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Things to do in Thornton-le-Dale, North Yorkshire

Thornton-le-Dale, sometimes referred to as Thornton Dale, is a delightful parish of 2,000 residents in North Yorkshire.

© Clare Wilkinson via Flickr

This picturesque village is centred on the village green with its traditional market cross and old stocks, once used for pelting miscreants with rotten fruit.

The thatched cottage Beck Isle Cottage in Thornton-le-Dale frequently features on calendars and chocolate boxes, surely making this village officially "chocolate-box pretty"!

All Saints Church
All Saints Church © Pete Loves Purple via Flickr

Thornton-le-Dale is certainly one of the prettiest villages in Britain and has been voted the most beautiful village in Yorkshire several times since 1907.

8 Great Things to do in Thornton-le-Dale

1. Check out Mathewsons Motor Museum

A unique motor museum run by the classic car auction company Mathewsons - which means that their display of classic cars changes frequently and will be different on every visit.

Chancel, All Saints Church
Chancel, All Saints Church © Jules and Jenny via Flickr

2. Try the Nature Trail

Enjoy the nature trail around the village pond. The display boards will suggest things to look out for as you go. Kids will enjoy nature-spotting with this fun guide:


3. Visit Flamingoland

Flamingoland is Yorkshire’s very own theme park and zoo - a great family day out that everyone will enjoy.

All Saints Church
All Saints Church © Pete Loves Purple via Flickr

With a great selection of thrill-rides including the 98ft Mumbo Jumbo or the awesome inverted coaster Kumali, and family rides too, there’s lots for everyone to do.

The zoo is home to a wide range of animals from farm animals such as cows, donkeys, rabbits and guinea pigs to more exotic ones like rhinos, zebras, tigers and lots more.

4. Explore the North York Moors National Park 

The North York Moors National Park is an area of unspoilt natural beauty with many historic sites and Thornton-le-Dale is just inside its boundary.

The National Park includes a variety of landscapes including wild, open moorlands, beautiful woodlands, the east coast and the world-famous Dales.

5. Take a Trip on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway

What better way to enjoy the stunning scenery of the North York Moors National Park than from a historic steam train?

Re-capture the romance of a bygone age. A Day Rover ticket on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway will let you explore the towns and villages along the heritage railway at your leisure.

North York Moors Railway
North York Moors Railway © Philip Benham via Flickr

6. Visit the Saxon Church in Ellerburn

Enjoy a pleasant walk from Thornton Dale along the woodland footpath to Trench Pond.

St Hildas Church, Ellerburn
St Hildas Church, Ellerburn © Pete Loves Purple via Flickr

This is a good way to reach the neighbouring village of Ellerburn which is equally delightful and has an old Saxon Church.

7. Visit The Bridestones or Dalby Forest

A popular attraction along the Dalby Forest Scenic Drive is the Bridestones, an unusual sandstone outcrop about nine miles from Thornton-le-Dale.

Dalby Forest itself is also ideal for traffic-free walks and bike rides, spotting wildlife and wildflowers along the way.

© Clare Wilkinson via Flickr

8. Discover Scampston Walled Garden 

Only 5 miles from Thornton-le-Dale lies Scampston Hall, famous for its award-winning walled garden.

Set within the walls of the original 18th-century kitchen garden, Scampston Walled Garden, designed by Piet Oudolf, is a must-see for garden enthusiasts.

Present Day Thornton-le-Dale

Surrounded by a rural landscape, the main high street of Thornton-le-Dale is lined with pretty cottages, a row of 17th-century almshouses and the local All Saints Church.

The village has a hairdresser, newsagents and a local café. With its babbling stream, it is a delightful place to amble around, admiring the well-kept English country gardens.

© Pete Loves Purple via Flickr

The local Wardill Bros general store doubles up as the North York Moors National Park Information Point and staff will provide information, maps and books to help visitors make the most of their time in Thornton-le-Dale.

At the centre of the village is the New Inn offering refreshments and bar meals. The local primary school is on Castle Road.

The gorgeous village of Thornton-le-Dale maintains an enviable community spirit. Residents spend all year fund-raising for the Christmas lights which are erected around the village in December.

The much-anticipated local show is another highlight of the village calendar. It features all types of competitions for home-produced vegetables, livestock, flowers and cakes.

