Things to Do in Skipton: Adventures Beyond the Castle Walls

9 months ago   •   9 min read

By More Yorkshire
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Things To Do In Skipton

Tucked away in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales, Skipton is a historic market town that offers plenty for visitors to enjoy. With its stunning landscapes, rich heritage, and charming atmosphere, you'll never be short of things to do in Skipton.

Whether you're a history enthusiast, nature lover, or a foodie, this delightful town has something to suit everyone's interests.

During your visit to Skipton, make sure to explore the grand Skipton Castle, a beautifully preserved medieval fortress that gives you a glimpse into the area's storied past.

As you meander along the tranquil waters of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, you'll discover picturesque scenery and opportunities for leisurely walks or boat trips.

Skipton's bustling outdoor market also provides a true taste of Yorkshire culture, boasting a variety of local goods, crafts, and delicious food.

For some downtime, you can immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the Yorkshire Dales, with its diverse landscapes and abundant walking trails. In the evenings, treat your taste buds to some delightful dining experiences in Skipton's charming restaurants and traditional pubs.

No matter your preferences, there is something for everyone in Skipton.

Historic Attractions

Skipton Castle

The front entrance of Skipton Castle

Steeped in history, Skipton Castle is one of the best-preserved medieval castles in the country.

Originally built in the 11th century, the castle played an important role in the English Civil War.

As you explore the castle, you'll be stepping into the footsteps of the famous Clifford family, especially Lady Anne Clifford, who led the castle's restoration in the 17th century.

Take your time to appreciate its impressive architecture, and don't miss the Drum Tower, which has stood the test of time for over 900 years.

Craven Museum

Craven Museum, Skipton
Source: Wikimedia

Housed inside Skipton Town Hall, Craven Museum is a treasure trove of local heritage, showcasing artefacts that provide a window into the history of Skipton and the surrounding area.

From prehistoric finds to Roman exhibits, you'll be transported through time and learn about the area's fascinating past.

Bolton Abbey

Landscape shot of Bolton Abbey

Nestled in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, Bolton Abbey is an awe-inspiring medieval priory surrounded by lush countryside.

The ruins of the 12th-century priory tell a tale of the past while providing a picturesque backdrop for a leisurely stroll or a family picnic.

Keep an eye out for the nearby deer park and the majestic River Wharfe as you stroll around the grounds.

Skipton Town Hall

Close up of Skipton Town Hall's front & unique architecture

An architectural marvel, Skipton Town Hall has stood for centuries as a symbol of the town's rich history.

Established in 1604, the town hall was granted a Royal Charter, and today, it serves as a hub for community events and houses the Craven Museum.

Be sure to take in the hall's stunning exterior, showcasing splendid Victorian facade, before diving into the wealth of knowledge and exhibits that lie within.

Outdoor Adventures

Yorkshire Dales

The rolling hills of the Yorkshire Dales

The Yorkshire Dales is a breathtaking area of natural beauty, offering a range of outdoor activities for all ages.

As Skipton is often referred to as the "Gateway to the Dales," it's no wonder that exploring the trails, countryside, and picturesque views is a must for any visitor.

The numerous walking and hiking routes will take you through rolling hills, past charming villages, and alongside picturesque rivers, where you can enjoy the diverse wildlife and stunning scenery.

Skipton Castle Woods

Full-size sculpture of a horse, made from wood

Embark on a woodland adventure at Skipton Castle Woods.

This ancient semi-natural woodland offers various trails suitable for all, providing an enchanting environment to discover local wildlife, including the elusive kingfisher.

Enjoy a leisurely walk along well-marked paths, soak in the natural beauty, and immerse yourself in the charming surroundings.

There is also an incredibly unique sculpture of a full-size horse grazing in the forest. The sculpture celebrates the medieval origins of the wood as a larder and hunting ground for Skipton Castle.

Leeds-Liverpool Canal

Leeds-Liverpool canal in skipton

The historic Leeds-Liverpool Canal adds another unique dimension to your outdoor adventures in Skipton.

Meandering through the countryside, the canal offers opportunities to stroll or cycle along its towpaths, observe the narrow boats, or even embark on a relaxed boat tour.

This tranquil waterway provides a slice of industrial history and a rewarding setting for nature enthusiasts.

Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Railway

Green steam train in Skipton, Bolton Abbey

Step back in time by visiting the Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Railway, a heritage railway that transports you through the heart of the Yorkshire Dales.

These beautifully preserved steam trains offer a nostalgic experience as you journey through stunning landscapes and the area's industrial revolution heritage.

As you chug along the tracks, take in the views and embrace the romance of times gone by.

Treetop High Ropes Course

Child on a zipline high in the trees
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For an adrenaline-fueled activity, head to a Treetop High Ropes Course within the region.

This adrenaline-pumping activity is perfect for families and groups seeking a thrilling outdoor adventure.

Climb, zip, and navigate through a series of challenging obstacles as you test your balance and bravery high above the ground. This is an unforgettable experience that combines physical activity and unparalleled excitement.

Shopping Experiences

Skipton Market

People walking through Skipton market

Skipton is a charming market town, with its famous outdoor market taking place four days a week on Skipton High Street.

Rooted in history, Skipton Market has been operating with a Royal Charter since 1204.

As you explore the market, you'll find a variety of independent shops, offering unique, locally made gifts, food, and artwork. Be sure to visit on market days to experience the bustling atmosphere and witness the heart of this lively town.

