Skipton Castle

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Find a trail - visit the official visitor site for Yorkshire

Opening Times:

March-September 10am-6pm;
October-February 10am-4pm.
Sundays open from 12 noon all year.
Closed 25 December


Adult: £6.50
Children (5-17): £3.90
Children under 5 free
Students and Over 60s: £5.90
Family (2+up to 3 children): £20.50

Venue contact details:

T: 01756 792442
E: [email protected]

Skipton Castle

Turner visited Skipton twice, initially on 17 July 1816 on the first day of his grand tour.  He was travelling with his friend Walter Fawkes of Farnley Hall near Otley and the Fawkes family accompanied Turner on the first week of the tour. They all stayed in Skipton on the first night and Turner went out to explore and make small sketches in his pocketbook, looking for the best view from which to make a watercolour (for example, Skipton Castle from the North, from the East Bank of Eller Beck 'Yorkshire 2' sketchbook, Tate Gallery, Finberg number: CXLV 170, and Skipton Castle and Church from the North West, a Distant View, 'Yorkshire 2' sketchbook, Tate Gallery, Finberg number: CXLV 180a and Skipton Castle from Eller Beck, 'Yorkshire 2' sketchbook, Tate Gallery, Finberg number: CXLV 183a).

Skipton Castle began life as a Norman fort built in 1090, but assumed its present grandeur under the Clifford family after 1310.  It is one of the most complete and well-preserved medieval castles in England, standing on a 40 metre high crag. Turner began by exploring the path along Eller Beck recording the northern flanks of the castle, before looping back over the higher ground back to the town.

He returned to Skipton on the last day of his tour 11 August 1816 and although he must have been tired, having covered well over 500 miles and made as many sketches, he nevertheless took the time to make more sketches (for example, Skipton Castle from the North, 'Yorkshire 2' sketchbook, Tate Gallery, Finberg number: CXLV 8a and Skipton Castle from the North, in Two Parts 'Yorkshire 2' sketchbook, Tate Gallery, Finberg number: CXLV 14a and Skipton Castle: North Gate 'Yorkshire 2' sketchbook, Tate Gallery, Finberg number: CXLV 27a), finally arriving at a view from the higher ground to the north of the castle with which he was sufficiently satisfied to sketch it in detail in one of his larger sketchbooks.

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Turner's Viewpoint

Turner finally settled on a location to the north of Skipton Castle, from which he developed a detailed sketch (Skipton Castle from the North, 'Yorkshire 4' sketchbook, Tate Gallery, Finberg number: CXLVII 7a) and a watercolour study (Colour Studies for Three Yorkshire Subjects, Tate Gallery, Finberg number: CCLXIII 369 - upper left). 

Turner's Yorkshire subjects from this year are some of the most atmospheric of his career. There had been a volcanic eruption of Mount Tambora in the Philippines the previous year, and the dust caused a very unsettled and changeable summer in 1816, full of effects of rain, mist and shafts of light.  The study shows that Turner must have intended a finished watercolour of Skipton for the history of York series but in this case he does not seem to have found the opportunity to complete it.

The viewpoint is now partially obscured by subsequent tree growth. However, there are several recognisable and accessible sketch subjects in the castle precincts (for example, Skipton Castle: The Main Gateway with Rombald's Moor Beyond, 'Yorkshire 2' sketchbook, Tate Gallery, Finberg number: CXLV 22a and Skipton Castle, 'Yorkshire 2' sketchbook, Tate Gallery, Finberg number: CXLV 23).

Discover The Landscape

The Turner Trails bench and panel are located within the grounds of Skipton Castle.

Castles in Turner's Yorkshire

Download our themed leaflet and let the walls guide you around more than a dozen of Yorkshire's magnificent castles sketched and painted by Turner.

The Venue


Skipton Castle, Skipton, North Yorkshire, BD23 1AW

Map reference: SD990519

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Directions to Skipton Castle:

Take the A65 to Skipton and follow signs to town centre. Turn right and follow road into town centre, the castle is at the head of the High Street