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Days Out, Motherhood

Things to do in Skipton on a budget | Discover must see attractions and unmissable Skipton activities

Skipton canal

A market town in North Yorkshire may not be the obvious place to take the kids for a day out, but there are loads of things to do in Skipton. If you’re wondering what to do with a day in this North Yorkshire market town, then I’ve got you you covered.

Where is Skipton?

Skipton is a town and a civil parish in the Craven district of North Yorkshire, in England. This market town is on the River Aire and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. It is to the south of the Yorkshire Dales, 15 miles north east of Burnley and 27 miles from Leeds.

Skipton tips, attractions and activities

There’s plenty to do with a day in Skipton. It is an especially great place to enjoy with young children and you can choose between indoor and outdoor activities. You’ll have fun if your family is on a budget too. Here are my top tips, l including things you won’t want to miss:

1) Move between activities on foot

It’s quite easy to explore Skipton by foot. However, it is pretty hilly and there are lots of cobbles. So if you’re visiting with small children, take a carrier, or a pushchair, because it might be a bit too much for little legs.⁣

The town is easy to navigate though and all of the major activities and attractions are well signposted.

2) Park in Skipton town centre

If you’re driving, then I’d recommend parking in the Coach Street car park. Each time I’ve visited Skipton I’ve parked there, because it’s central and you don’t have to take out a mortgage to buy a pay-and-display ticket. It’s a super reasonable £5.50 for up to nine hours. ⁣I’ve never had a problem finding a spot there either and that includes weekend and market-day visits.

3) In between activities, have lunch near the canal

Eat your packed lunch on one of the many benches by the canal (which is located just off the highstreet, near the fore-mentioned car park). If you forget to bring sandwiches, get a tray of chips from Bizzie Lizzie’s. Those chips are super tasty, as well as being well priced. You can get a large tray for just £1.90.

4) Walk over to Skipton Castle Woods

It would be a crime to go on a family day out in Skipton and not visit the castle woods! If you walk to the canal from the town centre then it’s well sign posted. This attraction is not only free, but it’s magical! There are various walking routes you can take, ranging between one and four hours. Just be mindful that you’ll be restricted if you’re using a pushchair, as some of the paths are very narrow. If you are intending to do a substantial walk with a younger child in Skipton Castle Woods, then make sure you take a carrier. We have a LittleLife Ranger S2 Child Carrier and I can’t recommend it highly enough; we couldn’t have completed our walk here without it!

Skipton Castle Woods is a great option for kids of all ages. We told our son, aged two, that (Doctor) Princess Pearl lived in Skipton Castle and I’m pretty sure he was expecting Zog to fly overhead at any given moment!⁣ But older kids will love having space to run and the waterfalls are pretty impressive to look at as well. Just be prepared to breathe in the smell of wild garlic, it’s pretty pungent!

5) Book a mini cruise and see Skipton from the water

If you like the idea of a canal boat tour down the Leeds Liverpool Canal, but you can’t justify the cost, then consider a 30-minute boat ride. It’s £4 per person and there’s no need to pre book, meaning that it’s great for the disorganised/spontaneous amongst us. You can jump on one of these cruises from the canal bank near the Coach Street car park. ⁣

6) Visit Skipton high street on a market day

No list containing things to do in Skipton would be complete without mentioning the market, which dates back to medieval times. A royal charter granted consent to The Lord of the Honour of Skipton Castle to hold a fair on the highstreet. This consent is still in place today and the current owner of Skipton Castle grants the right for residents to hold the market on four days each week

The market is on Skipton High Street and Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday are market days. Try to visit then if you can. It opens at 9:30am and its pretty bustling, so there’s plenty for little eyes to take in. You might want to pick up some well-priced fresh produce whilst you’re there too.

7) Go on a bird hunt in Skipton Castle Woods

There are so many birds to spot in Skipton. It feels like you see a different species on every turn, especially on the canal and within the Castle Woods. Why not make a list and turn spotting different species into a game? ⁣If you think your kids would be interested in this, then make sure you download and print The Woodland Trust’s free Nature Detective’s spotter sheet before you go.

⁣8) Head to Skipton town hall

As you’re visiting Yorkshire, it’s possible that it could be raining. If it’s forecast, then it might be worth pre booking (free) tickets to visit Skipton Town Hall. This place has recently reopened after a £4.7m refurbishment and there’s plenty to see and do. As well as a visitor information centre, you’ll find the Craven Museum, an exhibition gallery and a concern hall.

The Craven Museum, which was hailed by The Guardian as one the top 10 museum renovations and re-openings in England for 2021, has over 60,000 objects, including a copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio (only four are on display in the world).

It’s fair to say that The Craven Museum is probably one to visit if you’re with older kids. There’s plenty to see and there are lots of interactive displays, but the museum focusses on the local region. Expect to see displays and exhibits linked to geology, natural history, archaeology and the social history. The museum also tells the story of the Craven Dales.

Hacks: things to do in Skipton on a budget

Is Skipton (in North Yorkshire) worth a visit?

Although a market town in Yorkshire probably isn’t the most obvious place to visit as a family, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Skipton and you can make it fun filled, even if you’re on a budget.

Take a peek at my days out section if you’re looking for places to take the kids. You’ll find plenty of inspiration, including my review on the EUREKA science museum and an article about walking up Pen-Y-Ghent with your family.


Editor’s note: This post was originally published in August 2021 and has been revamped for accuracy and comprehensiveness.