High Street and Craven Court

Skipton High street

A list of things to do in Skipton wouldn't be complete without talking about the local shopping experience down the historic Skipton High Street.

Here, you'll find an array of independent shops and boutique stores nestled amongst the buildings.

As you make your way towards the end of the high street, you will come across the Craven Court Shopping Centre.

This elegant, Victorian-themed shopping centre is home to even more independent shops, allowing you to explore unique finds and meet friendly, local shopkeepers.

Food and Drink

Skipton offers a variety of local specialties and delicious dining options for everyone, catering to a range of tastes and budgets. In this section, we will explore the food and drink scene in Skipton, focusing on local pubs and bars, restaurants and eateries, and ice cream parlours.

Local Pubs and Bars

Close shot of the Beer Engine micro pub in Skipton
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When visiting Skipton, you should definitely sample some local craft beer. Yorkshire is well-known for its independent breweries with favourites such as hoppy IPAs and traditional cask. A few of the best pubs in town to enjoy a pint include:

The Beer Engine: This popular spot offers a fantastic selection of craft beer and real ales.

The Mess Room: A lively bar with an extensive range of gins and cocktails to suit all preferences.

Early Doors: Known for its cosy atmosphere and quality beers, it's an ideal place to unwind in the evening.

The Woolly Sheep Inn: A traditional pub serving local beers, as well as delicious food for those looking to grab a bite.

Remember, when you visit these establishments, you can also indulge in some gin, as Skipton has a thriving gin scene too.

Restaurants and Eateries

Ellsworth Kitchen in Skipton
Image Source:

Skipton has plenty of options for those looking to enjoy a great meal, ranging from casual cafés to elegant fine-dining restaurants. A few options to consider when in Skipton include:

Elsworth Kitchen: A lovely café offering British cuisine with dishes featuring crab hummus, scallops, and black pudding.

Le Caveau: A European restaurant with delectable dishes such as lamb shank and woof.

Kibble Bakery: A dog-friendly café with an array of tasty treats, including pizzas, sandwiches, and homemade cakes.

Don't forget to try out the local burgers and refreshing cocktails at various restaurants and eateries in Skipton.

Ice Cream Parlours

Small farmhouse Ice Cream van in Skipton

No trip to Skipton is complete without treating yourself to some delicious ice cream.

As you explore the picturesque streets, be sure to stop at an ice cream parlour to indulge in a scoop or two of your favourite flavour.

Whether you like traditional vanilla or something more adventurous, Skipton's ice cream shops have got you covered. Enjoy the sweet taste as you continue your culinary adventure in this charming town.

Events and Festivals

Large elephant puppet at the Skipton Puppet Festival

If you're looking to experience the vibrant atmosphere of Skipton, attending its events and festivals is a must. The town is known for hosting a wide range of activities catering to tourists, families, and local Yorkshire people alike.

One of the town's standout events is the Skipton Puppet Festival, which offers a truly spectacular experience. This biennial festival showcases incredible puppetry performances from across the globe in various Skipton venues. It's a fantastic event for families and those looking to discover unique art forms.

For a taste of local culture, the Skipton Beer Festival is a popular three-day event held in Spring. Organised by the local branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), you can sample a delightful variety of craft beers while enjoying the lively atmosphere at the Town Hall.

As you explore Skipton, you'll enjoy the chance to participate in many other exciting events, such as the annual Skipton Waterway Festival. This vibrant celebration of the town's rich waterway heritage takes place along the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, and typically includes live entertainment, food, and boat-based activities.

For those who appreciate art and creativity, the North Yorkshire Open Studios Showcase offers a unique insight into local artists' work. Held at Skipton Town Hall, this event allows you to see the area's rich artistic talent on display in a stunning exhibition.

With so many things to do in Skipton, it's definitely a destination to mark on your list. The range of activities and opportunities to explore and engage with local culture ensures that your experience in this picturesque North Yorkshire market town will be nothing short of memorable.

Walks and Views

Skipton, located in North Yorkshire, offers a variety of walking routes with stunning views and beautiful scenery. This section will highlight two notable walks: Kingfisher Highway and Leeds and Liverpool Canal Towpath.

Kingfisher Highway

Close up of a Kingfisher sitting on a tree branch

Kingfisher Highway is a picturesque trail that provides an opportunity to immerse yourself in nature.

As you walk along the path, you might spot various bird species, including the vibrant kingfisher that the trail is named after. The route takes you through wooded areas, offering a sense of tranquillity as you appreciate the surrounding nature.

Remember to take your camera along as the trail boasts scenic views of the countryside, perfect for capturing memorable moments. The Kingfisher Highway is ideal for all levels of walkers, so don't hesitate to embark on this adventure and experience the wonders of nature in Skipton.

Leeds and Liverpool Canal Towpath

Canal boat on Leeds-Liverpool canal in Skipton

The Leeds and Liverpool Canal Towpath offers a relaxing walking experience along the historic canal. This well-maintained path allows you to enjoy the waterway's calm and serene atmosphere while admiring the picturesque landscape.

As you stroll along the towpath, you'll encounter various locks and bridges, giving you a glimpse into the waterway's rich history. The canal is also home to diverse wildlife, adding to the overall charm of the walk.

This route is suitable for all ages and abilities, making the Leeds and Liverpool Canal Towpath an excellent option for a leisurely stroll or a more energetic walk. Take in the beautiful scenery and embrace the peaceful ambience as you explore this delightful trail in Skipton.

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