Five reasons to love Stokesley, North Yorkshire

PUBLISHED: 23:05 29 November 2013 | UPDATED: 23:06 29 November 2013

Parish Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul - Photo by Revd Paul Peverell

Parish Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul - Photo by Revd Paul Peverell

Archant

Why have one good reason to visit this lovely North Yorkshire market town when you can have five? 
Jo Haywood reports

There are a small number of lovely market towns to the far north of Yorkshire that the county clings on to for dear life for fear that Teesside might snatch them from us in the dead of night.

Stokesley is one of these prized possessions. It’s officially in the North Yorkshire district of Hambleton, but it’s just two miles south of the Tees border and just ten miles from Middlesbrough town centre.

The residents speak with a lovely lilting Teesside burr, but they and their elegant series of Georgian and Regency squares are ours and we’re not letting them go any time soon.

Here are five reasons why...

1: The wide cobbled main street is well served with an impressive array of shops, banks, pubs and restaurants, with the emphasis firmly placed on quality, independent retail.

There’s also a lively weekly market every Friday in the main square and a popular farmers’ market on the first Saturday of the month, giving Stokesley the true feel of a traditional market town, where there’s always a bargain to be had and a deal to be done.

2: Stokesley Agricultural Show, held every year on the third Saturday in September, is a widely-anticipated treat on the show circuit, attracting visitors from far and wide.

This year’s event, which was first held way back in 1859, had a packed programme including riding, jumping and driving classes, motorcycle stunts, a parade of vintage tractors and a mounted fancy dress competition.

‘It was a great privilege to be asked to be president of this year’s show,’ said Lord Crathorne, Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire. ‘It’s the show I grew up with and which my family, the Dugdales, have been associated with for many years. In fact, we top the list of past presidents.

‘The changes that have taken place in the country and indeed the world since the show started more than a century and a half ago are far greater than at any other time in our history. But Stokesley Show has guarded its traditions over the years wonderfully well and I feel the ethos of the show is the same as when my brother and I enjoyed coming as children.’

3: There’s golf and then there’s Stokesley Golf Range, where the traditional nine-hole, par-3 course sits majestically alongside a state-of-the-art, floodlit, undercover driving range overlooking the striking Cleveland Hills and – drum roll, please – a 12-hole crazy golf course.

The course, which opened in 2008, was specifically located to make the most of the surrounding scenery, taking in not only the picturesque hills but also Captain Cook’s Monument and the iconic Roseberry Topping.

Twelve of the 16 driving range bays are fitted with automated tee-up systems and the facility also has an artificial putting green and hitting-off strip, baskets for chipping practice and a bunker.

But, let’s face it, all that pales into insignificance as soon as you mention the words ‘crazy’ and ‘golf’ – a family favourite that few (if any) other Yorkshire golfing venues boast.

4: A great town needs a great river and, while the Leven is hardly a white-water thrill-ride, it does provide a welcome change of pace from the bustle of Stokesley’s main market square.

Cross the ancient Pack Horse Bridge and you’re immediately in a more peaceful, tree-lined place. Equally, if you stroll down one of the snickets from the high street, you’ll soon find yourself in the tranquil area known as Levenside, which was richly planted with trees in 1934-35 in remembrance of Jane Pace, born in Stokesley in 1817 and the first recorded white woman to settle permanently in Victoria, Australia in 1836.

5: If you want to know everything there is to know about the town, members of the Stokesley Society are the people to ask. And if they’re not at hand (well, they do have their own lives to lead), you can always plump for the Stokesley Trail instead.

This useful book (available at The Yorkshire Store, the town hall and online at visit-stokesley.com/enjoy-great-walks) guides visitors through many interesting discoveries and delightful features that they might otherwise miss.

It also provides detailed maps of the town so you don’t get lost down a snicket, which can happen to the best of us.

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