We decided to spend a couple of days in Clapham, located just off the A65 in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. After the previous day’s sunshine we were disappointed to be setting off in heavy rain but were hopeful that the weather would improve as we neared our destination.
Our first stop was to the charming small market town of Settle, surrounded by towering fells. After parking the car we enjoyed cups of coffee in Ye Olde Naked Man along the high street whilst watching the rain beat against the cafe windows.
Just as we were leaving, the weather improved and we crossed the road for a wander around the open air market which is held in the main square each Tuesday. The market was smaller than usual because of the poor weather but there were several stalls still operating selling fruit and vegetables, flowers and cakes.
Next, we followed a sign to the small indoor market which is actually held inside the nearby Royal Oak pub where we found handicrafts, plants and flowers. I’ve never seen a pub’s function room used for this purpose but it seemed to work well with the pub also offering special lunch deals on market days.
Continuing on our way, we headed over to the Folly Museum of North Craven Life which is located just a few minutes walk from the market place on what used to be the old main road through the town. The impressive building was constructed in 1670 for a wealthy local lawyer and over the years it has had many owners and uses. The museum is open each afternoon between 1.00-4.00 p.m. with standard admission costing £2.
The galleries are on two floors and tell the story of local people and the dales landscape in which they lived. Exhibits cover the area’s farming, quarrying and associated trades and it was interesting to compare practices carried out today with those in the past. There’s also a gift shop which sells local handicrafts and homemade preserves plus a large cafe with an original inglenook fireplace which seemed popular when we visited.
On the way back to the car we called into the station yard to take a look at the Settle Station Signal Box which is now run as a small working museum. It is dedicated to mechanical era railway signalling on the Settle – Carlisle railway and is open each Saturday between 10.00-4.00 p.m. admission free. As we were there on a Tuesday, it was of course closed, but it’s somewhere I would like to visit one weekend and write about sometime.
Back in the car, our next stop was in the neighbouring village of Giggleswick as we wished to visit the chapel at Giggleswick School. The school was built in 1512 and received its Royal Charter from King Edward VI in 1553 and is now a co-educational boarding school.
We had heard about the school’s ornate chapel and that visiting was possible by pre-arrangement with the school office. The Giggleswick estate covers a large area with the chapel being located in an elevated position along a narrow winding lane so it was suggested that we return to the car and drive there as it had starting raining again.
Opening the heavy oak door, we entered the elaborate chapel which was built in 1897. The building was designed as a Gothic structure with a dome decorated with mosaics depicting angels playing musical instruments. No expense was spared fitting out the sumptuous interior with its marble floors, silver altar and pews made from imported Cypress wood. If you are in the vicinity, I highly recommend a visit to take in the beauty of this stunning chapel.
It was then only a 7 mile journey to the village of Clapham where we had arranged to stay overnight at the New Inn. We were warmly welcomed into the charming 18th century coaching inn and could see that it had been elegantly restored with its original oak beams and stone walls adding to its appeal.
The inn has 19 rooms and our spacious, executive room on the second floor was beautifully appointed. The huge four poster bed and luxurious en-suite bathroom were so inviting and perfect for our short stay.
Before gong out to explore the village, we unpacked and made ourselves hot drinks from the hospitality tray which had some irresistible biscuits to keep us going until dinner.
Noticing that the rain showers had ceased, we set off for a walk through the village. Running through the centre of the village is Clapham Beck which is crossed by a series of old stone bridges. Stone cottages with slate roofs sit huddled together on each bank and are built from similar stone, with most of the properties dating from the 18th century.
The village is located at the foot of Ingleborough, one of Yorkshire’s Three Peaks and is a popular starting point for its ascent. Many hill walkers base themselves in the village for walking holidays but there are also plenty of activities and leisurely walks on flat terrain for those who prefer a more leisurely existence. The village is served by a railway station on the Leeds to Morecambe line with Clapham station being situated one and a half miles from the village centre.
Since the 18th century, Clapham has been home to the Farrer family who established their Ingleborough estate. The family trust still owns, and is responsible for much of the surrounding land, farms and cottages.
At the head of the village stands the church of St. James which traces its history back to 1160. Much of the original church was destroyed when Scottish forces invaded the village in the 14th century. Only the original tower remains, with the majority of the building being the result of Victorian restoration work. The church was open so we were able to spend a few minutes looking inside.
Returning to the hotel, we had a short rest in our lovely room and then went down to the attractive bar for a pre-dinner drink. The bar has been extensively renovated creating a casual yet elegant dining area. The weather was cold and dreary outdoors but sitting by the wood-burning stove and enjoying the convivial atmosphere we felt warm and cosy.
We could have eaten dinner in the 1745 Bistro but decided to eat in the bar as the menu was the same and we were comfortable there. The New Inn specialises in fine dining and our starters of tiger prawns with linguine and Thai fish cakes tasted delicious. To follow, we chose venison casserole topped with dumplings and pan fried hake cooked with bacon and fennel on a white wine butter sauce. The combination of flavours and presentation were superb, offering excellent value for money.
The Inn has an Australian owner who came over to chat to us and both he and his staff were very friendly making us feel very welcome. After a lovely evening we went up to our room and slept like logs in our extremely comfortable four poster bed.