Saturday, 5 November 2011

Ripon

Day 3

It was day three of our trip to the Yorkshire Dales and our final destination was Ripon.

After a checking out of the B&B we did a quick tour around Grassington to pick up sweets for our folks and we found out: (a) there was a charity shop Age UK tucked down a side alley - blink-and-you-will-miss-it; and (b) the sweet shop near Spencer Davies Solicitors doesn't open on a Monday - shock horror for all the fudge lovers out there.  Thankfully Chocolace came to the rescue and we stocked up on the sweet stuff.

With a car full of fudge we headed off to Ripon on the B6265.  Whilst I didn't expect much in the way of driving fun, this road was still a bit of a roller coaster ride - yay!  There were a few steep gradients to negotiate and some nice scenery to gaze at - albeit at high speed.

When we were getting close to Ripon we noticed the outskirts of the town was getting quite posh - very nice houses, manicured greenery and posh driveway entrances.  To me it reminded me of the well-to-do towns down south like Royal Leamington Spa and Stratford-Upon-Avon.

Parking in Ripon was fairly straightforward with parking available on the cobbled town square and the Sainbury's car park near the bus station.  We opted for Sainbury's car park.

Wandering into Ripon we found the town to be well populated with charity shops.  Whilst I didn't find anything exciting myself, Neil did purchase a rare Tony Hadley single called 'For Your Blue Eyes Only' in stickered picture sleeve.  It's now on sale for the bargain price of £2.50 at Vinylnet.

Ripon is an interesting architecturally - it's a place that has evolved over the centuries and the buildings tell the story of how the town has grown from Tudor times to present day.  Although for modern day buses there are some tight street turns, which I'm amazed they can make without crashing into something or someone.

The town square is nicely cobbled and is clearly the focal point for the shoppers.  There are the usual chain shops that populate the square (Gregg's, Cafe Nero and Boots), but there seemed to be quite a few independent shops on the side streets including The Little Ripon Bookshop with its very friendly staff.  Ripon does have an obligatory Edinburgh Woollen Mill - a must for all well-to-do towns.   I also spotted a designer dress agency, which is a good indicator of a town's posh-ness and I'm sure it's a hive of activity for the middle class ladies of the borough.

I don't think Ripon is really that geared for tourists, unlike nearby York and Harrogate.  However I think that is a good thing.  We did spot a couple of army types striding through the town.  I somewhat suspect this town may be lively at the weekends with the local military letting their hair down.

Did I mention this was a city?  No, well it is cathedral city, albeit a very compact one.  So we headed up to the Cathedral through a very pleasant, period pedestrianised street with lots of interesting shops. 

The Cathedral itself was a lovely building with a touch of the York Minister about it, although not on the same scale.  The Cathedral was free to get into, although they were more than happy to take donations.  It has a grand scale to the place and there was a huge organ, which takes centre stage in this church.  There was someone tinkling away on the organ, which was nice to hear as you never really see these things played on outside of a mass.  If you are feeling generous you can buy a valve to help the Cathedral upgrade the organ.  It wasn't overly commercialised and I was surprised to find it did attract quite a few visitors for a Monday.  It is definitely worth a wander and maybe a little prayer if you are that way inclined.

We decided to head back to the car and found that there was a little arcade that led through to Sainsbury's.  This is where they kept all the cheap shops and even more charity shops, which kept us browsing for  little bit longer.  Finally we headed off home, but word of warning it's quite easy to get lost on the roundabouts trying to find the motorway.

Ripon is lovely and a dinky little city.  I liked the place and if you are passing by it is worth having a wander and cup of tea for an hour or two.