On your cottage holiday the picturesque town of Middleham is well worth exploring. Middleham is dominated by the ruined fortress of Middleham Castle, the former home of King Richard III, and is symbolic of the power which was once wielded in this beautiful part of the world. The castle, with its vast Keep, is a popular place to visit, as much for the stunning views it affords over beautiful Wensleydale as the deep sense of history to be gained there.
Nowadays, the market town of Middleham is an important equestrian centre – this is prime horse racing country – and hundreds of thoroughbreds are stabled in and around the town. They can often be seen being led through town en route to be exercised on the surrounding open moor land; Good Friday each year is the day when all of the town’s stables open their doors for public display. Beyond the town, there is good walking and cycling; many visitors enjoy the short stroll to the limestone outcrop of Leyburn Shawl, or the pounding beauty of natural waterfalls at nearby Aysgarth and West Burton.
A short drive from Middleham, visit Bolton Castle, where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned, Jervaulx Abbey, a ruined Cistercian priory, or one of the many splendid country estates and gardens which are open to visitors. Constable Burton Hall Gardens and Thorp Perrow Arboretum are two such estates; both have woodland walks and trails, and gardens to delight both the keen gardener and casual visitor alike.
The Forbidden Corner, just beyond nearby Leyburn, is a Victorian ‘folly’ offering a day out with a difference. Waterfalls, labyrinths, a hidden grotto and a variety mystery trails will keep children of all ages entertained at this, the self-styled ‘strangest place in the world’. The attraction is set in four acres of rolling Tupgill Park, which is well worth a visit in its own right. Here you’ll find a deer park where red deer roam, a fragrant and pretty herb garden, and a fish temple. Families visiting here will also want to make a day of it at the Lightwater Valley entertainment complex near Ripon, a one-stop day out with roller coasters, rides and retail, in the shape of the Lightwater shopping complex. Finally, for lovers of ale, the Theakston’s and the Black Sheep breweries at nearby Masham are not to be missed, with visitor centres, brewery tours and, of course, tastings.
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