On our way to Skipton we drove up a short side road to Bolton Abbey. I didn’t expect to see much except roofless walls but this Abbey still had part of the buildings intact and serving as a local church. The rest of the buildings had had the lead stripped off their roofs during the Reformation and nature took its course followed by quarrying of the stone for local buildings.
In 1154 a small group of monks of black-robed Augustinian canons and their Prior came across the hills to form the abbey. They were popular with the locals. Ordained priests they lived together like monks but aided and helped the locals. While their first duty was prayer and warship, they also preached, taught, ran hospitals, sheltered travellers and allowed local people to share their church.
Although based on religion the abbeys were at the forefront of technology in their day. They were the seat of learning and helped to push new methods of production and thinking. Here the monks ran a business empire. Their income came from produce, tithes, rents and dues from farms, mills, lead mines and other enterprises. With these they paid travelling masons to build their living quarters and a great church, the architectural beauty of which compares well against any in the country.
Work often halted because of marauding Scots severe winters and illness. Just before the Desolation work was still in progress on the west tower of the church so it never reached its full height. On entering the church we passed through it - now transformed into an antechamber filled with light and colour. In 1984 the modern laminate pine roof with its central boss in the shape of the Yorkshire rose converted the incomplete tower into its present shape. The church ceiling draws attention. Though restored it is the one installed by the canons. The golden angels and bosses are especially fine - the worn stone alter dating back to pre-Reformation days.
On display is a model of the abbey. Boys of the Ermysted Grammar School in Skipton crafted it in 1954. It gives a good idea of how the buildings would have looked.
It is ironic that because Henry VIII had a dispute with the Church in Rome that didn’t approve of divorce the people who suffered the most were the abbeys that had nothing to do with the matter. Left unfettered though they would probably eventually have received as gifts much of the land in the country in return for prayers for the deceased. The amassed wealth was simply too much for the king to resist. Show corruption in the abbeys, or perhaps invent it if absent, and they became an easy target. Destroying the buildings also however removed a valuable part of the country’s heritage.
However a more pleasant spot for a family walk and picnic would be hard to find. A ruined abbey to admire and for the kids to play in, a shallow river, the River Wharfe, to sit by and the kids to splash in, and a woodland walk for them to build up an appetite in, ready for a picnic! With 30,000 acres of beautiful countryside, over 80 miles of footpaths and ample space to run around and enjoy the fresh air, there is something here for all ages.
Descriptive leaflets and guidebook showing various paths are available from the Estate gift shops. Electric wheelchairs are available giving access to the Priory ruins, riverside, Cavendish Pavilion and the Cumberland and Green trails in Strid Wood
- Historical Travel
The castle is one of the best-preserved 900-year old castles in England. It is both a tourist attraction and a private home.
Robert de Romille, a Norman baron built the first castle here in 1090. It consisted of a wooden Motte and Bailey, which proved unable to withstand attacks from the Scots. To defend better against them a stone keep soon replaced the original building - a sheer drop down the cliffs on one side, into the Eller Beck also made successful attacks more difficult. Skipton Town sat huddled beneath its castle for centuries, feeling safe in its closeness.
The Clifford Family became owners in 1310 and as you enter through the archway of the main gate you see, the family motto, "Henceforth" in French cut into the stone above the battlements. Robert Clifford appointed Lord Clifford of Skipton and Guardian of Craven ordered many improvements to the fortifications of the castle but died in the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 when these were barely complete. This marked the end of the English interference in Scottish affairs for a time.
During the English Civil War Sir John Mallory with a garrison of three hundred men held out in the castle for three years against a Parliamentary siege. Eventually the Royalists negotiated surrender terms with Oliver Cromwell who ordered the removal of the castle roofs and its defences.
In the 1650's Cromwell allowed Lady Anne Clifford, the last Clifford to own the castle, to restore it on the condition it would no longer have a serious defence. She had the upper parts of the round towers rebuilt but with much thinner walls than those below. To add light the outward facing walls had windows added for the first time and she had the outer curtain wall and gatehouse repaired.
The rainwater gutters carry the family arms and the year of the restoration, 1659. As a commemoration she planted a yew tree in the central courtyard to mark the Castle's repair from the Civil War.
