You can't throw a stick in Yorkshire without hitting an extraordinary landscape, some thrilling history or a part of its literary heritage. Experience some of the wonderful countryside, warm hospitality, unique historical locations and the inspiration for a wealth of TV, Films and literary classics.
You must visit York, with its Minster and its Viking past, brilliantly brought to life at the Jorvik Viking Centre. The Dales, immortalised in James Heriot's nostalgic Vet books and the wuthering heights that inspired the Brontë sisters. The North York Moors and coast. The spa town of Harrogate. Fabulous Castle Howard - star of TV's Brideshead Revisited. Other grand stately homes and gardens such as Harewood House, Newby Hall, Temple Newsham, Benningborough Hall to name a few.
The landscape is dotted with Mediaeval Castles, Norman Abbeys, Gothic Churches and Cathedrals, all with a unique history which your Blue Badge Driver Guide can help bring to life.
James Herriot Tour
Stunning locations from the James Herriot novels & TV series
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 Darrowby in North Yorkshire.
The 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 tour today allows you to see these locations in the flesh visiting Thirsk as well as a number of locations in beautiful Wensleydale & Swaledale.
Our tour will start in the market town of Thirsk (Darrowby in the books), with a visit to the actual vetinerary practice where Alf Wight worked. It has now been turned into a fascinating visitor attraction – James Herriot World. 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 Thirsk we will travel via Masham & Jervaulx Abbey, through Wensleydale visiting Wensley Church where James’s wedding was filmed before stopping at Askrigg where the Kings Arms Pub featured as Darrowby’s Drovers Arms in the TV series. Whilst in Wensleydale we will stop in Middleham for a photo stop at the castle where Richard III spent his childhood and also Castle Bolton where Mary Queen of Scots was once imprisoned.
We will visit Hawes – the Yorkshire market town which was used for Darrowby Cattle market before stopping at Wensleydale creamery for some cheese sampling. We will take lunch at Simonstone Hall before ascending over Buttertubs Pass with its spectacular views into Swaledale. Here we will see where the famous opening sequence of All Creatures Great and Small was filmed where James Herriott’s car splashed through a shallow ford.
Yorkshire Dales Highlights
The unique countryside of the Yorkshire Dales – full of rolling hills, fields of sheep, dry stone walls, field barns, castles and abbeys.
We’ll come and collect you from wherever you are staying and whisk you to Richmond in the far north of the Dales with its Norman Castle and beautiful Georgian architecture.
From Richmond we travel along Swaledale past Reeth, Muker and Gunnerside. This area has the highest proportion of field barns and dry stone walls in the Dales giving an immediate flavour of the Dales countryside. Swaledale and Wensleydale featured heavily in the TV series All Creatures Great and Small based on the famous Yorkshire Dales vet James Herriot.
We’ll ascend up Buttertubs Pass - part of the Grand Depart of the Tour de France a few years ago and described by Jeremy Clarkson as the only truly iconic road climb in England. There will be fantastic views and photo opportunities as we eventually descend into Wensleydale.
We’ll stop to visit Hawdraw and walk to Hawdraw Force, England’s Highest single drop waterfall behind the old Green Dragon pub.
Next we’ll head to Hawes the bustling market town for lunch. A visit to the Wenseydale Creamery is a must to see where the famous Yorkshire cheese is made and sample some of the many flavours!
Then we will drive over the tops to Oughtershaw, Yockenthwaite and Hubberholme before descending into the village of Buckden.
Next we will travel down upper Wharfedale, a stunning Dale past Kettlewell & Cracoe – the heart of Calendar Girl country, past the famous Kilnsey Cragg to Grassington.
We will walk around this beautiful village, once a thriving lead mining community, learning about its chequered history. From here we will drive to the picture postcard setting of Burnsall with its old pub and bridge over the River Wharfe and take afternoon tea in one of the cafés.
Finally, we will travel to Bolton Abbey, the 12th century Augustinian Priory on the south eastern corner of the Dales before heading back to your hotel.
This route gives a real flavour as to the magic of the Yorkshire Dales and covers a variety of Dales landscapes and stunning features.
Haworth and the Brontës
Your chance to stand on the moors and imagine the sounds of Heathcliffe and Cathy on the wind with our Bronte Guided Tour.
Immerse yourself in stories from Haworth, The Brontes and the Industrial history of the Worth Valley with a fascinating day out.
We’ll explore the cobbled streets of Haworth, discover St Michael and All Saints Church, visit the Bronte Parsonage Museum where the Bronte Sisters lived before heading out onto a the Moors for a very brief stroll to find out more about some of the inspiration for those famous Bronte sisters novels.
Through their letters, poems and stories, we will lay their achievements and passions before you, weaving them into the fabric of the village and the social history of the time.
