Ever thought of… Otley?

Date Posted: 28/03/2017

The West Yorkshire market town of Otley is gearing up for the summer season, and it's time to discover its best bits, including pubs, parks, pork pie shops and a chocolatier.

Otley is a historic West Yorkshire market town, placed between cosmopolitan Leeds and the Yorkshire Dales. Major sites include Otley Chevin, Wharfemeadows Park and a traditional market held three days a week.

It is also home to a number of quirky tea shops and independent boutiques, as well as a number of traditional pubs and pork pie shops.

History and heritage

Otley Chevin, the forest escarpment that overlooks the town, is home to some of the oldest Palaeolithic rock art in Britain. Otley hosted Oliver Cromwell's army before the 1644 Battle of Marston Moor (it's said his troops drank the town dry before marching on to victory), and is the birthplace of renowned cabinetmaker Thomas Chippendale.

The stone that built the Houses of Parliament was mined here, while romanticist painter JMW Turner was inspired to paint some of his greatest works in the town. The Wharfedale Printing Press, meanwhile, revolutionised the printing industry in the mid-19th century, allowing mass printing production for the first time.

Pork pies Otley

Pictured: Pork pies are just one of many products made in Otley.

Great outdoors

Otley and its surrounding countryside have been the training ground that honed the skills of world champions, Olympic athletes, gold medal winners and England internationals alike, including individuals like Danny Care, Georgia Coates, and the Brownlee brothers.

Visit Otley for cycling on roads that hosted the professionals in the 2014 Tour de France, walking and hiking on the cusp of the Yorkshire Dales, and horse riding on the Chevin.

Family fun

Otley was home to one of the first family-friendly venues in Leeds. Tittybottle Park was named after the Victorian mothers and nannies who would nurse infants in a relaxed setting by the River Wharfe.

Just across the water is the larger Wharfemeadows Park, hosting more landscaped gardens, a playground, a skate park, tennis courts and large, open spaces for games of rugby, football or kwik cricket.

Gallows Hill Nature Reserve, meanwhile, is home to a variety of birds, insects and amphibians to keep your eyes peeled for. Regular family based activities are held here too.

Otley

Pictured: Disover the great outdoors by taking a walking trail through and around Otley.

Shopping time

Farmers have been selling their goods in Otley for almost 800 years and that tradition continues today with a thrice-weekly market and a monthly specialist farmers' market. There are three local butchers offering meat reared on the surrounding farms of North Yorkshire, prize-winning bakers providing bread, and a chocolatier.

In addition, the shops on the cobbled lanes around the town provide all manner of artisan shops: vintners, beer specialists and traditional sweet shops, alongside fine jewellers, gift shops and antiques.

Café culture, pubs and art

Otley is home to a great number of pubs, some of which date back to the Middle Ages. The town also hosts a number of cafes, from the 1950s-themed Pink Teapot, to Bloomfield Square, owned by Terrorvision lead singer Tony Wright and home to a letterpress printing workshop.

Otley is also home to a wide range of arts venues, including the Courthouse arts centre with its original police cells still intact, the Rocca music bar, and Kork's – a wine bar with regular live gigs.

For further information, visit www.visitotley.co.uk.

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