*This is a collaborative post
When I mentioned that I was planning a trip to Richmond to various people, they all told me that it was a real hidden gem and couldn't believe I'd never visited before, especially when it's only around 90 minutes away by car. I soon discovered that Richmond is a truly fantastic place to spend a long weekend and have been kicking myself that we've only just discovered how wonderful it is. There's lots to do and the people are amongst some of the nicest you'll meet. I'll be publishing a full review of our apartment soon, but if you can't wait, you can check out our live apartment tour over on Facebook here.
One Frenchgate is superbly located with magnificent views overlooking the river Swale. Everything in the town is within very easy walking distance. A few people had recommended that we visit 'The Station' so after unpacking our bags, this was our first port of call.
The Station in Richmond is a Train Station that has been converted into a real community hub with gallery space, a cafe, an independent station cinema, a bakery, an ice cream parlour, a microbrewery and more. It's a real community hub and the kind of place I adore. It definitely reminded me of Newcastle's Grainger Market but on a much smaller scale. You can catch a family movie at one of the station's screenings and I love how you buy your ticket from the station's old ticket office. If you're after something a little more energetic you can cross over the road and take a dip in Richmond's swimming pool. Prices are very reasonable and under 3's are FREE.
As is always the case though, food was the first thing on our mind so we headed to the Seasons Restaurant and Cafe which is in the heart of the station. Their children's menu is only £4.95 and includes a scoop of ice cream and chocolate sauce for afters. Jack was super pleased with his pizza and I was impressed to see it was homemade rather than straight from the freezer. My fish and chips were homemade too. Definitely worth popping by.
After our re-fuel, we enjoyed browsing the various independent retailers. What I like about the set up at The Station is that you can actually chat to the people who have created and are really passionate about their products. You can watch the bakers bake their bread in their workshop and learn about how a microbrewery works as mum and dad sample a few beer tasters before deciding on a purchase.
|Bread from The Angel's Share Bakery at The Station, Richmond|
|Learning about how a Microbrewery works at Richmond Brewing Company in The Station|
Shopping isn't boring for kids when they can get hands on and learn how things work. We all had a lovely time at The Station and would definitely recommend a visit.
After a few hours at The Station, we had bags full of shopping so headed back to our apartment to drop off our treats and enjoy a quick coffee before heading back out. One of the stand out features of One Frenchgate is it's basement area which was soon taken over by the kids. We joked that this was Harry's 'bat cave' and he was in his element, lying on his own double bed, watching his HD TV (he could sign into Netflix) and FREE WiFi.
It's times like this that I realise just how grown up Harry is now. He even brought his own Jurni suitcase with him which is a travel suitcase for ages 9+. With it's secret hidden compartment to hide his iPhone and headphones, he really had everything he needed and is definitely growing more independent. Sob!
Suitably refreshed, I wanted to make the most of the last hour of daylight and announced we were going to walk along the river. The kids did put up a bit of resistance but it was time to tear them away from their devices and get some fresh air. There are various walks along the river to enjoy and I wish I had packed our wellies as it was rather muddy. The kids still enjoyed running around in the leaves though and I was in my element, greeting the various dogs that crossed our path. If you're a family who enjoys walking, definitely bring your boots if you visit Richmond.
After plenty of fresh air, the sun started to set so we headed back to One Frenchgate for an evening of board games and Saturday night TV. There are plenty of family friendly restaurants to sample in Richmond town centre if you'd prefer to eat out.
After a good night's sleep, we were nice and refreshed and ready for another day exploring. The weather was in our favour too. Yeah! As always, I had researched the various restaurants and cafes in town and Duncan's Tea Room really stood out as the best place for us to head for breakfast. I was drawn to the fact that they were a family-run business with rave reviews on both Tripadvisor and their Facebook page.
We certainly weren't disappointed. The tearoom is traditional in style and the lady who served us was the most welcoming host. Nothing was a problem at all and she explained that the kids could have anything they liked, even if it wasn't on the menu (obviously within reason). She even advised us to maybe only buy one bottle of apple juice between the two children to start off with and she'd split it between two cups to save us a little bit of cash. It's not often you receive service as good as this and I can see why Duncan's has the reputation it does.
We ordered a feast of a breakfast featuring local sausage sandwiches for the boys, homemade porridge for Heidi, eggy bread with fruit compote for myself and smoked salmon & scrambled egg on potato cakes for Steve. Everything was perfect.
We visited Richmond during remembrance Sunday and after breakfast we joined in with their parade and 11am silence. Richmond is a military town and the parades were very well attended. It was an honour to be part of it.
Next up, it was time to make use of our English Heritage pass and visit Richmond Castle. This Medieval Castle is steeped in history and right in the centre of town. Entry is free for English Heritage members or around £15 per family for non-members.
I probably say this about all Castles as we are generally Castle fans, but Richmond Castle is fab. First of all, there's a small interactive museum which gives you a good insight into the Castle's history from it's humble beginnings and why that spot was chosen to build a Castle right up to the present day. We walked through a mocked up market and learned how traders would have to abide by strict trading rules set by the Earl. All very engaging!
I was particularly interested to read all about the Richmond 16. I'd never heard of them before but found their story fascinating. Basically, they objected to automatically enrolling as soldiers during WWI as they were morally opposed to war. They were locked up and then sent to France where they weren't allowed to communicate with anyone or let their loved ones know where they were. The men were the subject of some very ill treatment and sadly, most of them ended up killing themselves or dying. I honestly cannot believe that this happened only 100 years ago and our trip to Richmond Castle has inspired me to find out more about the Richmond 16. If anyone can point me in the direction of a good book, please let me know.
After our insightful trip to the museum, we headed outside to walk around the Castle grounds. If you have sprightly toddlers with you it's important to keep them close by as there are a few sheer drops. The views are superb though and I could have stayed and photographed the area all day. I imagine this is a fab spot for a picnic in the warmer months.
You can climb right to the top of the Castle keep if you wish, but we saved that for another day as time was sadly getting on. I bet the views are worth the 100+ step climb though.
Back into Richmond town centre and we had a little bit of time to pop into a few shops en-route to our car before heading home. We stumbled upon Frenchgate Fudge Makers and Chocolatiers. This traditional sweet shop is ran by the loveliest couple who make all of their own fudge and treats. The owners were lovely with our children and explained how they make the fudge and helped them to pick the perfect treat as a souvenier for our trip. The children selected various chocolate lollipops and Steve and I went for some cherry and almond fudge - delicious!
Our final stop of the trip was to Jefferson's - a traditional grocer and cafe. Steve wanted to buy some Yorkshire picalliliy and this store had a lovely jar just for us. Again, the staff were so lovely and it really does make all of the difference. We were left with the lasting impression that Yorkshire really is a wonderful place to visit and we should do so more often.
Giveaway - Win your own Jurni carry on case worth £79.99
Let me know if you've visited Richmond before and where you'd recommend.