Tag Archives: Market Town

A Yorkshire Town called Thirsk

Thirsk, Yorkshire

Home of James Herriot

Set in the Yorkshire countryside 24 miles north of York, the charming medieval market town of Thirsk rests between the Hambleton Hills and the Dales. Perhaps most famously known as the home of Author James Herriot. Although James Herriot is the name we know him by, it is actually his pen name. Born James Alfred Wight (Alf to people that knew him), Herriot became a Veterinarian before turning to writing.

He is best known for his books on animals and their owners called ‘If only they could talk’. Herriot’s practice was located in the Yorkshire town of Thirsk, 23 Kirkgate to be exact and now the site of the Herriot Museum. The veterinary practice is still working on this site, caring for ‘all creatures great and small’. The museum is well worth a visit, even if you are not familiar with his work.

James Alfred Wight Blue sign
James Alfred Wight

James Herriot Museum

As you step through the bright red door into the museum you are taken back in time to visit the fully restored 1940’s home of the author and vet. A magical time capsule of the author awaits you, a moment frozen in time where you can imagine him sat at his writing desk, recalling the tales of the clients he had that day. During the war, his basement was converted into an air raid shelter. As well as a family home it is also the site of the veterinary surgery, dispensary and waiting rooms.

Herriot’s books were turned into a tv show called All Creatures Great and Small in the late 70’s and again in the late 80’s. A reproduction of the set and the vehicle used are still on show for visitors today. The legend of veterinary work is still being televised today with the popular programme ‘The Yorkshire Vet’ filmed here with Peter Wright (who worked alongside James Herriot) and Julian Norton.

James Herriot’s honeymoon in Carperby

We visited Carperby, a little village not too far away from Thirsk on the other side of the A1M. It was here that James took his bride for their honeymoon and according to the documents in the local pub, he stayed there and then spent half of his honeymoon working on the local farm looking at Cows! His signature is displayed in the pubs guest book.

Whilst there we highly recommend you stay for some food as it is incredible! You can take a nice walk to Aysgarth falls through the fields or head up the hills for some stunning views from the beacon.

Thirsk, not just a Market town in Yorkshire.

Thirsk Yorkshire
Thirsk, Yorkshire

The road that runs between York and Northallerton may be Roman built, but the Yorkshire town of Thirsk situated on that route is actually Saxon in origin, although it is likely there were settlements here even earlier than that.  The town has held a market here since the 12th century and been the meeting place for local villages to come together. Markets still happen here every Monday and Saturday on the cobblestone floor of the town square.

The sounds of the traders selling their goods has long been a sight on these stones and if you can imagen them in different clothing with different shelters, you can fall back in time. Horses tied up where cars now park, meat hung up for sale at the butchers, hand carved utensils form the wood turner. There would be people from all over the area coming to market to collect fresh goods for the week ahead or try to sell their wares.

The town square houses a nice collection of independent shops, a few branded shops, pubs, cafes and gorgeous architecture. It is easy to see where newer buildings were built next to old ones if you stop to take in the buildings character above the shop fronts.

LifeBeyondBricks

One of the plus sides of social media is that you get to connect with people like you. It is even better when you are then able to meet them in person. We had been following LifeBeyondBricks for a while, and unbeknown to us they were following us too!

We started talking over the internet and when we saw they were in Yorkshire we did a happy dance and tried to meet up, It was here in Thirsk that we finally met. If you havent heard of them before, here is what you need to know…

Tash and Jon travel in their motorhome. They started their full time adventure in March last year, at the same time we did but they took their 3 cats with them on the road.

See what happened when we met the team in Thirsk!

Thirsk Castle

Thirst Castle, Yorkshire
Thirsk Castle, Yorkshire

Sadly, barely any trace of it is left to be found. Built around 959-970’s this Motte and Bailey castle is now reduced to imagination, myth and legend. There is some argument to whether it was a Norman Castle as there is no mention of it in the Doomsday book. After the conquest, the castle belonged to the De Mowbray family. Around 1175, one of the descendants rose up against Henry II somewhat ineffectually. Thirsk castle was besieged, rapidly surrendered and totally destroyed as a result.

All that remains now are raised earthworks around town with information boards to tell you more about that area. There are plenty of walks around town that explain the history of the Yorkshire town of Thirsk.

