There are two towns in Britain called Richmond. One is in south-west London, the other is in North Yorkshire. I know it well. It’s the Yorkshire town I’m writing about here.
A few days ago, I decided to visit Richmond, North Yorkshire. Although I grew up in a nearby town, I hadn’t been to Richmond for a number of years. The former Woolworths store is now a Heron Foods but, apart from that, the town has not changed much over the years.
Richmond is a market town. So are a lot of other towns in Yorkshire. Thirsk, Leyburn, Northallerton, Ripon: they are all market towns and there are many more.
Traditional British market towns hold markets once per week. The market traders come an set up their stalls early in the morning on the town’s “market day”, get busy trading, and then take their stalls down again late in the afternoon. The next day, they do the same on another town’s allotted market day. Moving from one town to the next, the market traders keep themselves busy all through the week. Saturday is Market Day in Richmond.
Traditional British market towns have a market cross in the center. Although the stone pillar still stands in the center of Richmond, the cross from the top is gone. All that remains is the stone ball it used to stand upon.
Even without the cross at the top, you can still tell the stone pillar is part of a market cross by the rows of steps that surround its base. To the best of my knowledge, all market crosses have such steps.
If you visit Richmond, when you are in the town center glance down at the cobbles beneath your feet. Old market towns generally have cobbles and Richmond, North Yorkshire boasts one of the largest cobbled market places in England.
Don’t let the fact that it’s a market town fool you, Richmond is quite an important town in Yorkshire. It gives its name to the district of Richmondshire. The Richmondshire local government is responsible for a large section of the Yorkshire Dales including Coverdale, Wensleydale, and Swaledale.
Richmond was founded in 1071 and, as with many old and important British towns, it has a castle. These days, it’s just a ruin that’s maintained by English Heritage as a tourist attraction but its walls originally encompassed the market place and surrounding area, keeping the residents of Richmond safe.
Richmond is a beautiful town. If you ever visit you owe it to yourself to do a little exploring. With its old, stone houses and scenic walks beside the River Swale, Richmond is also a place that’s best explored on foot. Be warned though, there are a lot of hills in Richmond. If you do decide to go exploring, much of the time you will be walking uphill.
4 Things to See and Do in Richmond North Yorkshire
1. Visit Richmond Castle
Richmond Castle is not hard to find [MAP]. It’s less than five minutes’ walk from the market place cross and, due to its prominent position at the top of the hill, it’s easy to see the castle when you approach the town from most directions.
Depending on when you visit Richmond, you may find the castle is closed. Although it’s open most days during the summer, the rest of the year it’s only possible to go inside the castle grounds at the weekend.
Unfortunately, unless you are an English Heritage member, you won’t be able to get inside Richmond Castle for free. Expect to pay £6-£7 to get in if you are an adult exploring Richmond alone. If you are exploring Richmond as a family, you can get a family ticket (2 adults + up to 3 children) for £16.90.
You can get up-to-date opening hours and prices by visiting the Richmond Castle page at the English Heritage Website.
2. Visit the Green Howards Regimental Museum
The Green Howards Regimental Museum is another tourist attraction in Richmond that’s very easy to find [MAP]. It’s located in the old Trinity Church, which is right in the centre of the market place.
If you haven’t guessed already, the Green Howards Regimental Museum is a military museum. It houses artifacts related to a local regiment called The Green Howards.
Military museums are not everyone’s cup of tea but if it’s the kind of thing you like, expect to pay around £6 at the door. You can get an up-to-date list of entry fees and concessions at The Green Howards Museum Website.
3. Go and See Richmond Falls
Waterfalls come in all shapes and sizes. The falls at Richmond are not very high but the water can be quite fast-moving and it’s an interesting sight to see.
You’ll find the falls near the spot where the River Swale bends at a 90ª angle. They are right beside the Waterfalls Car Park. It’s less than a 10-minute walk from the center of the town. [MAP]
4. Explore the Ruins of Easby Abbey
Easby Abbey is located not far from the banks of the River Swale. It takes around 30 minutes to walk there from Richmond market place. [MAP]
Like Richmond Castle, Easby Abbey is maintained by English Heritage. The big difference is, although you have to pay to enter the castle, visiting the ruins of Easby Abbey is free.
Finding a free place to go is a welcome discovery on a day out and, in this case, there is quite a lot to see. A real history buff could easily spend an hour or more exploring the ruins and reading the various explanation boards. I was probably in and out in less than 20 minutes but history doesn’t interest me. However, that did not stop me from enjoying the time I spent wandering around the ruin. It’s a nice place to explore.
If you click on the “Map” link below the picture of Easby Abbey, you will see Google Maps provides two routes from the market place to the abbey. I suggest using one route to walk there and the other to walk back. It will give you more opportunity to enjoy the local countryside.
Additional Things to Do in Richmond
If you want, you could explore the indoor market. A lot of people have good things to say about Richmond’s Georgian Theater as well, but one of the best things you can do in Richmond is put one foot in front of the other and explore. Especially the streets that lead off from the center of the town. I also recommend taking a leisurely stroll down by the river.
Richmond is an old town. Many of the streets near the center are quite quaint. If you see lots of stone buildings you are in the old part of town. If you see bricks and mortar, you may have strayed too far but it doesn’t matter where you are in Richmond you never know when you will suddenly turn a corner and look downhill to see some incredible views.
The Best Way to Get to Richmond
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to get to Richmond by train. There’s not enough level ground to make running train tracks a viable idea, but if you have access to a car, you can drive and finding somewhere to park when you arrive should not be overly difficult.
Failing that, the best way to get to Richmond is by Bus. Arriva North East run regular services between Richmond and Darlington. There is a good service between Richmond and Barnard Castle too so all you need to do is make your way to either town.
If you are likely to need to use multiple busses, the best thing to do is buy an Explorer Ticket. It costs £10.90 and covers you for a full day of travel, throughout the north east using busses from most of the bus companies operating in the area.
You can get further information about ticket options and prices at the Arriva website: https://www.arrivabus.co.uk/north-east/bus-tickets/multi-operator-tickets/
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