• The Gateway to the Dales
Town and civil parish
Skipton from Skipton Moor
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 2011 Census, the population was 14,623.[1]

The town was listed in the 2018 Sunday Times report on Best Places to Live in northern England.[2]


Skipton Castle

Main article: History of Skipton

The name Skipton means 'sheep-town', a northern dialect form of Shipton.[3] Its name derives from the Old English sceap (sheep) and tun (town or village).[4] 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.

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,[5] 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[6] 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.[7] 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. In 2016 Skipton was voted the best place to live in England for the second time, having been voted for by the Sunday Times, two years earlier.


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.
BlazonVert 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.[8]

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 is 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.[9] 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.[10] The town council offices are based on the high street, upstairs in the Town Hall.


The Bailey, headquarters of the Skipton Building Society.

The town's major local employer is[when?] Skipton Building Society, with its subsidiary companies.[citation needed] The town is[when?] home to several holiday companies, including Blue Water Holidays and several cottage holiday firms.[citation needed] It is a centre for recruitment agencies, with several hundred people employed in this sector.[citation needed] Recruitment firms include[when?] Medacs, HCL Doctors, Templars, Skipton Sceeds and Plastering Ltd, Holt Doctors and Medic International LMS Recruitment Systems Ltd. and Justteachers.[citation needed] Tourism and retail sales are significant.[citation needed] The Global Environmental Engineer JBA Consulting is headquartered here.[citation needed]

The town is known as the "Gateway to the Dales", because of its close proximity to the Yorkshire Dales. Skipton has many visitors, particularly on market days (Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday). As Skipton is the nearest and largest town to most of the small towns and villages within the Dales, it attracts numerous shoppers. In 2008, the Academy of Urbanism voted High Street the best shopping spot in Britain.[11] The wide main street used to host the sheep market, but now a general market is held there four days a week and livestock is auctioned at the Auction Mart on the western edge of the town. The town has three official allotment sites.

Chocolatier Whittakers, based in the town, was established in 1889 in nearby Cross Hills. Ida Whittaker began making chocolates there in 1903, taught by the wife of the vicar of Kildwick.[12]

Culture and community

High Street, Skipton
Holy Trinity Church (Church of England)

On Saturday 13 July 1901, a gala was held in Skipton to raise money for the Skipton and District Cottage Hospital, built at the time of Queen Victoria's Jubilee, held on the Brick Buildings Fields off Bailey Road. This was such a major event in the area that extra trains were provided to bring visitors to the town from miles around. After the formation of the National Health Service, with the Skipton General Hospital being funded from central government, the Skipton Charities Gala continued raising money for local charities and non-profit-making organisations. The gala, held every year on the second Saturday in June, starts with a procession through the town centre to Aireville Park, where live performance acts entertain the public, culminating in live music and a firework display.

Today, main events in Skipton include the annual heritage event Skipton Sheep Day which takes place on the first Sunday in July on Skipton High Street and showcases what Skipton and the Yorkshire Dales has to offer with demonstrations, stalls, entertainment and food on offer. Another main event on the annual calendar is Skipton Christmas Market which has been constantly voted in the top 10 of the UK's best Christmas Markets.

Craven Museum & Gallery

Skipton Town Hall holds regular craft fairs and special events and houses the Craven Museum & Gallery as well as a tourist information centre. Skipton Little Theatre is located near the town centre. The Mart Theatre 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 within a functioning Auction Mart.

In March 2014 The Sunday Times judged Skipton as the "best place to live" in Britain. In 2016 the paper said it was amongst the nine best towns in Yorkshire and the North East due to its market, schools and being close to the Dales,[13]

Skipton is twinned with the Bavarian town of Simbach. In May 2009 the town council decided to proceed with twinning with Erquinghem-Lys in France.[14]

Skipton has numerous public houses, three nightclubs and several restaurants.

The local newspaper is the Craven Herald & Pioneer.

Local news and television programmes are provided by BBC Yorkshire and ITV Yorkshire.[15][16]

Local radio stations are BBC Radio York, Greatest Hits Radio Yorkshire, and Drystone Radio.



