Millions of people have been fascinated by the tales of a Yorkshire Dales vet in the books by James Herriot (real name Alf Wight). His novels If only they could talk and It shouldn’t happen to a vet tell tales of the many characters and wonderful locations found around the fictional town of Darrowby in North Yorkshire.
The hugely popular TV series All creatures great and small helped bring the story to life further, showing the places in the books that James Herriot and his boss Siegfried Farnon and his brother Tristan frequented.
Our two day tour allows you to see these locations in the flesh, covering a number of locations in both The Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors.
We will start today by visiting the North Yorkshire market town of Thirsk. Our first stop will be at the practice of Alf Wight who wrote the books under the pseudonym of James Herriot. It has now been turned into a fascinating visitor attraction – The World of James Herriot. This is a real treat and the house hosts a TV studio, agricultural displays as well as many parts of the house being refurbished to show what the house would have looked like in the 1950’s.
From here we will drive to Sutton Bank, where a short walk will take us to a viewing point with stunning vistas over the Vale of York to the Yorkshire Dales in the distance. Alf Wight described the view from Sutton Bank as “the finest view in England” and often walked up there with his dog.
Next we will explore the Hambleton Hills, taking in The White Horse of Kilburn, The Mouseman Museum, Coxwold with its medieval church and the remote ruins of Byland Abbey. We’ll then travel via Ampleforth to Helmsley for lunch. Alf Wight loved the North York Moors and this afternoon we’ll visit locations form the TV series and the “real” James Herriot – Alf Wight’s life.
Whilst in Helmsley we will visit Rievaulx Terrace and Helmsley’s Norman Castle before travelling up via Hutton le Hole onto the North York Moors. This wild moorland with its small farms dotted over the landscape is England’s largest expanse of heather moorland and a site of special scientific interest.
We will take some detours to explore some old examples of Victorian ironstone workings at Chimney bank and stop at some old Christian preaching crosses before returning via the historic village of Lastingham with its ancient church complete with Saxon crypt.
Our tour today allows you to discover The Yorkshire Dales and covers a number of locations in beautiful Wensleydale & Swaledale where Alf Wight would carry out his work as a vet.
We will travel to Masham then onto Jervaulx Abbey (where Tristham pretended to be a Ghostly Monk to scare `James in the TV series!), before carrying on through Wensleydale stopping in Middleham with its racehorse training stables and famous castle where Richard III spent his childhood. We’ll also visit Castle Bolton where Mary Queen of Scots was once imprisoned then onto The Wheatsheaf pub in Carperby where the real James Herriot spent his honeymoon.
From here its on to Wensley Church where James Herriot’s wedding was filmed before stopping at Askrigg where the Kings Arms Pub featured as Darrowby’s Drovers Arms & Herriot’s practice Skeldale House was filmed in the TV series.
We will stop in Hawes – the Yorkshire Dales market town stopping at Wensleydale creamery for a spot of cheese tasting.
We will take lunch at the grand Simonstone Hall with outstanding views down the valley and peacocks wandering around the grounds before ascending over Buttertubs Pass with its spectacular views into Swaledale. This high mountain pass was described by former Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson as “England’s only truly iconic roads”.
We will pass through Muker, Gunnerside and Reeth with their wild flower meadows, dry stone walls and field barns. We will then take a sceneic pass and descend into Wharfedale to visit Grassington – the location of Channel 5’s new remake of All Creatures Great and Small, before heading back to our hotel.