James Herriot’s books and the original BBC TV series of All Creatures Great and Small, about life as a Yorkshire vet, were massively popular across the world. And still today running a Yorkshire travel business , I get many tours each year from visitors from the US, Canada, Australia and Singapore wanting to explore Herriot Country.
Last year before lockdown I even had two tours for retired American vets who had been inspired by Herriot’s books to take up the profession and were now visiting Yorkshire with their wives to see Herriot Country at first hand.
When word came about that a remake of All Creatures Great and Small had been commissioned by Chanel 5, I was excited as I hoped it would continue to excite people to visit Yorkshire.
Whilst there was some negativity on Facebook groups saying it would never be as good as the original and should remain sacrosanct, I personally felt it was time to share the feel good, humorous content of the books with a new generation.
The new series first aired in the UK during the Covid-19 pandemic and was the perfect antidote to the craziness going on in the world – it quickly gained a special place in the heart of the British public. It was a smash hit and ended up gaining Channel 5 their highest ever ratings for a drama commission.
The new series featuring newcomer Nicholas Ralph in the role of Herriot and Samuel West as Siegfried Farnon was filmed in the Yorkshire Dales, with the village of Grassington doubling up for the fictional village of Darrowby.
Tuning in to watch each week, it was not just the fabulous cast and storylines which people including myself wanted to see but the stunning scenery of the Yorkshire Dales. As a Blue Badge Driver Guide who knows the Yorkshire Dales extremely well, I found it great fun identifying the locations and pointing them out to my wife!
After making a list of the locations and realising how popular the series had been, even before it had been broadcast in the USA, I decided there was the makings of a new All Creatures Great and Small Tour.
Below are a few of the places which features in the series which will feature as stops on my new tour…
Grassington – as already mentioned, Grassington was a key location standing in for the village of Darrowby. As well as Skeldale House were the veterinary practice, The Devonshire Arms pub played the role of the exterior of The Drovers Arms, a popular place for James, Seigried and his younger brother Tristan to enjoy a pint after work.
But other of Grassington’s shops were also used in the series – Darrowby Cycles is actually Walker’s Bakers and Chocolatier. The Rustic Rabbit gift shop was turned into Higgins bakers. And the Stripey Badger Bookshop also became green grocer GF Endleby.
But as well as the locations from the TV series, Grassington is a beautiful Yorkshire Dales market town with a wealth of great shops and places to eat & drink. Before Covid it hosted a number of popular festivals throughout the year including a Dickens Festival, a 1940’s weekend and the wonderful Grassington Festival in June.
Broughton Hall - the home of Mrs Pumphrey (played by the late Diana Rigg) and her spoilt dog Tricki Woo was actually the grade I listed Broughton Hall just outside Skipton. As well as exterior and interior shots of the Georgian Hall, other scenes were shot on the estate.
The grade 1 listed Hall dates back to 1597 and combines the work of several architects including William Atkinson, who was responsible for part of Durham Cathedral. The estate itself dates back further to 1097 when lands were granted after the Norman Conquest to the Tempest family who have lived on the estate for 900 years.
As well as the magnificent historic house, the Broughton Hall estate has a range of unique holiday homes and an off grid shepherd’s hut that can be hired. There are also a number of Wellbeing retreats run on the 3,000 acre estate at the purpose built Avalon centre.
Malham – when James arrives in Yorkshire by bus, he is dropped off in remote countryside. This is Malham Lings, the area and roads above Malham Cove. The scenery James is seen driving through on his way to visit local farms was often shot around Malham.
Malham is situated in the heart of Malhamdale, famous for its stunning limestone scenery.
A short walk from the village can be found Malham Cove, a huge curving amphitheatre formed by a 260ft wide limestone cliff which was eroded back by a waterfall formed by glacial meltwater thousands of years ago. On top of Malham Cove is one of the UK’s best preserved limestone pavements which has also been used as a location in many TV series and films, most recentky in Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows part 1.
