Coordinates: 53°57′45″N 2°00′59″W / 53.962529°N 2.016305°W / 53.962529; -2.016305
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  • The Gateway to the Yorkshire Dales
Town and civil parish
Skipton from Park Hill
Skipton is located in North Yorkshire
Location within North Yorkshire
Population14,623 (parish, 2011 census)[1]
OS grid referenceSD9902851827
• London185 mi (298 km) SE
Civil parish
  • Skipton
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townSKIPTON
Postcode districtBD23
Dialling code01756
PoliceNorth Yorkshire
FireNorth Yorkshire
UK Parliament
List of places
53°57′45″N 2°00′59″W / 53.962529°N 2.016305°W / 53.962529; -2.016305

Skipton (also known as Skipton-in-Craven) is a market town and civil parish in North Yorkshire, England. Historically in the East Division of Staincliffe Wapentake in the West Riding of Yorkshire, it is on the River Aire and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal to the south of the Yorkshire Dales. It is situated 27 miles (43 km) north-west of Leeds and 38 miles (61 km) west of York. At the 2021 Census, the population was 14,623.[1] The town has been listed as one of the best and happiest places to live in the UK.[2][3][4][5][6][7]


Skipton Castle
Conduit Court inside Skipton Castle

The name Skipton means 'sheep-town', a northern dialect form of Shipton.[8] Its name derives from the Old English sceap (sheep) and tun (town or village).[9] The name is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. It was important during the English Civil War and was the site of prisoner of war camps during the First and Second World Wars.

The rear of Skipton Castle

Skipton Castle was built in 1090 as a wooden motte-and-bailey by Robert de Romille, a Norman baron. In the 12th century William le Gros strengthened it with a stone keep to repel attacks from the Kingdom of Scotland to the north,[10] the castle elevated Skipton from a poor dependent village to a burgh administered by a reeve. The protection offered by Skipton Castle during the Middle Ages encouraged the urbanisation of the surrounding area, and during times of war and disorder the town attracted an influx of families. It is now one of the most complete and best preserved medieval castles in England and is open to the public.

One of the oldest mills in North Yorkshire, High Corn Mill[11] is powered by the waters of Eller Beck, and dates to 1310 when it was owned by Robert de Clifford, 1st Baron de Clifford; at that point it was transferred to the powerful Clifford family by the then King Edward II.[12] Skipton became a prosperous market town, trading sheep and woollen goods. A market stemming from its formative years still survives. In the 19th century, Skipton emerged as a small mill town connected to the major cities by the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and its branch Thanet Canal, (known locally as 'Springs branch canal').

During the 20th century Skipton's economy shifted to tourism, aided by its historic architecture and proximity to the Yorkshire Dales. Since 1974, Skipton has been the seat of Craven District Council. The Skipton Building Society was founded in the town.

Skipton is twinned with the Bavarian town of Simbach and Erquinghem-Lys in France.[13]

Skipton war memorial and High Street
Holy Trinity Church (Church of England)


Skipton Town Hall
Arms of Skipton Town Council
CrestOn a Wreath of the Colours A Wyvern sejant Gules supporting a Staff proper flying therefrom a Banner barry of eight Or and also Gules thereon a Port between two Towers Argent.
ShieldVert a Fleece Or between in chief two Roses Argent barbed and seeded proper a Chief chequy Or and Azure.
MottoIndustria Et Spe
Granted to the urban district council on 12 October 1951.[14]

Skipton is part of the parliamentary constituency of Skipton and Ripon, which was created in 1983. Since its creation, the constituency has returned a Conservative Member of Parliament (MP). As of 2021, the seat is held by Julian Smith, a former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Before 1983 Skipton had its own eponymous constituency.

From 1974 to 2023 Skipton formed part of Craven District, a non-metropolitan district, and was home of the offices of Craven District Council. In 2007, proposals to make North Yorkshire County Council a unitary authority, removing the layer of government represented by Craven District, were rejected.[15] However the council was eventually abolished in 2023, being replaced by North Yorkshire Council.

Skipton has its own town council consisting of 16 councillors, formed by 4 members from each of the four wards within the parish boundaries, North, East, South and West. Skipton town councillors elect a town mayor each year at an annual general meeting. As of 2018, the town mayor is Councillor Alan Hickman.[16] The town council offices are based on the high street, upstairs in the Town Hall.