The main castle consists of six drum towers, with a domestic range connecting the two towers on the northern side, protected by a precipice overlooking Eller Beck. The first floor comprises the original kitchen, great hall, withdrawing rooms and the lord's bedchamber. New kitchens, storage and work cellars make up the ground floor. The remaining towers are mainly military in nature and purpose. 16th and 17th century additions have created a new entrance staircase (replacing the original drawbridge), a further domestic wing, and new, larger windows in the walls.
Through the entrance is the Shell Room - throughout the walls are hundreds of mother-of-pearl shells, collected by the Clifford family over the years.
After climbing Lady Anne's steps, you find yourselves in a lovely little courtyard, the Conduit Court, so named because the castle's piped supply of spring water ended here. Growing here is Lady Anne’s yew tree. From this courtyard, you can enter most of the rooms. To the right of the castle open to the public, is the Tudor Wing, now a private home.
There is a free guide which explains the best way to explore the castle, it also means you follow a route in the same direction which is helpful as some of the passageways are narrow.
Open daily from 10am (Sundays 12 noon.) There are tea rooms, shop and picnic area. Parking is in the town.
- Historical Travel
- Castles and Palaces
HOLY TRINITY CHURCH
CHURCH OF ENGLAND
The first church was built here was the early 1100’s and was made of wood. The Monks of Bolton Priory helped build another church in the 1300’s which was extended at the end of the 1400’s.
During the English civil war the tower was damaged, it was restored in the 1650’s with help from Lady Anne Clifford who owned Skipton castle. The tower was repaired again in 1853 after lightning caused damage.
Gas lighting was fitted in the church but as the church got warmer the buriel chambers underneath overheated and caused a smell, a concrete floor had to be fitted.
Galleries that once stood around the inside of the church were taken down and box pews replaced in 1909. Lightning struck again in 1925 and a fire destroyed the organ.
The font is over 700 years old.
The oak screen is 450 years old.
One of the stained glass windows is dedicated to Anne Clifford.
The Sedillia (stone seats) is where priests sat in mediaeval times.
A tomb of George Clifford stands in the Lady Chapel.
The Anchorites cell is where somebody probably lived and prayed in mediaeval times.
Although I haven't ventured inside the library yet, it is one of Skiptons impressive 'solid looking' buildings. In 2010, the library celebrated it's centenary
READ ALL ABOUT IT
The Free Library houses a collection of books, that were collected by Sylvestor Petyt circa 1707, that formed a library in Skipton Parish Church, bearing his name. When he died in 1719, he had added further to this collection. The Church wardens appear to have tended to this library.
In December 1880, this collection was handed over to the Governors of the Grammar School, with the stipulation that they should provide suitable housing for the library, and allow public access.
In September 1914, the collection was placed under the care of Skipton Urban District Council, who were named as Trustees of The Petyt Library Charity, whereby, the books were moved to the Free Library, again with the stipulation that the Public should have free access at 'reasonable times' to view and use these historical books.
By October 1957, the annual funding ceased, but a scheme provided for 'occasional grants to be made'
The Coulthurst Trust were responsible for re- binding of the books (around 5,000 Volumes), which are now housed within the Reference Library, since 1964.
This collection is now owned by Skipton Town Council and Ermystead's School. Access is now closed, meaning that it is by prior arrangement only. A catalogue is available, which must be viewed or purchased and the individual articles requested. Contact the library for details.
Also in the Petyt Library, is The Petyt Collateral, a collection of books about the English Civil War and that period of history. These are available for reference or loan.
Closed Sunday and Tuesdays
See website below for opening hours etc
- Historical Travel
- Budget Travel
Another Yorkshire Gold Post Box!
To commemorate the gold medal winners of the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic games, Royal Mail painted a post box gold, in the winners home City/town/village. Winners were also featured on postage stamps
This box in Skipton commemorates Danielle Brown’s Paralympic gold medal win in the Archery: Women’s Individual Compound.
CLICK HERE For photos of the box being painted, and Danielles Grandmother with commemorative stamps featuring her grand daughter.
Yorkshire had so many medal winners, that at one time during the Olympic games, it was calculated that if Yorkshire had entered as a country, they'd have been 10th in the medal tables!
Yorkshire Gold Medal Winners 2012 Olympics
At nearby Hebden (Not to be confused with Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire) is a gold post box in recognition of Andy Hodges' Men's Four Rowing Gold Medal.
