A guide to Richmond in North Yorkshire holiday cottages

A guide to Richmond in North Yorkshire

Content Team 18 February 2019

Richmond is a handsome Georgian market town that forms the northern gateway to the Yorkshire Dales and makes a perfect place to stay for exploring the region. Best known for a sprawling Norman castle that looks out over the town, Richmond combines historical houses and beautiful scenery with an array of shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants that are dotted around its cobbled market square.

You can follow in the footsteps of the Tour de Yorkshire and go cycling in Swaledale, take a walk along the river to beautiful Easby Abbey and seek out pretty nearby villages such as Reeth, Gilling West and Middleham.  There are also lots of luxury Richmond holiday cottages where you can rest your heads after days of exploring.

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Richmond Castle

Scenic spots around Richmond

Richmond and Swaledale walks

Cycling in the Yorkshire Dales

Things to do in Richmond

Shopping in Richmond

Places to eat in Richmond

Richmond Castle

Looking up at the ruins of Richnmond Castle in Yorkshire from the river

The town has an impressive history and was originally formed around Richmond Castle. The castle was built in the 11th century on the top of a hill named Riche-Mont (this is translated as Strong Hill and gave Richmond its name).

The hilltop position of Richmond Castle means it’s a great spot to enjoy a panoramic view of the town. Take a walk up and you’ll find the well-preserved castle remains include a 100 foot keep and curtain wall.

Kids will love exploring the various nooks and crannies and there’s also an interactive display where they can learn more about the fascinating history of the place.

Just outside the castle walls is the pretty Cockpit Garden – a tranquil spot to watch the world go by with lovely views over the River Swale that runs through the town.

Scenic spots around Richmond

If you are a fan of lovely gardens (and historic houses to go with them), Kiplin Hall is an award-winning Jacobean House near Richmond that’s set in 100 acres of woodland, gardens and parkland. Children will be kept entertained too thanks to the Giant Garden games!

Follow the path of the river from Richmond Castle and you’ll reach the ruins of Easby Abbey which has been painted by artists including J M Turner. The riverside location of Easby abbey make it a perfect spot for a summery picnic and the English Heritage managed site is free to access. You can still see the refectory, gatehouse and dormitory of the original monastery and dogs on leads are welcome to join you in exploring the grounds.

The small but beautiful Friary Gardens are centred around Richmond’s war memorial and include carefully tended flower beds, ornate wooden carvings, pathways to wander around and benches where you can sit and reflect in the peace and quiet.  

The River Swale runs through Richmond and at the edge of town you’ll find a series of pretty Yorkshire waterfalls which are known as the Richmond Falls. The water cascades down a rocky limestone gorge which is surrounded by trees and you’ll often see people paddling in the shallow river below.

Richmond and Swaledale walks

The skyline of historic town Richmond in North Yorkshire on a sunny day

Richmond Town Trail

The Richmond Town Trail takes in the towns places of interest such as Richmond Castle, the Georgian Theatre, the Friary Gardens and the War Memorial. The short walk is just 1.5 miles and is a great way for families to uncover the rich history of this Yorkshire Dales town. 

Drummer Boy walk

Another popular walk to try is the Drummer Boy Walk. This circular 3-mile walk is inspired by the legend of the Richmond Drummer Boy. Legend has it that a tunnel was discovered in the 18th century between Richmond Castle and Easby Abbey and a drummer boy was lowered in to walk the passage – beating his drum as he went.  The walk takes you past St Mary’s Church and The Drummer Boy Stone to Easby Abbey before return to the market square via a disused railway line.

Reeth circular

Reeth is just a short drive from Richmond and you can enjoy 360 degree views of the Yorkshire Dales from the lovely village green here. There’s also a number of walking routes to try from Reeth including a circular walk to nearby Grinton which passes over the River Swale and includes meadows, moorland and the Reeth Swing Bridge. There are several pubs to call in for refreshments in Reeth and The Bridge Inn at Grinton has an idyllic spot opposite the village church.

Gilling West circular

This circular walk starts at the site of what was once Richmond Racecourse and you’ll make your way over stiles and through woodland, valleys and open pastureland to Gilling West.  The route passes by Aske Hall which features Capability Brown designed gardens and there are way markers to help you keep on the right track as you follow pathways and bridleways to the pretty village.

