Richmond sits at the entrance to Swaledale, on a steep hill overlooking the River Swale (the highest part of the town is 350 feet above the river). The town is dominated by the river and by its castle, which sits on a rocky outcrop overlooking the town's impressive waterfalls.
The road west from Richmond runs through a steep-sided wood-lined valley, dominated to the north by the crags of Whitcliffe Scar, and provides a most dramatic entrance to Swaledale.
Richmond is fortunate that none of its main roads pass through the market square, which was once the outer bailey of the castle. The castle keep provides one of the best views of the town, while an impressive high level walkway runs around the southern walls of the castle, at the top of a steep bank dropping down to the Swale.
Richmond has a strong military connection, although the castle itself was never besieged. The massive Catterick Garrison is only a couple of miles away to the south, while the chapel in the marketplace now holds the museum of the Green Howards.
The Georgian Theatre Royal is one of the few eighteenth century theatres still in use in Britain. The theatre was built in 1788, closed in 1848, but was then reopened in 1963 and now puts on regular performances. The theatre also owned the oldest stage set in Britain, the "Woodland Scene" of 1818-36.
A number of the narrow roads that radiate out from the market place are worth exploring. Frenchgate, which heads north from the eastern tip of the market, was once the main road into the town. The central section of the street is still used by the main road to Catterick, but the steeply sloping northern end is now a dead end, and well worth a visit.
Richmond Castle is dominated by the 12th century keep, built at the northern tip of the inner bailey. Reaching to a height of 100ft, the keep is remarkably intact, and the view from the roof is very impressive. The keep was still in use as late as the First World War, when it was used as a prison for conscientious objectors.