If you have read my previous review about Masham you will know that we have just had a lovely trip to the Yorkshire Dales. We were staying in the Richmondshire town of Leyburn; an area in the Wensleydale region of the Dales. Our accommodation was billed as a cottage, but was actually a really nice modern house on the very edge of a rural estate about ten minutes walk from the centre of Leyburn. Although a new housing development it was attractive, quiet and our house had fields on two sides ~ these belonged to a farm, showing how rural our setting was!
As I mentioned we had a ten (fifteen sometimes as the weather was SO hot) minute walk to get to the nearest shops and amenities. This was fine for us, although the walk back was mostly uphill. The walk was worth it because Leyburn is a really pretty place, with a church, market square and a good few shops. Most importantly there were quite a few pubs that had excellent food and a good range of Real Ales (now you know why we chose Leyburn). There is also a good Tourist Information centre, a cinema and the Railway Station ~ this is part of the Wensleydale line, but unfortunately we couldn't take advantage of this because the trains are very limited and only run at weekends until the summer timetable kicks in (this was mid-July and the week AFTER we were there!).
The buses also all arrived and departed from the market square area, so the square is quite a bustling little place to visit. The Market Square also doubles as the car park on non market days. The parking was free with a box for donations that go towards the upkeep of the parking area ~ I did see quite a lot of people donating, but an equal (if not larger number) parking for free! On market day (Friday) and the Farmers Market day (once a month) there is alternative (but limited) parking on some grass nearby. Leyburn also holds a Food & Drink Fair once a year, showcasing local produce ~ I saw it featured on Rick Stein's Food Heroes the other day and this also seemed to revolve around the square.
Shopping in Leyburn isn't too bad. There are three supermarket type shops, the best being the Co-op, for price and selection; it also stayed open until 9pm, so was handy for us to stock up when we came back from a day out. There are a few gift shops, a hardware shop, walking supply shops, a very good butchers and quite a decent range of other shops for such a small town. My only real gripe is that the Fish & Chip Shop closed no later than 8pm every night and the curry house NEVER seemed to be open ~ not great for the post-pub munchies! There was decent Kebab/pizza shop that fed us though! We also bought supplies from the butchers and the Co-Op to BBQ back at the house.
Out of the five pubs we had listed in the village we visited three. The Kings Head only had John Smiths Cask on and was also a little bit rough looking, so we avoided that one. The Sandpiper looked nice but seemed to be closed on the few times we walked past so we also had to give that one a miss. So, we ended up frequently the Black Swan Hotel, the Golden Lion and the Bolton Arms Hotel; all conveniently located around the Market Place.
The ivy clad Black Swan was the most relaxed, had the best food (the duck in cherry sauce was to die for), the nicest landlord and the best beer selection ~ they had the Best Black Sheep Bitter in Leyburn, although £2.50 a pint was pretty steep! We also ate at the Golden Lion, but weren't as impressed with their beer as we were with their food (most of their main courses were priced at £7.50 and the selection and presentation were excellent). The Bolton Arms had a nice outside drinking area but, on the occasion we visited it was a bit noisy and full of children, so we stayed for one drink and moved on elsewhere for food.
To be honest we didn't spend much time during the day in Leyburn and used it as a base to travel by bus to see the surrounding area. The Wensleydale area is stunning ~ the villages, buildings and countryside make this a really great place for a holiday. We were extremely lucky with the weather during our week, so we saw Leyburn and the other villages and towns at their very best.
We tended to walk down into Leyburn in the morning to get the bus; looking in the shops on the way and visiting the tourist information centre for leaflets before getting the bus in the market square. The gift shops had a pretty standard range of goods that we had seen in many other towns and villages in the area ~ fridge magnets, post cards, lots of fudge and toffee and a plethora of sheep related gifts, etc! Prices for gifts varied slightly between the shops, but not by much.
There are places around Leyburn for if the weather isn't quite as stunning! We didn't have to visit any (she gloats again at the glorious sunshine "endured" during recent annual holiday!), but we had looked into where we could go if we needed to. Leyburn has a cinema called the Elite ~ although small it does show a range of new and classic films and the odd "live" show. Within walking distance of the town there is a business park that has a Chocolate Factory and a Teapottery (that makes and sells unusual teapots and tea related products).
The Chocolate Shop used to be a small place but had to move to the bigger place because of the demand ~ it is a very popular place, but I have looked on their website (http://www.thelittlechocolateshop.co.uk/index.htm) and you can buy online postage free! The Teapottery (also in the business park) looks more interesting because they hold special events throughout the year and have teapots made in the shape of just about anything you can imagine! You can buy things via their website (http://www.teapottery.co.uk/) but there are quite high postage charging; making a visit preferable in this case!
There is also a model village close by (http://www.beech-end.co.uk/), near the HSBC bank, just up from the Market Square in Commercial Square. This costs £2.10 for adults and includes interactive exhibits. We poked our heads around the door, but didn't go in ~ the "village" is on the first floor though and there is no disabled access.
I really liked my stay in Leyburn and found it a great base for exploring Wensleydale and the surrounding area. If we had no other places to visit though I think we may have got bored after a week's stay. There are things to do, but not enough shops to keep you going for the whole holiday. Leyburn's location is ideal however, because it is at the centre of the main bus routes, making it pretty easy to get around (even without a car). There are also some excellent walks that go through Leyburn that are really pretty if a little hilly sometimes! I have no hesitation in recommending a stay in this lovely little town, whether in a cottage like us or B&B at one of the pubs in the town (the Black Swan and Golden Lion have been recommended to us as good places for a couple of nights).
You won't be disappointed by the area and you will be blown away by the scenery and lovely little places to visit within a small area.
Leyburn Tourist Information Centre
Thornborough Hall, Leyburn, North Yorkshire DL8 5AB
01969 623069 (+44 1969 623069)
Leyburn Business Park
The Little Chocolate Shop
3A, Herriot Court,
Leyburn Business Park,