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A pretty North Yorkshire town, with good shopping and an excellent base for exploring the surrounding area

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Grassington is a settlement in Wharfedale, North Yorkshire. It is often referred to as a village, and with its small size that would seem to make sense. But in fact, Grassington is technically a town, a status which it was granted way back in the 13th century. More specifically, it was a market town, and the shopkeepers enjoyed a roaring trade. Today, the markets only take place once a month, on third Sundays. There's still plenty of good shopping at other times though, thanks to the good variety of permanent shops. These range from arts and crafts, to food and wine. Most of the stores are run by local families who are very friendly and welcoming.
Most of the shopping is centred around the cobbled square, which is also surrounded by a series of pretty old buildings. These include Grassington House, a 3-storey Georgian building that has been converted to a 5-star hotel, and Church House, an old farmhouse that's now the only place in town that conducts Christian services.

The centre of Grassington
Photo Neil T
Another eye-catching structure is the Town Hall, which hosts, among other things, music events, sports facilities, and the annual pantomime. It is also a key venue for the Grassington Festival, a fortnight of music and arts that takes place every June. It features well-known comedians and musicians, as well as film events, workshops, art displays.
The town's other famous event takes place at the opposite end of the year. Every December, the locals dress up in Victorian costume for the Dickensian Festival, when the entire town in transported back in time. The festivities include a torch-lit procession, street entertainers, and 19th-century food and drink.
Thanks to events like this, Grassington in the 21st century is largely focused on tourism. In the past, though, this was a centre for lead mining. More information can be found at the Upper Wharfedale Folk Museum, which also contains many exhibits on the town's past. Another alternative, of course, is to head onto the dale and see it for yourself. The nearby land is still scattered with meer stones, which were used to mark out the mining patches of various individuals. Some of the stones have initials on them, which identified the holder of the lease.
An even better relic of these times can be found at Yarnbury Orefield. To get there, just go up Grassington's high street until you run out of road. You'll see the tall chimney from a long way away marking out the site. The chimney is connected to a series of stone tunnels which were used during the lead smelting process. There are over a kilometre of these which can be entered and explored. The Yarndale Orefield has long since been abandoned and now lies in a state of ruin. It's Grassington's most evocative example of the mining era and its subsequent fall from grace.

A Mine Shaft Entrance at Yarnbury
Photo TJBlackwell
Elsewhere, the nearby countryside contains plenty of other things to see and place to explore. Before you set out, it might be worth popping into the National Park Dale Visitor Centre next to Grassington's car park. It's well stocked with maps, books, and information, which will help you plan what to do. Recommended destinations include Grass Wood - a nature reserve with colourful wildflowers - and Stump Cross Caverns - a show cave full of stalactites and stalagmites.

Linton Falls, near Grassington
Photo andrew_j_w
A bit further away to the south, you'll find Bolton Abbey, an ancient priory that, even in ruins, is one of Yorkshire's most impressive structures.

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