Pontefract is a picturesque medieval market town situated in the Wakefield district of West Yorkshire, a historic and mystical county with many stories and legends associated with its bleak moorlands and deep valleys. In fact it was the rugged and wild landscape of West Yorkshire that inspired the creative genius of the Bronte sisters and when you visit Pontefract you too will be inspired by the history and beauty of this ancient town.
History seeps from the very walls of Pontefract and there is hardly a nook or cranny that does not have a tale to tell. Head on up to Pontefract Castle which used to hold the title of one of the greatest castles in England and which played a major role in the Civil War. Discover the heritage of Pontefract in the quaint and historical quarters on Market Place, Ropergate and Shoe Market and perhaps if you are brave enough you can go on one of the town’s ghost walks and hear more about the ghoulish goings-on!
Today, Pontefract is a lively and bustling market town which has plenty of shopping opportunities including local boutiques selling handicrafts and gifts and of course local farm produce from the district’s largest street market, boasting 116 stalls that sells everything from fresh bread to mobile phones! This huge outdoor market is held every Wednesday and Saturday so don’t miss your chance to stock up.
Central to the traditions of Pontefract is liquorice which used to be grown in the deep sandy soil and although liquorice is no longer grown here, visitors can still participate in the annual Liquorice Festival and sample one of Pontefract’s famous exports – Pontefract Cakes!
After all that liquorice you might want to exercise it all off with an adrenalin-fuelled day out at Pontefract Racecourse, once famous for having the longest flat, circular racecourse in Europe (now beaten by York) and considered to be one of the finest too! Horse racing is at the heart of the town, dating back to 1648 and it is a sport that the people of Pontefract are passionate about! Racing is not the only sporting activity on offer however; Yorkshire boasts the most successful cricket team in England whilst Yorkshire Rugby Football Union play a formidable game!
West Yorkshire’s industry used to be the woollen mills and coal mines which dominated this area. Pontefract itself was once a traditional coal mining town and the Prince of Wales Colliery was one of the oldest mines and the last to be shut down. Jobs are now largely centred around the tourist industry although Leeds is recognised as a leading financial centre.
Accommodation in Pontefract is not difficult to find and the visitor can choose from homely and welcoming B&Bs, grand country houses, ancient inns and modern hotels. Pontefract accommodation is cheap when compared to the rest of the UK but standards are just as high and guests are guaranteed a friendly Yorkshire welcome!
Why not stretch further afield and discover Roman roads, medieval manor houses and ancient Churches in the nearby villages of Ackworth, Wentbridge, Badsworth, Thorpe, Darrington and Audlin?