Named in the Sunday Times Best Places to Live Guide*, Masham is one of those places that people chance upon, then visit again and again, before finding themselves living here. There’s something about the lively market town that draws people into its comforting fold. The two breweries, a gin distillery and the numerous pubs may be the initial attraction, yet Masham’s charms go much deeper.
Masham is known for being one of the Yorkshire’s Dales most open, welcoming places to live. It has a rich history, strong sense of community, plenty to do, and excellent local services. Masham is centred around market place, said to be one of the largest in England. Elegant Georgian houses stand around its periphery, facing the ancient cross and cobbled area. At one time huge annual sheep sales took place in the square and surrounding lanes, with up to 40,000 sheep for sale. Those days are long gone but Masham Sheep Fair still takes place on the last weekend of every September, an important date in the sheep showing calendar, and very popular with visitors.
The market place offers some first-rate cafes, sweet shops, pharmacy, a deli, interesting gift shops, Masham Gallery and the Nolon Stacey Gallery. At one side of the square is Masham Church of England Primary School, and at the other the beautiful St. Mary’s Church, both very much at the heart of this active community.
In the neighbouring Little Market Place, are five important local services: the doctors’ surgery, Masham Town Hall, Masham Community Office, the cash point and bus stop. Masham Community Office is an essential first stop for both visitors and residents. It’s also home to Acorns Pre-School, the Library and Flock Gallery. Services include tourism information, computer access, digital support, printing facilities, local info on health and wellbeing services, jigsaw library, business directory and much more – if you need something, there’s always a friendly volunteer waiting to help.
The Town Hall has an extensive events programme and is the meeting point for Masham’s many local groups and associations, from the Women’s Institute to yoga classes and indoor bowls. Events in the large upper hall include comedy, plays, bands, film showings and exhibitions.
Masham is reassuringly close to the larger market towns of Ripon, Bedale and Leyburn, yet has enough of its own attractions to mean that many residents don’t often feel the need to ‘go over the bridge’. It’s easy to enjoy shopping locally thanks to a large co-op, two butchers, a green-grocers, and a market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. It can sometimes take a little while though: even new residents soon find that they’re greeted warmly and enjoy short chats along the way.
Eating out is equally enjoyable, whether you want to enjoy eating at one of the cafes, in the pubs, or Harry’s excellent Fish and Chip Shop. Swinton Park Hotel is a prime spot for celebrations, or you could learn to cook at the Swinton Cookery School. Where There’s Smoke restaurant offers an intriguing and ever-changing menu in a relaxing setting.
Masham is a very creative community. Talented local residents include artist and musician Ian Scott Massie, artist and gallery owners Josie Beszant and Nolon Stacey, glass blowers Maureen and Tim Simon, stone carver Gaynor Pearson, as well as fused glass specialists, a silversmith and lapidarist. You will see Rob Blades’ work on local maps, tea towels and bags – buy them in the Community Office. Nearby ArtisOn offers high quality art and craft classes.
Outdoor enthusiasts have an excellent choice of activities close to Masham. Sitting on the fringes of both the Yorkshire Dales National Park and Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it’s a great base for ramblers. Walkers can also enjoy meandering along the banks of the River Ure, whether in the direction of Marfields Nature Reserve or on the Ripon Rowel walk to nearby Hackfall, where the ancient woods combine with historic follies and waterfalls.
Masham Community Office has maps and route suggestions, including details of two local sculpture trails. The Leaves Walk features a series of larger sculptures, with a very pleasant route along the River Ure. The other trail is centred around the market square and neighbouring lanes, and features smaller sculptures of swifts, Masham’s much-loved summer visitors.
Generations of Masham children have enjoyed playing at the Recreation Ground (known locally as the ‘rec’), while countless cricketers, bowls and tennis players have enjoyed the Masham Sports Association facilities. Within a very short drive, other activities include fly fishing on the River Ure or at Leighton Reservoir, golf at Masham Golf Club, bike hire from Cycopath Cycles, the Masham Riding and Trekking Centre, meeting birds of prey at the Swinton Birds of Prey centre, and clay pigeon shooting at Warren Gill Shooting Ground.
With all this on offer, it’s not hard to see why Masham is such a great place to live.
If you’re looking to live in this beautiful and quintessential market town, then Yorkshire-based housebuilder Stonebridge Homes are building a stunning new development, comprising of a desirable collection of three, four and five-bedroom homes. The development will consist of 48 houses, with 14 of them being offered as affordable properties.
The new development off Foxholme Lane, known as Oakland Park, boasts character homes where planned open spaces blend seamlessly with the area’s green surroundings. The attractive, landscaped development displays contemporary interiors, which marry perfectly with the traditional feel of the stylish exteriors, finished in stone and warm brick, that strikes a balance of design, practicality and comfort.
Chris Kelly, Head of Sales at Stonebridge Homes, said: “Stonebridge is well known for building desirable homes in desirable locations, and Masham was the perfect place for us to bring our homes to. Our properties are designed to offer space, flexibility and comfort, whilst nestling comfortably within the existing landscape.”
Here at Visit Masham, we look forward to welcoming our new residents to the community.
Article sponsored by Stonebridge. Photos courtesy of John Darby.