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Things to do in Riccall, North Yorkshire

Situated just off the busy A19 between Selby and York, Riccall is a small picturesque village centred on the village green and ancient church.

Main Street Riccall Spring 2007 ©  Peter R Williamson
Main Street © Peter R. Williamson 2007

The settlement is believed to date from Anglian times, the name being derived from Rica- halh, meaning 'a nook of land of a man called Rica'.

At the end of Landing Lane is the very spot beside the River Ouse where some 9000 Vikings disembarked from 300 longships in 1066, on their way to attack York.

The church of St Mary, Riccall ©  Peter R. Williamson 2007
The church of St Mary © Peter R. Williamson 2007

After capturing York, the army led by Harald Hardrada, King of Norway, retired to Stamford Bridge where it was soundly defeated by the English army under King Harold.

Only 24 of the 300 longships that had arrived managed to sail for home. Three weeks later, Harold was defeated and killed at Hastings.

St Mary's church stands in the heart of the village, beside the small triangular green.

The Norman door , St Mary's Church, Riccall ©  Peter R. Williamson 2007
The Norman door , St Mary's Church © Peter R. Williamson 2007

 

Although a Saxon church would probably have once stood on this site, the present Norman church is believed to have been founded in the mid-twelfth century during the reign of King Stephen.

The wonderful arched Norman doorway, the fascinating interior and the tower of 1180, are a must for any visitor.

Riccall is a ‘proper', thriving village with a bustling post office at its heart, a traditional butcher's shop, a busy grocery store, a fish & chip shop, two good pubs, two fine restaurants and three comfortable B&Bs.

base of cross, Riccall churchyard ©  Peter R. Williamson 2007
Base of cross, Riccall churchyard © Peter R. Williamson 2007

 

The award-winning Regen Centre on Landing Lane provides educational and sports classes for the inhabitants of Riccall and the surrounding villages, as well as being a venue for business and community group meetings and social functions.

Within easy walking are the River Ouse, where cormorant, heron, kingfisher, teal and swan can be seen; and the ancient woodland of Skipwith Common, a Designated Special Area of Conservation, home to a variety of rare flora and fauna, including snakes, lizards, European nightjar and red kite.

Village Green Riccall Spring 2007 ©  Peter R Williamson
Village Green © Peter R. Williamson 2007

 

In summer, herds of Longhorn cattle, black Hebridean sheep and Exmoor ponies graze here.

Believe it or not, Riccall also lies at the outer reaches of the solar system.

Models of all the planets have been erected along the old railway line, now a cycle/footpath, from Pluto in Riccall all the way to the Sun, some eight miles away on the outskirts of York.

The River Ouse at Riccall Winter 2007 ©  Peter R Williamson
The River Ouse at Riccall © Peter R. Williamson 2007

 

However, for those not wanting to walk or cycle that far, the village is served by an excellent regular bus service that runs between the historic Minster city of York and the quieter Abbey market town of Selby.

Description by Peter R Williamson

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