Sunday, February 23, 2020

Mosaic Monday #68: 15 Miles on a Skipton Canal

A market town is a settlement that obtained the right
in the Middle Ages to host markets, which distinguished
it from a village or city.
As many times as I have traveled in Northeast England, I am still pleasantly surprised we can locate new places to explore.  This post is about one of those spots, and continues the documentation of our visit to the UK in October 2019 (see previous posts here, here, and here).  On a glorious autumn day, our destination was Skipton, a market town in North Yorkshire that is only 90 minutes from my in-laws' house.  Despite its proximity, this was a first visit even for Spousal Unit!  

We began with Skipton Castle, built in 1090 as a wooden motte-and-bailey, and strengthened with a stone keep in the 12th century to repel attacks from the Kingdom of Scotland.  The Castle elevated Skipton from a poor dependent village, and its protection attracted families to the area.  The Castle is now one of the most complete and best preserved medieval castles in England.
We were greeted by a friendly and knowledgeable docent just under the entry to the castle.  He explained the self-guided tour, and sent us on our way.  Immediately, we were struck by the sweep of the grounds leading to the central castle, and the towering beech trees clothed in fall colors.
Shortly, we entered a Tudor courtyard, the Conduit Court, which contains a yew tree, reputedly planted by Lady Anne Clifford in 1659.  Yes, that means it is 361 years old!  I have to say this is the first castle I have seen (and I have visited many) that has a tree growing in the middle of it!

The castle contains no furniture, and on this autumn day, it was easy to imagine how drafty and cold it must have been back in the day.  No surprise, then, that each room had its own fireplace, including this oversized beast in the banquet hall.

Most castles stand on hilltops or perch on rocky outcroppings, chosen for their defensive properties.  In the modern day, this translates into fine views in all directions, particularly since no skyscrapers rise into the sky to block the vistas.
In 1645, the Castle was "slighted" when it was taken by Parliament.  Slighting is the deliberate damage of a building; in this case, the walls were shortened, disabling the height advantage and the means for the Castle to fire cannon.  Lady Anne soon gained permission from Oliver Cromwell to rebuild - on condition that the walls were weaker and the roof unable to bear the weight of the cannon.  In the picture at left, her new wall can be seen on top of the "slighted" original.  She is said to have given Skipton special care because it was her birthplace.

Under the protective gaze of the Castle, Skipton became a prosperous market town, trading sheep and woolen goods; its name derives from the old English sceap (sheep) and tun (town).

Having thoroughly explored the Castle and grounds, our rumbling tummies sent us in search of a tea shop.  We soon located The Three Sheep - its bustling atmosphere suggested good food could be found within.  How right we were!

Fortified once again, we set off to explore the town.  During one of the periods when we lived in the UK, our house was near a canal system, and I fell in love with the walkways that always parallel the waterways.  So it was deeply appealing to me when I learned that Skipton has an extensive set of canals.  We encountered this map and used it to guide our wandering feet for the next few hours.

As we returned to the town center, we found a canal boat waiting to get through a bridge.  Check out this video - after some initial difficulty, the bridge was opened.  You may be surprised how it works!
No visit to a UK town is complete without stopping in at least one ancient church.  This day, our outing led us to Holy Trinity, a church that has stood at the top of the High Street for more than 6 centuries.
The magnificent oak choir screen dates from about 1533 and may have originated from Bolton Priory.
Upper left: Altar with Great East Window - depicts the crucifixion of Jesus
Lower left: the Clifford Tombs - this structure, along with a vault below the altar, contains the remains of
12 members of the Clifford family

Upon leaving the church, we briefly re-connected with the canal to gain entry to Skipton Castle Woods.

We had taken the above picture of the map in the car park when we first arrived, and it was a handy reference as we sauntered through the Woods back to our vehicle.

This wonderful, rare, ancient woodland has been a feature of the landscape for at least 1000 years.  It was once part of Old Park, a great medieval hunting forest.

Rich hunting, fishing, timber and an easy to defend location made this an ideal place for Norman baron Robert De Romille to build his castle 900 years ago.

Fast forward to the 1700s and the wood helped power Skipton's industrial revolution, supplying building stone, timber and water to the mills nearby, all aided by the newly built canal network.

Eller Beck
In the 19th century, Skipton emerged as a small mill town connected to the major cities by the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.  One of the oldest mills in North Yorkshire, High Corn Mill, is powered by the waters of Eller Beck, and dates to 1310 when it was owned by Robert de Clifford, 1st Baron de Clifford.

The town's economy shifted to tourism in the 20th century, aided by its historic architecture and proximity to the Yorkshire Dales.  After our day-long tour, we can certainly appreciate the attraction and charms of Skipton.  

In fact, as we lingered over coffee and dessert in a nearby village, we made a declaration that we would return for a longer stay on our next trip to the UK.  Watch this space!

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  1. What a beautiful place for a walk. I love old places and long walks in the woods/trails.
    Dawn aka Spatulas On Parade

  2. ...wowzer, this trip had something to appeal to every taste. Thanks Angie for hosting.

