The best things to do in Leyburn holiday cottages

The best things to do in Leyburn

Julie 13 March 2024

Nestled in the beautiful Wensleydale Valley, Leyburn is the perfect stepping stone to the breathtaking Yorkshire Dales. This vibrant market town provides a taste of everything, whether you’re looking for a base to pursue fresh air and stunning views or are happiest ambling around carefully curated artisanal shops. After a day spent discovering the delights of things to do in Wensleydale, relax at one of the excellent selection of places to eat in Leyburn. 

The countryside around Leyburn is the essence of Yorkshire – sweeping vistas, winding streams and a lush green tapestry sewn together with the pale thread of dry stone walls. The rolling hills create an abundance of waterfalls near Leyburn, including Aysgarth Falls and Harmby Waterfall, both a skimmed stone away. 

Leyburn’s landscape provides a spectacular backdrop to several fascinating historic buildings including Bolton Castle for family fun and the ruins of Jervaulx Abbey which make a perfect playground for pooches. To make the most of your visit to this uplifting corner of the Dales, discover our handpicked selection of Wensleydale holiday cottages in and around Leyburn.

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Leyburn attractions

Make each day of your holiday memorable with these inspiring days out that are all within easy reach of Leyburn in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Montage of pictures; Bolton Castle at the top, lower Aysgarth Falls bottom left and entrance to Forbidden Corner lower right

Aysgarth Falls

A couple crossing some of the shallow pools of Aysgarth Falls in the sunshine

There’s nothing so restful as watching glittering water tumble by, and Aysgarth Falls is one of the best waterfalls near Leyburn. This mile-long stretch of the River Ure has both impressive cascades to marvel at and shallow pools for doughty paddlers. If you’re wondering about the clear amber shade of the water, it’s due to the peat-rich soil of the Dales. Whatever time of year, there’s an abundance of unspoilt natural beauty to enjoy. From February, keen birders might spot a curlew as the Dales is lucky enough to count this rare wading bird as one of its visitors.

Swing by The National Park Visitor Centre at Aysgarth Falls to find out more walks including exploring nearby woods or trips to the nearby Wensleydale village of Caperby.

Bolton Castle

Close up of Bolton Castle with grassed area in the foreground

Don’t miss the chance to see one of the UK’s best preserved medieval fortresses, Bolton Castle which is famous for imprisoning Mary Queen of Scots in one of its bedrooms. Her escape route is also featured below in our Leyburn walks, so keep scrolling to find out more.  

The castle is still owned by Lord Bolton, a direct descendant of the intriguingly named Sir Richard le Scrope, who first built it. This superb castle is really brought to life by the daily events throughout the grounds. Watch birds of prey swoop past the majestic backdrop of the locally hewn stone walls in the falconry display and feed the wild boars in the boar park. There’s also archery demonstrations and medieval games to capture the feel of life in the 14th Century.  

Forbidden Corner

Wooden gnome pointing the way at Forbidden Corner

It’s no surprise that this unique labyrinth of tunnels, chambers and illusions is one of the most popular family days out in North Yorkshire. Forbidden Corner has been created within a 4-acre garden on the edge of Middleham near Leyburn and there’s a different experience around every corner, including the Temple of the Underworld, The Eye of the Needle and a glass pyramid. The maze of paths takes you to spectacular sculptures, eery portals and eye-popping exhibits, all presented with an eye for the surreal. 

Don’t miss this unusual attraction that combines natural beauty with inventive creations, such as the Castle Tower which houses an exquisite stained-glass window rescued from a nearby church. 

Dog-friendly things to do in Leyburn

You’re spoilt for choice for things to do in Leyburn with dogs. Make sure your canine companion has plenty of fun during your dog-friendly getaway with these exciting Wensleydale excursions. 

Collage of images; beagle on lead at the top, Jervaulx Abbey bottom left, Wensleydale steam train bottom right

Wensleydale Railway

Wensleydale Railway train chugging through the countryside near Leyburn

This charming heritage railway passes through some of the highlights of the Dales including the elegant Georgian town of Bedale and Scruton with its ‘living history’ 1900s experience complete with costumed guides. Travelling on the Wensleydale Railway is a fantastic way to explore the area as you (and your dog) can buy a ranger ticket to hop on and off, and as Finghall Lane is a request stop, you’ll have the thrill of signalling to the driver to stop the train as it approaches the station. 

Take a look at the timetable for the colour-coded services offering both Hill and Heritage journeys – as the names suggest, showcasing the spectacular Dales scenery or picturesque towns and villages.

Constable Burton Hall

Dog looking out over the gardens at Constable Burton Hall, with cattle in the background

If your trip to North Yorkshire is during the summer months, be sure to visit the gardens at Constable Burton Hall (where dogs on leads are welcome). While the Grade I-listed Georgian house is a private residence, the spectacular gardens are open to the public on selected days throughout the season, and there are also plant fairs and 5- and 10k runs around the grounds. 

The annual tulip festival transforms the formal and woodland gardens with a splash of spring colour – there are 6,000 blooms to enjoy, representing the northern show garden for Chelsea award-winning Bloms Bulbs.

Jervaulx Abbey

Mist rising over Jervaulx Abbey

The atmospheric ruins of Jervaulx Abbey are the perfect spot for a dog walk back in time. Wander around the remains to see ferns and wildflowers in abundance. Built in 1145 and once a thriving Cistercian monastery, after the Reformation, all that’s left is part of the church, cloisters and watermill. The French Cistercians monks that inhabited it brought with them a recipe for cheese that has now become the famous Wensleydale, as beloved by Wallace and Gromit.  