The town is known as the 'Gateway to the Dales', because of its close proximity to the Yorkshire Dales. As Skipton is the nearest and largest town to a significant area of the Dales, it attracts numerous visitors, particularly on market days (Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday).[citation needed] Owing to the town's many independent shops and national chains, Skipton has received praise for its enduring individuality and character. In 2008, the Academy of Urbanism voted High Street the best shopping spot in Britain.[17] The wide high street once hosted the sheep market, but now a general market is held there and livestock is auctioned at the Auction Mart on the western edge of the town.

The town is home to a number of hotels, holiday companies, cottage holiday firms and independent holiday lets. The town is the base for several recruitment agencies, environmental and engineering consultancies and financial and legal services. Skipton is a popular commuter town, with direct trains to Leeds, Bradford and London.

Sheep on Park Hill.

One of the town's larger employers is Skipton Building Society, with its subsidiary companies.[18]

Chocolatier Whitakers, based in the town, was established in 1889 in nearby Cross Hills. Ida Whitaker began making chocolates there in 1903, taught by the wife of the vicar of Kildwick.[19]

Culture and community[edit]

In 2014, The Sunday Times judged Skipton as the 'best place to live' in Britain.[20] In 2017, an annual study of the nation's happiness and wellbeing by the ONS found Craven - which includes the town of Skipton - reported the highest levels of happiness and life satisfaction and the lowest levels of anxiety among residents.[21] In 2018, the town was again listed in The Sunday Times, in their report on the 'Best Places to Live' in northern England.[22] Additionally, the town was twice listed in the UK's top ten happiest places to live in Rightmove's 'Happy at Home Index' in 2020 and 2023.[23][24] In 2024, the town was again judged by The Sunday Times as one of the best places to live in the UK. [25]

Skipton Moor

Events in Skipton include the annual heritage event 'Skipton Sheep Day' which takes place on the first Sunday in July and celebrates the town's association with sheep. The event takes place on the high street and features a petting zoo, educational shows and a variety of food and drink stalls.[26]

Skipton has an annual gala on the second Saturday of June. The gala begins with a procession through the town centre featuring decorated floats, a marching band and classic cars. The procession ends in Aireville Park with live music performances, a firework display and a variety of stalls. The gala was first held in 1901 to raise money for the Skipton and District Cottage Hospital, but following the formation of the National Health Service, the gala continued raising money for local charities and non-profit-making organisations.[27]

Skipton hosts a Christmas market during which the high street is closed to traffic and the regular market traders are joined by more than 50 additional stall holders. The event features entertainment, live music, a brass band, funfair and the switch-on of the town's Christmas lights.[28]

Skipton Car Show is held annually in June and attracts thousands of spectators. The free show sees hundreds of classic, vintage rare and exotic vehicles exhibited on the town's closed high street. Police vehicles are also displayed alongside demonstrations from the town's fire service.[29]

Craven Museum & Gallery

Skipton Town Hall holds craft fairs and special events and houses the Craven Museum & Gallery as well as a tourist information centre.

The town has two theatres. The Mart Theatre located in Craven Cattle Mart opened in October 2005 with funding from the European Regional Development Fund, Yorkshire Forward, Craven District Council and the Arts Council England. It provides rural theatre, events and other facilities. Skipton Little Theatre is a smaller 70-seater theatre located on Clifford Street and operated by a not-for-profit group. The theatre is the home of Skipton Players, the town's amateur dramatics society. [30]

Craven Arts is an organisation founded in 2017 by experienced local artists which supports the arts and operates centres in the town for exhibitions, events and creative workshops. In December 2022, with funding from Craven District Council, English Heritage, Heritage Action Zone, Arts Council England and Architectural Heritage Fund, Craven Arts renovated the former Parish Church school located on Otley Street and opened an arts centre. Named 'Craven Arts House', the centre provides studio space, classrooms, meeting rooms, a community hall, green screen room and recording studio. The organisation also operates a small shop, on Otley Street, selling works from local artists.[31][32][33]

Skipton has a public library,[34] and three bookshops; an Oxfam bookshop, selling secondhand books for charity,[35] Keogh's Books, a secondhand and antiquarian bookseller,[36] and The Little Bookshop, sellers of new books.[37] From 1979, the Box of Delights bookshop on Otley Street served the town for almost 40 years, before closing in 2018.[38]

