Viaduct town of Knaresborough has history at turn of every corner

With its cobbled alleys, a once royal castle, annual bed race and the enduring curiosity of Mother Shipton’s Cave and its petrifying well, it is fair to say that Knaresborough is both charming and unique.

Knaresborough Viaduct. Picture by Gerard Binks Photography.

Packed with history and character, the North Yorkshire market town is a hotbed for tourists - and no trip is complete without taking in its impressive viaduct.

The Grade II*-Listed structure crosses the River Nidd on the edge of the community, standing at around 100m long and 30m high. It was built in 1851 by engineer Thomas Grainger for the Leeds and Thirsk railway.

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Work on the four-arch viaduct started in 1847, according to Historic England, but the bridge collapsed a year later and the replacement cost £9,803 to construct.

Today, it forms part of the picturesque landscape, as well as providing spectacular views of the town below for those arriving by train.

There is many a spot from which its scale and magnificence can be truly appreciated - on foot with a waterside walk, by rowing boat on the river under its soaring arches, and from the overlooking Knaresborough Castle, once a stronghold of medieval kings, to name a few.

Further along the river sits Mother Shipton’s Cave, said to have once been home to the town’s mysterious prophetess who died in 1561.

The neighbouring petrifying well, thought to be England’s oldest tourist attraction, has drawn in millions of people to see cascading water turn everyday objects into stone.

A town of quirks, Knaresborough’s largest event is the annual bred race, held every year since 1966. Teams pushing elaborately decorated beds follow a demanding course including a steep climb to the town centre and a hurtle through the high street to raise funds for charitable causes.

Tourism organisation Welcome to Yorkshire is not wrong in its description of Knaresborough as having “an impressive sense of history” woven into its very fabric. A visit - and, of course, a picture postcard snap of its viaduct - is a must.

Photograph’s technical details: Nikon D3 56mm lens iso 200, 1/250 sec, f/7.1.