There are many walks in Skipton. Full of unique and zany shops, with The Craven Museum and Gallery at its centre, cobbled pathways, limestone brick and irregular nooks and crannies, its luring set-up make it the perfect place for pottering in on foot. The countryside cinching it, however, is just as ornamented; circled by greenery, lavish fields lead-off to yet more moorland and meadows, opening-up the love for landscape so visceral to this milieu. The name tells all; known otherwise as the gateway to the notable Yorkshire Dales, its lucky location lends it prime connection when it comes to walking. Views pride themselves on proffering a blend of wild land and cultivated patrimony. Romantic, ruined property, historic remains and rural space sit side-by-side in a plethora of panoramas, providing ambience and cultivation to a climate rich in charisma.
Skipton Castle is majestic in itself, but the surrounding Skipton Castle Woods really allow the scenery and landscape, so symbolic of mature heritage and battle, to come into its own. Here is a land where man historically fought for territory and ownership now given over to the consuming beauty of nature and surviving architecture. Views from in and around the castle are advantageous; on clear days, perspectives are widened, and the landscape opens up in response to the razor-sharp weather conditions offered come rain or shine. Other alternative views of local sites are easily available. Skipton Boat Trips and Springs Canal put the threading waterways running through the town at the forefront, finding tranquility and serenity in the rhythms and pace of this recurrent route.
Perhaps the hub of Skipton is Skipton Town Hall. Home to a museum, gallery, concert hall and tourist information desk, the site is a heritage location firmly rooted in the local community. With lively ongoings, including exhibitions, events and performances, the hall is a haven of activity and resource, displaying the cultural diversity and programming on offer.
Walks here are designed to encourage you to take your time, appreciate the view and pause. There’s Yorkshire, then there’s walk-shire. This aesthetic part of the country showcases the best of typical British nature; quintessential, completely rural and utterly beguiled by the history of spiralling plants and trees alike, affairs with nature here are as heartfelt and blooming as any romantic fling.
Here are our picks
Skipton Castle Woods, The Bailey, Skipton, BD23 1AW - Visit now
Skipton Castle Woods balances raw, open space with preservation and protection for its local wildlife and habitat. The ground is aflush with woodpeckers, heron, red kites, broadleaf tree species and rare plants, cultivated into a rich and visually stimulating array of nature. Foliage, wilderness and nurtured shoots abound, fulfilling the site with a heritage that plays to the ancient roots of the land as well as inviting new bloom and making space for growth. Paths are laid-out in a myriad of tracks and trails, making each encounter with the space feel fresh and anew. The variety of available routes and scenic diversions offer exploration aplenty, leaving you to discover the natural beauty of this preserved woodland at your own pace.
Skipton Castle, The Bailey, Skipton, BD23 1AW - Visit now
Skipton Castle is situated among rare and rich woodland which surrounds and fills the much-visited encircling land. With an enchanting courtyard, a gatehouse and stout towers, it boasts a bold and well-upheld image, standing today as one of the most complete and well-preserved medieval castles in England. Admission to the site grants full access to the interior, with an excess of rooms, features, details and views to uncover. From dungeon to watchtower, the castle offers unique vantage points on the surrounding landscape, presenting a fresh take on the aesthetic natural view while aligning the culture and stance of the past with it. A walk through the castle is a walk through history, with many of the most innate stories and myths visible via its architecture, which, unveiled freely, convey the stature and majesty inherent to this iconic and reputable landmark.
Skipton Town Hall, High Street, Skipton, BD23 1AH - Visit now
Skipton Town Hall is a hub. Home to a museum, gallery, concert hall and tourist information desk, the site is a heritage location firmly rooted in the local community. The building itself comments on classical style, with its two-storeyed portico and pilasters instilling the grandeur that people would have felt on entering this building in its initial use, where formality was key. The modern-day changes have involved a glass canopy fitting as well as an extension precedented on rooting the building in the community once again. The Craven Museum and Gallery run an extensive exhibition programme, with a First Folio of Shakespeare on permanent display, while performances and events are programmed on a rolling basis. With such ongoings and cultural diversity, the hall is a haven of activity and resource; perfect for whiling an afternoon away and picking up on the resident buzz while you’re at it.
Skipton Boat Trips, The Wharf Office, 3 Coach St, Skipton, BD23 1LH - Visit now
Skipton Boat Trips offer guided tours with differing variants to cater to you and your parties needs. Eclectic and informative, with voiceovers providing commentary on local history as you go, the themes of the sail can vary from romantic and atmospheric to cosy and scenic. The opportunities are endless: choose to self-drive, with day-boat-hire, cruising along seventeen miles of lock-free water, or opt for afternoon tea, where you will be served platters of traditional sandwiches and cakes atop the waves. Themed services are also on offer, including ploughman’s lunch, roast dinner cruise, evening fish and chips and all inclusive parties. The unique setting is what makes each experience aboard one of these aquatic tours so alike; on gentle waters, with a canal you could amble along before or after your trip, you will feel tranquil and refreshed in no time.
Hesketh Farm Park, Bolton Abbey, Skipton, BD23 6HA - Visit now
Hesketh Farm Park really is an idyllic picture: ten acres of greenery overlook hills and stream trains whistling by beneath open sky and landscape. It’s picturesque. The farm itself provides a starting point for expanding into the fields and grassland beyond. Features include family-friendly indoor and outdoor play areas, a giant sandpit, a straw maze, petting animals and dedicated feeding times open to public attendance, while an on-site undercover heated barn provides respite. The farm itself is a fully-fledged working holding currently in its fourth generation of family-ownership. Over 1,000 livestock occupy its spaces and the liveliness of the rolling procedures and work imbues the space around it with animation and activity. The atmosphere is telling; a buzz of movement in the practices and ethos of the farm is replicated in the green environment shrouding it, where the more sporadic life of the natural world is just as sprightly and open.
Aireville Park, Gargrave Road, Skipton, North Yorkshire, BD23 1UD - Visit now
Aireville Park is a large, open space providing a meeting and stopping point for visitors as they go about their business through town. Nestled in the heart of Skipton, the park offers a retreat, existing as an abiding hideout, hangout or rest-spot. Children’s play areas, bike tracks football, tennis and netball courts and a Pitch and Putt course offer activity aplenty, and, on a larger scale, the site regularly hosts the Skipton Triathlon, the largest pool-based event of its kind in Yorkshire and Humberside, and is the venue for the weekly Skipton park run each Saturday morning, at 9AM. The park is also available for private bookings and hire. In spite of the hum-drum clamour and usual pervading hubbub, the park accommodates refuge, proffering a way to get up close with nature without having to necessarily seek it out. Vast and varied, the atmosphere is restorative at once.