12th Century Church – St Oswalds

Moss
Moss growing on the Church wall.

Whilst walking around the town, it is worth taking a little stroll down the lanes and side streets. When we visited with Jon and Tash from Life Beyond Bricks, we noticed a sign pointing to a 12th century church so decided to investigate. It was a little further walk than we expected but a glorious walk past the back of the Ritz Cinema, past the Thirsk and Sowerby Institute and stunning open views of the North York Moor hills rising sharply as if from nowhere.

The church dates back to around 1140 and over the years had been refurbished with bits added on to allow for larger congregations. The Church has a large cemetery and a sign displaying a sign for war graves. Squirrels were racing around in the trees and on the ground the snowdrops were standing with their heads bowed showing how much life was ongoing, even in this cold January afternoon.

The Clock.

clock in thirsk
Thirsk Clock

The clock in the main square was erected in 1896, commemorating the marriage of the Duke of York and Princess May of Teck. They later became King George V and Queen Mary. The position of the clock ensures that on a sunny day the clock face glows almost golden. The skyline dominated by it at sunset means that many a photograph have been taken here.

Tour De Yorkshire

The Tour de Yorkshire cycle race thundered through the town of Thirsk in 2016 but sadly wasn’t on this year’s route, that didn’t stop the whole of Yorkshire celebrating the coverage of its glorious county. Everywhere you went, bicycles were being decorated, bunting was out and strange knitted racing jerseys were being hung around windows. Thirsk threw themselves into Yarn-Bombing the town and drew crowds in for miles away to see! Now this tradition reappears every year and is a favourite of many a tourist.

The hope is that the race will return here again in the coming years.  The nearby town of Leyburn has been nominated again as a start/finish point for the 2020 races. We recommend booking accommodation early if you wish to come and watch the events as it does get very busy!

Ritz Cinema

Cinema thirsk
Ritz Cinema, Thirsk

The charm and history of Thirsk reveals itself like peeling an onion. Everywhere you look there is a blue plaque denoting something from history. The Ritz cinema is one of the oldest continuously run cinemas in the UK after opening the doors to the public in 1912. The 200 seat cinema was originally the mechanics institute but converted for entertainment. Now, the cinema is run by volunteers desperate to keep the history of the local cinema going.

A Question of sport

One of Thirsk’s most famous sons is Lord Thomas, founder of the cricket ground. He was born here in 1755. However, one of Thirsk’s more visible claims to fame is the racecourse. Established in 1854, the flat ground made it a fantastic venue for horse racing. At one time, other then Newmarket, Thirsk was the only other racecourse where prize money was allowed for races.

Thirsk’s rich history with racing dates back as far as 1740 and was the site of the first official racecourse in England. During the 2nd world war, the racecourse was closed and turned into an Army camp before returning to, and still operating as a racecourse.

Food and Drink

Yorks Cafe

Located next to the town clock, is the Yorks café. It is full of racing memorabilia and jerseys decorating the walls. We do love to drop in here for a brew or a spot of lunch when visiting as they are very welcoming to tourists. They are dog and muddy boot friendly and also cater for vegan, veggie and gluten free diets. We visited them again last week when we met up with Life Beyond Bricks and all opted for a nice warming bowl of soup and fresh bread.

Upstairs Downstairs

Here is a cute tearoom and deli with lovely cakes displayed as you walk in to the shop. Homemade pies and a wide selection of cheeses will have your mouth watering and craving more. A small selection of dried products are also available such as teas, pickles, chutneys and breadsticks. Several butchers shops also tuck neatly in to the town and provide fresh and local produce to locals.

A pub dominates each side of the square like a monopoly board giving lots of options. The pubs likely made their appearance around the 17th and 18th century when Thirsk became a popular coaching stop for people travelling to and from Scotland.

Thirsk, Mowbray Arms

The Mowbray Arms, a nod to the family that owned the land many years ago, sits on the south east corner, the Three Tuns, Golden Fleece, Black Lion and Black Bull are also located on the perimeter of the square.

Transport

Getting to Thirsk is very easy, good road signposts pave the way from the A19 and A1M. Getting around the coast to Whitby and Scarborough

Parking in Thirsk is easy as multiple car parks dot the surrounding area, each just a short walk to the town square. These include long stay, short stay, disk parking and even some free parking is you are savvy!

