including Family Sundays with on-site creche available, evening meets and a Summer Ladies Day! Bars, restaurants, a Picnic Enclosure and first class conference and banqueting facilities are all on-site. Meetings, birthday parties and weddings are all welcome.