Rural idylls in the pretty villages of the little-known Vale of Mowbray
It’s fair to say that most people have never even heard of the Vale of Mowbray, and fewer still could place it on the map.
It lies between the Dales to the west and the North York Moors to the east, south of the Tees and north of the Vale of York. That means that most of it lies north of our district, so the properties featured here are all from the south of the Vale. The main towns are Northallerton and Thirsk, and villages that fall within our area include Rainton, Topcliffe, Melmerby and Skipton-on-Swale.
In truth, the Vale of Mowbray – especially the southern part – is much like the neighbouring Vale of York, but there are some real differences. Whereas the Vale of York tends to be open and pancake flat, the Vale of Mowbray is more contained by its upland flanks and has areas of rolling hills as well flatter flood-plain.
It also tends to have more hedgerows and trees than the intensively-farmed Vale of York. This gentle, pastoral landscape is pierced by church spires, dotted with farmsteads and watered by streams.
The villages tend to occupy the higher ground and are often linear, with houses – often with long rear plots – set back from the wide main road behind broad grass verges; village greens are common. The traditional red-brick-and-pantile buildings, together with mature trees, make for some very attractive – and highly desirable – property.
Also, because the Vale is effectively a gap between two upland areas, it has long been used as a vital transport route. The Romans built roads through it and nowadays the A1 and the East Coast main railway line between London and Edinburgh pass this way. The following are just three of the many properties currently on the market in the area.
Liberty Hall in Baldersby is a 16th-century barn that was formerly a part of the Fountains Abbey Estate. It was converted in the 1980s and the ground floor has also been extended to create an annexe, which has been subsequently incorporated into the house.
The property has five bedrooms, three reception rooms and a range of nice “extras”, such as garden room, laundry room and double-height hall with study. Outside, there is a large parking area, gardens and double carport, as well as a small fenced paddock and vegetable plot.
The Grove in Skipton-on-Swale is a Georgian family home that has also been extended. It has five bedrooms, four reception rooms – all with period fireplaces – conservatory, boot-room and vaulted cellars. Outside, it has gardens, a gravelled courtyard and a range of outbuildings providing storage and garaging.
All that would undoubtedly be enough to sell it, but it also has a detached one-bedroom cottage, which is currently used as a holiday let but could also be suitable for dependent relatives.
Finally, 8 Whitwell Drive is a two-bedroom brick-built detached bungalow in a quiet cul-de-sac in the heart of Melmerby. It has two bedrooms, lounge and front and back gardens with summerhouse, as well as a single garage and countryside views from the rear.