Boroughbridge is a thriving small market town conveniently located just 16 miles northwest of York, and 30 minutes from Leeds and Harrogate. Boasting ancient monuments, a picturesque marketplace, wonderful walks, and picture-perfect neighbouring Aldborough, with a Roman fort and village stocks, Boroughbridge is the perfect place for discerning travellers to visit on a day trip from York.
Pretty Boroughbridge is an unspoiled off-the-beaten-path gem. It has a High Street buzzing with inviting cafes, shops, pubs, and restaurants, and over a thousand years of history for you to explore.
Boroughbridge is located on the border of the Vale of York – a very scenic part of England, blessed with gentle hills that make this area inviting for walkers and cyclists alike.
Anyone who loves the sight of old English towns should visit BoroughbridgeJ.S. Fletcher The Enchanting North (1908)
Where is Boroughbridge in North Yorkshire?
Tucked away in deepest North Yorkshire, Boroughbridge is almost exactly halfway between London and Edinburgh, making it a popular location for drivers making a journey along the A1 motorway that links these two great British cities.
How to Get to Boroughbridge on a Day Trip From York
Boroughbridge doesn’t have a train station, but there are 3 other ways to visit:
By Bus: The number 22 Yorkshire Coastliner bus runs to Boroughbridge from York, taking about 50 minutes. It’s a very scenic journey through pretty North Yorkshire villages. The bus departs from Low Ousegate in York. Check timetable and fares here.
By Car: Boroughbridge is Just 2 minutes away from the A1M in North Yorkshire (junctions 48 and 49).
The best place to park on a day trip from York is Back Lane Car Park. Post Code YO51 9PQ, where parking is free all day.
By Taxi: A taxi from York is the most convenient way to visit Boroughbridge if you don’t have a car while staying in York. Expect the journey to cost around £50 to £60. Before you book a cab, check out these top taxi safety tips for solo female travellers.
You may also like: The 17 Best Things to Do in Knaresborough
The Best Things to See and Do in Boroughbridge on a Day Trip from York
The War Memorial
The large square-columned War Memorial is located in Hall Square (also known as Market Square). The memorial commemorates those who gave their lives for their country in the Great War 1914-1918.
Hall Square itself is very pretty, with beautiful old houses around the ancient cobbled square which used to be home to fishermen. The square is easy to find, moments away from Back Lane car park.
Love military history? You may also enjoy: The Jersey War Tunnels
The Butter Market Museum
The modest Butter Market Museum is located in an 18th-century building built to provide farmers’ wives with shelter on market days as they were selling their dairy products. The small collection of local artefacts, includes an early 19th-century bread oven, railway memorabilia, and dairy equipment loaned to the museum by local farmers. The museum is open during daylight hours and free to visit.
Location: Hall Square, Boroughbridge
The Town Pump
The most prominent historic structure in Boroughbridge is the town pump built by Mrs. Lawson of Aldborough Manor as a lasting memorial to her husband Andrew, who had died three years earlier.
The flywheel pump draws water from the 256-foot deep artesian well. The ornate canopy was built in 1875 and is considered to be one of the most ornate pump buildings in England. It is huge!
Location: St James’ Square, Boroughbridge
The Devil’s Arrows
The Devil’s Arrows (or Devil’s Bolts, Three Greyhounds, Three Arrows, or Three Sisters) are three vast Bronze Age standing stones (known as menhirs), composed of millstone grit. Deeply grooved from millennia of rainfall, the tallest stone is 22.5 feet tall, making it the 2nd tallest menhir in Britain, and taller than any of the stones at Stonehenge. The other two stones are 22 feet and 18 feet (5.5 m) high respectively.
While the Devil’s Arrows were probably towed to Boroughbridge from nearby Plumpton Rocks – on a wooden track – there’s no record about why they were erected.
