I recently spent a few days in Settle, a market town in North Yorkshire. I know it very well, so it was a bit weird to be staying there, but nice. It also feels a bit odd to be writing about it here, but I don’t really know why. I don’t know why I don’t write about places I know when I’m OK to write about random places I’ve only seen for a few days.
Yeah, I’ll probably do that at some point.
I’m splitting this break into two posts. Well, three if you count the photo post. One for the town itself and one for a walk we did.
So, the name Settle comes from ‘Settlement’, which is pretty self-explanatory. As I said, it’s in North Yorkshire, in the Yorkshire Dales. It’s on the River Ribble, and attached to another town called Giggleswick. It’s one of those situations where it’s two separate places, but if you took away all the identifying signage no-one would ever guess that. I don’t know where the boundary is. I’d have thought it was the river, because it usually is, and the Settle sign is on the bridge, but then you’ve got Settle swimming pool and Settle college on what should be the Giggleswick side. So either the sign is lying or Settle is encroaching beyond its boundaries.
The buildings in Settle are pretty cool. Not all of them, but it has quite a lot of old, unique and just generally interesting looking ones. Two distinctive features of the town centre are the town hall and the Shambles. The town hall is just this big building plonked down in its own bit. It fits in with the rest of the centre, it looks like it belongs, but it very much stands out too.
The Shambles is a bunch of shops. Well, I think they’re houses on the top, they look like houses. Anyway, they’re just fun to look at because the doors to the shops are up little sets of steps or down in the little ditch/alley things that runs in front of them. The back is pretty normal, but the front is really nice and quirky.
A bit out of the town centre is the Folly. It’s the Museum of North Craven Life, but it’s only open about half the year, and it wasn’t open when I was there. But I could appreciate the outside. It’s a big, seventeenth century building and it just looks a bit different. I think it’s the brickwork, and the windows a bit too.
Those aren’t the only interesting buildings, but they’re the most noticeable ones.
Settle is also home to the Gallery on the Green, which may be the world’s smallest art gallery. The website says ‘probably’, but people do have a knack for setting things up in inconceivably small places, so I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a smaller one. But this is one is pretty tiny. It’s in an old phone box; a lot of the traditional red phone boxes have been repurposed in recent years, which is good because otherwise they might be removed entirely. I think it was a cool idea to turn one into a gallery. You just go in and there’s artwork on all the sides and the inside of the door, and they’ve even got a visitor book. It’s worth popping into, if you’re about.
Overlooking Settle is a crag called Castleberg, which you can walk to the top of. It’s a pretty easy walk, and the view from up there is excellent. The route up is from the older part of Settle. On Castleberg Lane is a door sized gate set into a bit of wall. Most of the wall isn’t high enough to accommodate a gate of this size, so it has to rise as it gets to that bit, which I find slightly amusing. I’m easily amused.
Anyway, through the gate it’s a pretty steady path upwards, and once you reach the top you can look right out across Settle. As I said, the view is excellent; it’s far better than it has any business being, with the length of the walk up there.
Once you’ve finished looking you can continue along the path. At a point you can keep going straight along or go through another door-gate into another little woodland area. We went this way, I don’t know if I’ve ever been down the other path. The woodland is nice, very pretty. The path leads you down, until you reach a little bit with a double gate leading out to the road. Leave through this gate, turn left, and you’ll make your way back down into Settle.
Another nice place you can wander in Settle is along the river. At the bridge which might mark the Settle-Giggleswick border, on the Giggleswick side, there’s a path down to the river that goes along it for a bit. There are other ways down to the river, that’s just the one I’m most familiar with,and the easiest to describe. It’s very pretty down there.
There’s also a decent number of shops in Settle, and it feels like a bit of a throwback because it’s basically all independent shops. Settle’s not a large town, but there are enough shops that you’d expect some to be chains. But they’ve managed to keep it all very individual.
I guess that’s the word I would pick to describe Settle: individual. It’s very much got its own character. It’s a nice place to visit, and if you like walking it’s well placed for that. Other than going up Castleberg, we did another walk while we were there, which I’m giving its own post.
Pictures of Settle are here, though I’ll do a photos post too, to feature some of them. Thanks for reading.