Skipton is a pleasant northern market town, a southern gateway to the Yorkshire Dales, and sits in the Aire valley and on the old Leeds and Liverpool canal. It is steeped in history and the cobbled high street, local market, castle and canal attract many tourists and day visitors.
Dating back to Norman times and possibly earlier Skipton was called Sceptone by Saxon sheep farmers settling in the area as the town developed as a centre for trading sheep and wool. Skipton grew into a mill town and the building of the Leeds Liverpool canal later in the late eighteenth century brought even greater prosperity to the town.
Today there is a bustling market four days a week which stretches the length and breadth of the High Street with stalls selling everything from local food and produce to clothes and furniture. Skipton also has many fine shops, large and small, stocking a variety of goods, both local and international. Craven Court is a Victorian style shopping centre formed from old mill buildings. There is a good choice of places to eat and drink from traditional pubs and hotels to cafes, coffee shops and restaurants and many smaller hotel, guest houses and bed & breakfast establishments offering accommodation to suit all.
Skipton offers the tourist or day visitor much to see and do. Here are a few highlights:
At the top of the High Street stands Skipton Castle. Dating from approximately 1090, it is one of the most complete and well preserved castles medieval castles in the country with gatehouse, watchtower, inner courtyard and buildings. The castle was a Royalist stronghold during the English Civil War and withstood a 3 year siege by Cromwell’s troops. Information on opening times and admission prices can be found at http://www.skiptoncastle.co.uk/
Nearby Craven Museum and Gallery, located in Skipton Town Hall, has displays of social history, archaeology, costumes and art and visitors can learn more about the area’s past. Admission is free.
The Leeds Liverpool canal passes through the centre of Skipton and there is a bustling canal basin with a junction of the Lord Thanet’s canal all overlooked by old warehouses, many now refurbished and converted into residential and commercial premises. There are boat trips available on canal narrow boats or pleasure boats to be hired from several operators.
A short car journey or bus ride away the Embsay and Bolton Abbey steam railway offers trips by steam locomotive through the local countryside to the ruins of Bolton Abbey, a ruined twelfth century priory, and the adjoining estate. http://www.embsayboltonabbeyrailway.org.uk/
The natural beauty of the countryside on Skipton’s doorstep is a draw for all age groups and there are a range of numerous outdoor pursuits available from walking in the Dales to potholing, pony trekking to mountain biking. Via Skipton station and the National Rail network there is access to the scenic Settle to Carlisle railway which passes over the Ribblehead viaduct.
Whatever you choose to do you will not be disappointed by a visit to Skipton.