Sunday 28 February 2016

Knaresborough, North Yorkshire

The first time I came to Knaresborough was on a school trip to visit Mrs Shipton’s Cave and the Dropping Well where you could, at the time, petrify your handbag on the little waterfall.  The tour guide took great pleasure in telling us 10 year olds about how people used to get hung, drawn and quartered, with their bodies being left on display by the river as a lesson to others.  I’m not sure many of us had pleasant dreams that night, but that piece of knowledge has stuck with me ever since. 

This time, we had just visited nearby Wetherby and so decided to go to Knaresborough.  There is supposed to be a B road route between the two towns, but as ever I missed the right road and ended up doing a detour via the A1.  When we got there we found a little car park behind the main shops on Chapel Street - £1 for 2 hours. 
Knaresborough High Street

Knaresborough is a pretty little town packed full of characterful buildings, dating back hundreds of years.  One thing I did notice about many of the buildings was that they had three floors which gave the place a more imposing presence.  I liked the fact that the centre of town was pedestrianised with car access for disabled parking.  It is also a pet friendly town and we kept seeing posh pedigree pooches all over the place, which is always nice to see.

There are so many independent shops in Knaresborough and I did notice there were plenty of vintage style shops selling clothes, knickknacks and upcycled furniture.  Definitely a place to go to get vintage stuff and style ideas.  I also love to visit stationery shops and I found two here which is always great to see in this digital day and age.
Urban Fox Interiors in Knaresborough

Neil is a fan of daft shop pun names and he remembered on our last trip there was a shop called “Mungo Deli”.  Thankfully it was still open and Neil managed to get a picture of it for his Facebook album of silly shop signs.
Mungo Deli Shop in Knaresborough

There are plenty of places to eat and drink here – lots of cosy old pubs, cute cafes and gastropubs.  We had already eaten in Wetherby, but as we are greedy we did pick up cake from the friendly and down to earth Hurst’s Bakery.  I have to recommend the chocolate cream cake, especially as it had a surprise layer of black cherries in it and tasted great too.

As ever we checked out the charity shops.  Other people had the same idea and we kept bumping into them in every shop.  There was a hospice charity shop which was really overpriced – although in fairness, with the proximity of so many vintage shops, they probably have a policy to mark up the stock so the vintage shops don’t profit on their donations.  Neil managed to get locked in one charity shop when he was browsing through the records upstairs.  I was a bit panicked and tried to phone him.  Thankfully the shop assistant checked the shop before she left and Neil managed to get out.  A practical point to note is that most charity shops in Knaresborough close about 4.00 pm so it’s better to get there earlier than we did.
Entrance to Frazer Theatre in Knaresborough

Knaresborough is a great little place to go, and one to consider for a weekend away as it’s close to the countryside, especially when it’s only a short drive from Harrogate too (fab place, you must visit).  Our only advice is to get there earlier in the day, as it begins to close around 4ish – otherwise it’s another fab Yorkshire town to visit.
Six Poor Folk Cafe, Bar and Kitchen

Sunday 7 February 2016

Wetherby, West Yorkshire

It was our first road trip of the New Year so where do we go?  We’ve been to loads of places in the North over the years, so finding somewhere new to go that’s nice can be more miss than hit.  So to ensure a hit on our day out, I wanted to go to Knaresborough as we’d been there before but I hadn’t written about it.  However, to make that journey worthwhile we needed to visit another town. I dusted off the atlas and found Wetherby, which is about 8 miles from Knaresborough – well, that is if you take the right route.

Getting to Wetherby from Manchester is straightforward enough – M60, M62, M1, A1, exit junction 45 and then follow the signs into Wetherby on to the A168 and A661.  I was very pleased to see on the way into town, a sign stating “Historic Market Town” – Wetherby looked to be a promising visit after all.  As for parking, I got a little confused and ended up going through the town.  Luckily we found 2 hours free parking on the edge of Wetherby town centre just off Crossley Street.  We had to laugh at the name of the gymnasium next to the car park – it’s called “Sunny Gym”!
Side street in Wetherby
Copyright Anne-Marie Marshall
We cut through the car park and found ourselves on Westgate where we found our first charity shop of the day.  According to my Yell app, there were supposed to be 7 charity shops, but in reality there seemed to be many more.  The shops were teeming with older people browsing and chatting to staff.  There are some pretty good charity shops in Wetherby and Neil picked up some cheap vinyl records and CDs. Neil will definitely want to come back here again for the charity shops alone.

You will always find a place to eat in Wetherby with its wide selection of cafes, pubs and restaurants.  As it was a cold day we wanted to eat indoors somewhere and we found the Wetherby Whaler chip shop which had a restaurant upstairs.  It’s a nice, clean place and seemed to be popular with the locals.  Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and need them more often, but I noticed the toilets were well maintained and pleasant.  The fish and chips we ordered were tasty and we’d certainly come back here again.
Swan and Talbot Pub in Wetherby
Copyright Anne-Marie Marshall
Wetherby is full of independent shops, which is always great to see.  I loved the pet shop with the animal tableau outside and there was a pie shop that caught Neil’s eye, especially the pies with black pudding in them.  Each Saturday you can find in the local town hall an antiques market.  It’s not a big market, but it was well organised and there was a camaraderie between the stall holders.  I also noticed there’s a farmers and craft market every second Sunday of each month.  This town seems like it has got its act together with lots of activities planned throughout the year.

The architecture in Wetherby is typically sturdy as it’s made from Yorkshire stone.  We did spot the odd building built in the 1960s and 1970s, but they look much more dated than the buildings which have been here for hundreds of years.  The place is very well maintained and you can tell people here really take pride in the town.  I wish this was the case everywhere.
Wetherby Town Hall
Copyright Anne-Marie Marshall
Whilst Wetherby is not really a touristy type of place, it seemed to me to be a nice middle class commuter town (well it does have an M&S supermarket after all) for people working in either Leeds or York.  It’s great to go to towns with no expectations of them, as you come with no preconceptions and just see it for what it is.  In this case we were pleasantly impressed with Wetherby and would definitely revisit.  
Small public garden
Copyright Anne-Marie Marshall