The beautiful stone village of Askrigg is nestled and in the landscape of Wensleydale and is a much loved base for walkers.
Mentioned in the Doomsday Book, the village has a long history. For many years it was small and in the shadow of its neighbour Wensley, but things changes in 1563 when the plague struck and wiped out much of Wensley’s inhabitants. This lead to Askrigg taking over the weekly market and the village prospered for hundreds of years until it outgrown by Hawes during the 19th century.
Brewing, spinning and clock-making became key industries following the opening of Askrigg train station in 1878. Sadly, the line closed to passengers in 1954 and to freight a decade later. The Wensleydale Railway Association has spoken about reopening the station as part of its heritage line, but as the main building is now in private ownership that seems unlikely to happen any time soon.
The nearest existing commuter station can be found at Garsdale Head on the Leeds to Carlisle route.
Even if you have never been to Askrigg before, you may get a sense of familiarity. That is because between the late 1970s and the early 1990s, the village doubled up as the fictional town of Darrowby in the BBC television series of James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small. TV execs were looking for an unspoilt location for the veterinary drama and Askrigg, with its cobbled streets and laidback atmosphere, fitted the bill perfectly.
Another local claim to fame is the fact that Askrigg was the first place in Wensleydale to have electric light. In 1908 an entrepreneur named William Burton used the machinery at a nearby mill to generate electricity. This continued to power the village until 1948, when it was put onto the National Grid.
The remnants of the mill can be seen if you take one of the most popular walks from Askrigg to Mill Gill Force and Whitfield Gill. Taking around one hour and 30 minutes to complete, the walk is full of spectacular scenery and takes you past not one but three waterfalls, a disused quarry and the edge of Whitfield Scar.
There also footpaths alongside the River Ure which make for pleasant strolls when the weather is nice.
After such a walk you’ll probably have quite a thirst and there are three public houses on Askrigg’s main street to choose from. There is also an old fashioned sweet shop which ice cream and lollies during the summer months.
At the very bottom of the village you will find the Low Mill Outdoor Centre, an activity site with supervised rock climbing, abseiling and other fun activities that are popular amongst children and disabled groups.
The aforementioned public houses each offer accommodation and there are a number of other B&Bs and rental cottages in the village.