Posts Tagged ‘Skipton Castle’

It’s only right, when on holiday in the UK, that you experience one or more of the following: rain, lots of it; the odd, joyous day of wall-to-wall sunshine; shonky, styled-in-the-seventies accommodation; ancient monuments; and, of course, random events that remind you that eccentricity is normal round these parts.

Luckily for us, our holiday in the Dales featured all five, from gorgeous, giddy days yomping across hill and dale to a cottage whose shower last worked properly sometime around the decade of my birth. But it’s the things you least expect that are the best. So, one rainy day when we were suffering from cabin fever, we headed into Skipton (or Shipton, as my Mum kept calling it).

We weren’t expecting anything much: we assumed Skipton/Shipton would be a rather dingy North Yorkshire town with little to offer except its proximity to glorious countryside. But as we crawled into town (‘Why is the traffic so bad?’ I thought from the back seat, jiggling toys at an increasingly fractious Milo), we saw beautiful stone houses, a sign for a castle and, explaining our less-than-walking-pace-speed, a poster for a car parade.

We parked up and there, stretching down the high street in polished-chrome-and-sorbet technicolour, was a ribbon of vintage cars. The rain eased off and droplets twinkled suggestively on the curved bonnet of a 1960s Daimler. There, pointed Mum, was the car I learned to drive in. We peered in at its leather bench seat. Over there, pointed Dad, was the car Grandpop used to drive. We turned to look and marvel, Milo thumping my shoulder in excitement. There were ancient buses and trucks and people everywhere, making out like the rain meant nothing to them, eating hot dogs and basking in the light of a hundred obsessive motorists’ pride.

A few days later, when the rain came again, we headed to Skipton Castle. I was slightly peeved to be told I couldn’t take the pushchair inside but soon realised why: Skipton is home to the oldest, most complete and most pushchair-inappropriate medieval castle in Britain. It has walls so thick and stairs so steep that it defended itself from a Roundhead siege for three years. Three years. And when the castle finally capitulated, did the Royalists sheepishly let the bad guys in? Did they heck. The dropped the creaking drawbridge, swung back doors that had resisted all Roundhead attempts to blast their way inside, and moved down the high street in an unrepentant, triumphant procession. The soldiers carried bullets in their mouths and powder in their bags – to show that they weren’t defeated, that they could have kept up the fight if they wanted to.

They passed down the high street with flags and music, and the Roundheads, to their credit, said, ‘fair cop, off you go.’ And they disappeared into the surrounding countryside, leaving their castle behind them and open-mouthed historians in their wake.

See, you’d never get that on the Costa del Sol.

Ratings. Babychanging facilties: none that we could see. Cafe: yes, with highchairs. Buggy-friendly? No, lots of steps and uneven flooring. Buggies not allowed in the castle, though secure buggy park provided. Staff: really lovely. Cost: £5.80 (adults), babies free. Worth it? Absolutely.

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