Skipton Castle is the market town’s main attraction and a wonderfully preserved medieval castle despite its three year onslaught during the English Civil War. A castle tour takes you through the medieval kitchen, banqueting hall, bedchamber and privy offering a fascinating insight into what life was like in a medieval castle. Its history is intimately connected with the Clifford family – note the Yew tree in the central courtyard planted by Lady Anne Clifford (1590-1676) to mark the completion of repair work after Civil War damage.
See everything from the dark dungeon to the top storey Watch Tower and Tudor courtyard. A gift shop, picnic area and the Clifford Tearooms are all on-site. Skipton Castle also makes a unique venue for a conference or wedding event with the Granary and ancient Banqueting Hall both holding up to 70 guests. Year round events feature everything from Murder Mystery investigations and archery displays to Civil War re-enactments.
Woodland Walks & Boat Trips
Woodland surrounds Skipton Castle, and this ancient woodland was an important factor in the castle’s construction, acting as a natural defence. Today the town’s Castle Woods feature a network of family friendly walking trails accessible direct from the town centre. A popular route in is via the canalside path just around the back of Holy Trinity Church and Skipton Castle. The path leads up to the woodlan’ds Sawmill Entrance taking in the dramatic backs of the Castle walls en-route.
The canal basin just off the High Street is a real hub in the town, site for the annual early May Waterways Festival and a choice of canal boat companies offering day boat trips along the Leeds-Liverpool Canal. Themed boat trips and hire are also available, and around the basin you’ll find a choice of ice cream outlets (some even floating), restaurants, cafes and fish & chip outlets.
Bolton Abbey & the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway
The Bolton Abbey Estate covering around 30,000 acres is just 7 miles east of Skipton and sits on the southern edge of the Yorkshire Dales. Famous heritage sites on the estate include the 12th Century Priory Ruins with views of the River Wharfe and guests are free to roam around the old runs and admire the surrounding rural views. A beach area just below the Priory ruins is a popular spot with families and 80 miles of footpaths are on-site. Explore the old Barden Tower hunting lodge, go walking in ancient Bluebell woodland and enjoy fabulous fly fishing across the estate.
Great fun family attractions on the Bolton Abbey Estate include the Hesketh Farm park with a friendly collection of farm animals which children will adore. Don’t miss a ride of the award-winning little Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway on the estate. Built in 1888, the line runs for 15 minutes through pretty Yorkshire Dales scenery. Refreshments are available at both Bolton Abbey and Embsay stations and special events including a 1940s Weekend and Steam and Diesel Gala run through the year.