Stunning Autumn Day at Skipton Castle & Woods, and a stop at Ribblehead Viaduct

Autumn is most definitely here! The trees are changing colour, the leaves are starting to…

Autumn is most definitely here! The trees are changing colour, the leaves are starting to fall, and the clocks have changed meaning the dark nights are here. What was it Jon Snow said… “Winter is Coming”.

With autumn also having brought the usual bad weather, and lockdown restrictions being tightened, trips out recently have been few and far between. But with today forecast for sun, and an urge to get out after too many days spent at home working and doing DIY, I picked Skipton Castle and the adjoining woods as the destination… a good mix of history, sight-seeing, exercise, and enjoying the autumn colours.

Skipton Castle

As with most tourist sites at the moment, pre-booking tickets online is recommended as visitor numbers are restricted. Tickets for the castle plus parking for the day was £14.20 (£8.70 for the castle £4.50 for parking) which is reasonable enough.

The castle is over 900 years old being originally built in 1090 and is one of the best-preserved medieval castles in England. And on a clear sunny day like today, it makes for a great place to spend some time and admire.

It’s also pretty quiet so I can take my time wandering around the many rooms there are to explore inside, although it wold be good if they were made up with some furniture or pieces to make it look more like it did during one of the periods of history. Instead it just feels a little empty and I struggle to imagine what it was actually like, even with the information signs in most rooms.

It only takes me about 45-minutes to look around (and that’s me taking it at an easy pace!), but it is a nice place and worth a visit.

After leaving the castle I cut through the grounds of Holy Trinity Church and grab a coffee from the town centre before making my way to the woods. 

Skipton Castle Woods

The walk to the woods starts from the town centre just behind the Holy Trinity Church, following the canal past the back of the castle and passing a small waterfall before reaching the woods entrance.

The entrance to the woods marks out a couple of paths to follow but I’m more in the mood just to walk and see where I end up!

Just after entering I come across the artwork of the Huntress of the Woods… a sculpture of a lady with a bow and arrow made by local art studio Anna and the Willow. And standing proud amongst the trees, surrounded by fallen leaves on the floor, and the sun peeking through the branches, it looks really cool!

The rest of the woods are stunning as well… walking alongside the beck and through the trees the woods are beautiful, before reaching round dam and Eller Beck weir.

With plenty of stops for photos it takes about an hour to complete the route and get back to the car park… a really nice fresh walk through some beautiful scenery!

As I get into the car my day out has only lasted a few hours though, and even though the clocks have changed so the nights are getting earlier, there’s still plenty of day light left to explore somewhere! So I check out Google maps to see what’s nearby… Bolton Abbey and the Cow and Calf are on the way back home, and although both amazing places, I’ve been to them before. Ingleton Falls isn’t too far in the opposite direction, but they close at 4pm so I don’t really have time for that. And then I see it… just a little bit further on is somewhere I’ve had on my list for a while but have not made it to before… Ribblehead Viaduct.

Ribblehead Viaduct

The drive to Skipton didn’t offer much fun being stuck in traffic most of the way, so this also gives me the chance to enjoy some driving on the quieter country roads (big thanks to the kind motorist going the opposite direction who warned me of the speed camera van, which I obviously would have passed going a safe speed way under the limit anyway!).

I pass through Ingleton and the aforementioned falls, as well as White Scar Caves (somewhere else on my list to visit), before the viaduct comes into view in the distance.

There’s plenty of space to park off the side of the road close to the viaduct leaving only a short walk to it. There is a direct gravel path, but I take the long cut into the fields instead to get some photos from afar first.

As with nearly every tourist spot I ever go to there’s scaffolding and construction work going on, but I manage to get some photos which (mainly) don’t show it! The viaduct itself is really impressive though… a huge industrial feat build in 1874, standing in stark contrast to the surrounding landscape… the rugged hills with Pen-y-ghent (one of Yorkshire’s 3 peaks) visible in the background amongst the rolling fields and countryside. And on a clear sunny day like today it’s picture postcard perfect! 

After an hour here it’s nearly 4pm, I haven’t eaten since breakfast, there’s only an hour or so of daylight left, and it’ll take an hour and a half to get home. So after a quick snack in the car I head off home, stopping on the way to capture this photo of the sun setting behind the hills… a fitting way to finish a good day out.

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