Cycling in the Yorkshire Dales

The rural countryside landscape of Swaledale in the Yorkshire Dales, with a farm shed in the foreground

You can follow in the footsteps of the 2014 Tour de France race with a cycle through Muker, an area that’s known for its stunning wildflower meadows. It’s a challenging climb up Buttertubs Pass (which was renamed the Cote de Buttertubs for the famous race) but the views from here are spectacular, and you can stop for refreshments after your efforts at the Farmer’s Arms dining pub.

If you’re looking for a gentler cycle ride, The Swale Trail is an easy-going valley bottom mountain bike route between Keld and Reeth that’s an ideal choice for families with sections that follow the path of the River Swale.

The Dales Bike Centre is located between Richmond and Reeth and you can hire a variety of different cycles here including e-bikes to make climbing the hills of the Yorkshire Dales easier on your legs.  They also offer guided full and half day rides to help you explore the area on two wheels.

The Richmond Double Loop is a scenic 31-mile cycle ride that takes you through some of the finest surrounding Yorkshire Dales scenery. The route starts off in Richmond before circling around Swaledale and Arkengarthdale along rivers and through woodland with several pubs to stop off at along the way. 

Things to do in Richmond

There is also lots of great historic architecture to admire throughout the town with guided walks, town trails and even a ghost walk on offer where you can delve into Richmond’s very interesting past.
  • You can take a tour behind the scenes at Richmond’s Georgian Theatre which is the most complete Georgian Theatre in Britain. The fully restored Woodland Scene which can be seen during your backstage tour is Britain’s oldest surviving stage scenery.
  • Another fascinating building (this time Victorian) is The Station. This former railway building has a riverside position and now houses a selection of independent businesses along with an art exhibition and the Seasons Bar and Kitchen.
  • The Green Howards Museum is based in a former church near the centre of Richmond and tells the story of the Green Howards regiment of the British Army through a fascinating collection of objects and various interactive displays. Children can dress up with various games to keep them entertained during your visit.
  • Another museum in the town is the Richmondshire Museum which tells the history of this part of the Yorkshire Dales. Things to see during a visit include an original Cruck House which was moved brick by brick to the museum, a scale model version of the original Richmond Railway Station and part of the set that was used during the BBC series of All Creatures Great and Small.  

Shopping in Richmond

The lovely market square is a focal point for the town and as well as hosting regular Saturday markets you’ll find a selection of fine Georgian buildings housing independent shops where you can indulge in a spot of retail therapy. tearooms, shops and restaurants – perfect for a spot of lunch, retail therapy and a drink (or two).

There are lots of hidden treasures to discover that are tucked down little alleyways so it is well worth having an amble round and exploring Richmond for yourself.

Shopping highlights include:

  • Lucy Pittaway – a gallery and shop that features the colourful work of the popular local artist with framed prints and homewares available.
  • Castle Hill Bookshop – an independent bookstore that’s been part of Richmond for 35 years, located in a characterful stone building near the castle.
  • York House – this wonderful gift shop has three floors of vintage treasures and quirky items to seek out during a visit.
  • King Street Kitchen and Gifts – you’ll find a carefully curated selection of stylish items in this independent shop with both big name brands and small British suppliers.
  • The Little Dress Shop – you’ll find pre-loved occasion wear and designer items at this Richmond boutique.

Places to eat in Richmond

There are lots of tearooms, restaurants and cafes dotted around Richmond’s market square where you can stop for lunch, dinner or a simple snack in between, washed down with a drink or two.

You can get a little bit of European flavour with a trip to Rustique which serves French food in a restaurant styled like a Parisienne street. For some hearty Italian food, La Piazza is a nice family-friendly Italian with lots of classic pizza and pasta options on the menu.

If you fancy a spot of fine dining then Frenchgate offers well-cooked locally sourced food in a Grade II listed building that was once a gentleman’s residence or you can always go for some pub grub in former Georgian Coach House, The Black Lion.

Other Richmond eateries include:

  • Kelly Marie’s Bar & Bistro – fresh local food is served throughout the day with a good choice of vegan options available.
  • Elixir - a contemporary fusion restaurant and cocktail bar located on Richmond’s market square.
  • Wilfred Deli & Pantry – a daily changing menu has dishes made with fresh seasonal ingredients.
  • The White Swan - a gastro pub in the nearby village of Gilling West.

Book your Richmond accommodation

If this has inspired you to visit Richmond and explore the surrounding Yorkshire Dales you’ll find an array of holiday cottages located in and around the town. Whether you are looking for a dog-friendly cottage or a cosy romantic retreat, browse our range of Richmond holiday homes to find your perfect base.  

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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