Sitting on the northern bank of the River Ure, this charming town rivals nearby Hawes for the title of being the capital of Wensleydale. Despite its sense of importance, the town is far from large, with a population of barely 1,800.
If you like antiques, though, Leyburn is probably one of the places you have been intending on visiting for some time as it is home to the largest auction house outside of London.
Tennants Auctioneers on Harmby Road has been running since the late Victorian period and holds more 100 auctions of fine art, antiques and specialists collectable each year at its mammoth 40,000sq ft site.
You should also be able to pick up a bargain or two at Leyburn’s bustling market. It takes place every Friday in the town’s main square and includes an array of stalls selling everything from fresh fish to hand-crafted ornaments.
The square also has a number of regular stores and well as public houses for a relaxing drink or a home cooked meal.
Arts and crafts are big in these parts and Leyburn is home to three galleries. The largest and longest established are the Wensleydale Galleries. Open seven days a week, it features a number of awe-inspiring paintings and prints from artists known locally and nationally.
One of its key collections is entitled ‘The Beatles Hidden Gallery’ and includes photos taken of the Fab Four by BAFTA winning filmmaker and photographer Paul Berriff.
Overlooking the town is the Leyburn Shawl, an area which covers 1.5 miles and derived its name from a legend that claims Mary Queen of Scots dropped her shawl on the hill while fleeing Bolton Castle.
The castle is about six miles to the west of the Leyburn and can trace its history back to the 14th century. It was built by Richard le Scrope, Richard IIs’ lord chancellor of England, is a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
The Scottish monarch was imprisoned inside its walls following her army’s defeat at the Battle of Langside in 1568 and the bedroom in which she stayed can be visited as well as the castle’s dungeon.
Scrope’s descendants still own the property, but it is fully open to the public and hosts a number of events including sword fighting demonstrations and falconry displays.
Around seven miles to the south of Leyburn is yet another medieval fortress with an important royal connection. Middleham Castle was constructed during the Norman era and became the property of the Neville family in 1270. Following the death of Richard, the Duke of York, during the War of the Roses, Richard Neville took in the Duke’s two sons.
The youngest of these would go on to be crowned King Richard III. The monarch only spent a few of his childhood years at Middleham, but he returned to the castle after he married Anne Neville in 1472 and his son, Edward, was born there.
While much of the castle is now in ruins there is still much to see and the maze of rooms that Richard III once called home can clearly be made out. There is also a fantastic wooden viewing gallery that provides excellent views over Wensleydale’s rolling hills.
Leyburn has a number of great walking routes, but a time when hikers really come to town is for the Wensleydale Wander. Typically it is held in March and April and is sponsored by the Leyburn Rotary Club. It allows those taking part to choose between routes covering 12 or 22 miles.
If you want to give your legs a rest and travel in style then why not hop to a train on the Wensleydale Railway. This heritage line has a station in Leyburn and uses diesel locomotives with the occasional steam services running.
Leyburn also holds the Dales Festival of Food and Drink over the May Day bank holiday each year. This gives local producers an opportunity to showcase their goods and also features musical performances and a funfair. Of course, Wensleydale cheese is available.