See the website below for a map of where to find these and other Gold Post Boxes
- Budget Travel
- Historical Travel
Skipton holds an Annual Sheep Day Festival (In 2013 on Sunday 7th July).
This event remembers the sheep market that was held for centuries,where the High Street stands today, after a charter was granted in 1204 for a weekly market to be held, .
The High Street is closed to traffic, so that events such as Sheep Racing, Sheep herding, Sheep Shearing and even a Sheep Disco are held. Traditional crafts such as Spinning wool and dry stone walling are demonstrated.
A food market with two lines of stalls offers enticing locally produced goods to eat there or take home. The grilled meat stall had me drooling! Cheeses, pickles, Ales and ciders, pies, Delicious calorie laden cakes and buns etc etc.
The shops and cafes etc around the town have Sheep Themed displays. Last year the Town Hall/Tourist Info had a Sheep tombola. Each year, new attractions and events are added. 2012 saw Medieval knights fighting and dancing! 2013 I understand that a 'petting zoo' and a 30ft 'Sleeping Pig' will feature.See the link to Sheep Day website for more info.
Most of the shops are open, so there is chance to bag some bargains, especially in the Outdoors and Camping shops.
Or you can just relax and enjoy one of the Brass Bands or groups playing on the stage near the Town Hall.
As this is such a popular event, accommodation quickly gets booked and the pubs, cafes and restaurants are generally very busy. Parking can be difficult too.CAR PARKS IN SKIPTON There are good Public Transport links by bus and train
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
Canal Boat Cruise
After riding on the Steam Train we went back to Skipton and walked down to the Canal, Pennine Cruisers hire Canal boats out and also do all sorts of trips, one of which is a 30 minute cruise up the branch Canal under the Castle and back, only 1/2 a mile each way and an easy walk that we have done a couple of times but we decided to relax on a canal boat for half an hour, It was a nice leisurely journey and when we got past the Castle to the end of the branch canal there was a brief talk about the history of the Canal and castle before returning.
£3 per Adult
- Family Travel
- Historical Travel
Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway
Only 5 minutes by car from Skipton is the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway, a great little Steam Railway that goes between Embsay station and a new station at Bolton Abbey traveling some really lovely Yorkshire Dales scenery, From Bolton Abbey you can walk the 1 1/2 miles to Bolton Abbey ruins, sit and have a drink or food at the cafe with its large garden or just return on the same train enjoying the ride.
It costs £6 one way, £10 for unlimited travel so you can just go backwards and forwards all day if you want!
They do bot operate every day though so you will have to check the timetable here http://www.embsayboltonabbeyrailway.org.uk/time.html
When we went the Train that was used was called Norman which is my Dads name and it really reminded me of him, I told him about it and he said was it because it was strong and majestic? nI agreed of course but really it was because it did a lot of huffing and puffing as well as venting out a lot of hot air! lol, I'm joking of course.
I really enjoyed it and would certainly do it again!
- Family Travel
- Historical Travel
Possibly the best preserved castle in England - soon after 1090 Robert de Romille, a Norman baron, built a primitive fort here but its timber ramparts did little to stop rampaging Scots during their frequent raids into northern England. It was replaced with a more formidable stone castle which stood on top of a rocky bluff with rising ground to the front and a sheer precipice falling to the Eller Beck behind and it is I think virtually unchanged since then.
The courtyard with its old tree is magnificent and there is so much interest here. Just to see the thickness of the walls and see the commanding views make the admission price worthwhile.
There is a café and toilets as well as picnic areas and guided tours for those that want one.
- Castles and Palaces
- Historical Travel
Pennine Crusiers operate from the Skipton canal basin and offer trips on the canal to Springs Branch on a 30 minute cruise - you get to see the castle from a different angle.
The trip costs £3.00 per person (2013) and is a wonderful journey - you set off from the canal basin and then travel at the back of the shops in the High Street on one side and on the other side a pleasant view of the tow path and houses and flats. You then sail past the castle and you gauge how impressive it is as you look up at it. The boat stops as the canal ends in a turning area and the captain gives a short history of canal life in Skipton - its all in a broad Yorkshire accent and so if you are not English this may pose a problem but I can assure you he is very interesting!
