5 reasons why you should move to Wensleydale
PUBLISHED: 00:00 19 May 2020
Neighbourhood know-how, places and people.
Wensleydale is an oddity – the only valley in the Yorkshire Dales not named after a river, but rather in honour of the Viking God, Woden. So being linked with the Norsemen’s ultimate deity must mean it’s good? Yes it certainly is. This extraordinarily beautiful landscape is knitted together by the fast flowing River Ure, connecting Leyburn and Masham with villages such as Middleham, the childhood home of Richard III.
Masham has one of England’s most attractive market squares, whilst Leyburn stands on the threshold of the wilder Dales, with the wonders of Aysgarth Falls beyond. If wide open vistas, riverside walks and a sense of community figure high on your priorities, you’ll want to move here. For many the point of moving to the Dales is to escape city life with its traffic and pollution, but there is a price to pay. Frankly you are going to need a car. Having said that Masham and Leyburn are hardly frontier towns and there are options.
The former is only 10 minutes from the A1 and 12 miles from Thirsk railway station. Leyburn has its own rail service, the revived Wensleydale line, connecting it to Leeming Bar and Redmire, although it doesn’t run every day. Bus services can be a little difficult to decipher, but routes operate throughout the year. See dalesbus.org
Bag a property
Generally house prices are highest around Masham. Property sells quickly, with a two bedroom cottage fetching between £200,000 and £300,000. One bed flats can be as inexpensive as £130,000.
At the other end of the scale a five bedroom dwelling in one acre grounds recently went for £1.25m. To rent £700 per month gets you a two bed cottage, plus small garden.
Prices are a little lower in Leyburn and generally decrease the further north and west you go in this part of Wensleydale, A special mention for East Witton, a beautiful village with its broad main street divided by a huge grassy expanse and with a decent pub too.
Wensleydale is a tourist honeypot and a big farming area. Combine both and learn to drive a tractor at Farm Adventure, near Masham! You can even stay overnight to get the full agricultural experience on the 180 acre farm.
Needless to say this is marvellous walking country, with the six mile Shawl Trail linking Leyburn to Wensley, via a limestone outcrop. The route was used by Mary Queen of Scots to escape her captors at Bolton Castle and provides sumptuous views over 1,800 foot Penhill. Masham has two excellent brewery visitor centres, Black Sheep and Theakstons, whilst the Forbidden Corner, near Middleham, is a labyrinth of tunnels, chambers and follies.
Not far away is 12th century Middleham Castle, one of the most complete in England, and a place of pilgrimage for Richard III fans. Limetree Observatory, three miles from Masham, offers family-friendly stargazing.
Cafe and cocktails
You’d expect this part of Wensleydale to be full of twee tea rooms, but in Masham you get the eclectic, multi-coloured and full-on Johnny Baghdad’s on the Market Place, with a fantastic menu ranging from koftas to cakes.
For handmade ice cream head to Brymor Farm, near Jervaulx , whilst the nearby Blue Lion is a traditional, dog friendly country pub and dining spot which offers salmon fishing breaks on the Ure in season. Leyburn’s eateries include the long established and highly rated Sandpiper Inn (try the cod with spring greens and caviar sauce) and the imposing Bolton Arms.
In Middleham, the Tack Room restaurant is getting good reviews and its home-cured salmon marinated in vodka sounds particularly exciting. For refined afternoon tea, you’ll struggle to beat the plush Swinton Park Hotel, near Masham.
Leyburn is home to a couple of long established businesses – Milner’s, a bijou department store, established in 1883, focusing on clothing and elegant interiors, and Campbell’s award-winning, family-owned supermarket keen on supporting Yorkshire farmers and artisans.
Close by is Tennants Auctioneers, one of the leading antique salesrooms in the UK. Masham has a nice selection of independent shops, including the Tweed Fox and Uredale Glass, off the Market Place, a family run glass studio renowned for its extravagant use of colour. There’s also a couple of excellent butchers, a good bakery and a garage.