Known as ‘The Gateway to the Dales’, Skipton sits on the edge of Malhamdale and is the main town for much of the southern part of the national park.
Things To Do In Skipton
Its high street is lined with shops and banks as well as public houses, but it is its vibrant outdoor market that really brings the crowds, with stalls selling everything from traditional boiled sweets to local cheese and clothing.
The market is held four days each week and attracts people from all over the country, with many arriving on coach trips.
At the top of the high street stands Holy Trinity Church, which is a gothic structure that has been designated as Grade I listed building by English Heritage.
The current church was restored in 1909, but there has been a place of worship at the site since the 12th century. The original structure would have been built with wood before bricks were added around 1300. Further extension work taking place during the 16th century.
Adjacent to the church is Skipton Castle, which is one of the best preserved medieval fortresses in the country.
Also a wooded structure to begin with, it was built the Norman baron Robert de Romille in 1090 before being strengthened in order to prevent Scottish attacks by William le Gross in the 12th century.
During the English Civil War it was one of the main Royalist garrisons in the north. After the castle surrendered to the Roundheads in 1645, Oliver Cromwell ordered for its roof to be removed and it remained open to the elements for more than a decade until Lady Anne Clifford, who was born at the castle, was given permission to restore it on the condition that the castle would no longer bear canons.
Today you can explore each corner of this impressive building and see its large banqueting hall, descend to the depths of its dungeon and climb to the top of the watch tower.
In front of the castle is Skipton Town Hall which houses the Craven Museum and Gallery. Run mainly by volunteers, it features many artefacts that have been excavated at local sites as well as the Roebuck art collection, which was bequeathed to the museum by the respected collector Clement Roebuck in 1988.
The works are from numerous artists with a number of depicting Dales landscapes, including Arthur Bell-Foster’s A Swaledale Village and Wharfedale from Heyshaw Beck by Frank Dobson.
The museum also contains a dedication to Thomas Spencer, one of the founders of the internationally known supermarket and lifestyle chain Marks & Spencer who lived in the town.
When walking around Skipton you may notice a number of bronze waymarkers. These indicate the path of the Millennium Walk, a hiking route that was opened in 2000. It starts on the footpath of the Leeds Liverpool canal and takes around two hours to complete.
If you don’t fancy walking you can take a 60 minute boat trip on the canal in a traditional barge. On the journey you will see a number of buildings that will give you a picture of Skipton’s importance in the textile trade during the 19th century.
The canal itself was completed in 1816 and covers 127 miles, making it the longest manmade waterway in Great Britain. It was used to transport coal and stone originally but later became important in the movement of goods from the mills.
Today you won’t see any goods being moved, but you will see a number of people enjoying the water in rental and private barges. You’re likely to see a good number of swans as well.
A major tourist attraction close to Skipton is Bolton Abbey. Founded by Augustinian monks in the 12th century, the abbey was one of the biggest monasteries in the country prior the English Reformation in 1540.
The priory had the lead stripped from its roof and was open to the weather, causing it to fall into ruins. However, the Church of St Mary and St Cuthbert, next to the Abbey is still intact and boasts stunning stained-glass windows and striking wall paintings.