Thirsk has a rail link connecting it to other parts of Yorkshire. It is part of the East Coast main line which travels 210 miles from London Kings Cross in a southern direction and north to Durham, Newcastle and Middlesbrough.

National Express also operate to here and the coach from London to Thirsk is just £7.50

Supermarkets.

Just outside of the main square you will find a Tesco Superstore and a Lidl both with their own car parks. A little further out of the main town but still easily reachable (and easier to park large campers) is Aldi.

We love Thirsk

Thirsk at Sunset

The Yorkshire area has turned up so many hidden gems that we honestly didn’t realise were here and Thirsk is one of them. Driving through on our first trip, we knew we had to come back and explore the picture postcard town. With the main roads connecting here had travelled through it on a few occasions before getting to explore on foot and the things we found took our breath away.

We really do recommend that you visit Thirsk should you be in the Yorkshire area and stay tuned for other locations in Yorkshire that we have visited!

Thirsk in low sun.

Evesham,Worcestershire.

Evesham Almonry in the snow

Evesham is filled with fruit orchards and rolling hills galore. I fell into the same traps as many and forgot to investigate my local area, opting to travel long distances for the next adventure – but not this weekend! We had a blast without spending a lot on fuel or hours of driving.

Evesham is a Market town with an Abbey, Armoury and history steeped in legends. The abbey was, in a roundabout way, responsible for the name of Evesham. It seems that, Eoves, a herdsman of the Bishop of Worcester, had a vision of the Virgin Mary at this spot. Evesham Abbey, and consequently the town that grew around it, immortalised Eoves name.

Evesham’s Exports

The Vale of Evesham prides itself on its varied exports. Evesham Asparagus Festival is held annually to celebrate the harvest. The Round of Gras pub is the centre of the festivities, holding an annual asparagus auction (the village asparagus festival lasts a full week). They hold carvery’s as well at certain times and their food is delicious. We tucked into a lunch of freshly made baguettes and jacket potatoes with a couple of pints of lager shandy.

The other exports around the area include Apples, Plums (The Pershore Plum Festival is also a great one to visit!) and vegetables.

Sadly the town centres retail catalogue has shrunk, as it has in many local towns now. Projects are underway to restore footfall in the town and I would certainly say it is still worth a visit. The changing architecture, the park by the river, the history… all amounts to a wonderful trip out. (If you like your history you may even find links to the Knights Templar here if you do a bit of research! I don’t want to give away all of her secrets!)

For dinner we ventured into Evesham town and had a meal out at the ‘Casa’ Italian restaurant. Stylish and tasteful décor greeted us as we entered into the Bar area with dark beams and cosy lighting. It set the tone for a relaxing and enjoyable meal. We sat by the front window gracing us with a view overlooking the Abbey. They have a large conservatory at the rear of the venue with ample seating so you do not feel as though you are being packed in to get more tables, but spaced out where the emphasis is on the enjoyment factor. Their large menu caters for everyone in the family, offering vegetarian food, authentic pasta dishes and fish dishes.

Broadway

russells fish and chip shop broadway, nr evesham
Russell’s Fish & Chip Shop, Broadway.

Just 3 miles from Evesham you will find the text book definition of a Cotswold Village. With its wide high street and shops built with traditional Cotswold Stone, you can’t help but fall a little bit in love regardless of your age.

Places to eat in Broadway

There are an abundance of places to eat and drink to suit any budget.

Russell’s – Fish and Chip shop

We know the best chip shop is Russell’s in Broadway. Tucked down a side road you will find a rare gem. The design of the interior combines life jackets, sea fearing paraphernalia and candles on the tables with posh nosh! In the summer it is lovely to sit and eat outside under umbrella’s with the dog after a long walk.

Their menu is surprisingly large with the take-away option of beer battered cod/haddock, breaded or grilled plaice, scampi, chicken goujons or fish cakes as well as vegetarian pies, battered halloumi and a catch of the day. Customers can buy an alcoholic beverage in the licensed restaurant. The Take-away meal is presented to you in a lovely box with plenty of chips, including a serving of tartar sauce and a slice of lemon.

The Broadway Hotel

With a choice of spots to settle including a relaxed lounge, a bar area with an open fire (both dog friendly) or a formal serviced restaurant. You can relax here any day of the week and enjoy fine wines, excellent food and a friendly atmosphere. The decor changes through-out the hotel with the Broadway Hunt featuring largely in the local artwork upon the walls.

