“When all t'world goes one road...”* | Posted: 26 August 2016

Fourteen miles west of Helmsley, just outside the North York Moors National Park, lies the traditional market town of Thirsk. Among its claims to fame is that it was the home to vet and author Alf Wight, otherwise known as ‘James Herriot’, with Thirsk doubling as the fictitious ‘Darrowby’ in his highly successful series of books about the life of a North Yorkshire vet.

Alf Wight was born in 1916 and his life is being celebrated on what would have been his 100th birthday on 3 October 2016. “Mr ‘urriot’, t’vet’nary” also appeared in the BBC’s classic series All Creatures Great and Small from 1978-1990, though fans can still probably see it on one of the repeat ‘freeview’ channels on TV.

Although Alf Wight’s veterinary practice was based in and around the town of Thirsk, the locations for the TV series were scattered throughout the Yorkshire Dales, most notably in Wensleydale and Swaledale. ‘James proposed to Helen’ at Bolton Castle; ‘they were married’ in the church at Wensley; the exteriors of ‘Skeldale House’ in ‘Darrowby’ was actually a B&B in Askrigg near Leyburn; while the iconic opening sequence of Siegfried Farnon’s old car driving over a bridge and through a ford was filmed on a single-track moorland road between Feetham and pretty Langthwaite just north of Reeth.

I have to say I loved All Creatures Great and Small first time round – maybe it was the rose-tinted view of a slower, more gentle way of life that has long since disappeared; maybe it was seeing the young Carol Drinkwater, the first incarnation of Herriot’s TV wife, ‘Helen’, the archetypal English rose – or maybe it was the canvas of spectacular Yorkshire landscapes that acted as a warming backdrop to every episode and which still captivate me today.

*James Herriot, All Creatures Great and Small

Related Holidays

Classic Yorkshire Dales

To the west of Thirsk where 'James Herriot' was based, explore the landscapes that feature in All Creatures Great and Small, by walking through the Classic Yorkshire Dales, from Middleham to Richmond, via Aysgarth, Castle Bolton and Reeth.

More about our walking holidays in the Yorkshire Dales >

North Yorkshire Villages

Or head to the east to soon reach the North York Moors, another area of outstanding natural beauty where you walk from one pretty village of stone houses to the next via wooded valleys, tabular hills and vast swathes of purple heather moorland – with a journey on a steam train thrown in for good measure.

More about our walking holiday in the North York Moors >

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