Things to Do in Otley: Beyond the Guidebook

8 months ago   •   9 min read

By More Yorkshire
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Things To Do In Otley

Looking for things to do in Otley? Set against the scenic backdrop of the Yorkshire Dales, Otley is not just another market town. Its rich tapestry of history, vibrant culture, and breathtaking natural vistas offer a plethora of activities and attractions. Whether you're a history enthusiast or simply someone seeking the embrace of nature, Otley ensures an unforgettable experience.

From exploring the impressive ruins of Otley Priory to hiking the scenic Chevin Hills, there's something for everyone in Otley. History buffs will relish the opportunity to delve into the town's past, while outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy an abundance of walking and cycling trails.

For those who prefer a more leisurely pace, why not take a stroll through the bustling market, sample delicious food and drink at the local pubs and cafes, or indulge in some retail therapy at the array of independent shops?

No matter what your interests may be, Otley's charm and picturesque surroundings are sure to leave a lasting impression.

With events happening all year round, from arts and culture festivals to seasonal markets, there's always something to look forward to in this delightful West Yorkshire town.

So, why not plan your visit today and uncover the many treasures that Otley has to offer?

A Glimpse of Otley

Being close to Leeds, Otley offers a perfect balance between urban excitement and countryside tranquillity. When roaming the town, you'll encounter a wealth of historical sites and landmarks, such as Chevin Hills. These spots are perfect for taking a leisurely walk, admiring breathtaking views over Wharfedale, or simply enjoying a picnic with your loved ones.

In addition to its natural beauty and historical charm, Otley boasts a vibrant cultural scene. You'll find an abundance of shops, pubs, and cafes, whether you're looking for unique souvenirs to remember your visit or seeking delicious local cuisine. Don't forget to explore the town's thriving art and music scene, with numerous galleries and live performances taking place throughout the year.

If you're a fan of the outdoors, Otley doesn't disappoint. Venture further afield to experience a variety of nature and parks, each offering a unique experience for keen walkers, cyclists, and nature enthusiasts alike. Keep an eye out for the stunning local flora and fauna that call Otley home.

Arts and Culture in Otley

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The Old Grammar School

One highlight of Otley's arts and culture scene is The Old Grammar School, a Grade II listed building that was once the hub of education in the town. Today, this charming venue serves as a creative space, hosting exhibitions and events. Don't miss the Otley Museum and Art Gallery, located within the building, where you can immerse yourself in the history and culture of the region while viewing a captivating collection of art and artefacts.

Otley Courthouse

Otley Courthouse is the heart of arts and culture in the town. This versatile venue hosts a variety of events, including live music, theatre, film screenings, comedy, and classical music performances. You will find an engaging and diverse programme here that captures both local talent and renowned artists. Visit the Otley Courthouse to discover its current events and offerings.

Churches of Otley

Otley is home to several beautiful and historic churches, each boasting interesting architectural features and remarkable stained glass windows. Perhaps most notable is the All Saints Parish Church, a Grade II* listed building dating back to the 12th century. The church's unique blend of Norman and Gothic architecture is mesmerising, and the stained glass windows create a colourful display of light and artistry. As you explore Otley's churches, take time to appreciate the craftsmanship and dedication that has gone into their construction and preservation.

Visit these exceptional venues in Otley, and you will discover a rich tapestry of arts, culture, and history waiting to be explored.

Gastronomy and Pubs

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Cafes and Restaurants

In Otley, you'll find a diverse range of food options to satisfy your taste buds. With over 20 eateries to choose from, your culinary journey can take you through countries such as India, Italy, Greece, and Morocco. You'll find high-end French-themed restaurants and classic English pub grub, ensuring that there's something for everyone.

Some popular restaurants in Otley include Westbourne Spice, known for its amazingly delicious Indian and Asian cuisine. If you prefer a more British culinary experience, consider giving The Fleece or The Roebuck a try, where they offer a wide range of British dishes in a cosy pub ambiance.

Otley's Pubs

Your visit to Otley wouldn't be complete without experiencing the town's vibrant pub scene. Known for its rich beer heritage, Otley offers an historic Ale Trail, guiding you through all the town's establishments and showcasing some of the lost pubs that are no longer open.

One of the must-visit pubs is The Curious Hop, a treasure trove of curated beers from around the globe. You'll find popular names alongside rarer bottles, making it a haven for beer enthusiasts.

As you venture through Otley, you'll find countless other pubs offering their own unique charm, atmosphere, and impressive selections of real ales, drinks, and pub food.

Shopping in Otley

Flea Markets

When visiting Otley, you certainly won't want to miss out on its lively flea markets. Discover unique treasures in the various antique and vintage stalls, perfect for collectors or simply those who love a bit of history. These markets provide a fantastic opportunity to find one-of-a-kind items that you won't find in typical shops.

Shops and Stores

The charming and historic town of Otley is home to an array of excellent shops and stores that cater to all tastes. From traditional sweet shops to specialised beer and wine sellers, you're sure to find something that suits your fancy. While exploring the cobbled lanes and alleys, don't forget to visit the artisan shops where you'll find fine jewellers, gift shops, and coveted antiques.