Skipton railway station

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


Skipton bus station

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.[19]


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 Waterway Festival

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


Primary education

Secondary education

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 obtain 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.[20][21]

Further education

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,[22] 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.[23] 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.[24]

Notable people

A number of notable people have been born in Skipton. The philosopher Henry Sidgwick was born in Skipton in 1838.[25] Thomas Spencer, the co-founder of Marks & Spencer, was born in Queen's Court, Skipton in 1858.[26] The American mathematician Thomas William Edmondson was born in Skipton in 1869.[27] Geoffrey Dawson, editor of The Times from 1912 to 1919 and from 1923 until 1941, was born in Skipton in 1874.[28]

Two politicians were born in Skipton: the former Conservative MP and Chancellor of the Exchequer Iain Macleod in 1913,[29] and the Labour MP Joan Humble in 1951.[30] 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.[31]

The poet and author Blake Morrison was born in Skipton in 1950.[32] The former Manchester City footballer Rick Holden was born in Skipton in 1964.[33] The actress Elaine Glover, who appeared in Footballers' Wives and HolbyBlue, was born in Skipton in 1983.[34] Former Lancashire and England cricketer and current head coach of Lancashire County Cricket Club, Glen Chapple was born in Skipton in 1974.[35] Former England and Leicestershire cricketer, and current England national selector, James Whitaker was born in Skipton in 1962.[36]

See also


  1. ^ a b UK Census (2011). "Local Area Report – Skipton Parish (1170216781)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  2. ^ "Six Yorkshire postcodes appear in Sunday Times Best Places to Live guide for 2018". The Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ Morris, R. W. (1982). Yorkshire Through Place Names. David & Charles. p. 123. ISBN 0-7153-8230-6.
  5. ^ "Skipton Castle North Yorkshire – Clifford and Cumberland History". Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  6. ^ "High Corn Mill". Retrieved 26 September 2014.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ "SKIPTON TOWN COUNCIL". Robert Young. Retrieved 31 October 2019.
  9. ^ Speak, Jenny (27 July 2007). "Unitary council plan scrapped". Craven Herald & Pioneer. Retrieved 14 August 2007.
  10. ^ Mason, David (22 May 2018). "Alan Hickman is new Mayor of Skipton". Craven Herald & Pioneer. Retrieved 29 July 2018.
  11. ^ Brown, Jonathan (28 November 2008). "Vibrant Yorkshire Dales town has best high street in Britain". The Independent. Retrieved 3 July 2009.
  12. ^ "About Us". Archived from the original on 4 March 2014. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
  13. ^ Tate, Lesley (14 March 2016). "Skipton basks in 'best places to live in UK' glory". Craven Herald. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  14. ^ "Skipton set to get French twin town". Craven Herald & Pioneer. 21 May 2009. p. 5.
  15. ^ "Skipton (North Yorkshire, England) Freeview Light transmitter". UK Free TV. 1 May 2004. Retrieved 16 August 2023.
  16. ^ "Skipton Town (North Yorkshire, England) Freeview Light transmitter". UK Free TV. 1 May 2004. Retrieved 16 August 2023.
  17. ^ a b "Timetables and engineering information for travel with Northern". Northern Railway. May 2023. Retrieved 17 September 2023.
  18. ^ "Our timetables". London North Eastern Railway. May 2023. Retrieved 17 September 2023.
  19. ^ "Stops in Skipton". Bus Times. 2023. Retrieved 16 September 2023.
  20. ^ "The top 100 selective schools | Special Reports |". The Guardian. 2011. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  21. ^ "North Yorkshire: GCSE and A-level results for 2009". The Guardian. 13 January 2010. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  22. ^ "Skipton Kashmir defy Patel's best efforts". 24 May 2011. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 14 November 2011.
  23. ^ "Skipton Golf Club". Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  24. ^ "Tour de France Stage 1". Archived from the original on 25 July 2014. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  25. ^ Moggridge, Donald Edward (1995). Maynard Keynes: An Economist's Biography. Routledge. p. 57. ISBN 0-415-12711-4.
  26. ^ "M&S may open in Skipton". Telegraph & Argus. 20 January 2007. Archived from the original on 4 October 2008. Retrieved 19 August 2008.
  27. ^ "Guide to the Thomas William Edmondson Papers MC 17". Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  28. ^ "Obituary: Mr Geoffrey Dawson". The Times. 8 November 1944.
  29. ^ Wright, Greg (29 July 2008). "Words of a 'forgotten politician' have returned to haunt us". Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 19 August 2008.
  30. ^ "Joan Humble > Biographical details". London: Archived from the original on 4 March 2007. Retrieved 19 August 2008.
  31. ^ "Wilson, (Charles McMoran), Baron Moran of Manton". Royal College of Physicians. Retrieved 19 August 2008.
  32. ^ "Blake Morrison: Biography". British Council. Archived from the original on 17 July 2009. Retrieved 14 April 2009.
  33. ^ "Rick Holden". Soccerbase. Retrieved 19 August 2008.
  34. ^ "Biography for Elaine Glover". IMDb. Retrieved 19 August 2008.
  35. ^ "Glen Chapple". England & Wales Cricket Board. Archived from the original on 4 February 2012. Retrieved 11 April 2012.
  36. ^ "James Whitaker". ESPN Cricinfo. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
  37. ^ Dalziel, Raewyn. "Rhoda Alice Bloodworth". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 23 April 2017.

Media related to Skipton at Wikimedia Commons