herriot country news

Group Travel Familiarisation Visit to Herriot Country

Oct 22, 2022

A familiarisation visit to Herriot Country, organised in September 2022, provided our guests with a wide-ranging selection of Herriot Country partners.

The visit started at the World of James Herriot where guests had the opportunity to learn all about the world’s most famous vet in the original house and surgery where it all began. Guests were welcomed and shown around by centre manager Kate Pawlett and managing director Ian Ashton who showed off the new Channel 5 TV All Creatures Great and Small exhibition, the activity room, where the famous ‘pull the calf from the cow’ exhibit continues to delight visitors and the Alf Wight statue in the garden that was installed to celebrate his 100th birthday in 2016. www.worldofjamesherriot.com

Thirsk Hall and Sculpture Park just along the street from the World of James Herriot was next stop and the discovery of this wonderful garden in the heart of Thirsk was a delight to experience. Large-scale sculptures adorn the gardens in a variety of interesting ways using different aspects of the gardens to surprise, impress and amuse. An exhibition of David Hockney’s work in Gallery One was a highlight of the visit. www.thirskhall.com/

Thirsk Birds of Prey Centre’s demonstrations are inspiring and uplifting as the magnificent birds are encouraged to fly in the purpose-built arena and into the countryside. The Centre is home to around 100 birds and 50 different species. Guests experienced the birds close up and enjoyed the swooping of them just overhead as the experienced and passionate display team provided light-hearted and informative commentary.

Monk Park Farm made sure that the guests remained interactive at the attraction. Getting close up to the animals, petting the guinea pigs, feeding milk to the goats and lambs. It was a really good opportunity to learn how Monk Park Farm is providing great hands on experiences and learning experiences for people of all ages. www.monkparkfarm.co.uk

Kiplin Hall and Gardens rounded off the first day with a delightful afternoon tea. Kiplin Hall is one of Herriot Country’s hidden gems and guests were really struck by the attractive building and grounds and its considerable history, 400 years’ worth of stories about international adventure lived out by members of the four families that owned Kiplin Hall over four centuries. An oasis of calm and tranquility in the heart of North Yorkshire, Kiplin Hall & Gardens was built in the 1620’s for George Calvert founder of Maryland, USA. www.kiplinhall.co.uk

Day two, we start out from the Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate which is one of our Herriot Country member hotels in the Classic Lodges Hotels group. First stop is Skipton Castle where we are greeted by Janet and volunteer guide Anthony who provided us with an excellent tour of the Castle and shared his detailed knowledge of the Castle’s over 900 years of history. Skipton Castle is one of the most complete and best preserved medieval castles in England.

Onward to Grassington where an enthusiastic band of Grassington Chamber of Trade members met the group. Grassington is the fictional town of Darrowby in the current Channel 5 series of All Creatures Great and Small. We started with a view of the attractive stone walled pathway walk towards the river and then a stroll around the cobbled market square and village streets where the All Creatures Great and Small filming takes place. It is fringed by shops offering everything from practical essentials to totally tempting luxuries and other attractions such as friendly cafés, restaurants and cosy hotels. Art galleries, crafts and open studios complete the Yorkshire shopping experience. It’s easy to see why the producers chose Grassington for the setting of Darrowby. We had coffee and cake at the Devonshire which doubles as the Drovers Arms in the series and heard about the amazing number of activities and events that take place in the village throughout the year.

From Grassington through the Yorkshire Dales heading north to Hawes we captured the beautiful scenery and on a fine sunny day it seemed like we had arrived in heaven. On arrival at Hawes we meet Richard Fawcett, a local farmer and sheepdog handler, who has been demonstrating his working sheepdogs on a regular basis for over 30 years at his farm in beautiful Upper Wensleydale, near Hawes. We met the lovely dogs, Lola, Keef, Neat, Sim, and Gorse and Richard showed us how his long expertise and the dogs’ instinct and training come together to herd the sheep in different situations. We could  easily see why he and his dogs have won so many awards for their work. Inspiring…

Onward to Aysgarth Falls, where the famous waterfalls are a stunning display of the power of the River Ure as it grows from its source higher up the Dales. There’s a National Parks Visitor Centre with parking and it’s a great starting point for many different walks and trails near the river and other lovely walks in the area taking in the surrounding woods or heading up to the lovely villages of Carperby or Aysgarth.

Onward to Richmond where we arrive at Aske Hall Estate and a warm welcome by Jo and Alex at Kiss the Moon where we learned about the natural beauty & wellness products that tap in to the power of nature’s most soothing ingredients to help you sleep beautifully and wake up feeling gorgeous. Kiss the Moon’s range is 100% natural, made without cruelty to animals and proudly made in the UK.

Right next door is Mocha’s chocolate making studio, shop and cafe where Liz and her team gave us an appetising late lunch, tea and coffee and of course, hand-made chocolates. Every chocolate in Mocha’s luxury chocolate box selections have been developed and handcrafted by their own team of chocolatiers, right here in Yorkshire. Mocha’s chocolate selections make the perfect chocolate gift or as a treat for any chocolate lover. Delicious….

At the Richmondshire Museum we were welcomed by friendly volunteer Helen who gave us exclusive access to the All Creatures Great and Small studio set that was used in the original BBC TV series. Richmondshire Museum was founded in 1974 by the Richmond and Dales Soroptimists and opened in 1978. Since then much has been added to make the attraction a ‘must’ for any visitor to the town. The building appears small on the outside but is a veritable ‘Tardis’ once entered. There is a wide range of items on display with the emphasis upon local and social history. Displays include artefacts from the Stone Age to the present day.

We were met by Councillor Clive World who provided a very interesting guided walk around historic Richmond which was founded in 1071 by Breton Alan Rufus on lands granted to him by William the Conqueror. Richmond Castle was completed in 1086 with a keep and walls encompassing the area now known as the Market Place. We arrived at the Green Howard’s Museum where Fiona, the museum’s communications and commercial manager gave us a whistle-stop tour of this important asset to the town. The museum itself has always been based in Richmond and the objects in the museum come from many different sources, but the collection itself started through the interests and collections of a few key individuals. Over time, through diligent collecting, and generous donation, particularly in the years following the First World War, the collection has grown.

Our final curtain call, so to speak, was the Georgian Theatre Royal, where theatre director Clare Allen took us back stage to see the workings of the theatre and explained all of its fantasic history. Britain’s most complete Georgian theatre, the Georgian Theatre Royal is open 10am-5pm Monday to Saturday with guided tours every hour on the hour.

Our thanks to Coatham Coaches for their very valuable help providing transport for our visitors. Our driver John is a real Herriot Country enthusiast and we enjoyed having John’s knowledge on board the coach. If you would like further details on coach hire, group travel or conference and hospitality services, please contact the office on: 01287 652222  www.coathamcoaches.co.uk

Herriot Country Tourism Group brings together all of the locations that feature in James Herriot’s stories of life in rural North Yorkshire.


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