The thriving market town of Skipton, in Craven, is known as the gateway to the Dales. It attracts visitors from far and wide to its broad tree-lined High Street which leads up to the church, castle and Skipton Woods.
The High Street hosts Skipton Market, which runs every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and has many varied and interesting stalls. In the run up to Christmas each year there are special festive markets with added attractions. The High Street is also home to many independent and specialist shops, as well as national chain stores. Craven Court can be entered from the High Street or Otley Street and is an attractive Victorian style covered shopping centre. You are spoilt for choice for places to eat and drink in Skipton town centre, with many independent coffee shops and cafes, bakeries, pubs and restaurants.
The Leeds & Liverpool Canal runs through Skipton and if you wander down to the canal side you will find picnic areas, footpaths, places to get an ice cream – or more – and the opportunity to take a boat trip. It’s a lovely area to sit and watch the world go by in the summer.
History oozes through Skipton, from the ginnels and alleyways running off the High Street, the attractive old buildings dotted about, to the Grade II listed High Corn Mill, and not forgetting the churches and of course all being watched over by Skipton Castle. Inside and out, the castle, more than 900 years old and a key stronghold in the Civil Wars, is superbly preserved, with the Watchtower and Tudor Courtyard especially appealing. Visit www.skiptoncastle.co.uk for further details and fun activities for children.
A walk around Skipton Woods, behind the castle, is a ‘must’, whatever time of year – just make sure you wear suitable clothing and footwear! Admission is free and you can spot dippers and kingfishers if you’re lucky. You get a true appreciation of Skipton Castle’s spectacular location at the start of this walk. At the top of the High Street, to the left of the Castle pub, head for the bridge and facing High Corn Mill, go down the steps (the canal extension should be on your right). After a short while you’ll see the renovated waterwheel on the side of the main building of High Corn Mill. The walk along the gorge is enchanting; the castle towers high above you to the right, seemingly impenetrable; the canal peters out and Eller Beck rushes along the left. The weir and overflows here can be spectacular after heavy rain. Follow the obvious path from then on, passing an old sawmill and heading into Skipton Woods, where there is sure to be something for everyone to see.
If the weather pushes you indoors, visit Craven Museum & Gallery in the Town Hall. It’s free, and tells the story of Craven through the ages. It’s also got one of only four Shakespeare First Folios on permanent public display in the world. There are lots of interesting exhibits, short films to watch, interactives for children (and adults) and a good, inexpensive, museum shop. Visit www.cravenmuseum.org for more information.