The handsome market town of Richmond is one of England’s best-kept secrets, perched on a rocky outcrop overlooking the River Swale and guarded by the ruins of a massive castle. A maze of cobbled streets radiates from the broad, sloping market square (market day is Saturday), lined with elegant Georgian buildings and photogenic stone cottages, with glimpses of the surrounding hills and dales peeking through the gaps.
In September/October the town hosts the Richmond Walking & Book Festival (www.booksandboots.org), 10 days of guided walks, talks, films and other events.
Top Things to See in Richmond
The impressive heap that is Richmond Castle, founded in 1070, was one of the first castles in England since Roman times to be built of stone. It’s had many uses through the years, including a stint as a prison for conscientious objectors during WWI (there’s a small and sobering exhibition about their part in the castle’s history). The best part of a visit is the view from the top of the remarkably well-preserved 30m-high keep, which towers over the town.
Green Howards Museum
Military buffs will enjoy the three floors at this museum (recently reopened after a major revamp), which pays tribute to the famous Yorkshire regiment.
The Richmondshire Museum is a delight, with local history exhibits including an early Yorkshire cave-dweller and displays about lead mining, which forever altered the Swaledale landscape a century ago. You can also see the original set that served as James Herriot’s surgery in the TV series All Creatures Great and Small.
Georgian Theatre Royal
The Georgian Theatre Royal, built in 1788, is the most complete Georgian playhouse in Britain. Tours include a look at the country’s oldest surviving stage scenery, painted between 1818 and 1836.