Five days to the weekend: Richmond, North Yorkshire
Liam Moody visits one of North Yorkshire's many unsung gems.
Why go there?
Voted UK Town Of The Year in 2009, Richmond in North Yorkshire (the original settlement with this name- there are at least 50 other towns called Richmond worldwide) certainly has its fans- ‘The Rough Guide To Britain’ referred to the town as “the Dales’ most tempting historical town……an absolute gem”. On the northernmost fringes of the Yorkshire Dales, Richmond is traditionally a market town built around an imposing Norman fortress on the banks of the River Swale- the 100ft high keep was near-enough abandoned during the 14th century and fell into a state of ruin until restoration took place during the 1800s. Today, the castle is open to the general public, complete with a climb to the roof of the keep for some spectacular views of the surrounding area, and gardens which contain a wide variety of species.
During the Georgian period, the town underwent a significant change with large-scale construction- leading to the town’s layout that is still present today. The market place acts as a ‘courtyard’, flanked by various townhouses which now hold inns, restaurants and shops- primarily camping supplies and outdoor gear, although there are some more ‘alternative’ shops for unusual gifts.
Richmond is also a prime location for a tour of the Yorkshire Dales- walking, cycling or hiking. The beautiful scenery, combined with wildlife can make for a very pleasant day trip- the circular route is approximately 4.5 miles long, following the River Swale to nearby Easby Abbey. Alternatively, The Yorkshire Dales is one of the UK’s premier caving hotspots. Tree species in the area include ash, rowan, and bird cherry as well as yew, sycamore and pine in smaller numbers.
Richmond also hosts one of the oldest working theatres in the country- The Georgian Theatre Royal, opened in 1788. After centuries of misuse (after closing initially, it became a warehouse before being abandoned altogether) restoration work during the 1960s and the early 2000s brought the theatre back into use. It also makes use of the oldest known surviving piece of theatre scenery- ‘Woodland Scene’, which dates from the early 19th century.
Where to stay?
There are numerous B&Bs within the town- The Buck Hotel boasts prime location as well as 3 diamonds from the European Travel Commission. Williance House, one of the oldest buildings in Richmond, is also very popular. Further afield, many cottages are available to use, as well as guesthouses in the villages nearby.
Where to eat?
If you are after traditional pub fare, you could do worse than trying The Talbot Hotel- located within the Market Place, the food here is all locally sourced and boasts a very good range. Away from meals, the Cross View Tea Room is a traditional Georgian tea room- and looks like it may have come from the set of ‘All Creatures Great And Small’ (parts of which were filmed nearby).
Tell us a secret
The castle is reported to be haunted. Arthurian myth states that Richmond Castle is one of the possible locations King Arthur and his knights lay in slumber, in the caves underneath the castle (which connected the fortress with the nearby Abbey). Legend has it that a group of men tried navigating this tunnel- with the help of a drummer boy. The boy was sent in first, and was instructed to continue drumming- therefore he could be heard, and those outside could tell how deep the caves were. However, after a short amount of time, the drumming ceased, and the boy didn’t return. However, on occasion, mysterious drumming can be heard within the keep of the castle.