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Fountains Abbey, Ripon Deer at Fountains Abbey, Ripon

Celebrated as The Cathedral City of the Dales, Ripon’s picturesque charm and historic heritage makes it the perfect place to stop and stay. Within easy reach of top attractions such as Fountains Abbey, Studley Royal Water Garden and Ripley Castle, the city itself has so much to offer.

Presiding over the pretty market square, the 300-year old obelisk is the focus not only for Ripon’s frequent, bustling markets, but also for the quaint tradition of ‘setting the watch’. Every evening at 9pm, the city’s Hornblower sounds the time and reassures the inhabitants that all is well. This nightly ritual has been honoured without fail for more than 1100 years.

As well as the 7th century Cathedral (one of the most beautiful in Britain), Ripon has many other fascinating buildings, monuments and museums. Don’t miss the Courthouse Museum or the intriguing Workhouse Museum. After a leisurely lunch, maybe it’s time to stroll around the award-winning Spa Gardens, amble along the restored canal and colourful marina or while away the hours in the pretty shops and market stalls.

Hidden gems

For those with a thirst for the unusual, Ripon also boasts a treasury of what we like to call ‘hidden gems’. Here we present our Top Ten – but if you want more, just ask at Reception and we’ll put you on the trail!

 

Druid’s Temple, Ilton

Druids Temple, Ilton

About four miles west of the brewery town of Masham, Ilton’s Druids Temple lies at the heart of a private forest. This strange folly was created by William Danby of nearby Swinton Hall in 1820, and features an altar stone, a large stone table and a shady cave. A host of standing stones are gathered around like a silent, watching crowd. Spooky!

Aldborough Roman Town

Aldborough Roman Town

Formerly the fortified Roman town of Isurium Brigantum, Aldborough still bears the traces of its ancient past. The real gems here are two magnificent mosaics, hidden down a footpath that seems to curl its way through local gardens. A third mosaic has been lifted and can be seen in the site’s museum.

Ripon’s Sanctuary Markers

Ripon’s Sanctuary Markers

Part of Ripon’s rich religious heritage, the Sanctuary Markers identified the boundary within which anyone could claim overnight sanctuary, as decreed by King Athelstan in 937 AD. One Marker survives at Sharow Cross, but replicas of the other seven have all been installed close to the original sites. A mapped walk takes you around the 10-mile circuit.

Skelton Church & St Mary’s, Studley Royal

Skelton Church & St Mary’s, Studley Royal

The Victorian Church of St Mary’s at Studley Royal has been acclaimed as the ‘ecclesiastical masterpiece’ of its exuberant designer, William Burges. Ornately embellished with angels and lions of scarlet and gold, and with its spiral staircased organ built in the form of a mediaeval house, this remarkable church deserves a lingering visit.

Norton Conyers Hall and garden

Norton Conyers Hall and garden

The building which inspired Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, this fine house dates from the 14th century. The house is under renovation until 2011, but you can stroll around the orangery and gardens – and pick your own seasonal fruits in the summer time.

Markenfield
Hall

Markenfield Hall

This fabulous mediaeval house sits at the centre of a wide moat. It is a true gem – and the most complete medium-sized 14th century country house in Britain.

Littlethorpe Potteries

Littlethorpe Potteries

The famed Littlethorpe clays supply this family pottery, which produces all its traditional goods by hand. Detailed guided tours are available along with the chance to throw your very own handmade pot!

Hackfall Woods

Hackfall Woods

In a 350ft deep gorge near the intriguingly-named Grewelthorpe, you’ll find the beautiful Hackfall Woods. Cared for by the Woodland Trust, this lovely woodland teems with flora, fauna and follies as well as stunning views, streams and waterfalls. A worthy place to while away a leisurely afternoon…

Marmion Tower, West Tanfield

Marmion Tower, West Tanfield

This unique structure is something of a mystery – the only remaining remnant of a 15th-century riverside manor house. Once a gatehouse, the tower’s structure and features are unconventional and, along with its ability to survive way after the ‘lost’ house it once guarded, have puzzled historians and architects for years.

Himalayan Garden, Grewelthorpe

Himalayan Garden, Grewelthorpe

A natural haven for gardening enthusiasts, the award-winning Himalayan Garden forms the perfect showcase for hundreds of rare, unusual and beautiful plants. The woodland walks are open for a specified period from April to June and by appointment at other times throughout the year, but the nursery is open all year round.

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