Leyburn is a picturesque town situated in the North Yorkshire Dales. A lot of tourists stay in Leyburn because of its close proximity to the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and many people enjoy the area because of the great walking routes available. One of the best places to go walking is the Leyburn Shawl, which is a cliff edge that is suitable for novice walkers and provides superb views of the landscape. Leyburn has loads of transport links, which means that you can easily travel to the surrounding towns and villages.
You can have an action packed day indoor as well - Lightwater Valley is possibly the biggest family attraction in the area. It has three destinations all rolled into one - a theme park, a shopping village and a bird of prey centre. If you would prefer to soak up some of Leyburn's history you can visit one of the many museums and historic houses in Leyburn. You can learn all about this fascinating market town's past and its involvement in the growth of North Yorkshire. For a great evening, you can go to one of the award winning restaurants in Leyburn and taste the delicious foods they have to offer; there are Italian restaurants, Chinese buffets, Indian curry houses and more!
Lightwater Valley is an exciting day out for the whole family - and it's just a thirty minute drive from Leyburn! Once there, you get to choose what you want to do first. You can go to the theme park, the shopping centre or the bird of prey centre. Each attraction is packed full of fun and excitement and you will need to spend a whole day there just to experience everything!
You can buy Lightwater Valley merchandise from all around the Park, so that you can take home a little reminder of your stay. You can also find some great gifts for all of your family and friends. You can also have your picture taken on one of the many rides in the theme park so that all your friends can see how much fun you had! In the theme park there are rides suitable for all ages of children, so there is something for everyone to enjoy. For 'nippers' the Swan Lake Pedal Boats are perfect, whereas Whirlwind is more suitable for the older, more daring members of the family.
The Shopping Village in Lightwater Valley doesn't just have clothes shops in it; you can stop for a bite to eat there as well! The Granary Restaurant & Coffee Shop has a friendly, relaxed atmosphere and the menu is full of dishes that will appeal to children and adults alike. They have alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks on offer and they serve food all day long. Afterwards, you can check out some of the shops in the Village, such as The Emporium, which sells everything from furniture to jewellery to kitchenware. If you have a sweet tooth, you should step in to Sweet Memories, which sells sweet treats all year round.
To see some of the most magnificent birds in England, visit the Bird of Prey Centre. You can see the most amazing flying shows throughout the day and you can learn all about the birds' lives within the centre. You can even volunteer to put on a gauntlet and have one of these impressive birds land on your arm!
If you want to experience the magnificence of the North Yorkshire Dales, but you don't feel like going on a hiking trip, you can take a trip with Throstlenest Dales Tours. You can be driven around the rolling countryside from the comfort of a high roofed minibus while your driver informs you of the history of the landscape. Your tour will pause for short walks around the countryside or if you want you can request to stop so that you can take a photograph or two.
For a relaxing and enjoyable day out, visit Constable Burton Hall Gardens. The gardens are just a three miles away from Leyburn, so you won't have to travel far at all to see the beautiful 18th century house surrounded by woodland. You can walk through the woods and examine the different plants that are changing all year round. Entry is very cheap and there are delightful events held throughout the year.
A trip to Leyburn would not be complete without visiting at least one of the castles in the area. Middleham Castle is just a five minute drive from Leyburn and was once the childhood home to Richard III. Adults and children alike will be fascinated by the remains of this beautiful structure and although the castle is roofless, it is still incredibly imposing. English Heritage holds events during the year, such as re-enactments of medieval life.
Another historic building is Jervaulx Abbey. Six miles from Leyburn, this atmospheric ruin used to be a Cistercian abbey during the 12th century. Wildflowers and plants have been allowed to grow in and around the abbey, making it look wonderfully enchanted. While you are there, you can visit the tea rooms on the abbey's site to enjoy some delicious cakes, scones, sandwiches and teas.
Leyburn plays host to many markets every year, from the simple open air market once a week that sells food, drink, clothes and other household items, to the farmers market held every month. You can get all of the best local produce from the farmers market. Most of the seasonal fruit and vegetables are organic, and the meat is all ethically reared.
Apart from markets, there are many festivals that visit Leyburn each year. The Dales Festivals of Food and Drink is one of the most exciting events held during the year. The stalls all sell homemade cakes, bread and pies as well as delicious cheese, ales, creams, meats and vegetables. A large portion of the festival is geared towards having fun, so there is always a fairground available so the whole family can enjoy themselves.
If you are a fan of antiques, or you just want to pick up a bargain, you can visit the Tennants Auctioneers in Leyburn, where you can bid on anything from paintings to jewellery to furniture. Their auctions are held regularly, but you should check their website to find out when the next one is. While you are there, you should also have a bite to eat in their superb restaurant.
There are loads of little shops in Leyburn town centre, so you don't even need to travel outside of the town to go shopping. You can pick up the perfect presents for your friends at home from the gift shops, or you can get supplies for your hike in the Yorkshire Dales at the outdoor shop. You will be able to find everything that you need!
After your long day of exploring Leyland you will want something to eat - why not visit Soprano Pizzeria in the town centre? The Pizzeria serves fresh Italian food using the finest ingredients. They have pizzas, pastas and salads on their menu and they have a good list of beers and wines to choose from.
If all you need is a quick snack try Mrs Pumphreys, which is right in the heart of Leyburn. You can buy wonderful light lunches and hot coffees and teas, all of which you can enjoy in the cafe or you can take them away.
Leyburn has loads of great pubs to choose from, one of which is the Black Swan Hotel. The pub area has a gigantic list of ales, wines, beers and soft drinks for you to try and they also serve food.
Another pub worth mentioning is the Golden Lion. It is situated right in the market place, so you can be at the hub of Leyburn's activities while you enjoy a drink with the locals. They do their best to make sure that all of their drinks are locally sourced so that you can taste some of North Yorkshire's best drinks.
Sham castle image contributed by Paul Brooker. From the shawl image contributed by C P Smith. Thornborough Hall image contributed by Gordon Hatton. All images are copyrighted but licensed for further reuse under the Creative Commons License.