Click here for Skipton’s Magna Carta baron William de Forz
Situated on the edge of the beautiful Yorkshire Dales National Park, Skipton’s unique appeal lies in the combination of olde-worlde medieval charm and the hustle and bustle of a living market town.
With its traditional market, medieval castle, canal, thriving shops, pubs and cafes, Skipton provides something for the whole family.
Skipton is steeped in history and tradition. The award-winning High Street (named as the best in the UK in 2009) is overlooked by Skipton Castle, fully-roofed and still almost entirely intact, it is one of the finest examples of its kind in the Country – and was once home to the Cliffords, powerful warlords influential at the courts of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I.
King Henry had decreed that the son of his lifelong friend Henry Clifford should marry the King’s niece, Lady Eleanor Brandon. They lived at Skipton Castle until her early death at the age of just 26. Had there been a son, he would have become the next monarch after Elizabeth I.
Next door to the castle is the 14th Century Holy Trinity Church, and then the High Street itself once home to the livestock markets from which the town gets its name – ‘Skipton’ being a derivation of ‘Sheep Town’.
The original market charter, granted in 1203 to the Castle, still regulates the modern-day market which stands on both sides of the High Street every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
The Leeds-Liverpool canal snakes through the centre of the Town, and the ‘Spring’s Branch’ offshoot runs round the back of the Castle and was once the hub of much local business. The canal is still an active and important part of Skipton’s economy.
With the market as its focal point, Skipton High Street and the many surrounding roads and alleyways are home to a rich mixture of traditional shopping, where a host of interesting independent retailers dominate, alongside some well-known High Street names.
Festivals and galas form an important part of Skipton’s social calendar, drawing crowds from near and far. Even through the winter the town is a hive of activity.
Skipton Sheep Day in July, for instance, is a true celebration of the history of the town, and where ‘the countryside comes to the High Street’ for sheep displays, sheep dog demonstrations, drystone walling, tractor-pulls and a host of other country crafts, skills and activities.
Skipton is surrounded by plenty of local attractions including the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway, the impressive Bolton Abbey Estate, owned by the Duke of Devonshire – and the world-renowned and hugely scenic Settle-Carlisle Railway, including the breathtaking Ribblehead Viaduct.
Enquiries: Skipton Tourist Information Centre
Telephone: 01756 792809
With thanks to Skipton Town Council for its text and photographs.