Yorkshire's top bank holiday destination packed with charm from cobbles to castles

I went to the North Yorkshire town where locals hide from tourists every bank holiday and loved it
-Credit: (Image: No credit)

Yorkshire is brimming with delightful activities to fill your bank holiday, thanks to its plethora of stunning sights and attractions. Skipton has been recognised as one of the most popular destinations for a Bank Holiday visit, according to Tripadvisor. Naturally, we decided to explore it before August 28.

This North Yorkshire market town, nestled on the River Aire and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, lies just south of the Yorkshire Dales. It's situated 27 miles north-west of Leeds and 38 miles west of York. In 2018, Skipton was featured in the Sunday Times report on Best Places to Live in northern England. Despite its small size, this picturesque town attracts a swarm of visitors every Bank Holiday, causing some locals to retreat.

Tourists and residents alike adore Skipton for its renowned markets, historic castle, cobbled streets filled with independent shops and bars, and breathtaking countryside, reports Yorkshire Live. Having never visited before, I chose to avoid the bank holiday rush and embarked on a day trip there. I arrived on a sunny Wednesday afternoon and parked at the long-stay car park in the centre, which proved to be an ideal starting point for my adventure.

READ MORE Halifax predator finally jailed aged 91 - half a century after abusing boy

My first impressions of Skipton revolved around its charming beauty. We began our exploration by browsing the shops that not only line the high street but are also tucked away in the ginnels and side streets. Craven Court shopping centre, a hidden gem tucked away in Skipton, offers a unique shopping experience with its array of quirky shops selling everything from clothing to gifts, art and food.

The narrow walkway leading to a beautiful courtyard is filled with cafes and shops, providing a full experience for those who venture off the main street. For the latest food and drink news in Yorkshire and nearby, visit our What's On homepage where you can also find guides for things to do across the region.

Skipton was bustling with tourists enjoying shopping, dining, and the overall relaxed atmosphere of the town. After indulging in some retail therapy, we decided to refuel at Alexander's, one of the many eateries, artisan coffee shops and craft beer bars lining the streets.

Alexander's, Skipton's award-winning Grand Cafe, Bar and Terrace, is situated at the top of Skipton's historic High Street. We enjoyed views of the canal below while savouring some small plates (review to come soon). Post meal, we headed to the Castle, arguably the most popular attraction, to delve into some of Skipton's history.

Boasting over 900 years of history, Skipton Castle in Yorkshire remains one of the most complete and best-preserved medieval castles in England. The nearby Craven Museum holds another historically significant treasure: William Shakespeare's First Folio dating back to 1623. This gem is a sure hit among history enthusiasts and avid readers alike.

An idyllic image of Skipton, known for its picturesque canals lined with traditional longboats -Credit:Getty
An idyllic image of Skipton, known for its picturesque canals lined with traditional longboats -Credit:Getty

In addition, visitors can indulge in peaceful walks around the local woods or choose to stroll alongside the canal where picturesque barges offer short rides and conclude with an afternoon tea service. Amid these delights lies Sarsaparilla's, a traditional sweet shop that has served the locals since 1920. Inside, the delightful owner, Beverley Costello welcomed us warmly. Beverley and her husband have been running the shop for nine years.

When asked about business during bank holidays, Beverley said: "It's very busy on a bank holiday, it can be weather dependant because obviously we have a lot of bars and pubs where people sit outside so if it rains that can affect it, but it's generally really busy on a bank holiday."

She also mentioned about the upcoming Bank Holiday, adding: "Especially this Bank Holiday because obviously it's the last one. It's generally all visitors and holidaymakers, you'll find that locals don't tend to come out on bank holidays because it's too busy."

Beverley added: "I think people come for the general vibe of the town, its such a pretty place, it's old fashioned and quirky. You've got the canal, the town hall, which always has something going on. This town has never stopped since Covid. You get a lot of people passing through, people who have been or are heading to the Lakes or York or Harrogate and they drive through and see how pretty it is and decide to stop off.

"We get a lot from the local caravan sites too, it just attracts everybody. It's great for business, it's been absolutely crazy over the summer but it's nice because we know when the season's finished it will go quiet.

Overall I really enjoyed my day trip to Skipton, I found it to be picturesque, quaint and full of history with great shopping and dining options. There's plenty to see and do and the people were lovely, informative and fiercely proud of their pretty little bustling Yorkshire town - I'd definitely recommend planning a day trip to Skipton if you haven't already.

Get all the latest and breaking news in Yorkshire by signing up to our newsletter here.