Interest in the works of James Herriot has been rekindled recently with the All Creatures Great and Small TV series on Channel 5. For those of a certain age, the original long-running show that aired on the BBC between 1978 and 1990 is remembered with much fondness.

The famous vet may have been based some 45 miles from Scarborough in the market town of Thirsk, but Herriot (real name Alf Wight) had quite a significant connection with this part of the Yorkshire coast. You can follow in the footsteps of James from your Staxton Vale luxury lodge.

The Grand Hotel

It’s not quite as grand as it once was, but the Grand Hotel was something to behold when it opened in 1867. Then the largest hotel in Europe, the landmark building was intended to reflect the opulence and grandeur of Scarborough as a resort town. Alf Wight was billeted to the Grand during the Second World War when it was requisitioned by the RAF. Although the veterinary profession was a reserved occupation, Alf volunteered and was posted to Scarborough.

Herriot’s experiences of being billeted in the Grand can be found in the original books ‘Vets Might Fly’ and ‘Vet in a Spin’. If you’ve read the books, you will recall that James Herriot ‘plays hookey’ from military training to visit his wife and newborn son. Once the war is over, James reflects that he will one day return to the Grand and see it just how it should have been. In real life, Alf did just that and dined there with his family.

The cricket club

Alf Wight was a huge sports fan in his spare time. Having been born on Wearside, he retained a great interest in Sunderland AFC and was made a life president a few years before his death. Alf also made the annual pilgrimage to Scarborough for the annual cricket festival that has been held annually since 1876.

A Great British Car Journey

In 2019, Channel 4 aired a series called ‘Great British Car Journeys’. Travelling a little farther afield from Scarborough, one of the episodes (series 2, episode 1) featured the stars of the original BBC Herriot series, Christopher Timothy and Peter Davison. The pair take part in their own ‘Herriot Trail’ in a vintage car. That route runs from Scarborough to Langthwaite, a good 90 miles away in the Yorkshire Dales. It’s a good watch, travelling through the countryside that provides the backdrop to All Creatures Great and Small. It can still be watched on Channel 4 Player.

If you’re looking for a holiday home in Scarborough, contact our team today.