  3. I'm a great Fan of Agatha Christi, especially Monsieur Poirot or Miss Marple ... therefore I understand the fascinating english Spots.

    Happy MosaicMonday

  4. Oh my goodness, now you're talking, I'd love to have a castle, so pretty!!!

  5. On my father's side I'm a mix of Scotch and English. I am sure I'll never make it back to my historical roots so it's fun to see them through posts like yours. - Margy

  6. What a wonderful town ...and wonderful day. I loved everything about it. Absolutely everything, but the narrow boat was really special. We got to take a private tour on one when we stayed in London and loved it so much . Wwe dreamed of renting one ourselves as a future vacation... but that narrow boat has sailed (so to speak)... that dream got superseded by other trips and were a bit too old and out of shape to handle those locks now! But I am still in love with the boats!

  7. Wonderful impressions of your visit to Skipton! The woods and the canal look gorgeous, but the ancient castle & church are really something!

  8. So much wonderful history and scenery in Skipton! I can see why you would want to return again. I love visiting castles but all the ones I've seen have been in Ireland or Italy.

  9. Thank you Angie for writing/photographing and sharing such great detail and history about Skipton.

  10. Thanks for the tour. What a beautiful castle. I would love to see it too. The Church is also beautiful.

  11. Lovely to join your wandering feet to enjoy Skipton Castle and canal. I hope you get to return again soon to the UK and you obviously enjoy it.
    Wren x

  12. Dear Angie - Skipton is such a beautiful town with rich history. All the nice items for exploring are included in this tour; castle, church, teahouse, walking trail, English canal, every and each is fascinating. Yes, I was surprised how the bridge works. Thanks for the video.
    Have happy days ahead.


  13. The UK has such wonderful quaint old places to explore, Angie. We found wandering through the country in a rented car was a fantastic way to enjoy what it had to offer. Lovely post and photos!

  14. Hello, I enjoyed the castle tour and the canals. The church is gorgeous! The Castle Woods is a pretty area to explore. The food sounds delicious too. What a great trip! Thanks for hosting. Enjoy your day, wishing you a happy new week!

  15. How beautiful and I know you will look forward to planning an even longer trip there. You have some bad comments that I hope you can delete PRONTO! Happy MM!

  16. perfect post after I've been watching restoration Man and restoration home. Oooooo i so want to go there. Now I'm off to look it up online and learn more of the history of owners.

  17. I have never seen a castle! I will have to remedy that sometime soon. Great views from the top.

  18. This wonderful castle is the stuff of fairy tales until you realize such amazing structures are completely real and in need of a crackling fireplace in every room.

  19. Luv the castle stories and photos. Happy Monday Angie


  20. You found a jewel of a town. That fireplace is huge. Love the stones of the castle. This is making me excited about our trip in September. We finally caved and bought the plane tickets. Can you believe this is the last week of February?? Happy week to you.

  21. Thank you for the tour of Skipton, I enjoy your holiday adventures.

  22. Wow, that's an incredible place!

  23. Angie. That post brought back many memories. We used to visit Skipton very often when the kids were smaller. We camped in Settle or near Skipton, just an hour's drive from here. Happy Days. I wonder if the Famous Pork Pie Shop is still there opposite the castle? Hot pork pies fresh from the baehouse at the back - scrumptious.

    Hope you're feeling better.

  24. Beautiful Skipton, and the castle, superb.

  25. Beautiful photo journey with you ~ lovely ^_^ ~ what places!

    Happy Moments to You,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  26. Angie, I loved the video of the bridge on the canal! I imagine the canal easy paced, slow, and relaxing! Thanks for sharing. Sylvia

  27. oh angie, what a beautiful tour of skipton, you covered it so well!! the ancient woodland and waterfalls are so pretty, so natural!

    i was amazed as i watched the video, what a cool concept for opening a bridge!!

    interesting history here, i wonder how you remember it all. thanks for sharing that part of the journey!!

  28. What an incredible castle! So much to see and enjoy. 😊 Kit

  29. What an outing you had. I love the ancient history of the place and am now pondering the meaning of "slighted" in architectural terms. I love old trails and paths and you found several. Here in Oklahoma, really old history is about 150 years and what you found has up to four or five times that.
    Wonderful post.

  30. It's so amazing how different Europe is with its ancient buildings and old customs. Thanks for sharing your photos!

    Feel free to share at My Corner of the World

  31. Wow, what a wonderful tour through the castle. I've never seen a bridge move that way, it's unique and pretty cool.
    Thanks for sharing your trip with us, I loved it.

  32. I can just imagine the delight in walking around architecture that is hundreds and hundreds of years old. I always love to visit old churches. The stain glass windows always fascinate me. My, what a neat way for the bridge to 'open'. How fun to ride in a canal boat and drink in the sights of the countryside.

  33. One of the great appeals of travelling in Europe is the history on every corner, and I mean real history, reaching back to antiquity in many instances.

  34. Lovely, lovely, lovely …

    All the best Jan


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