Otley – A hidden shopping jewel, North of Leeds
20th August 2020
Leeds may be home to some of the biggest names in shopping such as Harvey Nichols and John Lewis, but if you head out of the city centre into the local towns and villages, there are some incredible shopping opportunities that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else. A great case in point is the market town of Otley. Set around six miles from the city centre, Otley lies on the banks of the River Wharfe and is guarded by the famed 252-metre Otley Chevin, a huge escarpment covered with woods and a popular location with local walkers.The town itself has a long and varied history. The Chevin is home to the Knotties Stone, one of a series of ancient Neotlithic monuments. And while people made their home here for many years, it was in Saxon times that the town came into its own, taking its name from Otta or Otah – a local tribes leader – and leah, the Saxon name for a clearing in the woods.
(credit Endure Communications)
In 1222, Otley was granted one of the first market charters in the country, and a market has graced its cobbled streets for almost 800 years. Still held every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday in Market Place, it sees a host of stallholders selling fresh fruit and vegetables, eggs, cheeses, herbs and spices. The last Sunday of each month also sees the town host a regular Farmers’ Market with produce from the surrounding Wharfe Valley farms.
The bustle of market day is an obvious time to visit, but the town is equally lively on other days too. Spreading out from Market Place are a number of streets, alleys and arcades that are a haven for shoppers. Meat lovers will adore the three local butchers, Weegmanns, Wilkinson’s and Middlemiss who each regularly vie for the title of Yorkshire’s best pork pie.
On nearby Bondgate, one can find artisan bakers Bondgate Bakery, which produces incredible sourdough loaves, quiches and a number of other pastries, while New Market is the place to pick up something to wash it all down: The Curious Hop stocks artisan beers from around Yorkshire and beyond, while the catchily titled Chez Vin is home to a wide range of wines and spirits.
(credit Endure Communications)
Like Nana Did, is a real treasure trove and sells dried groceries and sweet treats old-school style in paper bags or shoppers’ own containers, while The Sweet Escape has an equally retro feel offering candy and chocolates from huge jars that stand sentinel-like on the shelves. Those with a really sweet tooth should take home of Otley’s best souvenirs: truffles from Patisserie Viennoise. Owner Trevor Backhouse is the Willy Wonka of Otley and passersby can gaze into his workshop through a huge window to see the chocolates swirling round as he creates his magic.
There’s more to Otley shopping experience than food and drink too. The Victorian Kirkgate Arcade is a treasure trove of independent shops selling various collectables, jewellery can be picked up from the like of Aura and The Ethical Jeweller, meanwhile at Just Books, they do just that, but they do it very well. Owner Sara, is a font of literature knowledge and if she doesn’t stock it, she will gladly order it in and arrange delivery for you.
The above are just a sample of some of the independent shops you can find throughout the town – the best way to discover more is to simply visit and have a wander. With some fabulous pubs and a host of tearooms and cafés, Otley makes for a great day out from Leeds City Centre.
To find out more about Otley’s shops, see https://www.buyinotley.co.uk/. A unique Shopping Trail can be picked up from the Council Offices Otley Core in the Orchard Gate shopping centre or printed out from this link https://www.buyinotley.co.uk/otley-unique-shopping-trail/