Skipton has a hospitality sector, with around 85 public houses, cafés, coffee shops, bars and restaurants. These establishments serve a wide range of food and drink in various settings, from restaurants specialising in world cuisines to traditional Yorkshire pubs.[39]

The town is home to the independent Plaza Cinema on Sackville Street, a cinema showing a varied programme, from arthouse movies to big releases from major studios.[40] The cinema plays host to Skipton Film Club and the annual Hinterlands film festival.[41][42]

The town has four allotment sites. Three are operated by Skipton Town Council and include two large sites, one in the Middletown area and another on Broughton Road, alongside a smaller site at Burnside Chapel. A fourth independent allotment site is located behind the town's Plaza Cinema.[43]

The local newspaper is the Craven Herald & Pioneer, with a history stretching back to 1853.[44]

Local news and television programmes are provided by BBC Yorkshire and ITV Yorkshire.[45][46]

Local radio stations are BBC Radio York, Greatest Hits Radio Yorkshire, Drystone Radio and Rombalds Radio.[47]



Skipton Railway Station

Skipton railway station is managed by Northern Trains and is served by the following routes:


Skipton bus station was rebuilt in 2009 and is the focal point for bus services throughout the local area. Key routes link the town with Clitheroe, Harrogate, Ilkley, Malham and Preston. Services are operated by Stagecoach Merseyside & South Lancashire, Harrogate Bus Company, Keighley Bus Company and North Yorkshire County Council.[50]


Skipton lies close to the junction of the A65 road (from Leeds to the Lake District) and the A59 (from York to Liverpool). The northern section (A65 & A59) of the £16.4 million Skipton by-pass opened in December 1981; the rest of the 6 miles (10 km) route (A629) opened in October 1982, greatly reducing journey times to the Dales.


Skipton Canal Basin

The Leeds and Liverpool Canal runs through Skipton and is a popular destination for tourists, with walking and boat hire.


Primary education[edit]

  • Non-denominational:
    • Greatwood Community Primary School
    • Water Street Community Primary School
  • Roman Catholic:
    • St Stephen's Catholic Primary School
  • Church of England:
    • Christ Church Primary School
    • Parish Church Primary School

Secondary education[edit]

As well as The Skipton Academy (ages 11–16), there are two single-sex grammar schools: Ermysted's Grammar School for boys and Skipton Girls' High School (SGHS). Both schools are selective by entrance exam and have obtained comparable high A-Level scores. On the basis of the 2009 A level results, Ermysted's performed 13th best in the UK and SGHS was rated 42nd but, in 2011, it was rated at number 44.[51][52]

Further education[edit]

Craven College is sited next to The Skipton Academy.


Skipton is home to Skipton Town A.F.C.; Skipton Juniors F.C.; Skipton Cricket Club, Skipton Church Institute Cricket Club and Skipton Kashmir,[53] all cricket clubs; Skipton Cycling Club; Skipton Swimming Club; Skipton Athletics Club; Skipton Karate Centre; Strike Taekwondo; Craven Energy Triathlon Club; Skipton R.F.C., a rugby union club and Skipton Golf Club, founded in 1893.[54] The Coulthurst Craven Sports Centre is adjacent to the rugby club, with facilities including all-weather football pitches and squash courts. Skipton Tennis Club is also adjacent to the Sports Centre and has been awarded the LTA Club of the Year Award on several occasions. There are a number of gyms in the town, a public swimming pool, an outdoor skatepark and a pump track. Skipton is host to a free weekly Parkrun event which takes place in Aireville Park.

On 5 July 2014, the Tour de France Stage 1 from Leeds to Harrogate passed through the town.[55]

Notable people[edit]

A number of notable people have been born in Skipton. The philosopher Henry Sidgwick was born in 1838.[56] Thomas Spencer, the co-founder of Marks & Spencer, was born in Queen's Court in 1858.[57] The American mathematician Thomas William Edmondson was born in 1869.[58] Geoffrey Dawson, editor of The Times from 1912 to 1919 and from 1923 until 1941, was born in 1874.[59]

