Richmond and Beverley are two hidden gems, certainly out of the tourist mainstream. Beverley has two of the best churches in England, the Minster and St. Mary's. Beyond that it is a pleasant market town.
Richmond is unspoiled, beautifully located at the foot of Swaledale, claimed to be the wildest of the Yorkshire Dales. It has an interesting ruined castle, an old theatre royal, a cobbled market square and a lovely riverside walk to a ruined abbey.
I guess Richmond would be my favourite.
Thanks, Ron. That's really helpful, descriptive. I appreciate your comments.
The Beverly Arms Hotel is gorgeous. Really old, some 4 poster beds, great food. Wonderful staff.
Just the place for a romantic weekend (our luck we were sharing with 3 & 7 year olds :o)
Amazed to hear that anyone could not park to visit Ripon Cathedral. There's a very large car park adjacent to the cathedral, and it is well worth a visit as is the Ripon Canal.
Yikes, please don't dismiss Harrogate and Ripon based on the above. I thoroughly agree that Beverly and Richmond are lovely places to visit, but Harrogate and Ripon deserve your time too. I just posted about Harrogate on the 'Three Days Out of London' thread on TALF, and recommended the RHS Garden Harlow Carr (rhs.org.uk/WhatsOn/…index.asp), a walk in the Valley Gardens, the Mercer Art Gallery, lunch or tea at Betty's, & the Turkish baths for relaxation. I could also suggest a stop in Ripley to visit Ripley Castle - www.ripleycastle.co.uk/pages/home/index.html - before going on to Ripon where, besides the Cathedral, you ought to visit Studley Royal & Fountains Abbey. On the outskirts of Ripon is Newby Hall, a wonderful Adam house, and Norton Conyers (the inspiration for Thornfield Hall in 'Jane Eyre.'
Oh, and I meant to mention Thirsk and Helmsley - both are lovely market towns. Thirsk now has a 'World of James Herriot' centre, which I haven't yet visited, but is situated in the actual 'Skeldale House.' You could then drive to Helmsley, perhaps stopping first at the Mouseman Visitor Centre. Rievaulx Abbey is just west of Helmsley. Another great stately home in the area is Nunnington Hall, nationaltrust.org.uk/main/…
britfan: I've been to all except Ripon. Really enjoyed Harrogate. Richmond is a darling little town with an excellent castle (I love castles as you may have gathered from a lot of my posts). While I was there a few years ago, they even had a parade going through town -- I think it was for my benefit! And St. Mary's Church in Beverly has a rabbit carving that is said was the inspiration for Lewis Carroll's White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland.
Does this mean you are heading north?
Don't remember Harrogate much as I had jetlag though the last time I drove through it looked pretty, but it's a big town.
Not been to Richmond.
Went to Ripon on the way to Fountains this past summer unfortunately on market day but did eventually find parking. It's a nice small town( city)the cathedral is very nice.
If I had to choose though, it would be Beverley; Lovely minster, the other church was nice too, and it's altogether a pleasant place.
It would also depend on what other places you are visiting on the way to the Border abbeys( very lovely).
Also don't rule out a stop at Selby abbey; I visited for the first time last summer and was pleasantly surprised.
It's a beautiful, mostly Norman abbey with some lovely decoration and stained glass( the stars and stripes is said to come from the Washington family crest there).
The town is not worth bothering with but the abbey definately is.
I live in Harrogate and am trying not to be annoyed about the character who rudely dismisses it without even stopping!
There isn't a 'right' answer to your question, but it would help if I knew a bit more about what you want from your 'brief visit'. For instance Harrogate has superb (and quite upmarket) shopping, Betty's tearooms and some lovely parks full of flowers, as well as a very interesting Pump Room Museum where you can taste the vile 'medicinal' waters. If none of this appeals then maybe it isn't the place for you to stop. However, if you did visit Harrogate there is a great palce to visit a few miles outside it called Ripley. It is a tiny village built in French Norman style (yes, in the middle of Yorkshire!) and has a great castle you can visit. The same family have lived in the castle for 700 years. There is also one of my favourite restaurants in the village called the Boars Head. ww.ripleycastle.co.uk/pages/home/
So you could spend a day happily enjoying the attractions of Harrogate AND Ripley.