Leyburn pubs

Don’t leave the Yorkshire Dales without sampling some of the local ales and home-cooked food at these traditional inns in and around Leyburn.

Montage of images; top image showing wine and beer on a bar, bottom left is the interior of Sandpiper Inn, bottom right is a roast dinner

The Three Horseshoes

Two pints of ale on a wooden table in a pub

With a south-facing beer garden boasting panoramic countryside views, this gorgeous old pub in Wensley is a perfect spot after a ramble from nearby Leyburn. If the weather’s not so calm, you can also warm up in front of the log fire at The Three Horseshoes and enjoy some hearty pub grub including a very tasty Sunday roast.

The Fox & Hounds

Exterior of Fox & Hounds pub in West Burton

Enjoy a warm welcome at The Fox & Hounds where you can try your hand at a game of quoits as well as the traditional darts and dominoes. This quaint little pub is tucked away just outside West Burton, a picture-perfect village with its own hidden waterfall, as encapsulated by Turner during one of his visits to Yorkshire. The village butcher also provides the meat for the hearty meals this charming pub offers.  

The Sandpiper Inn

Chocolate dessert with ice cream on a grey plate

Located in the heart of Leyburn, this award-winning pub offers memorable meals using locally sourced ingredients. With oak flooring and traditional stone fireplaces, the cosy snug and bar at The Sandpiper Inn is a real treat to dine in, especially in flickering candlelight. You can also sample local ales and the extensive selection of whiskies.

Leyburn places to eat

From a quick bite to a candlelit dinner, there’s an impressive selection of restaurants to choose from in and around Leyburn, check out our pick of the best.

Montage of images; table set for dinner at the top, road leading to Wensleydale Heifer at bottom left, fish and chips on plate lower right

The Wensleydale Heifer

The Wensleydale Heifer in West Witton

Attention to detail is the stand-out feature of this superb restaurant in West Witton, just a few miles from Leyburn. The kitchen at The Wensleydale Heifer boasts an in-house smoker where they smoke their own meat and fish, and the chocolates and gelato are hand-made by the resident patisserie chef. 

Kim's Bistro

Mozzarella and tomato with balsamic vinegar on ciabatta

Kim’s Bistro offers a great selection of meals and snacks that will tempt all the family – from a bespoke full English breakfast to Kim’s Bistro Salad that includes Wensleydale cheese. The drinks menu is equally expansive with freshly made milkshakes and a licensed bar.

Tennants Garden Rooms

Tennants auctioneers with grassed area and pond at the front

Based at Tennants Auctioneers, there’s a choice of dining experiences in these smart Garden Rooms. For a quick bite, opt for the light and airy café, with either comfy sofas or a table on the patio or you can enjoy a more formal meal in The Bistro. Check out the exquisite afternoon teas with homemade sausage rolls and cake. Going, going, gone! 

Leyburn walks

Whether you’re a serious hiker or a gentle rambler, the local area around Leyburn offers some spectacular walks.  

Montage of images; dry stone wall with a gate at top, Middleham Castle bottom left, field with sheep at bottom right

Leyburn Shawl

Limestone escarpment above Leyburn

For panoramic views towards the Coverdale Fells, head to Leyburn Shawl. So-called because Mary Queen of Scots supposedly dropped her shawl here while fleeing nearby Bolton Castle, the Shawl includes a geographically fascinating escarpment (or rock ledge) made from limestone. There are several ways to approach it; lace up your walking boots for the longer challenge of the 7-mile circular route from Leyburn to Preston-Under-Scar or for a gentler stroll, there’s the Leyburn Shawl Loop.

Harmby Waterfall

Harmby waterfall tumbling onto rocks in a wooden dell

One of the hidden gems of the many waterfalls around Wensleydale, Harmby Falls is just a short walk down a footpath opposite The Pheasant Inn in Harmby. It’s so secluded that you may find yourself the only visitor, perfect for taking in the uplifting surroundings of this ancient woodland.


Ariel view of Middleham with green countryside in the background

Starting in the village of Middleham, this 6-mile Wensleydale walk takes you past the evocative ruins of 12th-century Middleham Castle, following the path of the River Cover. Feel on top of the world on Low Coverham Moor, where sections reach a height of 700m. 

Shopping in Leyburn

Expect the unexpected with an eclectic mix of independent stores in Leyburn. Aim for a Friday when you can enjoy the market too, providing fresh local produce.  

Collage of images; bridge leading into Leyburn, fresh fruit and vegetables in a shop and piles of books at a bookshop

The Walking Shop

Walking boots, flask, map and rucksack on a wooden table

If you’re a keen hiker, make a beeline for this specialist shop where you’ll find crampons, backpacks and trekking poles galore. Staffed by walking enthusiasts, they can give you expert, often first-hand advice on any of the products at The Walking Shop.

Campbell's of Leyburn

Interior of a shop showing rows of bottles of wine
Image credit: Campbell's of Leyburn

A supermarket with a difference, this upmarket grocer offers a more restful shopping experience, where you can browse high-quality products at leisure. Be sure to visit the cheese section at Campbell's of Leyburn where there are several varieties of the Wallace and Gromit favourite – Wensleydale.

The Wonky Tree Bookshop

Interior of The Wonky Tree Bookshop with books on shelves

Image credit: The Wonky Tree Bookshop

Not many bookshops can boast an outside seating area, perfect for reading your new novel, but The Wonky Tree Bookshop is one of them. Run by a couple with a passion for books, prepare to be charmed by this innovative shop. 

Where to stay in Leyburn

Rolling countryside near Leyburn with farm buildings and cows

If you’re itching to investigate this gorgeous corner of the Yorkshire Dales, take a look at these great North Yorkshire holiday cottages that are perfectly located in and around the area.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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