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This unspoilt cathedral city is a North Yorkshire gem, balancing a rich cultural heritage with exciting contemporary living. With its imposing cathedral, fascinating museums and a bustling market square, there is plenty to entertain the visitor. And skip just 10 miles in any direction and you'll discover a wealth of first class visitor attractions in the surrounding beautiful Dales countryside.
Ripon Cathedral Explore master craftsmen’s beautiful wood and stone work in the fourth church to stand on this site.
Jervaulx Abbey, Ripon A beautiful Cistercian Abbey in the Yorkshire Dales, dating back to 1156
Fountains Abbey 800 years of history are wrapped up in the largest abbey ruins in the country.
The Wakeman was the original keeper of Law and Order in Ripon, in a tradition that has lasted over 900 years. He sounds his horn at 9pm to show he is on duty.
Daniel Defoe described Ripon Market Square as 'the finest and most beautiful square that is to be seen of its kind in England'. Today the square remains the heart and soul of Ripon, proudly retaining its tradition of the hornblower who can be found 'setting the watch' every evening around 9pm - a delightful example of this city's ancient charm.
When it comes to location, Ripon has it all. Easily accessible from the A1(M), it has a privileged aspect right in between the Yorkshire Dales and the North Yorks Moors. As well as being the gateway to beautiful countryside, Fountains Abbey and Studely Royal - Yorkshire's first World Heritage Site - is right on its doorstep, and it's a mere 10 miles from Ripley Castle and the exciting the Lightwater Valley theme park.
The jewel in Ripon's crown must surely be the 7th Century Ripon Cathedral. Dominating the city's skyline, this magnificent building is totally inspiring. It provides sanctuary on a rainy day and is a beautiful focal point as you stroll the city's streets and relax in one of many award-winning cafés.
As one of the most significant sites in the city, Ripon Cathedral has been welcoming worshippers and pilgrims for over 1,300 years. Step inside this majestic building and discover the ancient Saxon crypt and mediaeval woodcarvings and see with your own eyes what so inspired the famous author of Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll.
If beautiful buildings and literary connections spark your imagination, then a visit to Norton Conyers is not to be missed. Whilst you admire this 14th Century house with its Tudor, Stuart and Georgian additions, keep in mind the 'mad woman in the attic', as Charlotte Brontë included the now infamous mad Mrs Rochester in her novel Jane Eyre after staying here in 1839.
Less turbulent but equally impressive is Newby Hall & Gardens. Designed by Sir Christopher Wren, the hall is home to Chippendale furniture, Gobelins tapestries and classical statuary. But it's the award winning gardens that will steal your heart. We challenge you not to be enchanted by the secrets hiding in Sylvia's Garden, Tropical Garden and Olive Walk.
Whether you're exploring the cathedral, browsing the shops or expanding your mind in the museums, you're guaranteed a good refreshment stop or two in Ripon. The March Gallery and Yesteryear Tea Shoppe are two tempting tearooms, but there are many more award-winning eateries to be found. And if it's lovely weather, you simply can't pass by Perk Up's lovely terrace on the market square. If it is fresh, wholesome, naughty, uplifting sweet and savoury treats you cannot resist. Oliver's Pantry offers you food that makes you grin and want more.
If you fancy a spot of contemporary dining, then look no further than the centre of Ripon. The Old Deanery on Minster Road serves wonderful fresh produce and is right near the cathedral, or borne out of the Anglo/French Patron's passion for good food and fine wines, whilst Lockwoods is a family friendly cafe & restaurant, offering high quality delicious food throughout the morning, afternoon and evening. Our modern European menu takes influences from all over the world but with a focus on great local and seasonal ingredients and a great wine list to compliment.
Venture further afield and you'll find an abundance of good pubs and restaurants serving everything from locally reared meat to authentic Thai. While you decide where to go, why not whet your appetite at the Black Sheep Brewery in Masham. Take the tour and learn about the brewing process before kicking back at the Black Sheep Bar and sampling the real thing. And of course you can stock up in the shop before you go home. The One Eyed Rat serves an exceptional selection of quality ales, continental biers, fine wine, fruit wines and mulled wine and has been found in the Good Beer Guide for the last 10 years.
See some suggestions for eating out in our restaurant section.
On a lovely sunny day there's nothing quite like taking a relaxing scenic stroll by the canal. Ripon Canal is one of the most northerly canals in England and has a fabulous circular walking route starting at Ripon Racecourse Marina. Why not stop for a bite at a waterside pub and watch the wildlife and colourful narrowboats go by, or enjoy the sights on a river cruise.
For an action packed family day out, it's got to be Lightwater Valley Theme Park. There are over 40 exciting attractions for thrill-seekers of all ages, with rides for Jaw Droppers, Whipper Snappers and Nippers alike. Get ready to buckle up tight and adventure from the depths of the subterranean world of Raptor Attack to the thrilling heights of Whirlwind.
Giddy up, it's time for a day at the races. For more than 300 years, Ripon has hosted some of the most prestigious horseracing in the country at the Garden Racecourse - it's got everything you need for a fun family afternoon. Little ones will love watching the horses in the parade ring and you'll love picking your favourites to cheer on round the track.
It's no surprise that the historical significance of Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Gardens has resulted in the attraction being named Yorkshire's first World Heritage Site. 800 years of history are wrapped up in the largest abbey ruins in the country, spectacular Georgian water gardens and the magnificent mediaeval deer park. More than just a day out, this is an experience you'll never forget.
If you've now got a taste for Cistercian abbeys, don't miss the chance to visit Jervaulx Abbey. The crumbling walls of this 12th Century monastery are set against the beautiful backdrop of the Yorkshire Dales - seen as the perfect location for a life devoted to prayer, meditation and manual labour. Today it has a tranquil ambience that is yours to explore and enjoy.
I say, I say, I say - the long arm of the law beckons you into the Prison and Police Museum to spend time in an original Victorian prison. Experience the stocks and pillory, step into an 1877 vagrants' ward and stand in the 'Heartbeat' dock. And find out why people were transported to Australia for stealing a pair of shoes at the Courthouse Museum. Don't worry, you're free to go after your visit! Or walk in the steps of the Victorian pauper at the Ripon Workhouse Museum, where you can experience the austere atmosphere with displays of workhouse food, uniforms and the hard labour they had to endure.
You'll find mooching around Ripon's shopping streets lined with mediaeval and Georgian buildings a truly pleasurable experience. With a diverse range of stores from independent boutiques to High Street chains offering trendy fashions and traditional gifts, there's something to suit every age and budget.
If you have a nose and a palate for good quality local food, then you're in for a treat. Traditional butchers and bakers are in abundance here, and you'll want to stock up on Thomas the Bakers' award-winning Yorkshire curd tarts and the homemade breads from Davill's Bakery.
If you're out at the theme park, you won't regret stopping in at Lightwater Valley Shopping Village for some thrills of the retail kind. You'll find a wide range of shops to choose from, including quirky gift shops and old fashioned sweet shops where you can introduce the kids to your favourite childhood treats. You can even try your hand at ballroom dancing or flower arranging here - we kid you not!
Thrill seekers will love Lightwater Valley, there's something for everyone at this theme park.
800 years of history and 10 historic buildings makes Fountains Abbey one of the most popular destinations in the area.
Sample local produce or pick up a bargain at Ripon market. Held every Thursday, the market is now a local tradition.
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