Things to do in Thirsk, North Yorkshire

Thirsk, located in North Yorkshire, England, is a charming market town that offers a perfect blend of history, natural beauty, and rural charm. With its picturesque landscapes, historic buildings, and friendly atmosphere, Thirsk is a must-visit destination for travelers seeking an authentic English experience. From exploring the famous Thirsk Racecourse to visiting the birthplace of renowned author James Herriot, Thirsk has something to offer for everyone. Whether you're interested in history, outdoor activities, or simply enjoying the tranquility of the countryside, Thirsk is the ideal place to unwind and immerse yourself in the beauty of rural England.

Things to do

Visit the World of James Herriot

Thirsk is famous for being the birthplace of James Herriot, the renowned veterinarian and author. A visit to the World of James Herriot is a must for any fan of his books or the TV series 'All Creatures Great and Small'. The museum is located in the actual house where James Herriot lived and worked, and it offers a fascinating insight into his life and the world of veterinary medicine in the Yorkshire Dales. You can explore the rooms of the house, see the original veterinary equipment, and learn about the challenges and joys of being a country vet. The museum also has a gift shop where you can purchase books, souvenirs, and memorabilia related to James Herriot.

Discover Thirsk Museum

Thirsk Museum is a small but charming museum that showcases the history and heritage of Thirsk and its surrounding area. Housed in a beautiful Georgian building, the museum features a variety of exhibits, including artifacts, photographs, and documents that tell the story of the town's past. You can learn about Thirsk's agricultural heritage, its connections to the railway industry, and its role in the local community. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions throughout the year, so there's always something new to discover. Admission to the museum is free, but donations are welcome to support its ongoing preservation and educational efforts.

Explore Thirsk Market Place

Thirsk Market Place is the heart of the town and a vibrant hub of activity. The market square is surrounded by historic buildings, including the town hall and the old coaching inns. On Mondays and Saturdays, the market comes alive with stalls selling fresh produce, local crafts, clothing, and more. It's a great place to pick up some Yorkshire delicacies, browse for unique souvenirs, or simply soak up the lively atmosphere. The market square is also home to several cafes, pubs, and restaurants, where you can enjoy a meal or a drink while watching the world go by. Don't forget to look out for the statue of Thomas Lord, the founder of Lord's Cricket Ground, who was born in Thirsk.

Visit Thirsk Racecourse

If you're a fan of horse racing, a visit to Thirsk Racecourse is a must. Located just outside the town, Thirsk Racecourse is a picturesque venue that hosts regular race meetings throughout the year. The racecourse has a rich history dating back to the 1850s and offers a unique and exciting day out for both avid racegoers and casual visitors. You can place bets, watch the thrilling races, and enjoy the lively atmosphere of the grandstands. Thirsk Racecourse also hosts various events and entertainment, including live music concerts and family fun days. Check the racecourse's website for the race calendar and upcoming events.

Take a Walk in Sutton Bank National Park Centre

Sutton Bank National Park Centre is located just a short drive from Thirsk and offers stunning views of the North York Moors National Park. The centre is a great starting point for exploring the surrounding countryside and enjoying outdoor activities. You can take a leisurely walk along the Sutton Bank escarpment, which offers panoramic views of the Vale of York and the White Horse of Kilburn. The centre also has a visitor information point where you can learn about the local flora and fauna, as well as the history and geology of the area. There are several walking trails of varying lengths and difficulties, so you can choose one that suits your preferences and fitness level.

Visit Rievaulx Abbey

Located just a short drive from Thirsk, Rievaulx Abbey is one of the most impressive and well-preserved Cistercian monasteries in England. The abbey was founded in 1132 and played a significant role in the religious and cultural history of the region. Today, visitors can explore the extensive ruins of the abbey, including the church, cloister, and chapter house. The site offers a peaceful and atmospheric setting, surrounded by beautiful countryside. You can learn about the daily life of the monks, admire the intricate stone carvings, and imagine what life was like in medieval times. Rievaulx Abbey also has a visitor centre with interactive displays and a gift shop where you can purchase souvenirs and books about the abbey's history.

Enjoy a Stroll along the River Cod Beck

The River Cod Beck runs through the town of Thirsk, offering a picturesque setting for a leisurely stroll. You can follow the riverside path and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere, surrounded by greenery and wildlife. The river is home to various species of birds, and if you're lucky, you might spot a kingfisher or a heron. There are several benches along the riverbank where you can sit and relax, or you can pack a picnic and find a spot to enjoy the peaceful surroundings. The river is also popular for fishing, so if you're an angler, don't forget to bring your fishing gear. Whether you're looking for a peaceful escape or a scenic walk, the River Cod Beck is a lovely place to visit.

Discover the Kilburn White Horse

Located just a short distance from Thirsk, the Kilburn White Horse is a famous landmark and a popular attraction in the area. The white horse is a large hillside figure carved into the limestone escarpment of the Hambleton Hills. It was created in 1857 and is one of the most iconic symbols of North Yorkshire. You can take a walk up to the white horse and admire the impressive view of the surrounding countryside. The site also offers several walking trails that take you through the beautiful Hambleton Hills, where you can enjoy the fresh air and stunning scenery. Don't forget to bring your camera to capture the panoramic views from the top of the hill.

Visit the Zillah Bell Gallery

The Zillah Bell Gallery is a contemporary art gallery located in the heart of Thirsk. The gallery showcases a diverse range of artwork by local, national, and international artists. You can explore the various exhibitions, which include paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and mixed media works. The gallery aims to promote and support emerging artists, as well as established names in the art world. If you're an art enthusiast, the Zillah Bell Gallery is a must-visit destination in Thirsk. The gallery also has a shop where you can purchase unique artworks, prints, and other art-related items.

Enjoy a Pint at a Traditional Pub

Thirsk is home to several traditional pubs where you can enjoy a pint of locally brewed ale and experience the warm hospitality of Yorkshire. The pubs in Thirsk offer a cozy and welcoming atmosphere, with roaring fires in the winter and beer gardens in the summer. You can sample a range of real ales, including those from local breweries, and indulge in classic pub food, such as fish and chips, Yorkshire pudding, and hearty stews. Some of the popular pubs in Thirsk include The Golden Fleece, The Black Bull, and The Three Tuns. Whether you're a beer connoisseur or simply looking for a friendly place to relax, a visit to a traditional pub in Thirsk is a must.