I have lived in Yorkshire for the majority of my life but have never visited Pontefract. We actually got the urge to visit after seeing the castle on the ‘four in a bed’ tv show, of all places! The market town is located just off the M1 near Wakefield, so is very accessible. I was really impressed and couldn’t believe I hadn’t visited before, with it being so close me.
After parking up and wandering into the town, we first came across the Old Court House, now an antiques centre. We thought it was a small shop on entering but there must have been at least 10 giant rooms filled with all sorts of treasures. We continued into the town centre and visited some shops and the market all with a mis-match of architecture styles but it all worked together somehow. The small but sweet Pontefract Museum is opposite St Giles Church, telling the history of the once mighty castle, town life through the years and of course liquorice!
Pontefract was one of the main English manufacturers of liquorice, hence a liquorice cake named the Pontefract cake was born! There is even a Haribo factory where they continue to make the famous cakes to this day! One of the six Haribo outlet stores is located to the side of the factory with merchandise, an incredible selection of gummies and of course lots of Pontefract cakes.
We then took a 10 minute walk out of town to the castle. Built in 1070, it was a mighty fortress dominating Yorkshire, but soon after the civil wars it was destroyed. Due to many preservation projects, a good part of the castle is still standing today. You can clearly see the outline ruins, the excavated walls and the main towers. Also a relatively new visitor centre, liquorice cafe and playground stand by the entrance. The large open spaces make a great viewing platform for the surrounding areas of Yorkshire too, with Xscape Castleford in the distance. I love how England is full of historic castles and buildings. They are all well kept and preserved so when you visit you really feel like you are escaping modern life and going back in time for a few hours.
I usually don’t write about my visits to nearby towns & attractions for some reason. But I felt I needed to share this trip to a local hidden gem. The old market town, visit to the castle and unique shops made it an awesome day out!
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