A World Class Welcome: Northallerton
Nestled between two national parks, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Northallerton is just a sedate country escape and on one hand, you’d be correct. However, this thriving market town is bustling with character and life; offering an ideal base for visitors looking to explore the nearby countryside, cities and villages.
Northallerton is billed as ‘the heart of North Yorkshire’ and was originally used as a Viking administrative centre, before evolving into a coaching stop with numerous inns; one of the oldest surviving inns in the town, The Fleece Inn, even hosted Charles Dickens while he was writing Nicholas Nickleby in the mid-19th century.
It is also situated in the famed Herriot Country. This rich farmland area, named after the author of the fascinating tales of a Yorkshire Dales vet James Herriot, covers some of the most beautiful countryside to be found in the UK and beyond. Northallerton is just one of the many charming market towns in this area and riders and fans alike can expect a warm welcome.
Attracting visitors from many surrounding areas, the town plays host to an abundance of fantastic shops and eateries.
Shopping is actually an aspect of town life taken very seriously and visitors cannot miss Barkers, the luxurious department store that has called Northallerton its home since 1882 and offers a charming story of growth and development.
At the age of 14, a local farmer’s son, William Barker started an apprenticeship with a John Oxendale at a small draper’s shop. As the young boy grew and progressed, so did the business, becoming Oxendale and Barker and eventually the store it is today. One of the largest home furnishing stores in the north of England, Barkers was purpose built on the edge of town in 1994 and offers a vast range of products that will delight locals and visitors alike.
The town offers a range of options for foodies ranging from locally sourced cuisine to international dishes and Yorkshire can be enjoyed at its best here in the area’s local delicatessens, restaurants and coffee shops. Famous tea room chain Bettys can be found here, with a grade II listed building playing host to their most northerly branch. The elegant Georgian architecture, majestic skylights and secret sun-trap terrace found here give this cheerful tea room a truly unique character.
The multi-award winning, independent gourmet food store, Lewis & Cooper also calls Northallerton its home, offering the most flavoursome foodie treats, fine wines, delicious gift baskets and sumptuous food hampers and is this year celebrating 120 years of operation.
There are several farm shops on the outskirts of town and June each year sees the Homegrown Food Festival take to the streets.
If that isn’t enough, then there are markets that take place on the high street every Wednesday and Saturday that really bring the townsfolk together, offering fresh local ingredients and a great range of stall holders.
The rich and varied heritage of Northallerton is also a major aspect of town life and can be seen in a variety of ways; one needs to only look at the array of beautiful buildings to see its charming history. The Church of All Saints dates back to 1120 and for an example of stellar architecture, then the best-preserved Carthusian house in England, Mount Grace Priory is the perfect attraction for a relaxing and peaceful day out; tucked away at the foot of the Cleveland Hills.
On the theme of countryside, with both the North York Moors and the Yorkshire Dales situated either side of the town, it really is easy to get out and explore the best of Yorkshire’s scenery. There’s nothing quite like walking through Yorkshire, and experiencing the vastness and beauty that God’s Own County has to offer is easy from this beautiful base. The nearby village of Osthmotherley is also close to the Coast to Coast Path, the Cleveland Way and the starting point of the Lyke Wake Walk.
If you want to explore a little faster, but maintain local tradition, then hop aboard a Wensleydale Railway service that offers routes between Leeming Bar and Redmire in the Dales.
When it’s time for the Championships to head to Northallerton, the eyes of the world will truly be on this Yorkshire gem as the world’s best cyclists and one of the world's hottest races, that may see a renewal of the battle between 2017 1-2 Tom Dumoulin and Primož Roglič, descend on the town to put on a show as they embark on their testing trip to Harrogate.
The UCI Road World Championships takes place between 22-29 September and Northallerton plays host to the Men Elite Individual Time Trial on Wednesday 25 September.