According to local legend, the devil wanted to destroy Fountains Abbey with his arrows, but he missed, and the arrows landed in Boroughbridge. Locals also say that walking around the stones 12 times anti-clockwise will raise the devil.
Some believe that the Devil’s Arrows were arranged to align with the southernmost summer moonrise. They form part of a wider Neolithic complex which includes the Thornborough Henges.
Location: Roecliffe Lane, Boroughbridge YO51 9LR
The Roman Ramble
One of the best ways to discover Boroughbridge on a day out from York is to follow the well-marked and flat Roman Ramble around the town and nearby Aldborough. The walk starts in the middle of Boroughbridge, then follows a footpath down to the bank of the River Ure before taking the road to charming Aldborough.
The 3.5-mile walk is a very pleasant way to spend half a day.
Pick up a guide to the Roman Ramble from the Tourist Information Centre in Boroughbridge., located at 1 Hall Square.
Opening hours: 9.00 am – 4.00 pm Monday to Friday and Saturday from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm from Easter until October half term. Winter opening hours are Monday to Friday 9.00 am to 1.00 pm and Saturday 10.00 am to 2.00 pm.
Aldborough is an absolute gem full of individual old honey-coloured houses beneath red-tiled roofs. It’s a sleepy village where houses have names, not numbers – there’s even a Maypole on the village green which is still used.
Older than Boroughbridge, Aldborough was a Romano-British town called Isurium Brigantum, as it was the regional capital of the powerful Brigantes tribe from AD160.
Aldborough became an important crossing the Roman road that connected York, Hadrian’s Wall, and everything beyond to the Antonine Wall in southern Scotland.
Aldborough Roman Site
English Heritage manages the remains of the Roman Fort as Aldborough Roman Site. There’s a modest site museum that includes artefacts discovered during excavations, including coins, jewellery, and pottery.
Large sections of the Roman walls remain in places, and several sizeable Roman mosaics are exposed to view. The whole site is beautifully landscaped within a Victorian arboretum, making it a serene and enjoyable place for a stroll. Expect to spend up to an hour here, unless you’re passionate about archaeology and wish to linger for longer.
Opening Hours: Saturday and Sunday only from 10 am to 5 pm
Entrance Charge: £5.00
Location: There’s no dedicated parking at the Aldborough Roman Site, except for disabled visitors. Postcode YO51 9ES. The best place to park is the free car park at Boroughbridge – about 1 mile away (a very pleasant 15-20 minute stroll from the Roman site).
The Bomber Memorial
Aldborough’s village green bears a memorial plaque to the crew of a Lancaster bomber that crashed near Aldborough on 2 February 1944.
The crew who served with 432 Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force were based at Eastmoor. They were on a training flight when their aircraft caught fire.
The skilled pilot avoided a crash-landing into the village. Instead, he managed to bring the plane down on Studforth Hill, just to the south of Aldborough. Seven crew members lost their lives in the crash, but their sacrifice saved the lives of many in the village. The plaque was erected by the villagers of Aldborough on the 50th anniversary of the crash in 1994.
The Aldborough Village Stocks
On the green next to the plaque are the restored village stocks where wrongdoers were put on public display. The stocks originally stood on the marketplace in Boroughbridge. When the medieval church on the marketplace was pulled down in 1851 the stocks were removed and brought to Aldborough where they stand in front of the old courthouse.
St Andrew’s Church Aldborough
The lovely 14th-century parish church of St Andrew is believed to have the longest pendulum for a church clock in England. The church site dates back to Roman times – the Romans had a temple dedicated to Mercury here. The 14th-century builders who excavated the church foundations around 1330 found a carved Roman statue of the god Mercury which is now set into the church wall
Look out for the Roman bricks which were incorporated in the walls of the west tower in the 15th century and the stunning stained glass windows. There’s also a beautifully preserved memorial brass depicting Sir William de Aldeburgh within the church. Life-sized, the brass is six feet tall and shows Sir William, who died in 1360, clad in battle armour.
