Holiday cottages in James Herriot Country, North Yorkshire

Farmstays and holiday cottage accommodation in North Yorkshire
View all holiday cottages in Thirsk

To the northwest is the town of Thirsk, an excellent base to stay in a self-catering cottage and explore this section of Yorkshire. Thirsk has its own attractions, most notably the World of James Herriot, which is set in the authors' actual house and surgery. It has quite a collection of memorabilia and a re-creation of the sets from the television series. It has been done rather well, and you will find lots of Herriot fans, all with that tell-tale look on their faces.

cycling in Herriot country near Thirsk

There are two ruined abbeys not too far away, one to the east, Rievaulx, and one to the west, Fountains. Rievaulx is a former Cistercian abbey, destroyed by Henry VIII in the 16th century, and the ruins are sited in a beautiful secluded valley on the river Rye. There are towering pillars, examples of beautifully carved stonework, and graceful arches, and they all give you a good idea of how it might have looked when the church was at the peak of its power in the 13th century. The scenery is much as it would have looked when the monks arrived 900 years ago, and this is a perfect place to sit, relax and maybe have a picnic. Fountains Abbey was also a Cistercian establishment, but considerably more powerful and vastly richer. After the buildings had been destroyed much of the stone was removed and used to build Fountains Hall, but apart from the abbey ruins the Water Gardens of Studley Royal are the main attraction. The gardens are beautifully formal, with artificial lakes and extensive landscaping to enhance the remains of the abbey, and today they are the most visited of the National Trust's properties, and the only World Heritage site in Yorkshire.

Visit the museum at Eden Camp

A visit to the unique museum at Eden Camp, not far from Malton in North Yorkshire, takes you back in time to wartime Britain. Here you can not only see the sights and hear the sounds, but you can even take in the smells of those turbulent years.

What makes the award-wining Eden Camp rather unique is that unlike its bigger and more modern sister, the Royal Armouries in Leeds, Eden Camp is not a ‘walk around and look’ Military Museum. The exhibits have been reconstructed with scenes using movement, light, sound, smells and even the odd smoke machine to take the visitor back in time and give a true sense of being part of the history.

There’s also a two part assault course for the younger members of the family, one for the juniors and an escape tunnel for those budding junior SAS members of the family. Eden Camp was an original Prisoner of War Camp built in 1942. You will need to allow 3 to 4 hours for a full visit. Aside from on-site tea rooms and refreshment areas, both indoor and outdoor picnic areas are also available. Dogs are also allowed almost full access on site but they must be on a lead and under control at all times. Understandably, unless guide dogs, they are not allowed into the cafe, children's play area or gift shop.

Finally, if you’d like to see the longest runway in the north of England, then a visit to the Yorkshire Air Museum , one of the few authentic RAF bomber bases open to the public, is a must. Based just off the A64 at Elvington near York, the museum is a living memorial to all the Allied Air Forces personnel who operated from Yorkshire during the Second World War. The Yorkshire Air Museum is an exciting attraction, featuring many of the most famous aircraft in the world from the past 100 years. The visitors’ immediate reaction is to question how these amazing machines actually managed to get off the ground in the first place.