You can also hire canal boats for holidays on the canals from here.
Visit the Town Hall
Skipton Town Hall is an impressive Grade 11 listed building, dating from 1862.It houses the Tourist Information Office, The Craven Museum, and many events such as concerts (One of my favourite groups Limehouse Lizzy, had played there the night before -Hmm, if only I'd have known), Record Fairs, Zumba classes, blood doning sessions etc etc
During our visit there was a craft market held in one of the rooms with very ornate ceilings
(pic 3).So it is very much a building for the local community and visitors alike. In November 2012, a series of events were held to celebrate the Town Halls 150th Anniversary.
The Tourist Information Office Is housed on the ground floor, and has lots of useful information,as well as a good range of post cards and gifts in the Craven Museum and Gallery Gift Shop located in this TI Office.
+44 01756 792809
Closed Sundays except First Sunday of each Month 10:00 - 16:00
Open Monday to Saturday
April to October 09:30 - 16:30
November to March 09:30 - 16:00
Craven Museum and Gallery
The Gallery is located on the ground floor, while the museum is on the first floor. Free entrance.I browsed through the galleries exhibits, which mainly depict the social history and heritage of the area.. I didn't get to visit the museum at this visit, but will make the effort next time. The museum is very much 'hands on' for children, where they are encouraged to dress up and try various activities. For the adults, there is the chance to see exhibits relating to Cravens Social History, Archeological finds and costumes.
This small museum surprisingly holds one of only four Shakespeare First Folios on permanent display in the world!
Closed Tuesdays and Sundays except for the first Sunday in the month April to December 10.00-16.00
Monday, Wednesday to Saturday 10.00 - 16.00
Tel: 01756 706407
- Arts and Culture
GOOD BEER HERE
THE COCK AND BOTTLE VERY NICE SKIPTON LOCAL PUB ,WITH A GOOD CHOICE OF REAL ALES,THIS PUB IS A BEER DRINKERS PUB NO FRILLS SERVEING GOOD FOOD AND REAL ENGLISH ALES.THE INSIDE IS BASIC AND ONLY ONE LONG ROOM,WITH A BEER GARDEN/YARD TO THE REAR OF THE PUB
- Beer Tasting
- Food and Dining
THE SPRINGS BRANCH CANAL
THE SPRINGS BRANCH IS A HALF MILE LONG CANAL OF THE MAIN LEEDS TO LIVERPOOL CANAL IN SKIPTON.IT TAKES YOU FROM THE JUNCTION OF THE MAIN LINE TO THE REAR OF THE WALLS OF SKIPTON CASTLE.THEN IF YOU SO WISH YOU CAN WALK ON INTO SKIPTON WOODS WHICH IS FILLED WITH THE SENT OF WILD GARLIC,COMMING BACK ROUND TO THE ENTERANCE OF SKIPTON CASTLE.
A VERY PLESANT STROLL TAKEING APROX ONE HR.
- Sailing and Boating
- Hiking and Walking
The Town Hall
Generally, whenever I have been to Skipton - there have been many times - there has always been something going on in the Town Hall (at the weekends).
Most of the time it is a craft fair.
This is where local people (not companies) come and sell their handmade crafts and the products needed to make those crafts. The prices are reasonable and most of the time CHEAP compaired to specialist shops.
Usually there is a fee (50p ish £0.50) to get in, but that goes either to charity or the Town Hall fund. There is always a little fund raising going on (completely optional of course), a novel idea I saw this time was 'Shear the sheep'. It's a different way of doing a tombola.
A sheep is made using a metal net for the body. Winning raffle tickets are placed randomly in pieces of white paper which are rolled up and slid into the holes of the net body. Pull out a winning ticket and collect your prize! As you take the white paper out of the holes in the net, the sheep looks like it's being sheared! Excellent idea!!
The farmers market
The farmers market is on the majority of Saturdays in Skipton, with a large one on Sheep Day.
First of all, markets are always worth a look! Even if you don't buy anything, you may learn something you didn't know, like how many different types of meat you can make sausages out of, or that you are able to buy certain things so readily.
The stall holders come from all over the area to sells their meats, vegetables, cheeses, baked goods, fudge, ice cream, desserts, oils, sauces, dips, chutneys, cider and much more.
It's a great tradition that needs to be kept alive by your support.