We were coming to the end of a great weekend in Harrogate and Ripon, and it was time to head home, but I had one request and it took us 3.5 miles in the opposite direction. We soon arrived in the picturesque town of Knaresborough, that a friend had recommended to me, and I could see why…
Status: Harrogate District, North Yorkshire, Town, England
Eating & Sleeping: N/A
Attractions: Knaresborough Castle, Mother Shiptons Cave, War Memorial, River Nidd, Viaduct, Market Square, Blind Jack Metcalf Statue etc
Knaresborough is a historic town, with a lot of the town centre on the top of a cliff looking down into the gorge below, with the river Nidd winding it’s way through.
At the very edge of the cliff, with commanding views over the rest of the town, are the ruins of Knaresborough Castle, shown above. It dates back to around 1100 when it was originally built by the Normans. Henry I (1068 – 1135) improved the castle in 1130, and by 1205 King John (1166 – 1216) was in control. This impressive royal association continued through to Edward II, who, along with his predecessor, Edward I, rebuilt the Castle.
The next owner was John of Gaunt 1st Duke of Lancaster (1340 – 1399, the third son of Edward III), who was related to the Lancastrian Kings from the House of Lancaster, and the Castle went into the possession of the Duchy of Lancaster. The Duchy is one of only two surviving in England, with the other being the Duchy of Cornwall. The Duchy owns most of the land in Lancashire along with the surrounding areas of Merseyside, Cumbria and Greater Manchester that were once part of Historic Lancashire.
The Castle met its end in 1648, during the English Civil War. The Parliamentary Forces who supported the Government took the Castle, and eventually won the war. The Castle was once a Royalist stronghold, and Parliament ordered the Royalist Castles to be demolished.
What stands today is a great, and is in reasonably good condition. It’s an impressive sight up on the cliff, and imagine what it must have looked like a few hundred years ago, as a mighty fortress gazing out over the hills of Yorkshire.
The Castle grounds cover all of this section of the cliff, and within the grounds stands the towns War Memorial, erected after World War I. The names of soldiers from World War II were added in the late 1940’s, and it is a proud reminder.
The rest of the grounds incorporates the Courthouse, and the Bebra Gardens which are a must for visitors.
Other sections of the Castle remain and help to give you a sense of scale, as this section of support wall is a reasonable distance away from the main ruins. The Castle is a pleasure to walk around, and of course the spectacular view is ever present…
This is the view you get from Knaresborough Castle, and what a sight it is. The arched bridge further upstream is the Railway Viaduct from 1851. We stayed for quite a while and just took in the view, marvelling at how natural and still everything was. The town looks great due to the many layers up the side of the cliffs, and the Viaduct enhances the rustic feel to the town.
Elsewhere in the town are some other major attractions, including Mother Shiptons (1488 – 1561, Soothsayer and Prophetess) Cave, which is located at the main road bridge leading into the town coming from Harrogate, further along than the Viaduct. She is believed to have been born here, and together with the nearby Petrifying Well, the landmarks are open to the public.
Or you could visit the historic Market Square, and share a bench with the statue of Blind Jack Metcalf (1717 – 1810) who lost his sight as a child at age six. He went on to become a notable road builder, and constructed over 180 miles of Turnpike Road in the North of England. He died age 93, after a long life full of achievements.
Knaresborough is easy to get to, with direct rail links to nearby Harrogate, as well as Leeds and York. The A59 (Wallasey, Merseyside – York) runs through the town, and the A1(M) motorway runs very close by, for Stockton-on-Tees, Doncaster, Newcastle etc.
Knaresborough is a great little town, with plenty to explore and some great views. Unfortunately we didn’t have all day and we had to push on, back to Lancashire, but with one more stop on route, the town of Skipton…