Some of you may recall taking a trip with me to Ilkley in Wharfedale last year. A few miles down the River Wharfe, the next small town is Otley. The two couldn't be more different. Ilkley is a gracious spa town, well-to-do and conscious of it, with wide boulevards and select shops. Otley has a much more down-to-earth feel about it. Its origins go back to Saxon times, when the Archbishops of York were the lords of the manor and had a palace here. In the 13th century they laid out 'burgage plots' (houses on narrow plots of land) to attract merchants and traders. The town was granted a market in 1222 and grew as an agricultural centre. There was a cottage woollen industry and then in the 19th century cotton and woollen mills grew up along the banks of the river. Otley also became a centre for the printing industry.
It remains a solid little market town but it is not as popular with tourists and visitors as Ilkley. Rather a pity in some ways, as it is full of history, but it doesn't somehow seem to make the most of its attractions. I took this picture from the steep bank known as The Chevin, that overlooks the town. Now preserved as an area of outstanding natural beauty, it was the route of a Roman road that connected Ilkley with York.