Ten reasons to visit Northallerton

PUBLISHED: 00:00 13 September 2013 | UPDATED: 19:29 12 February 2016

North End Northallerton North Yorkshire by Mike Kipling

North End Northallerton North Yorkshire by Mike Kipling

© Mike Kipling Photography / Alamy

There is much to see and do in this smart North Yorkshire town as Terry Fletcher reports

Northallerton has been a seat of power for centuries. The Romans passed through but it was the Saxons and later the Norman Prince Bishops of Durham who really put it on the map. The broad High Street is testimony to the wealth they brought and which has been sustained by the lush fields of the Vale of Mowbray.

1. Take a hike
Just behind Mount Grace is Cod Beck Reservoir, a local beauty spot and a popular venue for a picnic and a stroll. Northallerton is handily placed for both the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors national parks if you want longer walks but Cod Beck can provide a quick breath of fresh air or a longer walk over the surrounding moors.

2. Feeling sporty?
If you’re feeling energetic the town’s position makes walking in the two national parks simple but there are plenty of other opportunities to get active. As well as the local leisure centre there is an 18-hole golf course, fishing on the Swale or Ure and the Northallerton Equestrian Centre offers indoor and outdoor facilities.The first Briton to climb all the world’s highest mountains, Alan Hinkes OBE, and happens to be from Northallerton, is the first ambassador of YHA (England and Wales). He is the new spokesman for the youth hostelling charity and will promote YHA informally in the fields of outdoor adventure and education.

3. Bag a bargain
‘Market town’ is no chintzy courtesy title here. Every Wednesday and Saturday the High Street is home to the bustling market which is popular with locals and visitors alike, all looking to snap up bargains. On the fourth Wednesday of each month the general stallholders are joined by a farmers’ market selling the best of local produce.

4. Roman History
Northallerton has been a seat of power for centuries. The Romans passed through but it was the Saxons and later the Norman Prince Bishops of Durham who really put it on the map. The broad High Street is testimony to the wealth they brought and which has been sustained by the lush fields of the Vale of Mowbray.

5. Fancy a drink?
Fine coaching inns still line the High Street as a reminder of the town’s heyday as a staging post. The Fleece claims to be oldest – Charles Dickens was particularly fond of it – while the Golden Lion claims to be the swankiest. But it was the Black Bull which welcomed the first London to Edinburgh Mail coach in 1785. The Old Golden Lion, where John Wesley once preached, is now a shop.

6. Independents’ day
At a time when most high streets seem to be clones of each other full of national chains selling the same brands, Northallerton is an island of retail independence. Many of the names have not changed in generations. Barkers, founded by local farmer’s son William Barker, who started work as a 14-year-old drapers apprentice in 1882, is still a family-owned department store. Likewise Lewis and Cooper have been in business for more than a century selling fine foods and sending hampers all over the world from their High Street shop.
barkers-northallerton.co.uk, 01609 772303
lewisandcooper.co.uk, 01609 777700

7. Hit the trail
The easiest way to get to grips with Northallerton’s colourful past is to take the town trail laid out in a helpful leaflet by Hambleton Council. It explores the town’s history and most of its best buildings, including the impressive County Hall, built for a mere £33,000 in 1906, and still the home of North Yorkshire County Council.
visitnorthallerton.com

8. Getting the habit
Mount Grace Priory, just six miles outside the town at Straddlebridge, is the best preserved Carthusian Priory in Britain. Now in the care of English Heritage, it was once the home of monks who lived as hermits, each in his own cell and growing food in his own garden. One has been restored to give a glimpse of life before the Reformation. The ruins are also home to a thriving colony of wild stoats.
english-heritage.org.uk 01609 883494

9. Train time
The town sits at the entrance to Wensleydale and a relaxing way to appreciate the scenery is from a window seat on the Wensleydale Railway. The line closed to passenger traffic way back in 1954 but has been re-opened by volunteers. Trains already run 16 miles from Leeming Bar to Redmire and it is hoped that a new station will soon serve Northallerton itself with trains eventually running all the way up the valley to Garsdale Head to link with the famous Settle-Carlisle line.
wensleydalerail.com 08454 505474

10. American link
Kiplin Hall, half a dozen miles out of town on the road to Richmond, is a Jacobean manor house built in 1620 by George Calvert who was Secretary of State to James I and founded Maryland in what were then the American colonies. Down the centuries the house was owned by just four families and is still furnished almost entirely with their belongings and the art they collected.
kiplinhall.co.uk 01748 818178

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