As a youngster this wasn't a place we came to - more a place we went through. A stopping point on the way to the seaside or Lakes. The local bypass has changed all that and the town is much better for it. As the name suggests it leads to some jocular phrases; 'Settle down now,' 'That Settles it' and so on.
This bustling market town lies in the foothills of the Pennines amongst some of the most picturesque scenery in North Yorkshire. It stands beside the largest outcrop of limestone in Britain - in a region of cliffs, scars, caves and potholes. At the rear of the town a winding footpath leads to the summit of Castleberg Crag that offers a rewarding view of the town in its dale and fell. Settle is an ideal base for exploring the Yorkshire Dales. This is walking country. The Three Peaks of Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Inglebrough are not far away.
The market place is surrounded by local businesses that are mainly family-owned, with some offering items for sale unique to this area. The town is dominated by the arcaded Shambles, originally a medieval butcher's and slaughterhouse, and the Town Hall, built on the site of the toll-booth which was pulled down in 1820. Settle is at its liveliest and colourful on Tuesdays, when the weekly market takes place attracting traders from far and wide.
Behind the Town Hall you come across a splendid C17th building once called Tanner Hall. It is Tudor in appearance and quite out of character for the Dales. Richard Preston built this and it's long been dubbed 'The Folly.' Perhaps it got this name because Preston became bankrupt due to to the huge construction costs. However, It's more likely due to its chequered past. Everything has been sold here - from scrap metal to Fish & Chips. It is a beautiful building with a wonderful doorway and mullioned windows which go round corners.
Another of the town's gems is 'Ye Olde Naked Man Café' - titter ye not! This was originally an Inn. The 'Naked Man' is said to have been covered up so that Queen Victoria wouldn't be offended. A closer look shows that he isn't actually naked. His blushes are spared by a dated plaque showing '1663.' It is suggested that the 'Naked Man' figure was the trade sign of a local carpenter. Others think it was once an undertakers or funeral parlour and gets its name from when they used to lay men's bodies out with no clothes on. There are also many other cafés around the town - I'm surprised none of them haven't produced 'The Settle Coffee Company.'
Ye Olde Naked Man Café
Naked Man sign
Situated within Settle is the railway station serving the community with a regular passenger service. A recommended outing is the return journey from Settle to Appleby on the famous Settle-Carlisle Railway - constructed between 1869 and 1876. It is said that this is the most scenic railway line in Britain, travelling through 14 tunnels and crossing 20 viaducts.
Benjamin Waugh, the founder of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) was born here. So too, was Dr George Birkbeck who founded the Mechanics Institute. In Kirkgate you will find the former home of Thomas Procter, the C18th painter and sculptor. Edward Elgar the famous composer used to come here for his holidays. Please see David's Diary for more information on the Settle - Carlisle Railway and Ribblehead Viaduct.
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