6 reasons to move to Wetherby
PUBLISHED: 13:49 27 August 2020
The perfect market town for lunch and a mooch
Wetherby has been at a crossroads for centuries. It was here in medieval times that marauding Scots armies forded the River Wharfe on missions of pillage. Then in the 18th century it prospered as a stop on the Great North Road coaching route with 40 pubs servicing the lucrative long distance north to south trade. Today Wetherby, population 20,000, instantly registers as one of the smartest small towns in Yorkshire. Buildings are made from a lovely white and yellow stone making the place feel bright and positive and the meandering river looping through the centre adds its own magic. Go a little way out of town and you are greeted by tremendous countryside, replete with stunning villages and atmospheric pubs. It all makes for a tempting package, embellished by the presence of good schools, a sense of community and excellent shops. With Leeds, Harrogate and York all within easy reach, Wetherby should definitely be on your shortlist if you are looking to relocate.
Bag a property
Wetherby’s mix of properties includes stylish apartments overlooking the river, along with terraced cottages, detached family homes and millionaire mansions. Most of the centre is a conservation area, which has protected the historic quality of the built environment. Property prices are reasonable, certainly when compared to north Leeds and Harrogate, and a three-bed semi-detached can be found for as little as £250,000. For a good-sized family home a budget of £350,000 gives plenty of choice, whilst a three bed apartment in a swish riverside development will cost over £450,000. To rent expect to pay £600 per month for a one bed flat and £800 for a two-bed terraced house. Prices rocket in villages like Linton, Collingham and Sicklinghall (once favoured by Leeds United footballers), where houses regularly sell for over £1m.
The bad news is there is no railway station in Wetherby, with the last passenger train having departed in 1964. But in other respects, transport links are excellent. The upgraded A1 runs alongside the town and York and Harrogate are a 20-minute drive away. Leeds takes a bit longer on busy days. Bus services are decent and the old rail route has been revived as a cycle path connecting Spofforth to Thorpe Arch, via Wetherby. The town itself is compact, easy to walk around, with plenty of parking.
Wetherby is a delight to discover by foot so be sure to pick up a blue plaque trail leaflet from the tourist information centre. A popular starting point is the River Wharfe where it tumbles over a weir, once the site of a water mill. Leaping salmon are depicted in a lovely sculpture created to celebrate the millennium. Wetherby Racecourse, regarded by many as the finest jump course in the north, is on the edge of town and there’s also the Wetherby Film Theatre, a bijou picture house. To the west the River Wharfe cuts deep into the landscape providing dramatic views. Not far away is Bramham Park, venue for the famous horse trials and Leeds Festival. You can also visit by appointment at other times. Another nearby gem is the village of Spofforth, which unlike Wetherby, retains its castle. It was reputedly on this site that the rebel barons drew up Magna Carta in 1215 to thwart the ambitions of King John.
A stylish market town - why Boston Spa is on the up
Wetherby is packed with independent shops. Footfall is excellent and people clearly support their local businesses. Thursday is market day by dint of a royal charter granted to the Knights Templar by Henry III in 1240. It is a great place to pick up a bargain. Tarbett’s is an excellent fishmonger with eye-catching displays, whilst the Market Place Deli is superb, with a great selection of home-made savouries, cakes and salads. The Artisan Cheese Company is also worth a visit. In addition, there is a discretely located Morrisons supermarket and a Marks and Spencer’s Food Hall. For the home check out Richard Grafton Interiors on the High Street and a few doors along is Furnish and Fettle, which has a good selection of lamps. If jewellery and relics of bygone times are your thing try Stafford Hall Antiques near the Town Hall. The Wetherby area is big horse riding country and Fox Saddlers on Northgates has been offering equine essentials for 100 years.
Cafe and cocktails
Mango on Bank Street is a family-run Indian vegetarian restaurant with a growing reputation, whilst the town is home to the Wetherby Whaler chip shop chain with a store in the centre. Nearby Bar 3 offers pub dishes and cocktails in a convivial setting, with outdoor seating, and for Italian try San Angelo. Further afield the Scots Arms in Sicklinghall is a lovely old-world pub which does great food, whilst the town centre also offers plenty of choice for a tipple. Try the Swan and Talbot, an old coaching inn first licensed in 1678, the Black Bull or the New Inn. For coffee and cakes, Pomfret’s on the Shambles is highly regarded and for lovely riverside views try the Cottage Coffee Shop.
Look out for
Wetherby is home to an excellent arts festival, generally held in October, and which in recent years has featured the Leeds Symphony Orchestra and an assortment of literary and comic luminaries, plus walks and talks and even a festival fringe.