James Herriot, whose real name was Alf Wright, was immortalised in the BBC TV series " All Creatures Great & Small ".
James Herriot was first put to pen and paper in the novel " If Only They Could Talk ", which was published in 1970. A couple of years later followed the second book " It Shouldn't Happen to a Vet ". Both these novels were the basis of the BBC TV series, set around the landscape of North Yorkshire. Between 1978 and 1983 forty-nine episodes were broadcast, bringing vividly to life the vets' practice of James Herriot, Siegfried Farnon and his brother, Tristan.
More books followed, two of them being turned into feature films.
James Herriot's "parish" actually extended from Hawes in the west to Yorkshire's east coast, but most of the locations were filmed in the beautiful valleys of Swaledale and Wensleydale. The northern Dales have become, for many people, synonymous with the evocative tales.
The Herriot Trail takes in many of the places that first fired James Herriot's love of this wonderful landscape. Starting at Richmond, the trail heads towards the beautiful Swaledale valley taking in, amongst many picturesque villages, Reeth home of some venues used in the films, such as Skeldale House ( actually Langhorn House ) and the interior of the Black Bull Inn. Within Swaledale is the famous shallow ford, which was featured in the opening sequence of the TV series, where James Herriot's car splashed through the water. Take a chance to relive this opening sequence below.
From Swaledale the trail heads over the Buttertubs Pass towards Wensleydale. The pass offers dramatic views from one Dale to another. The Buttertubs themselves are deep limestone fissures in the ground, just yards from the road ! The village of Hardraw is well known for it's Hardraw Force, the highest single-drop waterfall in the country, cascading over the lip of a rocky gorge. Hawes is the "capital" of Upper Wensleydale and was the venue for the Darrowby Cattle Market in the TV series.
Further along Wensleydale is Askrigg. When the location finders were looking for a place to represent Darrowby for the Herriot series, Askrigg's old -world charm and Georgian houses gave it a head start on it's rivals. Skeldale House of TV fame is located here and the Kings Arms pub in the village was turned into Darrowby's Drovers Arms.
After passing Aysgarth Falls, another awsome waterfall display, and Bolton Castle, you come to Redmire, where several episodes were filmed for the TV show. Wensleydale is the only major dale to take it's name from a village rather than the river ( the Ure ) which runs through it. Wensley church was the location for James Herriot's filmed wedding and there is much of interest to see inside. After Middleham with it's famour castle and now a centre of horse race training, you come to Leyburn the home of Cecilia House. Here Thornborough Hall was used during filming as the Ministry of Agriculture: a building that James Herriot always visited with trepidation !
James Herriot's Darrowby was created from combined features of Richmond, Thirsk, Leyburn and Middleham. Within Richmond's county museum is a recreation of James Herriot's surgery. Atop Richmond's Castle you get the chance to view the gorgeous panoramic views of the town and the River Swale : a fitting end to the Herriot Trail.
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