Market day in attractive Skipton, on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, is the perfect place to see modern day rural England in action. On a Saturday myriad stalls line both sides of the High Street, selling everything from home made jam, via chunky knits to Greek olives. Substantial, but not imposing Victorian buildings jostle for space with a few older building and an occasional modern interloper. Being a bit of a tourist attraction, in an understated and genuine way, there are plenty of restaurants, pubs and cafes to quench thirst and tempt the palate. For a quirky atmosphere you can’t beat The Russian Tea Room – check out the window display of Russian dolls, costume and food.
Also on High Street is the Skipton Town Hall & Craven Museum. When I visited recently there was an indoor market selling – I bought some brightly coloured wools for my latest knitting obsession! My son got a Manchester City football pin and a couple of second hand DVDs – bargains galore here. Upstairs is the fascinating little Museum showcasing artefacts from days gone by, including the very surprising hippopotamus skull, from the far-off days when they apparently roamed the surrounding countryside …
Adjacent Sheep Street has lots of quirky little shops, boutiques and was the site of the old prison. Drop in to the pretty Three Sheep Tea Rooms for a bite to eat or a cup of the famous Yorkshire tea. You can walk along historic The Leeds and Liverpool Canal, take a boat trip or just sit and watch the beautifully decorated barges, narrow boats and other craft drift slowly by. The Canal Basin also has some great little shops in the converted warehouses.
Medieval Skipton Castle testifies to this town’s ancient history. Originally built in 1090, it was later replaced by a sturdy stone castle, still with its roof intact – one of the best examples of its kind in the north. 14th Century Holy Trinity Church beside the castle is the final resting place of Henry VIII’s niece, Lady Eleanor Brandon and there are also five Earls of Cumberland and an impressive memorial to 3rd Earl, George Clifford.
The Millenium Walk takes in a lot of the town as well as the canal and a few places you migh easily miss – there’s a book and leaflet on it at Tourist Information Centre, found in the Town Hall on Main Street. Take some time out in Skipton – you’re bound to find something of interest just around the corner … Zoë Dawes lives in NW England. She shares her lifelong love of travel on her popular blog The Quirky Traveller, on Face Book and Twitter @quirkytraveller