SUNNY SKIPTON

I caught Skipton at it’s best on Sunday, with the freak sunshine bringing tourists from as far away as Keighley and Colne.  It’s a typically handsome North Yorkshire market town, but it’s own visitor attractions (castle, canal, chips) and proximity to the Dales enable it to punch well above it’s weight.  I’d compare it to Knaresborough, which has a similar pub scene as well.  The cafes and pubs were heaving, and a good mix of shops for a town of 14,000 people seemed to be buying all the usual tat, including boots for walks they’d never make.

The Travelodge on the A59 is well placed for a walk through the attractive suburb into town, or north into the villages towards Malham (day trip needed for the Tarn though).  The takeaway choice is exceptional too, including an Aagrah.

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The area north of Belmont Bridge is particularly lively, with the canal trips starting from a square bounded by an Indian restaurant, pie and mash cafes and several decent pubs.  Skipton has a really strong range of pubs, which have seemed to rotate in the Beer Guide over the years.  The Narrow Boat is probably the stalwart, the original in the excellent but underappreciated Market Town Taverns.  Elsewhere there is a good Wetherspoons (the Devonshire), a continental style café (Bistro des Amis), a Timmy Taylor’s flagship (Woolly Sheep) and at least one basic boozer (Albion – rare outlet for Butcombe).

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It also now has a proper micro-pub, and one of my favourites.  The Beer Engine doesn’t vary much from the “formula”, but was particularly friendly and with better beer (Raw Brew Ghost – NBSS 3.5) than is sometimes the case.  Linking up with 5 other pubs nearby to put on a joint Halloween Beer Fest was obviously a success.

House prices were scary, but I can understand why it gets named as one of the UK’s best places to live.

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