The top 5 market towns in the UK

St Ives Scaffolding - The top 5 market towns in the UK

Market Towns are a charming element of the UK’s landscape. Offering both beauty and history, market towns are full of character and an ideal place to stay for a holiday at home. But where are the best market towns? Find out below.


The Cumbrian market town of Alston sits near the the River South Tyne, in the Eden district. High up in the North Pennines, Alston holds the title of the 'highest market town in England'. However, it is in fact tied with Buxton, Derbyshire, for the title.

The town is known for its aesthetic appeal, and it is built around a cobbled main street that features a striking market cross. In addition, dotted around the town you’ll find several beautiful 17th Century buildings. If you’re a fan of cheese, the town is known for its selection of fine cheeses.


Southam is a pretty market town in Gloucestershire, England, just outside of Cheltenham. Its main feature is the stunning castle Southam House, built by an ally of Henry VII after the War of the Roses. Although the structure still stands, it has been converted and is now the Ellenborough Park Hotel. The town is also home to the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway, which runs through the outskirts of the village.


Ashbourne, in the beautiful Peak District in Derbyshire, is often called the gateway to the Peak District. This lovely market town is mentioned in Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice. Visit Ashbourne paints an enthralling picture of the town:

"Combining a medieval street pattern and historic buildings with a wealth of high-quality shops. The cobbled market place, hidden alleys and yards are a delight to explore. Ashbourne is surrounded by beautiful countryside and is an ideal base for a short break or longer holiday. If you enjoy stately homes, you are in for a treat with Chatsworth, Sudbury Hall, Hardwick Hall, Kedleston Hall, and Tissington Hall just to name a few within easy drive from Ashbourne."


Skipton is the ‘Gateway to the Dales’ in Yorkshire, and is best known for Skipton Castle. The town straddles the River Aire and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. There is no better place to stay than Skipton if you’re interested in exploring the Dales.

St. Ives

St Ives is 15 miles from the famous university city of Cambridge. This historic market town is by the River Great Ouse, where visitors and the local community enjoy guided riverboat trips. The town is also known for its fine collection of restaurants, cafes, and cosy pubs, as well as boasting a 15th century bridge and Chapel over the town's river. The feature is one of only four in England.