Our wish is to bring the Bronte story to life and to inspire you to discover more about the Reverend Patrick, his wife Maria and their wonderful children (as well as the black sheep of their family - brother Bramwell).
The recent BBC drama To Walk Invisible - told the story about Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte and their poetry and novels, published originally under the pseudonyms of Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. The novels Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and The Tennant of Wildfell Hall have all since become classics of English Literature. You can now see locations from the drama and step back in time.
There will be plenty of time to explore the many gift shops and café’s along the cobbled streets and perhaps in the summer take a short ride on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway.
Before heading back we will drive out across wild moorland to Ponden Hall, now a private residence but believed to be the inspiration for Thrusscross Grange in Wuthering Heights and where the Bronte's used to walk and borrow books as it was the only place in the locality to have a library. A real hidden gem!
A day's walking tour of the historic City of York, once the capital of the North.
York is a city of incredible contrasts and exciting discoveries. It's where old meets new, everyday meets the unexpected and grand architecture meets revered ruins. From the moment you enter the city walls, you'll be captivated by the sight of galleries, historical houses and delightfully unique shops that greet you at every twisty turn.
York also boasts excellent theatres, a wealth of pubs and many great restaurants, all built around well preserved medieval features such as the old city walls, York Minster, Clifford’s Tower and The Shambles.
With so much history – George VI summed it up saying “The history of York is the history of England”, so we’ll tell you more about York’s heritage whilst bringing the city to life. We’ll pass Roman remains, scenes of Viking victories, hear stories of Nasty Normans and Tudor tales, and witness Glamourous Georgian (and Victorian) architecture.
As well as a tour of the iconic York Minster - other highlights will include:
The Jorvik Centre where we can discover York’s Viking past, the Norman Motte Bailey castle Clifford’s Tower, The Shambles – one of the finest medieval streets in the whole of Europe, The ruins of St Mary’s Abbey, Museum Gardens, The Merchant Adventurer’s Hall – a unique medieval timber framed hall, Stonegate’s quaint shops, the Georgian splendor of St Helen’s Square, Kings Manor – once the headquarters of the Council of the North, the Roman Bath house and much, much more.
Castle Howard and the surrounding area
Castle Howard is a magnificent 18th century stately home set within 1,000 acres of breath-taking landscape in the Howardian Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the heart of North Yorkshire.
Our tour will allow you to enjoy world-renowned collections of art & sculpture, experience stunning architecture and inspiring family stories. You may have seen the TV series or film Brideshead Re-visited, much of which was filmed at Castle Howard and there is plenty to see relating to its links to Evelyn Waugh’s novel.
Enjoy woodland and lakeside walks in the magnificent landscape gardens with temples, statues, lakes and fountains.
A tour of the house is a must – this baroque masterpiece was designed by architect Sir John Vanbrugh with the help of Nicholas Hawksmoor. It really is something special. The rooms each tell a story and there will be people on hand in each room to bring it too life. There is a beautiful “arts & crafts” style Chapel with works by William Morris – this is a real treat.
After lunch, we would drive through the beautiful Howardian Hills, past Hovingham to the North Yorkshire market town of Helmsley. With its busy market square surrounded by independent shops and tea rooms and Norman castle ruin, it is an interesting place to take in before we return to York via Byland Abbey and the famous White Horse of Kilburn.
Please note: During winter months Castle Howard has limited opening – so we may not always be able to offer this tour.
Harewood House and Harrogate
A perfect day out, with so much to see. We’ll spend most of the day exploring the House and grounds. We’ll also enjoy a garden walk around the Walled Garden, Lakeside Garden, Himalayan Garden, as well as seeing views originally landscaped by Lancelot “Capability” Brown.
Harewood sits at the heart of Yorkshire, one of the treasure houses of England, the house was built in the 18th century and has art collections to rival the finest in the land, in the setting of Yorkshire’s most beautiful landscape.
Harewood is just as much about today as it is about history. There are exhibitions of contemporary art, an award-winning educational department, renowned Bird Garden and over 100 acres of exquisite gardens.
During our day we may be able to see Harewood Castle – a medieval tower house built in the 14th century located in the extreme north of the village. We’ll also take a tour to the 15th Century All Saints Church nestled in the trees to the north of the House.
There are always special events and themed weekends on as well as a choice of cafés and restaurants to take refreshments in from the grade 1 listed Courtyard Café and the magnificent Terrace Café on the south face of the House with perfect views over stunning gardens.
Harewood is the family seat of the Earl and Countess of Harewood and also holds the largest ever commission of Chippendale furniture, fabulous ceilings and fireplaces by Robert Adam and an outstanding collection of paintings by masters like JMW Turner and also from the Italian renaissance.
