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Thirsk is a market town on a river called Cod Beck in the heart of North Yorkshire, south-east of Northallerton and outside the south-western border of the North York Moors National Park. it is closely linked to the neighbouring village of Sowerby.
The centre of Thirsk revolves around its large open market square, where markets are held each Saturday and Monday, and along Kirkgate passed the World of James Herriot and on to the church.
The square is surrounded by a mix of interesting buildings - whitewashed, grey stone, red brick - that provide it with a lot of character. There is also a prominent clocktower in the centre of the cobbled square. Most shops in the town are also around the market place and along Kirkgate and a few of the other side streets, as are a good selection of pubs and restaurants. One unexpected highlight is the art gallery called the Zillah Bell Gallery which features works by a wide range of artists, both local and international (15, Kirkgate, Thirsk).
Thirsk church is the church of Saint Mary and dates from the second half of the 15th century - it is an impressive (and impressively large) Gothic style building with a square tower, and an attractive interior with its rows of decorative stone arches.
The town is now well established as a tourist destination for those wishing to explore the Yorkshire Moors - or perhaps pass some time at Thirsk racecourse.
Thirsk and the James Herriot Connection
For the last couple of decades Thirsk has had an additional attraction for visitors - it was home to James Herriot (real name James Alfred Wright), the famous vet turned novelist, who set his books around his life and work in the region (he called the town Darrowby in the books). The building where James Herriot had his veterinary practice is at 23 Kirkgate in Thirsk, and is now a museum, the World of James Herriot, dedicated to the author (reading It Shouldn't Happen to a Vet / All Creatures Great and Small before a visit is recommended!)
Attractions close to Thirsk
Its location means there are ample opportunities to explore by car, foot or bike in the region around Thirsk.
One popular local attraction is the white horse carved in the hill at nearby Kilburn. For others please see the map of the Thirsk region below.
Map of Thirsk and places to visit
Thirsk places to visit
See more places nearby in the North Yorkshire guide