The town is also renowned for its farmers' market, offering a wide variety of fresh local produce such as fruit, organic vegetables, home-reared eggs, and freshly caught fish from the North Yorkshire coast. The market is a great opportunity to indulge in the freshest ingredients and support local suppliers.

If you're a fan of vintage items, Otley boasts a variety of attractive vintage shops as well. They offer an irresistible assortment of clothing, accessories, and home decor, perfect for those who appreciate the timeless appeal of past eras.

Natural Wonders

Chevin Country Park

At the heart of Otley's natural beauty is Chevin Country Park, a serene escape for nature lovers. Located on the long tree-lined hill overlooking the town, this park offers stunning views and a variety of landscapes. You can spend hours exploring its dense woodlands and open meadows while enjoying the calming atmosphere of Otley Chevin Forest Park.

Riverside Strolls

Experience the charm of Otley through its riverside walks along the River Wharfe. As you wander, watch the ducks swimming and keep an eye out for the unique Archimedes screw, an eco-friendly means of producing electricity. These leisurely strolls provide the perfect opportunity to appreciate the picturesque surroundings and the calming sounds of the flowing water.

Wharfemeadows Park

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Another must-visit gem is Wharfemeadows Park, located beside the River Wharfe. Here, you can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, from family picnics to casual sports.

The park's stunning setting, complete with lush greenery and the soothing sounds of the river, makes it the ideal spot to unwind and reconnect with nature. With so much to offer within its expansive grounds, Wharfemeadows Park is a captivating and memorable part of your Otley visit.

Outdoor Activities

Cycling Routes

Otley is a great destination for cycling enthusiasts. With a range of picturesque routes suitable for both beginners and experienced riders, you'll never be short of places to explore on your bike. One option is to rent an e-bike from E-bikehire Ltd to make your cycling adventures even more enjoyable.

Trekking Trails

If you prefer to explore Otley on foot, there are plenty of trekking trails available for all levels of hikers. One popular spot is the Otley Chevin Forest Park, which spans over 200 acres and offers a variety of trails. Whether you're looking for a leisurely stroll or a challenging hike, the park's diverse terrain caters to all abilities. Lace-up your hiking boots and embark on a breathtaking adventure through this beautiful forest.

River Activities

Otley is situated by the River Wharfe, providing a plethora of water-based activities to enjoy. Indulge in some peaceful riverside walks, mingle with the local wildlife, or take part in more adventurous activities like canoeing or kayaking. The surrounding area offers an abundance of opportunities to appreciate the tranquil beauty of the river while engaging in leisurely or exciting activities, whichever you prefer.

Otley offers a wealth of engaging outdoor activities for all levels of fitness and adventure. With picturesque cycling routes, diverse trekking trails, and a scenic river to explore, you'll be sure to find the perfect activity to suit your interests and abilities.

Film and TV Locations

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If you're a fan of British television shows and you're looking for things to do in Otley, you'll be thrilled to find this quaint market town has been the backdrop for several popular TV series.

One of the well-known TV series filmed in Otley is Heartbeat.

While most of the filming took place in North Yorkshire, the producers chose Otley when they required an old-fashioned market town setting. The cobbled Market Place and lovely old buildings provided just the right atmosphere for the period drama. In particular, Otley Courthouse served as the police station in the show.

Another famous series that filmed in and around Otley is Kay Mellor's critically-acclaimed crime drama The Syndicate. Sites such as the Market Place, Wharfemeadows Park, and Otley Chevin, a vast forest park overlooking the town, were used during the filming of the fourth series. Additionally, the Wharfebank Mills in Otley served as a filming base for the 2020 feature film Say Your Prayers.

While exploring Otley, you might also notice some filming locations from the long-running British soap opera Emmerdale. As you walk through the town's streets and countryside, you may recognise some familiar settings from this beloved show.

Tourism Services

Tours and Guides

Explore the beautiful town of Otley with a variety of tours offered by local guides. Whether you're interested in learning about the area's history or tracing the footsteps of your favourite TV series filmed in Otley, there's something for everyone.

To make your trip more memorable, check out the popular TripAdvisor for reviews and recommendations on tour options such as:

  • Walking tours
  • TV show filming location tours
  • Historical tours

Hotels and Accommodations

If you've found enough things to do in Otley... and you're looking for an overnight stay... when it comes to accommodations, Otley offers a range of options to suit your preferences.

From cosy cottages to stylish apartments, you'll find the perfect place to relax after exploring the town. Some top-rated accommodations available in Otley include:

  • Meagill Farm Country Retreat: A picturesque farm with cosy 2-bed cottages. Features: Spa, gym, and BBQ hut. Link
  • Stylish 1-Bedroomed Maisonette: A modern and comfortable apartment in Otley town centre. Address: 3 Courthouse Street, Otley, LS21 3AN, United Kingdom. Link
  • Otley Town Centre Apartment: Conveniently located close to local attractions. Address: 2 Mount Pisgah, Otley, LS21 3DX, United Kingdom. Link

Before booking your stay, be sure to browse through TripAdvisor to read reviews and find the best deals on hotels and accommodations available in Otley. Remember to also look out for amenities such as spas and gyms to enhance your relaxation during your visit.

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