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A Racecourse, Independent Shops, and Rural Arts: What To Do in Thirsk

Thirsk town centre
Places to go
September 2022
Reading time 3 Minutes

This traditional market town is home to oodles of independent businesses, and there’s plenty to see and do

Here’s our guide to what to do and see.
Michelin Stared food from The Black Swan at Oldstead The Black Swan at Oldstead
scone with cream, jam and strawberries White Rose Book Café


It’s all about the cafés in Thirsk. Eggs Benedict at Bliss Café is always a winner, White Horse Café is your go-to for fish and chips, and bookworms will want to head to the White Rose Book Café for delicious coffee and cake out in the garden (dogs are welcome), then browse the selection of books indoors. For Thai food using the best local ingredients Racha Thai Bistro is the restaurant for you, but if you’re seeking traditional pub grub, head a little further out to The Black Swan at Oldstead – the Michelin-starred restaurant by Tommy Banks which offers a tasting menu prepared with ingredients grown on their farm.

traditional bedroom with four poster bed, styled with gold and red The Golden Fleece Hotel


The Golden Fleece Hotel sits proudly on the market place in the centre of Thirsk and the rooms are traditional but stylish. Nearby, The Carpenters Arms has both luxurious bedrooms and brilliant food, and a large beer garden overlooking the Vale of York. The friendly Fauconberg is a great local inn overlooking the village green in Coxwold which caters for everyone – from romantic staycationers to cyclists and hikers. It serves great food too (take locally reared, lamb, beef and pork as one example). If you’re thinking of making a more permanent base in the area, try Hollin Barn Lodge Park, a family-run holiday home park which offers a wide range of lodges to buy.


Keen knitters and creatives will want to visit Ewe and Yarn – an emporium of wool – while art lovers will want to step inside Rural Arts to get involved in workshops and browse exhibitions. See what you can find in Three Tuns Antiques, then discover the finest country clothing and shooting apparel (for both men and women) at Humphrey & Tilly.

Thirsk Hall Sculpture Garden | The World of James Herriot Thirsk Hall Sculpture Garden | The World of James Herriot


There’s so much fun to be had here. Place your bets at Thirsk Racecourse, watch the flying demonstrations at Thirsk Birds of Prey Centre or have a go at 4×4 off-road driving or quad bike trekking to get your heart racing with Yorkshire Outdoors. For a less hair-raising and more artsy experience, don’t miss Thirsk Hall Sculpture Garden and Gallery One. You’ve probably read his books or watched All Creatures Great and Small, but it’s only when you step inside The World of James Herriot here that you’ll truly understand the life of the Dales’ most famous vet.

Read more: The Yorkshire Town by the Coast with a Thriving Foodie Scene

Around the corner

For a great family day out, head to Monk Park Farm in Bagby where your children will have a chance to meet an array of animals, from alpacas and wallabies to Guernsey goats and pot-bellied pigs. New for this year are air bouncers, an extended petting barn and a mini train ride. Plus, don’t forget to spot the iconic Kilburn White Horse cut into the hillside at Sutton Bank.

Iconic Kilburn White Horse cut into the hillside at Sutton Bank Kilburn White Horse
Ariel view of the play area at Monk Park Farm in Bagby Monk Park Farm

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