Stained Glass, All Saints Church
Stained Glass, All Saints Church © Jules and Jenny via Flickr

On darker evenings, the village rehearses and puts on a drama that always plays to a packed house for its three-night run.

History of Thornton-le-Dale

Evidence for settlements in this area goes back to at least 300BC. It’s believed that Thornton was named by the Angles around 500AD.

Ellerburn church is believed to date back to Saxon times, and Roman pottery has also been found in the area.

The 14th century All Saints Church has some interesting features to look out for. It has an old alms box with three locks.

The font, hewn out of stone, is thought to be even older than the historic church. The church clock was repaired in 1920 as an offering of thanksgiving for peace after World War I.

Interior, St Hildas Church
Interior, St Hildas Church © Pete Loves Purple via Flickr

In 1600 Hugh Cholmeley, 1st Baronet, was born at Roxby Castle. He became a Member of Parliament and was a Royalist leader during the English Civil War for which he earned a knighthood and later a baronetcy.

His descendant, Sir Richard Cholmeley, was known as the Great Black Knight of the North. Although his home, Roxby Castle has gone, his remains are buried in the parish church.

Local Shops

Visitors to Thornton-le-Dale will be pleased to discover that the town is served by a selection of independent shops rather than the usual national chains.

Stained Glass, All Saints Church
Stained Glass, All Saints Church © Jules and Jenny via Flickr

At the heart of the village is Wardill Bros newsagent and general store, which has been part of Thornton-le-Dale life since 1856 and the shop is still run by the family today.

As well as the Post Office and a wide range of everyday essentials, Wardill Bros is a great place to find maps and guides of the area, backed up with unrivalled local knowledge. It is also the nominated National Park Information Point for the village.

You’ll also find a “Nisa” convenience store on Pickering Road, and if you have a sweet tooth The Chocolate Factory in The Square offers fresh handmade chocolates you’ll love.


Want to hire some bikes? Dalby Bike Barn in Low Dalby can cater for all your cycling needs including bike hire so you can explore the area on two wheels. 


Annual Events

Spring Gala

In May/June each year the Sports Association holds a Spring Gala with a Horse and Pony Fun Day, and football and cricket matches.

There's always lots going on including a classic car and tractor show, stalls, a fun dog show and a working dog show, a car boot sale and lots more.

Thornton-le-Dale Show

The Thornton-le-Dale Show is a traditional rural show and includes dog shows, sports events, produce and handicrafts shows, livestock shows a sheepdog trial and lots more.

Don’t miss the Made in Yorkshire and Deliciously Yorkshire marquees.

You’ll also enjoy a variety of live music throughout the day.

Unfortunately, the event was cancelled for 2021 but is expected to return from 2022 onwards.


Scarecrow Festival

If you visit Thornton le Dale on August Bank Holiday weekend you can enjoy the spectacle of more than 50 scarecrows displayed on the village trail and around the pond.

There's always lots going on including a duck race on Sunday afternoon and stalls on the village green. It's a great family day out, and any money raised goes to local good causes.

Thornton-le-Dale Links

Information website for the village in association with the Thornton le Dale Traders Forum. Includes a local directory, what’s on, information for visitors and local news.



The Village Hub:



Parish Council:



Bowls Club:



Houses for Sale:


Places to Eat

The New Inn

Enjoy traditional pub food in an old Georgian coaching house at The New Inn on Maltongate.

Offering brunch, lunch and dinner you can eat at any time. The menu has vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options available.

You can eat in the restaurant, and in the courtyard beer garden in summer or in the cosy bar by the log fire in winter!


The Buck Inn

The Buck Inn is a traditional English country pub in the heart of the village on Chestnut Avenue.

All food is home-cooked on the premises, and The Buck is known for its pies and its selection of Yorkshire ales.

Vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options are available.



The Grange Guest House

A luxury bed and breakfast, built in 1780, the house boasts a range of period features like beamed ceilings and Victorian fireplaces.

There are 5 en suite rooms available, each with underfloor heating so you’re sure to be comfortable at any time of year. The York Suite can be configured as a twin, or as a family room with a folding bed.


The Old Coach House

If you prefer holiday cottages then you’ll love The Old Coach House.

Sleeping 4 people in 2 rooms, this stone-built barn conversion offers comfortable accommodation with character features like vaulted ceilings and exposed beams.


Thornton Le Dale Map



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