Two politicians were born in Skipton: the former Conservative MP and Chancellor of the Exchequer Iain Macleod in 1913,[60] and the Labour MP Joan Humble in 1951.[61] Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's personal physician during the Second World War, Charles Wilson, the first Baron Moran, was born in Skipton in 1882.[62]

The poet and author Blake Morrison was born in Skipton in 1950.[63] The former Manchester City footballer Rick Holden was born in Skipton in 1964.[64] The actress Elaine Glover, who appeared in Footballers' Wives and HolbyBlue, was born in Skipton in 1983.[65] Former Lancashire and England cricketer and current head coach of Lancashire County Cricket Club, Glen Chapple was born in Skipton in 1974.[66] Former England and Leicestershire cricketer, and current England national selector, James Whitaker was born in Skipton in 1962.[67]

  • Rhoda Bloodworth (1889–1980), New Zealand labour activist, community worker and feminist, born in Skipton.[68]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b UK Census (2011). "Local Area Report – Skipton Parish (1170216781)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  2. ^ Tate, Lesley (14 March 2016). "Skipton basks in 'best places to live in UK' glory". Craven Herald. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  3. ^ "Yorkshire Dales' Craven district is happiest in UK, ONS survey finds". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 January 2024.
  4. ^ "Six Yorkshire postcodes appear in Sunday Times Best Places to Live guide for 2018". The Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  5. ^ "Skipton is named second happiest place to live in Rightmove survey". Telegraph and Argus. Retrieved 29 January 2024.
  6. ^ "Happiest Places to Live in Britain: Skipton and Harrogate named among best places to live in Britain by Rightmove". The Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 29 January 2024.
  7. ^ "Why Skipton, North Yorkshire, is one of the best places to live 2024". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 16 March 2024.
  8. ^ Watts, Victor; Insley, John; Gelling, Margaret (2004). The Cambridge dictionary of English place-names: based on the collections of the English Place-Name Society. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. p. 554. ISBN 978-0-521-16855-7. OCLC 620112571.
  9. ^ Morris, R. W. (1982). Yorkshire Through Place Names. David & Charles. p. 123. ISBN 0-7153-8230-6.
  10. ^ "Skipton Castle North Yorkshire – Clifford and Cumberland History". Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  11. ^ "High Corn Mill". Retrieved 26 September 2014.
  12. ^ Winn, Christopher (2010). "West Riding Dales and the Ouse". I never knew that about Yorkshire (1 ed.). London: Ebury. pp. 161–162. ISBN 978-0-09-193313-5.
  13. ^ "Skipton set to get French twin town". Craven Herald & Pioneer. 21 May 2009. p. 5.
  14. ^ "SKIPTON TOWN COUNCIL". Robert Young. Retrieved 31 October 2019.
  15. ^ Speak, Jenny (27 July 2007). "Unitary council plan scrapped". Craven Herald & Pioneer. Retrieved 14 August 2007.
  16. ^ Mason, David (22 May 2018). "Alan Hickman is new Mayor of Skipton". Craven Herald & Pioneer. Retrieved 29 July 2018.
  17. ^ Brown, Jonathan (28 November 2008). "Vibrant Yorkshire Dales town has best high street in Britain". The Independent. Retrieved 3 July 2009.
  18. ^ "Major employer throws weight behind Skipton BID". Craven Herald. Retrieved 29 January 2024.
  19. ^ "About Us". Archived from the original on 4 March 2014. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
  20. ^ Tate, Lesley (14 March 2016). "Skipton basks in 'best places to live in UK' glory". Craven Herald. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  21. ^ "Yorkshire Dales' Craven district is happiest in UK, ONS survey finds". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 January 2024.
  22. ^ "Six Yorkshire postcodes appear in Sunday Times Best Places to Live guide for 2018". The Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  23. ^ "Skipton is named second happiest place to live in Rightmove survey". Telegraph and Argus. Retrieved 29 January 2024.
  24. ^ "Happiest Places to Live in Britain: Skipton and Harrogate named among best places to live in Britain by Rightmove". The Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 29 January 2024.
