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James Herriot said it was the “Finest View in England” – do you agree?

Well it wasn’t really James Herriot who made the statement, but Yorkshire vet Alf Wight – the author who wrote the famous books under his pseudonym James Herriot now made into the popular TV series All Creatures Great & Small.

Alf Wight lived and worked in the North Yorkshire market town of Thirsk sitting in the Vale of Mowbray. His veterinary practice was at 23 Kirkgate, now home of the World of James Herriot, a multi-award winning visitor attraction now restored to show what Alf’s home and practice would have looked like in the 1940’s.

Whilst Alf lived at the practice and even after he moved out with his wife Joan to a house between Thirsk and Sutton under Whitecliffe, he loved nothing better than on his rare days off to be in the outdoors and exploring the fells especially with his favourite dog Bodie – a border terrier.

Thirsk sits below a huge limestone cliff, part of the Hambleton Hills known as Sutton Bank. There is now a National Park Centre at the top, with a shop, café and play area, but also a number of walks, cycle trails and now a dark sky discovery centre.

Back in the day Alf Wight would climb the cliff and follow the trails around the edge. The views are spectacular as there is a clear vista across the Vale of York & Vale of Mowbray and on a clear day you can see right over to the edge of the Yorkshire Dales.

It was such a wonderful vantage point that Alf Wight described it as “the finest view in England”. The patchwork of fields in the Vale, the gliders from the Yorkshire Gliding Club, floating above, the glacial Lake Gormire at the foot of the cliff and the wealth of birdlife all adding together to create a magnificent view.

I do think it is a pretty special view and can see why the North York Moors National Park have erected “finest view in England” signs to direct people from the car park along the half a mile trail to the view point. But in my day job as a Yorkshire Driver Guide, I do pass many other outstanding locations and views which I believe are equally as beautiful.

As well as the sign posts – the North York Moors National Parks have put a display board up and decking at the view point to explain what people can see – from the Gliding Club on the left and the Cliff Edge of Roulston Scar, to the giant golf ball of the listening station at RAF Menwith Hill, the peaks of Penhill and Great Whernside in the distance and the entrance to the Dale of Wensleydale to the right. It is well worth a look.

So, what do you think?

If it’s not the finest view in England (or Yorkshire), what is in your view?

Even if it’s not the finest as James Herriot said – I think we can all agree – it is still pretty fine!

1 Comment

David Seager
David Seager
Oct 01, 2023

Yorkshire is beautiful, but to my eye nothing beats the Lake District.

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