Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A Literary Tour: Day 14

Day 14: Yorkshire Dales (James Herriot)

For enjoyable light reading James Herriot's autobiographical books describing his life as a vetinary surgeon in the Yorkshire Dales are hard to beat. They have the added attraction of being set in one of my favourite parts of the country, North Yorkshire. (My mother is a Yorkshire woman, so I attribute this in part to genetics!) From the Lake District we can head east to Herriot's "Darrowby" (in reality, the small market town of Thirsk) with a beautiful drive through Wensleydale, stopping of to enjoy scenery like the Aysgarth Falls en route. When we need a break, we can stop in one of the little Dales towns - Hawes, Leyburn or Bedale - for something to eat. If we are hungry we could have roast beef and Yorkshire pudding; if we want a light snack, some local Wensleydale cheese. Yorkshire pudding is a batter pudding traditionally served in large slices with gravy before the meat and potatoes, the idea being that it filled the holes in hungry stomachs when money didn't stretch to much meat to follow. These days it is usually eaten alongside roast beef and roast potatoes. Wensleydale is a crumbly, tangy cheese. The traditional Yorkshire combination of Wensleydale cheese with a rich fruit cake may sound odd, but is delicious - try it and see! (Mmm ... note to self: buy Wensleydale and fruit cake next time I'm at the supermarket.) As we continue our drive we will pass many little farms of the type James Herriot knew, with fields separated by dry stone walls.

Once we arrive at Thirsk, we can spend some time exploring the town, then visit James Herriot's old home and surgery, now a museum. In our family's sole and very distant literary connection Star enjoys the distinction of being related by baptism to the author - her godmother's father-in-law is Alf Wight's much younger first cousin ('James Herriot', like 'Darrowby' is a pseudonym). Her seven year old god-sister (I am also godmother to my friend's daughter, so we invented the god-sister relationship!) has ambitions to be a vet, so maybe there are genetics at work there too.


Becky said...

Oh, what a lovely post! My fellows simply love James Herriott. Thanks for bringing us along for the trip!

Mary G said...


When brother and SIL were living in Ripon -- we were in Austria -- we'd visit the Dales quite often! We loved going to Thirsk (came home in a minor snowstorm!) and the Wensleydale cheeses etc. What a lovely part of the world!

Brother and SIL actually walked much of the Moors for Scouts and plan to walk across England for their 25th Anniversary!

What a cool part of the world.....thanks for the trip down memory lane.

Karen E. said...

Oh, I so long to visit! Thanks for this. The girls and I love James Herriot.

The Bookworm said...

Mary, I never met your SIL while she was over here, but we did email on occasions. I only realised recently that she was your SIL. Small world! Isn't North Yorkshire a gorgeous place. Off to write the next instalment now ...