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We love going on days out. And also love history. So recently we decided to take our 3 year old on a trip to Skipton Castle.
A Trip To Skipton Castle
Skipton is a small market town in North Yorkshire. Known as ‘The Gateway To The Dales’. It is North-East of Leeds, and is a wonderful base for exploring the Yorkshire Dales and surrounding moors.
The River Aire and the Leeds-Liverpool canal run through the town, so if you are really keen you can walk or cycle to Skipton from Leeds City Centre – though it is 31 miles!
Car parking is available, but there are only limited places in the Bailey Car Park behind the castle itself. Further spaces are available within Skipton itself, but it can be quite a walk from the main town car park.
We got there early, and entered through the imposing Gatehouse. Staff are friendly and informative, and always keen to share all that the castle has to offer. There are often extra attractions going on within the castle, but when we visited it was quite a quiet day.
Each visitor is given a tour sheet which walks you through the castle and grounds in a route that makes sure that nothing is missed. It points out some of the most interesting features on the way. Though with a small child in tow this went out of the window for us! E made a beeline for some cannons.
There is an awful lot of history and features to see within the well preserved medieval castle itself. Skipton Castle was one of the last Royalist strongholds in the North during the English Civil War. It finally yielded after a 3 year siege!
The Castle Itself
The castle was founded in 1090, but most of it was strengthened in the early 14th century.
You enter the castle up some steps and pass through the entrance doors into an attractive courtyard, the Conduit Court. A yew tree planted by one of the main restorers of the castle after the Civil War, Lady Anne Clifford, forms the centre of this open air space. Rooms and staircases lead off in all directions with plenty to explore, and lots of little details to discover.
A huge banqueting hall with a stage at one end leads to a ‘withdrawing room’ where the ladies of the time would have done their needlework. From another door in the banqueting hall you can see a medieval kitchen, with its massive fireplaces.
And just off the kitchen was the highlight for E. A small room containing a seat with a hole. This was the privy toilet, and from here is a ‘long drop’ for waste from the castle down into the river below. E was fascinated by this hole!
Other rooms to see included the guard rooms and the Lord’s rooms. There are some great views to be seen from the windows.
Most of the castle itself is undercover. There are no battlements, so no worries of your child falling from a height . There are some spiral staircases, but we managed these easily. And there are lots of undercover and enclosed areas within the castle, so even on poor weather days it is a great place to visit. There is even a small and dingy dungeon which E declared as being ‘smelly’.
Within the Grounds
Also within the castle grounds are a toilet block and picnic area. There is an area of grass in the picnic area that is great for letting off steam. A look over the wall enclosing this area has a great view down into Skipton and also over the canal and river running alongside.
There is also a tea shop and gift shop. The tea shop serves lunches and snacks, and has some wonderful reproductions of paintings of the castles past occupants.
Finally, the castle contains the remains of a chapel. E absolutely loved exploring all the areas within the castle and grounds. The views from its windows and grounds show you why this castle was such a well defensible one.
Like many old castles and buildings, it cannot be suitable for wheelchair users, and may be tough for people with mobility issues. But it is a wonderful place to visit, and we cannot wait to go on another trip to Skipton Castle again soon!
One of the most endearing things about visiting is that each child under 18 (who can walk unaided) gets a free visiting badge. And the designs of these change every year.
Love historic buildings and castles? Why not read this post on other history places in Yorkshire?
Why not pin this post for later?