Circle Insights

Why Skipton is a perfectly balanced place to live

Tolga Necar

In this third blog of our series looking at balanced locations, we shift our focus to Skipton, a picturesque market town in North Yorkshire known for its rich history and breath taking countryside known as “the Gateway to the Dales”.

With its 900-year-old medieval castle forming a centrepiece that overlooks the town and its charming, cobbled streets, traditional shops and vibrant markets, Skipton has retained its historic character while also providing modern amenities and a welcoming atmosphere for residents and visitors alike. These key contributing factors have earned Skipton its place on our list of perfectly balanced places to live per our report, “Six Pillars of Success: Building Resilient Places”.  

If you have yet to read our blog that introduces these pillars, we consider a ‘perfectly balanced’ place to be:  

  • One that houses a suitable mix of chain and independent retailers at optimal sizes 
  • Supplies unique offline experiences that meet the community’s needs 
  • Provides community infrastructure that supports daily living
  • Offers adequate residential properties for the community 
  • Offers employment opportunities and flexible working spaces 
  • Encourages time spent outdoors in green spaces.  

So, what exactly are the driving factors behind Skipton being a perfectly balanced place to live? 

Pillar 1: Representation & proper sizing of independent & chain retailers

Skipton’s historic High Street is home to an array of independent shops, boutiques and local businesses, which are complemented by national retailers such as M&S and WHSmith, clothing retailers like Next and Phase Eight, and health and beauty retailers like The Body Shop and Boots.  

On the cusp of Yorkshire Dales National Park with hiking and cycling trails galore, the High Street of this historic market town also offers an array of outdoor clothing and equipment specialist retailers such as Chevin Cycles, Trespass, Regatta Great Outdoors and Mountain Warehouse.

Pillar 2: Uniquely tailored offline experiences

One of Skipton’s standout features is its weekly farmers and crafts market that offers a variety of locally sourced, traditional produce and handmade goods. All the stalls are run by local Yorkshire businesses, which generates a lively community atmosphere in and around the town. On Saturdays, locals can stroll through Skipton Market lining both sides of the High Street, establishing itself as a vital player in the town’s overall shopping experience and offerings.  

History aficionados can also visit Skipton Castle, a remarkably preserved medieval castle where the Fattorini family— jewellers and creators of the Football Association Challenge Cup— continue to live to this day. Plaza Cinema is also popular with cinemagoers—a century-old, art deco, single-screen cinema that is the sole survivor of the town’s cinemas. 

Skipton is also home to many small cafes and coffee shops (both independent and chains), pubs and restaurants. 

Pillar 3: Engaging community infrastructure

In terms of amenities and services, Skipton houses nearly everything that would be expected from a town of its size, including both small and large supermarkets like Grape Tree Skipton and M&S, banks like Halifax, Barclays and NatWest, dry cleaners, furniture shops, charity shops and estate agents.  

Skipton’s town hall is also situated near the castle, with a museum and gallery, a library and a small music amphitheatre just off the High Street.  

Skipton Station is also a major force in the town’s infrastructure, with regularly scheduled direct commuter trains travelling to both Leeds and Bradford, and several London-bound trains daily. 

Pillar 4: Support social cohesion through optimised residential design

Skipton features a wide variety of properties that are suitable for several types of people, ranging from large, detached houses to converted mill apartments, with terraced houses being especially prominent in the town. Families with children will find excellent educational opportunities available in the area, with several prestigious schools such as boys’ and girls grammar schools in the vicinity. 

Pillar 5: Sufficient & accessible work opportunities for the local population

Although the Skipton Building Society is currently the largest employer in the area, the town’s largest industry is likely to be tourism. Train line connections to Leeds and Bradford have opened many additional job opportunities as well.  

Pillar 6: Appealing open spaces for the community to dwell in

Being the gateway to the Dales, Skipton is home to plenty of green spaces. From inviting woodlands and walking paths situated behind Skipton Castle to impressive views accessible within a half-hour drive, Skipton and its vicinity has something for outdoor enthusiasts.  

In the heart of the town is Aireville Park, a large open space packed with sporting facilities suited for football, tennis, netball and basketball, a wheel park catering to BMX, skateboarding and rollerblading, children’s play areas, a treetop high ropes course and a café. The park is also home to Skipton’s weekly parkrun and annual triathlon, Yorkshire and Humberside’s largest pool-based triathlon. 

Fans of the Harry Potter film franchise will be pleased to know that scenes from “The Deathly Hallows” were shot at the top of Malham Cove, a short drive from Skipton, showing views across Malhamdale, down to Malham Village and Kirkby Malham. Scenes from the 1992 version film adaptation of Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights” were also shot in Malham Cove.  

In the opposite direction and of similar driving distance, the renowned Brontë sisters’ home in Haworth can be found. It is now one of the oldest literary societies worldwide and was converted into the Brontë Parsonage Museum in memory of the celebrated authors of classic literature. 

Saltaire, a UNESCO World Heritage Site built in the mid-19th century as a model Victorian village depicting life for workers in Sir Titus Salt’s textile mill, can also be reached from Skipton within half an hour’s drive. Visitors will find ornate and well-preserved houses, a church and public buildings surrounding a park to stroll through, with the namesake mill, Salt’s Mill, at the epicentre of the site.

Stay tuned for our next pick of a ‘perfectly balanced’ place to live in our upcoming blog.  
To learn how our six property pillars can help ensure you are creating resilient places, please speak to one of our Placemaking and Property experts. 

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Tolga Necar