Pocket Britain

A Yorkshire town situated on the Leeds to Liverpool canal, with a historic castle and market

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Skipton has been established for centuries. It even features in William the Conqueror's Domesday Book, which was compiled nearly a millennium ago. The town as we know it today really burst into life in the 1800s, thanks to the Leeds-Liverpool Canal. The new waterway was full of cargo boats, carrying a wide range of goods and products. This caused all sorts of mills, factories, and shops to spring up, resulting in a busy market town that still prospers in the 21st century.

Skipton Canal
Photo Tim Green aka atoach
Today, Skipton Market happens four times a week, drawing in dozens of people from the surrounding villages and towns. Stalls are set up all along the main street, selling everything from flowers, to local foodstuffs.
There is also a livestock market just outside of town. Situated within these buildings is something you'd normally never expect to see in a place like this: a fully functioning theatre! This uniquely placed arts venue offers a busy schedule of plays and concerts, all year round.
Skipton's main landmark is its castle. When it was first built, over 900 years ago, it was just a simple wooden fort on a mound of earth. However, this wasn't nearly strong enough to cope with the attacks from the Scottish, so in the 14th century, the building was given significant improvements. The resulting fortress was so difficult to attack that, during the English Civil War, it stood firm against Parliamentary forces for three whole years. It still stands today, as one of the country's best remaining examples of a medieval castle. Visitors can explore every corner of the building, from its courtyards, to its banqueting halls. If you time it right, you might even come across some medieval soldiers or noblemen, back from the dead to show you what life was like all those years ago!

Skipton Castle
Photo ChicagoGeek

Skipton Castle
Photo James Bird
More of Skipton's history is explored at its museum, which is located inside the town hall, at the top of the High Street. The exhibits here are quite eclectic, from old pianos and bicycles, to even older skulls and bones.
One historical event in particular is still celebrated in Skipton. In 1901, in order to raise funds for the local hospital, the town's residents organised a gala and festival. It was such a big success that they decided to do it again the next year. Over a century later, the Skipton Charities Gala still happens every second Saturday in July. It begins with a procession through the streets, and ends much later with live music, and fireworks. The event still raises a lot of money for local charities.
Skipton is also an ideal gateway to the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Whatever time of year you visit though, it would be a shame to leave without seeing the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, which brought the town prosperity all those years ago. Today, it's a much calmer place, perfect for boat trips, or walks along the waterside.
Visitor Information
Skipton Castle is open daily from 10am (12pm Sunday) to 6pm (4pm Winter). Entry costs around £6.50 for adults, £4 children. Skipton BD23 1AW. Tel: 01756 792 442
The Craven Museum is open daily except Tuesday and Sunday, from 10am (12pm Winter) to 4pm. Entry is FREE. Town Hall, High Street, Skipton BD23 1AH. Tel: 01756 706 407

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