After spending time at Harewood we will still have time to visit Harrogate – an opulent Victorian Spa Town with magnificent architecture. We should also have time for a stop at Betty’s tearoom – a Yorkshire institution in itself with a selection of teas, coffee cakes and home to the famous Betty’s Fat rascal!
Harewood House and grounds are only open to the Public between 3rd April and 1st November each year.
North York Moors & Coast
A driver-guided tour of beautiful heather moorland and historical coastal towns
We’ll collect you in the morning from your hotel before travelling via Kilburn (with its huge, famous white horse on the hillside) to the ruins of Bylands Abbey. From here we will drive past Ampleforth School and Ampleforth Abbey to Helmsley, then along to Pickering with its Norman castle.
Next we will drive to The Hole of Horcum – often known as Yorkshire’s Grand Canyon, and a great photo stop to take in this unique natural bowl.
We’ll then travel over Goathland Moor to Goathland (the fictional village of Aidensfield in the TV series Heartbeat and where the railway station doubled as Hogwarts Station in the Harry Potter movies! ) and then onto Grosmont (Another village synonymous with Heartbeat Country).
Next, we are off to Whitby (where Captain Cook moved to start his career as a merchant seaman). It has so much history from the Saxon Synod of Whitby, to the Viking port, then as an important Norman settlement with its gothic abbey. There is also whaling and jet industry connections and of course links to Bram Stoker and Dracula!
After a brief panoramic drive around the headlands and lunch – Traditional Fish & Chips is always popular! We’ll embark on a short walking tour of the town.
After Whitby we’ll travel via Sandsend to the quaint fishing Village of Staithes (where Captain Cook served an apprenticeship) and famous for its connections with the Staithes Group of artists as well as Kids TV series – Old Jack’s Boat.
We will then drive to Danby - and stop at the North York Moors visitor centre before driving past Castleton and descending down Blakey Ridge between Rosedale and Farndale to Hutton le Hole.
There should be time to travel back via Sutton Bank (which James Herriot described as the “finest view in England”) before heading back to your accommodation.
Yorkshire Cathedrals and Abbeys
Yorkshire has some of the most complete monastic ruins in the country. A wealth of abbeys, monasteries and priories covering various orders of monks including Augustinian, Benedictine and Cistercian.
We also have in York Minster the largest gothic cathedral in Northern Europe. Other wonderful gothic cathedrals and minsters include Beverley Minster and Ripon Cathedral.
This tour starts in York with a look around York Minster and St Mary’s Abbey before heading out to Ripon for a tour of the smaller but equally impressive Ripon Cathedral with its original Saxon crypt.
From here it is a short drive to Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal – a UNESCO world heritage site with the ruins of a once towering Cistercian monastery surrounded by lush green landscapes next to a Georgian water garden with follies, temples, statues and surprise views.
We should have time, before returning you to your accommodation, to head out past Masham for a look around this famous brewing town before a quick look around the small ruins of Jervaulx Abbeys set at the start of Wensleydale and Coverdale on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales.
We will bring to life the stories of these gothic buildings and explain how after 1066 monastic life grew and the abbeys became rich and powerful until Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries between 1536 and 1539.
Leeds & Bradford’s Industrial Heritage
A fascinating day around Leeds and Bradford where we bring to life bygone days of Leeds and Bradford when they really were big powers in the wool & textile industry.
From the early 18th century Leeds became an important trading centre for woollen cloth from the West Riding. The Aire and Calder Navigation had just opened, allowing cloth to be more easily transported to the River Ouse then River Humber where it could be exported abroad. By 1770s one-third of England’s exports were woollen cloth. One-sixth of these were handled by Leeds merchants.
Leeds had four cloth halls by the end of the 18th century and we will be able to visit one of the remaining buildings as well as see Briggate where the rich merchants lived and based their warehouses.
Purchased cloth was often finished in Leeds in the finishing shops behind the houses of merchants – this process accounted for two-thirds of the cloth’s value.
In the 19th century with the growth of the railways and its rapidly growing worsted industry, Bradford became an important raw wool trading centre. Its Wool Exchange was built in the 1860s. Wool is still traded in the city today by the British Wool Marketing Board which has its headquarters in Bradford.
Large players in the 19th century Bradford textile industry included mill owners Sir Titus Salt and Samuel Lister.
We will visit Bradford and see the Wool Exchange one of the grandest buildings in Yorkshire and take a stroll around the once vibrant area of Little Germany where foreign merchants built their warehouses and competed over whose was the grandest.
From here we will head to Bradford Industrial Museum, an old mill with exhibitions on spinning and weaving with actual steam powered machinery.
Finally we will end the tour at Saltaire to see Salts Mill, once the largest factory in the world with its model village built for its employees. Now home to independent shops and a David Hockney art gallery.
This is an action packed day, but we are completely flexible if you want to miss out a stop or spend more time in one location.