Yesterday morning we set off on a grand day out to Skipton Castle. As per usual I had done my homework by accessing the Metro site and printing out a ‘journey planner’ so that we knew times of trains, buses and routes to take. After a discussion on the weather outside which was still quite nippy at 09.00am, K decided to wear her sheepskin coat and I decided to wear my thick lined jacket and even J, who had graciously decided to accept our invitation to accompany us on this day trip, was wearing his hat and warm raincoat. We caught the bus to Bradford and from the Interchange made our way across to Bradford Forster Square in order to board the 10.45am train to Skipton.
It was a very pleasant journey to Skipton via Shipley and Keighley on one of the electric Siemens trains that run on that particular route, and by the time we reached Skipton the sun was out, the grey skies had disappeared and it was beginning to feel quite warm. We decided to abandon the aforementioned journey planner following consulting a resident passer by about the actual direction and walking distance to the Castle. She insisted that it was straight ahead and that we would then be able to spot the Castle and main square to our left, and added that it would only take us about 10 minutes, so we set off and walked there instead.
It was market day and the main street leading up to the Castle where the market is housed was jam packed with people. We made our way up to the Castle entrance gates, paid our entrance fee (Skipton Castle is not a National Heritage site, so K’s membership was of very little use here!) We were given some ‘Explore Skipton Castle’ sheets which helped you to focus on particular areas of interest during your visit to the Castle. J in his usual fashion duly elected himself as chief Castle tour guide for the duration of our visit. K in the meantime was more interested in the Tea Rooms which were housed conveniently just inside the main gate entrance. (never changes does she, in fact I think in hindsight she would probably have been quite happy for me to park her here with a drink and something to eat whilst J and I did the Castle tour without her!)
First stop was the 700 year old Chapel of St John the Evangelist which is now just a shell. It is stood slightly apart and to the left of the Castle entrance. We had a look around and I took some pictures of the ancient font and the chapel window with the light shining through it, then we made our way into the Castle itself. 900 year old Skipton Castle is one of the most complete and best preserved mediaeval castles in the whole of England. It is fully roofed and is in remarkably good condition. I took loads of wonderful pictures inside the Castle, of the windows, the slots in the walls for the archers, the great hall, the bedchambers, the kitchens, I love looking around Castles and trying to imagine what life was like in those distant days. I even took one of K sitting on the ancient loo which emptied down into the moat outside! (well it is her favourite seating area and her ‘throne room’ at home!)
There were, as is usual for Castles, lots of stairs to climb both up and down, so K was muttering and grumbling to herself as usual. When J and I descended into the dungeon to take a look down there, she remained upstairs looking down at us. It was only a very small dungeon, just one room that was all, so she didn’t really miss much. In the middle of the Castle courtyard was a Yew tree that Lady Anne Clifford planted as a sapling after her restoration of the Castle in 1659. It was all very interesting and I thoroughly enjoyed it. By the time that we had visited every part of the Castle it was dinner time, and so after visiting the gift shop for the obligatory fridge magnet for me and the equally obligatory pen for K, we went into the tea rooms for something to eat. There were many paintings hung on the walls of the tea rooms, and we were sat next to one which showed the whole Clifford family.
Following our dinner, we then paid a visit to the church which is next door to the Castle where we looked at the tomb of Sir Clifford before continuing down the road to the bridge where we began our walk through Skipton Woods. By this time it was really warm and poor K had to carry her sheepskin coat over her arm which really didn’t help with her walking. We really were regretting taking any notice of the old saying around these parts, ‘don’t cast a clout till May goes out’ Perhaps now with global warming we need to change it to ‘don’t cast a clout till March goes out!’ It was a very pleasant walk indeed and took us behind the Castle, past quite a few waterfalls and a fishing lake before doubling back along a higher path where it emerged onto the main road where we made our way back down towards the Castle.
There were also boat trips which seemed highly popular as quite a few passed us whilst we were passing above the river and there were a lot of people on board enjoying the boat ride in the spring sunshine. We took a different route back towards the train station in order to take in some of the town itself and the shops, which is why we ended up sampling a tub of ‘Yorkshire Dales’ chocolate ice cream as a treat and to help sustain us on our return journey home. Following our arrival back at Skipton station, we didn’t have long to wait before our train pulled in and were soon on our way home.
I thoroughly recommend a visit if you are ever in Yorkshire, it is a very pleasant town and the Castle is well worth a visit, as is the rest of the town itself. If you enjoy walking as we do, then do take in Skipton Woods as well. It’s a very interesting walk to do with plenty to see and photograph. If you are more the leisurely sort then maybe the boat rides are more in your style? We all enjoyed our visit to Skipton, the weather turned our to be fantastic (as you can see by the pictures I took) and we will certainly be making this visit again soon.