Monday, 18 July 2016

The Trueman show and elsewhere in Skipton

Which visitor to Skipton hasn't eaten at Bizzie Lizzie's?
We've spent a thoroughly enjoyable weekend meandering around Skipton. It's a delightful market town and right on the southern brim of the Yorkshire Dales so undeniably popular with visitors.
You can spot the serious hikers with their knobbly knees, time-worn boots, Nordic poles and ancient rucksacks. The loud laughs and local accents of the burly ruddy faced off-duty young farmers fill the air in front of Wetherspoons on Friday night. Locals wander among the market stalls either side of the High Street. Young families stroll the towpath. The day boats ply back and forth, laden with happy trippers and their booze.
Magnificent statue to Fiery Fred
And we wander about, doing nothing in particular but everything: looking in charity shops, observing the fine bronze of local resident 'Fiery Fred' Trueman by the canalside – a test match hero in my youth and afterwards an acerbic commentator whose gruff, Yorkshire style is echoed these days by his fellow Yorkie, 'Sir' Geoffrey Boycott – strolling the side streets and answering endless questions about our boat. "What's under the deck?", "Isn't it cold in winter?" and always my favourite scene: man to wife/girlfriend 'eeh, that's a lovely engine isn't it?', receives vague note in reply, gazes trance-like for a few more moments, then wanders off. And, if that sounds sexist, sorry - but I am still waiting for the reverse scenario to play out.
We haven't done the obvious tourist-y stuff like visit the castle though we have had the de rigeur fish & chips from Bizzie Lizzie's on the bridge, a place that seems to get bigger and busier every time we visit. Like all these must-go destinations, its quality seems to be edging down as its popularity edges up.
The dead-end Springs Branch leads toward the castle
Skipton inevitably has enough eating spots to give the Jolly Green Giant indigestion: 138 of them according to Trip Advisor. We randomly picked one: the Narrow Boat (I wonder why?), a back-alley boozer with a modern twist - hipster beards, Irish folk band and real gins as well as real ales.
Fortunately, this being Yorkshire not Hoxton, it had a complement of hikers, tourists and oldies like us too. And a decent pub-grub style menu (with a few hipster additions) which translated into plates of very appetising food.
As well as eating, we walked. Close by us the small Springs Branch tees into the main canal. It used to ferry rock from the local quarry but now has a few moorings and a towpath that evolves into a lovely walk round the back of the castle and into the castle woods.
The green canopy and streams of the woods
These woods, which apparently go back a thousand years, are a beautiful green canopy over various man made water diversions and pools designed to manage supplies to the nearby saw mills. It made a fine, and not too demanding, circular walk.
Wonderful views and one of those snap-it photo locations
Another stroll saw us strike away from the main streets and follow our noses up one of many steep streets toward a park – Middletown Recreation Ground – where we were rewarded with more of those breathtaking scenic views from an atmospheric greensward where a lonely stone monolith and a copse of trees must have been the subject of many an amateur photographer before I had a go too.
Fine renovated mill buildings in the town

The last couple of days we've been moored outside one of Skipton's fine renovated mills: it's been in turn textile mill, paper mill, bed factory, burnt out shell and now 31 apartments. In one of them lives a pleasant gentleman who told me he follows my blog. Thank you!
It was a marked contrast to our first night's stop here when we were slowly asphyxiated by someone next door who persisted in running his self-confessedly smokey engine until nearly ten pm, despite my (polite but firm) reminder that engines off at eight is the canal rule.
Today we are are Skipton Boat Club where we will be leaving the boat for a few days to return to Suffolk for domestic chores. Leaving, dammit, just as the weather forecast is for a phew, what a scorcher week.

No comments:

Post a Comment