A NEW walking tour will be launched next month to encourage people to find out more about a North Yorkshire market town.

Swanning Around Selby is a new guide to the heritage of the town, which provides a history of the area, invites visitors to explore the 900-year-old Abbey, and includes six historically themed walks around the town which are presented in a similar style to the famous London Underground maps.

Even the title of the event is a nod to the town's history, with the swan credited with helping French Abbott Benedict select a location to build an Abbey and start the town in 1069AD, and David Lewis, local historian who helped create the guide, said he believed the guide would be an eye-opener for even local residents.

He said: "Selby Civic Society believes it breaks new ground for a town guide, with its use of on-line links.

"Selebians - that is, folk from Selby - had a hand in the invention of table tennis; the discovery of the material that makes Lewis Hamilton's spark plugs; the story of the first man in England to sell bananas and they traded along a street full of cuckoos. But you couldn't cram all the facts in these stories into a 32-page tour guide."

To include more information, a number of QR codes - or digital barcodes, to be read by smartphones - are included at points around the walks, including at the grade II-listed Abbot's Staithe, which the society hope will become a focal point of the tour.

Mr Lewis said: "This is a rare chance to see a grade II Scheduled Ancient Monument that lies very much unknown yet right in the middle of a busy market town. It is said to be one of the very few such buildings in Europe that remain unrestored.

"Still retaining much of its original medieval layout and stonework, Selby Civic Society is amongst many in the town that want to see the building - with its central location and huge historical importance - returned to active use. The Society hopes that by giving the building publicity via its new guide that new interest will be encouraged to help such a restoration."

To find out more, go to selbycivicsociety.org.uk or pick up the guide from Selby Town Hall from September 19.