If you’re the kind of person who longs for the thrill of the big city – or if you prefer to get away from it all – Masham probably isn’t for you.
But if you like the idea of living in a picturesque market town with a strong community spirit and excellent amenities, then Masham might seem like very heaven.
Located in Lower Wensleydale, it’s within striking distance of both Harrogate and Darlington. While this is important in some respects (the nearest large supermarket is nine miles away in Ripon), for most purposes the town is fairly self-sufficient.
In addition to the two top-class breweries (Theakstons and Black Sheep) that provide a considerable number of jobs, there are nearly all the conveniences you’d hope for in a town of this size.
The shops include two butchers, a baker, greengrocer and Co-op, as well as a newsagent, post office, hairdressers and two specialist sweet shops.
There are at least three decent pubs, and good food can also be found at the Goods Shed Café, the Black Sheep brewery’s bistro, and most famously the highly-rated Vennell’s Restaurant.
For such a modest-sized town, Masham is surprisingly rich culturally. The annual midsummer beer festival is followed by the Steam Engine and Fair Organ Rally (July 21-22) and Masham Sheep Fair (September 29-30).
Alongside the play-park, there are also excellent facilities for football, cricket, tennis, skateboarding and golf. Masham’s primary school is rated Outstanding by Ofsted (2013).
It’s little wonder then that the town attracts plenty of visitors. If you’d like to become a part of the town – and its well-developed hospitality industry – there are several attractive options.
Not least among these is 5 Millgate, which put Masham on the map in 2015-16, when it beat 870,000 rivals to be named Best B&B in the World in the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards. The accolade attracted attention from the world’s media and within days the Millgate was booked up for the rest of the year.
The four-bedroom stone-built property consists of three distinct buildings dating from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries and were the former poor-house, jail and fire station.
Converted into a single property and refurbished, it has four bedrooms, three bathrooms, kitchen, sitting room and dining, plus integral single garage. Outside, there is a back garden with space for outside dining.
Another award-winning B&B, Bank Villa occupies a rather larger Grade II-listed detached Georgian property. It has seven bedrooms, most of them en suite, plus breakfast kitchen, three reception rooms, utility room, larder, boiler room, snug and conservatory. It grounds extend to about an acre.
Finally, 12 Park Street is a terraced cottage right in the heart of the village – within yards of the mini-supermarket, butcher, florist and greengrocer. It has two bedrooms, kitchen, bathroom and living room, as well as a standalone garage at the rear with an off-street parking space and three outbuildings. Subject to planning this could possibly be converted into a one-bedroom annexe – and potentially used as a holiday let.