Ripon to Sedbergh
Follow a scenic journey from Yorkshire into Cumbria
Ripon to Sedbergh itinerary
Follow the route - Ripon to Sedbergh
> From Ripon take the A6108 to Masham.
Masham’s importance as a market town is illustrated by the huge market square, dominated by its Market Cross. Masham Market is held every Wednesday and Saturday. The town is full of interesting features: a four-arched bridge over the Ure dates from 1754, and St Mary’s Church is older, its 15th-century spire standing on top of a Norman tower. The town is the home of Theakston’s brewery, famous for its ‘Old Peculier’ ale.
Five miles (8km) from town is Jervaulx Abbey, in an attractive riverside setting. This Cistercian abbey was founded in 1156 and later destroyed in the 15th century, though enough of it remains to show how impressive it once was.
Places to stay in Masham
> Follow the A6108 for 8 miles (13km) to Middleham.
Grandiose building traditions of the past can be seen in the ruins of 12th-century Middleham Castle, a former seat of the Neville family, where some of the walls are 12 feet (3.5m) thick. This was the childhood home of Richard III and its massive keep is one of the largest ever built. The view from the top is magnificent, looking out across Wensleydale over wild but beautiful moorlands. Now an important horse breeding and training centre, Middleham is a good base for exploring Wensleydale.
Places to stay in Middleham
> Continue north to Leyburn.
Leyburn is a major commercial centre for the area. Its appearance is that of a prosperous late Georgian market town, and even though most shop fronts have become largely modern, some 18th-century houses survive, notably around Grove Square; the Bolton Arms and Leyburn Hall are probably the best examples. This is another good Wensleydale centre, and there are fine views from The Shawl, a 2-mile (3km) limestone scar not far from the town centre.
Places to stay in Leyburn
> Keep on the A6108 to Richmond.
There is much to see in this capital and gateway to Swaledale, thought to be the finest of all Yorkshire Dales. From every angle Richmond Castle dominates the town. This fine Norman fortress, built on to solid rock, was started in 1071 overlooking the Swale, Britain’s fastest river, but was never finished. The large, cobbled marketplace is surrounded by such architectural gems as the Georgian Theatre Royal, built in 1788, which was restored and reopened in 1962.
You can see the home of the original ‘sweet lass of Richmond Hill’, of whom the famous song was written in 1785, and the award-winning Green Howards Museum covers the history of the regiment, including a unique collection dating from 1688 of war relics, weapons, medals and uniforms. Other interesting sights include Greyfriars Tower, the one surviving feature of an old abbey, and the Holy Trinity Church.
Places to stay in Richmond
> Take the B6274 to the junction with the A66 and continue to Greta Bridge. After crossing the River Greta turn right on to unclassified roads to Barnard Castle.
Visiting Barnard Castle
Medieval Barnard Castle, after which the town is named, is now a ruin, but in its great days it stood guard over a crossing point of the River Tees. The town boasts one of the finest museums in Britain, Bowes Museum, in a splendid French château-style mansion which was built in 1869 by John Bowes, son of the Earl of Strathmore. It contains an outstanding collection of paintings, porcelain, silver, furniture and ceramics.
A few miles south, off the B6277, are the ruins of Egglestone Abbey, in a delightful setting on the bank of the Tees, and southwest, along the A67, is the village of Bowes, where the local boarding schools gave author Charles Dickens the idea for Dotheboys Hall in his novel Nicholas Nickleby. William Shaw, the unfortunate model for sadistic schoolmaster Wackford Squeers, is buried in the churchyard. The Church of St Giles contains a Roman dedication stone, one of many relics of the Roman invasion in the area. Bowes Castle, like the church, used Roman stone for its building.
Places to stay in Barnard Castle
> Take the A67 to Bowes and follow the A66 west along the line of an old Roman route to Brough.
Standing on the site of Roman Verterae, Brough Castle, now in ruins, was built by William II and later restored by Lady Anne Clifford in the 17th century. During the 19th century this old settlement was a coaching town, and used to hold an annual horse fair. The area has many miles of good walking.
> Take the A685 to Kirkby Stephen, then the A683 to Sedbergh.
Sedbergh is an old weaving town, and the Weavers’ Yard still exists behind the King’s Arms. The town is now more important as a tourist centre, and the rich natural history of the area is augmented by the town’s official status as one of England’s Book Towns. The Public School has gained a national reputation for its academic standards and sporting traditions. The A684 east takes you through Garsdale, whose only community is a line of houses called The Street.