by Ben Johnson
Welcome to Skipton, a picturesque historic town situated at the gateway to the Yorkshire Dales. This bustling market town makes an ideal base for a touring holiday of this beautiful region which is magical at any time of year. The Dales and the Moors have a majesty all of their own – harsh, dramatic, stark, wild and stunning can all be used to describe the moorland, the valleys and the rivers of this area.
Skipton offers many shops, cafes and restaurants and is famous for its lively outdoor market on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. The setting could not be better, as the market throngs the main street which is dominated at the top by the church and magnificent castle. Skipton Castle is a gem; perhaps the most complete medieval castle in England, survivor of the Wars of the Roses and the Civil War and still fully roofed, making it the ideal place to shelter from the elements on a rainy day!
The canal and the River Aire wind their way through the town. There are boatyards where you can hire one of the gaily painted narrowboats for the day or for the week. Park at one of the main car parks in the town and you can walk along the towpath, feeding the ducks and swans perhaps, as you make your way to the shops. Enjoy a coffee or a snack at one of the cafes in the town or purchase your picnic lunch at the Famous Pork Pie Shop just down the road from the castle.
The villages around Skipton nestle among the folding hills. Gargrave is very picturesque with excellent picnic places beside the river which flows through the village. Children love to fish for minnows and sticklebacks in the shallow water and cross and re-cross the river by the two sets of stepping stones.
Take the narrow lanes from Gargrave up to Malham, a walker’s paradise, famous for its dramatic limestone scenery. Enjoy the walk to Malham Cove, Gorsdale Scar or across limestone pavements to Malham Tarn, a magnificent mountain lake now under the protection of the National Trust. Charles Kingsley wrote his classic children’s story ‘The Water Babies’ here. Also within easy reach of Skipton is Bolton Abbey, the Yorkshire Estate of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. Explore the historic ruins or enjoy a picnic by the River Wharfe – but don’t be tempted to jump the famous Strid where the river runs through a deep, narrow gorge – many a tragic accident has befallen those who have tried in the past!
This is also the place for steam train enthusiasts: travel the 4.5 miles between the award-winning Bolton Abbey and Embsay Station built in 1888.
Skipton is easily accessible by both road and rail, please try our UK Travel Guide for further information.
View our interactive map of Museums in Britain for details of local galleries and museums.
Castles in England
Try our interactive map of Castles in England to browse our huge database, including Skipton Castle.