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51b. Middleham Town-Village ... including

St Mary & St Alkelda's Parish Church & a circular walk down to the River Cover with great views of the Castle & surrounding countryside.

See also 51a. Middleham Castle

Scenes in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, North Yorkshire, England

 Yorkshire Dales and North Pennines Index

(a) The Town of Middleham

It is believed that there has been a settlement at Middleham since Roman times and Middleham is mentioned in the Domesday Book when its name was `Medelai`. The most pleasant village-town of Middleham is situated in Wensleydale, on the north-facing hillside between the River Cover and the River Ure dominated by the magnificent castle ruins towering over clusters of old grey stone cottages, fine old Georgian and Victorian houses and its two cobbled market squares. Middleham is noted for its connection with III, the great Castle (which for a period was Richard's childhood home) with the largest keep (by area) in the north of England and in more modern times its horse-racing industry. The racing industry grew in Georgian times which financed the rebuilding of much of Middleham and with it, around 1765, the first recorded racehorse trainer, Isaac Cape. Race meetings were held regularly on the High Moor above Middleham during the 18th Century when most of the town was being rebuilt. It is good that much of the town is protected as a conservation area and European funding has financed the re-cobbling of the towns squares, so all in all, Middleham is a lovely place to visit and not just the Castle, but also the town itself with its cafes and pubs and the interesting Middleham Parish Church of St Mary and St Alkelda.

THE WHITE SWAN in the centre of Middleham


The Market Cross in the centre of Middleham with some of the fine 18th century town houses.


Left and right: The Black Sheep Brewery's RICHARD III pub in Middleham, with a nice quiet south facing area round the back.


Left: Theakston sign outside the RICHARD III pub in Market Square.

Right: Looking down the road to THE BLACK BULL pub in Market square.


Some of the fine looking houses in the centre of Middleham.


The market cross area of central Middleham.


A quiet side street below the Castle. Middleham is a nice place to potter around between visiting the castle and parish church.


(b) The Parish Church of St Mary & St Alkelda, Middleham


The fine looking Middleham Parish Church of St Mary & St Alkelda (of which the latter's origin isn't very clear). Maybe St Alkelda was an Anglo-Saxon princess killed in a Viking raid ~ AD 800 or she may have been Icelandic and her healing reputation brought to England by the Vikings, since 'Alkelda' is supposed to mean 'healing spring' though the Saxon word for Holy Well is Haeligkeld.


The Perpendicular west tower and south porch entrance of St Mary & St Alkelda church Middleham. The parish church of St Mary & St Alkelda, once a collegiate college established by Richard III.


Looking down the nave to the chancel, altar and east window of St Mary & St Alkelda church Middleham.


The nave and arches of the south aisle of St Mary & St Alkelda church Middleham.

The Decorated arcades consist of four bays dividing the nave & chancel from the two aisles.


Looking west down the nave to the west window and on the right the arches of the north aisle of St Mary & St Alkelda church Middleham.


Some of the surviving fragments of 15th century medieval stained glass in St Mary & St Alkelda church Middleham.


Some of the Victorian stained glass windows in St Mary & St Alkelda Church Middleham.


Details of the lower panels of the right-hand stained glass window above.


More of the stained glass windows in St Mary & St Alkelda Church Middleham.


Last view of  St Mary & St Alkelda Church Middleham.


(c) A circular walk via the River Cover south of Middleham Town

View of Middleham Castle from the south, on the start of our little circular walk via the River Cover, in which an OS map is needed (OL 30), though the route is not complicated.


Looking south-west up from Middleham Castle to the original motte-and-bailey castle which you see in the distance to your right before heading south-east.


Just SSE of the castle three paths intersect, you can take the diagonal path which runs more or less due south-east over the higher moor south-east of Middleham and then you drop down to the banks of the River Cover.


Molly had to go over the stepping stones BUT are route is turn right west and follow the north bank of the River Cover along what the OS map calls 'Cover Banks'.


The lovely River Cover from Cover Banks.


The River Cover


Before heading north back to Middleham the path climbs up above the River Cover which you can glimpse down below through the trees.


Looking down on the River Cover from the Cover Banks.


Finally at the west end of Cover Banks you reach Hullo Bridge, which you do NOT cross, other than to take photographs!


Views from Hullo Bridge.


Climbing back up northwards from the banks of the River Cover.


Lovely meadow fields to walk across as the outskirts of Middleham comes into sight.


You eventually join a minor road but can fork right (eastwards) along a path that takes you past the original motte-and-bailey castle on your right.


Its a classic motte-and-bailey castle.


Heading down to Middleham and its magnificent Castle.


The south-west 'back' view of Middleham Castle near some race horse stables.


Some thoroughbred racing horses I presume?



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