Skipton, Gateway to the Dales

For a family day out, we decided to visit Skipton in North Yorkshire.  Skipton is a market town located 27 miles north west of Leeds, and is on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park with some of the country’s most dramatic scenery on its doorstep.    Along the high street,  a market takes place four times a week on each Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.  As our visit was on a Saturday the market was bustling with activity.  It really is the heart and soul of the town and we found it interesting to browse the stalls which are located on the old cobblestone setts

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Skipton High Street
The market is spread out along each side of the road selling clothes,  hardware,  fresh food, etc.  but since our last visit I was disappointed to note the decline in fresh food stalls – there used to be many fruit and vegetable stalls but on our visit there were only two remaining,  a little sad to see, but nowadays the convenience of supermarket shopping is the likely cause.  Lawson’s cheese stall took my eye and I was tempted into buying some Yorkshire Dales cheese – a piece of Wensleydale with cranberries and some Coverdale to take home to try.

The town has won several awards, in 2014 The Sunday Times voted it the best place to live in Britain and it was a runner up in the recent 2016 nominations north of England section.  Its High Street was voted ‘British High Street of the Year’.in 2009 in praise of many of its shops being independent retailers  The town manages to retain its old world charm whilst catering for modern day needs, with its narrow alleyways of converted warehouses some of which are now mill shops and interesting small stores.   Being a chocolate lover I took a look inside the lovely Whitakers Chocolates shop and admired the beautiful chocolate Easter eggs and rabbits on display.  Whitakers have been producing chocolate in Skipton for over 125 years and their delicious chocolates are now exported worldwide.

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Skipton Castle
Dominating the top of the High Street stands Skipton Castle, one of the most complete medieval Norman castles in England and open all year.  Located nearby is the Leeds Liverpool Canal where we spent some time taking a pleasant stroll along its towpath behind the castle walls in one direction before heading back towards the canal basin in the centre of town.  Short pleasure trips on narrowboats can be boarded here and it’s also the starting point for self drive canal boat holidays along this interesting stretch of waterway.

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Canal Basin, Skipton
Overlooking the canal is the award winning Bizzie Lizzies Fish and Chip restaurant and takeaway.  A firm favourite with ourselves and many other visitors to the town,  especially on a cold day.  There’s usually a queue outside but I can confirm that the wait is worthwhile as the fresh fish is cooked to perfection in a light batter and served with chips and a portion of mushy peas.

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Canal Basin, Skipton
After our tasty lunch we continued wandering through the town.  More shops are to be found along Sheep Street which runs parallel with the high street and an indoor shopping centre ‘Craven Court’ is across the road.  This small mall opened in 1988 following the conversion of a 16th century building, tastefully refurbished with wrought iron work and a glass roof it now contains a variety of shops and cafes.

After a pleasant outing, we returned home looking forward to sampling our Dales cheese with some grapes and crackers for our after dinner dessert.

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