TheBroadway Deli

Stocked high with different local foods, treats and gifts. There is a cafe in there serving all manner of home cooked food with many vegan and gluten free options. They work with producers and suppliers from around the world who focus on the quality, integrity and provenance of their produce.

The Market Pantry

This small cafe sits about 20 people at a time. Vegetarian vegan and gluten free options, this British cafe serves meals ranging from £5-£9. Open 7 days a week and serving locally sourced, quality food, fresh seasonal and natural ingredients. Breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea or simply a coffee and a homemade cake.

There are so many other places to try, your taste buds will definitely be tickled in Broadway.

A walk around Broadway Village is a good way to walk off all of the food! It’s traditional Cotswold stone buildings pack in the charm with style and grace. Other shops include Kitchenware, Art gallery, old fashioned sweet shop and fashion items.

Broadway Tower and The Cotswold Way

Broadway Tower is a unique Capability Brown Folly tower. Its one of England’s outstanding view points, at 1024 feet above sea level, you can see over a 62 mile radius and as many as 16 counties from the roof viewing platform. William Morris also spent time here being inspired by the arts and crafts scene in the area.

Refreshments are available at the Morris and Brown cafe which is open all year round. It serves hot drinks and full meals or just a slice of cake if you prefer. Sit by the log fire and relax or browse their shop.

You can tour the tower with 50 acres of woods and parkland offering scenic walks and cycle routes. Spend time watching a heard of Deer housed there or go down and investigate the nuclear bunker between March and October.

The Tower just happens to be on the Cotswold Way, a 1000 mile footpath from Chipping Campden to Bath offering panoramic views of the Cotswolds. We have walked from Chipping Campden to Broadway so far and hope to walk other parts in the future. You don’t have to walk the whole thing and the paths are well sign posted.

Evesham Country Park / The Valley

Offering ample car parking. You can go for a riverside walk, do a spot of shopping, or grab a coffee with a friend. For the kids over the summer they have a ‘beach’ with sandpits for the children to play in. There are inflatable slides, carousel, swings and food and drink available.

A steam train runs from the car park, around the orchard, to a wooden castle built for the children. You can stop here and walk back or pick some apples and plums while you wait for the train to return. It is not an exceptionally long ride, but for £1.20 adult fare it is a good way to keep the family quite for 10 minutes!

Hillers Garden Centre

Hillers Garden Centre, Alcester, Warwickshire. Part of the Ragley Hall Estate, it has operated on one form or another on this site since the 1920’s. They have changed from a fruit farm to a pick your own and now a farm shop and garden centre. The shop sells produce either grown on site or sourced from a 10 mile radius. Farmers then invoice the farm shop what they need to make a living.

Honeyed ham, Ragley beef and pork are all roasted in their own kitchen for sale on the deli counter, along with a range of homemade salads, continental meats, pâtés and locally made cold pies.

Make your selection from the self serve olive and antipasti bar and stock up on all your groceries from the wide selection of specialised and everyday food. Bread is freshly baked throughout the day and they also have a selection of rolls and breads from local baker Lawrence’s.

The garden centre has well established flower beds and a rose garden. There is also a bird hide where you can see some of the 40 species of birds spotted. Fallow deer have also been known to feed here. There are avid bird watchers with camera lenses bigger than their heads, sitting next to children. For the children (and adults apparently) there is also a miniature railway – and the trains ARE small. It only lasts a few minutes but costs just 90p a ride. You can only fit two people in a carriage sitting opposite each other.

There are tea rooms here to enjoy your afternoon after walking around the garden centre. Staff members waited on you and come to your table to take your order. The tea rooms were dog friendly and we saw several well behaved pooches resting their paws in the shade.

Nearby locations

There are many other places to explore nearby including Snowshill Lavender, Chipping Campden and Bourton on the Water. Stratford Upon Avon, although not in the Cotswolds, is only half an hour by car from Evesham – as is Cheltenham. Why not plan a stop to stay over and visit either the Cheltenham or Stratford races? Birmingham is also in close reach for a bustling nightlife or larger retail experience.

The Cotswolds are full of attractions and travel between the towns is easy with good public transport links. You can find accommodation to suit your budget and tastes.