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  27. ^ "Gala procession 'one of the best for years'". Craven Herald. Retrieved 30 January 2024.
  28. ^ "Christmas all wrapped up in Skipton this weekend". Craven Herald. Retrieved 30 January 2024.
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  30. ^ "About". Skipton Little Theatre. Retrieved 29 January 2024.
  31. ^ "New arts centre a 'wonderful legacy' for Craven Council". Craven Herald. Retrieved 30 January 2024.
  32. ^ "New Craven Arts House up and running in old Skipton school building". Rombalds Radio. Retrieved 30 January 2024.
  33. ^ "About". Craven Arts. Retrieved 30 January 2024.
  34. ^ "Skipton Library". North Yorkshire Council. Retrieved 29 January 2024.
  35. ^ "Oxfam Shop Skipton". Oxfam. Retrieved 29 January 2024.
  36. ^ "About Us". Keogh's Books. Retrieved 29 January 2024.
  37. ^ "About Us". The Little Bookshops. Retrieved 29 January 2024.
  38. ^ "Sheila Coe to close Skipton's Box of Delights book shop on January 27". Craven Herald. Retrieved 29 January 2024.
  39. ^ "The destination under 90 minutes from Greater Manchester dubbed 'little Ibiza'". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 29 January 2024.
  40. ^ "Cinema Information". Norman Morris Cinemas. Retrieved 29 January 2024.
  41. ^ "Skipton Film Club announces cracking new season of movies". Craven Herald. Retrieved 29 January 2024.
  42. ^ "Hinterlands Film Festival". Association of Festival Organisers. Retrieved 29 January 2024.
  43. ^ "Allotments". Skipton Town Council. Retrieved 31 January 2024.
  44. ^ Lockwood, Ian (8 November 2005). "The Founding of the Craven Herald, 1850–1875". University of the Third Age. Retrieved 29 January 2024.
  45. ^ "Skipton (North Yorkshire, England) Freeview Light transmitter". UK Free TV. 1 May 2004. Retrieved 16 August 2023.
  46. ^ "Skipton Town (North Yorkshire, England) Freeview Light transmitter". UK Free TV. 1 May 2004. Retrieved 16 August 2023.
  47. ^ "About us". Rombalds Radio. Retrieved 29 January 2024.
  48. ^ a b "Timetables and engineering information for travel with Northern". Northern Railway. May 2023. Retrieved 17 September 2023.
  49. ^ "Our timetables". London North Eastern Railway. May 2023. Retrieved 17 September 2023.
  50. ^ "Stops in Skipton". Bus Times. 2023. Retrieved 16 September 2023.
  51. ^ "The top 100 selective schools | Special Reports |". The Guardian. 2011. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  52. ^ "North Yorkshire: GCSE and A-level results for 2009". The Guardian. 13 January 2010. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  53. ^ "Skipton Kashmir defy Patel's best efforts". 24 May 2011. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 14 November 2011.
  54. ^ "Skipton Golf Club". Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  55. ^ "Tour de France Stage 1". Archived from the original on 25 July 2014. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  56. ^ Moggridge, Donald Edward (1995). Maynard Keynes: An Economist's Biography. Routledge. p. 57. ISBN 0-415-12711-4.
  57. ^ "M&S may open in Skipton". Telegraph & Argus. 20 January 2007. Archived from the original on 4 October 2008. Retrieved 19 August 2008.
  58. ^ "Guide to the Thomas William Edmondson Papers MC 17". Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  59. ^ "Obituary: Mr Geoffrey Dawson". The Times. 8 November 1944.
  60. ^ Wright, Greg (29 July 2008). "Words of a 'forgotten politician' have returned to haunt us". Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 19 August 2008.
  61. ^ "Joan Humble > Biographical details". London: Archived from the original on 4 March 2007. Retrieved 19 August 2008.
  62. ^ "Wilson, (Charles McMoran), Baron Moran of Manton". Royal College of Physicians. Retrieved 19 August 2008.
  63. ^ "Blake Morrison: Biography". British Council. Archived from the original on 17 July 2009. Retrieved 14 April 2009.
  64. ^ "Rick Holden". Soccerbase. Retrieved 19 August 2008.
  65. ^ "Biography for Elaine Glover". IMDb. Retrieved 19 August 2008.
  66. ^ "Glen Chapple". England & Wales Cricket Board. Archived from the original on 4 February 2012. Retrieved 11 April 2012.
  67. ^ "James Whitaker". ESPN Cricinfo. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
  68. ^ Dalziel, Raewyn. "Rhoda Alice Bloodworth". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 23 April 2017.

External links[edit]

Media related to Skipton at Wikimedia Commons