Janet’s Foss – just outside Malham near Gordale Scar lies the beautiful waterfall of Janet’s Foss. It is here that James is caught having a morning skinny dip by his love interest Helen much to his embarrassment.
The small waterfall carried Gordale Beck over a limestone beck into a deep pool which has been used locally for sheep dipping in past times.
The waterfall gets its name from Janet (or Jenet) who is believed to be Queen of the Fairies, who is said to live in a cave at the rear of the waterfall. Foss is a Viking word meaning waterfall.
Oakworth Railway Station – on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, Oakworth Station was where James collects Tristan after his return from Veterinary College.
The station was built in 1867, and with its milk churns and old handcart it has been preserved to look as though it would have during the early 1900’s.
Perhaps its most famous film appearance was in the film The Railway Children with Jenny Agutter and Bernard Cribbins!
Hardraw – whilst the exterior of the Drover’s Arms are actually shot in Grassington, the interior used The Green Dragon, a pub parts of which date to the 13th century with low ceiling, beams and open fireplaces. Great for a pint of real ale and a Giant Yorkshire pudding filled with a roast dinner!
Behind the pub there is a path along a wooded ravine following Hardraw Beck which takes you to Engand’s highest single drop waterfall – Hardraw Force. This water fall also featured in the film Robin Hood Prince of Thieves with Kevin Costner taking a shower there whilst being spied upon my Maid Marian!
Hardraw is just outside the market town of Hawes, home to the Wensleydale Creamery which is a great stop for a bit of cheese tasting.
Arnecliffe – this little village in Littondale also features along with Grassington as a location for the Darrowby Show. It is also used as the exterior of Skeldale House.
The village is no stranger to TV series having been one of the original locations for the filming of the TV Soap Emmerdale Farm back in the 1970’s
The village is home to just 85 people, with its village green, stone built cottages and striking farmland. The River Skirfare rund through the village and the villagers can often be found fly fishing for brown trout.
Yockenthwaite – the small settlement of Yockenthwaite between Buckden and Hawes is also features in one episode as the exterior of Helen’s farm. You may remember the packhorse bridge and the iconic red postbox. Yockenthwaite Farm at this remote hamlet also is famous for producing some really tasty locally produced granola!
The village lies on the banks of the River Wharfe in Upper Wharfedale.
There is a small bronze age stone circle or ring cairn just to the west of the village, locally known as “the Giants Grave”.
Ripon Racecourse – features in one of the episodes where Seigfried tries to become the local racecourse vet and attends to an injured race horse.
The first recorded race in Ripon was in 1664, but the race course on the existing site on the Boroughbridge Road was opened in 1900. Due to its pleasant surroundings Ripon Racecourse is known as “the Garden Racecourse” and during the
flat racing season uip to 17 days racing are usually held at Ripon.
Ripon racecourse is just outside the city of Ripon with its impressive Gothic cathedral and grand market square with huge obelisk built in 1781.
Barden Bridge – just down the road from Barden Towers a ruined medieval hunting lodge, the bridge features in a few scenes, usually in disputes over who has right of way over the narrow crossing over the River Wharfe.
This three arched humpbacked bridge was built in 1676 after the original was washed away in a flood. It lies on the Bolon Abbey estate, 30,000 acres of stunning countryside managed by the Devonshire family.
A fantastic day out exploring the locations
All the locations are pretty easy to find and visiting them would give you a fantastic day out in the Yorkshire Dales.
If you wanted to visit the locations with a bit more luxury as part of a driver guided tour in a 4x4 vehicle Real Yorkshire Tours can help.
I offer a full day tour with collection and drop off from your hotel or accommodation. As well as showing you the sites featuring in the All Creatures Great and Small remake, I can also help bring the Dales to life explaining the history and heritage of the area and even making a stop to visit a local farm to experience real country life!
For more details visit – www.realyorkshiretours.co.uk