Location: B6265 Low Road, Aldborough YO51 9ER
The Battle Monument
Look out for the slender 15th-century cross near the church. Originally this stood in the marketplace in Boroughbridge; however, it was relocated to Aldborough in 1852 when the medieval town church was pulled down.
The cross, known as the Battle Monument. commemorates the Battle of Boroughbridge in 1322. Sir Andrew Harcla, Edward II’s general, defeated Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, who had formed an alliance with Robert I of Scotland. In an attempt to control royal authority, Lancaster led a doomed rebellion force of 700 mounted knights and footsoldiers against the King’s army of 4,000 men. Lancaster was forced into surrender, and he and 30 of his followers were executed for treason.
Location: B6265 Low Road, Aldborough YO51 9ER
The Aldborough Festival
The inaugural Northern Aldborough Festival was in 1994. Since then this fabulous little festival has earned a reputation as one of the most prestigious classical music events in the country.
Well on its way to being one of the leading fixtures on the classical music calendarThe Times
This friendly festival is a firm favourite with classical music lovers, many of whom make a day trip from York to enjoy the variety of performances. One of the best aspects of this festival is the 75-minute interval for the opera performances: ticket holders are encouraged to bring picnics to enjoy in the church grounds or the field used for parking. Others book a table at the Ship Inn opposite the church.
Next Festival: 16 – 25 JUNE 2022
Attractions Near to Boroughbridge North Yorkshire
North Yorkshire is blessed with a massive amount things for the visitor to see and do. Here are some popular things to do in the local area.
Staveley Nature Reserve
Staveley Nature Reserve is a tranquil 200-acre spot close to the River Tutt in the North Yorkshire countryside. It’s a wonderful place for visitors of all ages, that’s well set up for those with limited mobility, thanks to the wide and accessible trails.
The best time to visit Staveley nature reserve is the summer, as you will see masses of foot-high wildflowers abuzz with dragonflies and butterflies. Check out the West Lagoon which is grazed by attractive Hebridean sheep, and if you’re lucky, you’ll also get to see wild otters.
Staveley is a real treat for bird watchers, including migrants such as sand martins and several species of warbler, common tern, and wading birds like snipe, lapwing, and ring plovers.
Access to the nature reserve is free to all visitors.
Location: Minskip Road, Knaresborough HG5 9LQ
More local attractions
Tips For Visiting Boroughbridge and Aldborough
Take a jacket: This is North Yorkshire – even on the warmest days, it’s best to have a jacket with you. For more packing tips check out: What to pack for a trip to Yorkshire
Remember your camera: The scenery in North Yorkshire begs to be photographed, with gems at every turn.
Wear comfortable walking shoes: On the Roman Ramble, or the walk to Aldborough, you’ll need comfy footwear..
Where to Eat and Stay in Boroughbridge and Aldborough
The Grantham Arms (Milby, Boroughbridge YO51 9BW) is a friendly and attentive traditional British pub, with a tempting menu, great range of beers, and excellent cocktails. The rhubarb, white chocolate, and pistachio trifle is sinfully delicious and the lemon posset is incredible. A real treat.
The Ship Inn (Low Road Aldborough, Boroughbridge YO51 9ER) opposite the church in Aldborough is a traditional pub, serving high-quality British fare plus fabulous tapas and curry, but make sure you’re hungry, as the portion sizes are very generous. The traditional Sunday roast is as good as you can get anywhere served with lashings of proper gravy!
Extra Tips for Visiting Boroughbridge and Aldborough
Aldborough Roman Fort is an English Heritage site. If you’ll be in the United Kingdom for a while, and love visiting historical sites, it may be worth buying an English Heritage membership. Find membership information here.
Find all of the posts about Yorkshire here.
If you’re looking for an interesting day out from York, why not tarry a while at the quaint market town of Boroughbridge and the charming village of Aldborough? For such small places, there are plenty of things to do and see.
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