Although it boasts two market places, Middleham is a now really a market town in name only. But, as it owes its foundation to Richard III, perhaps it’s fitting that the Yorkshire Dales community is better known these days for its links to The Sport of Kings – horse racing.
Stables of national standing have been based in the town for 300 years, using the gallops on the moors on the outskirts for either racing or training.
However, the public has just one chance a year to glimpse behind the scenes when the town hosts the annual Middleham Stables Open Day on Good Friday - a day when racing is still prohibited across the UK.
Otherwise, the story of Middleham is dominated by its medieval castle, the ruins of which still stand today.
Founded as a simple moat-and-bailey structure in the 12th Century, the building was later enhanced and became home to King Richard III, who administered the region from his “Windsor of the North” in the late 15th Century until his death at the Battle of Bosworth, which concluded the War of the Roses and sealed the fate of the Plantagenet dynasty.
An excellent base for walking holidays in North Yorkshire, Middleham’s market place is overlooked by a cluster of pubs, hotels and guest houses offering comfortable accommodation.
Small, independent shops, tearooms and cafes also line the slope up to the old Swine Cross in the shadow of the castle gates, offering ramblers respite after exploring Lower Wensleydale’s network of footpaths and bridleways.
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