Skipton Castle

Top choice in Yorkshire Dales National Park

What makes Skipton Castle so fascinating is its splendid state of preservation, providing a striking contrast to the ruins you'll see elsewhere. Although it is lauded as one of the best-preserved medieval castles in England, many of its most memorable features date to Tudor times. Entrance is through the original Norman archway, which leads to a Tudor courtyard with a yew tree planted by Lady Anne Clifford in 1659, and beyond that a warren of rooms to explore. Grab the informative free illustrated guide to the castle from the ticket office, available in several languages.

Timber foundations were laid here in 1090 by a Norman baron, then soon replaced by a tougher stone castle after relentless attacks by marauding Scots. It was given to the Clifford family in 1310 by King Edward II and the same family ruled it for more than 350 years. During the English Civil War, the castle was the last Royalist stronghold in the North of England and was heavily damaged by a three-year siege that led to defeat in 1645. Much of what exists today is the result of restoration efforts by Lady Anne Clifford in the 17th century.