10 Things to Love about Masham

When it comes to unforgettable self-catering holidays, location plays such a huge part. When we started searching for our first Yorkshire Holiday Cottage we had a definite list of our top locations in the Dales, North York Moors and Yorkshire Coast. As one of our favourite day-trip destinations, Masham was always a contender for top spot.

So why do we think it makes the perfect location for a holiday? Well, here are just 10 of the many things we love about this historic market town and the surrounding area.

#1 Grand Georgian Architecture

Masham - Yorkshire Velvet

The beating heart of Masham, its huge market square, would once have been surrounded by low level traditional thatched cottages playing host to a huge sheep festival each year. In the 18th Century these cottages were replaced by tall and very handsome Georgian houses which today gather politely around the square. It looks like the set of a period drama. Grab your favourite Jane Austin and come see.

#2 Perfect Pubs

The Bay Horse, Masham - Yorkshire Velvet

Always a priority for us on holiday – the proximity of a good pub. Or even better several for those long lazy pub lunches which only breaks away afford the time for. You’re spoilt for choice in Masham, both in the town and dotted around the nearby villages. In town there’s The Bay Horse, White Bear, Bruce Arms and Kings Head. Some of our favorites nearby are The Black Swan in Fearby (within walking distance of our cottage), The Bruce Arms at West Tanfield and The Crown at Grewelthorpe.

#3 The home of Yorkshire ale

Black Sheep Brewery - Yorkshire Velvet

Masham could be considered to be the spiritual home of Yorkshire real ale as not one but two iconic breweries are located here; Theakstons and Black Sheep. Both breweries offer tours which are great fun, and both have very lovely little bars where you can squirrel yourself away for the afternoon. There are also gift shops so you can introduce your family and friends to the delights of Yorkshire ale too. If you prefer spirits to beer you might enjoy the Spirit of Masham Gin Experience where you can learn how to distil your own London Dry Gin (and of course sample a G & T along the way).

#4 Artisan producers & specialist suppliers

Corks & Cases - Yorkshire Velvet

For a small town Masham packs a sizeable foodie punch with an impressive collection of artisan producers and specialist suppliers. Just off the market square you’ll find two friendly family butchers competing for your custom, both packed to the rafters with locally sourced meats, homemade pies and of course the famous Masham sausages. There’s also a speciality chocolate shop, greengrocer, bakery, deli, and a cracking little wine shop too. And don’t miss the fabulous little village stores which hasn’t changed much in 100 years. Everything you could possibly need to stock up your holiday cottage kitchen.. 

#5 Eating out

The Terrace, Swinton Park - Yorkshire Velvet

When you’ve had enough home cooking and want to indulge in something a little more refined, Masham and the surrounding area can oblige. Vennells in town is a Michelin award-wining restaurant serving up top notch food with a focus on local and seasonal produce. Samuels restaurant on the nearby Swinton Estate is another fine dining restaurant boasting the largest hotel kitchen garden in the UK. The place to go if you’re looking for something grand and gorgeous. The Estate is also home to The Terrace Restaurant, a more relaxed affair with a fantastic small plate collection. A little further afield but within easy reach is the renowned Yorke Arms at Ramsgill, The Blue Lion at East Witton and Shaun Rankin at Grantley Hall.

#6 Countryside SPA

Swinton Country Club & Spa - Yorkshire Velvet

Those in need of a little pampering will delight in discovering the Swinton Country Club & Spa, a world class SPA set on a rolling country estate just a few miles outside Masham. With a picture postcard setting it combines contemporary architecture with 5 Star facilities including a large indoor pool, natural outdoor pool, full thermal suite, gym and a host of SPA treatments. The stunning new Three Graces Spa at Grantley Hall is also just a few miles away.

#7 Mooching mornings

Masham Gallery - Yorkshire Velvet

That quintessential holiday activity, mooching. If you feel like nothing more than a slow pleasant wander looking at pretty things take a dander around Masham. There are a handful of little art galleries to explore as well as some charming little independent shops. Round it off with lunch at Johnny Bagdad’s Cafe, a superb Mediterranean themed eatery on the square.

#8 Discover the Dales

Swinton Estate - Yorkshire Velvet

Masham is set on the border of Lower Wensleydale and Nidderdale, with an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty starting just a few miles from the town. The countyside here is simply magical with dramatic dales, high peaks, ancient woodlands, rivers and moorland. The local Hackfall Woods is a must visit and is said to be Dame Judy Dench’s favourite. You can set off on foot to explore the surrounding countryside from town with lots of public foothpaths and bridleways heading off in every direction. The Swinton Estate offers some wonderful walking and you can refuel at the lovely Bivouac Café on the way. If you prefer two wheels follow the route of the Grand Tour de France from a few years ago taking in some breath-taking scenery along the way. The Masham Riding & Trekking Centre offers a chance to explore on horseback too.

#9 Nature tamed

Himalayan Gardens

As well as the wild drama of the Dales Masham is close to some beautiful man-made natural attractions. The award-winning Himalayan Gardens is just a few miles away – 45 acres of manicured gardens, woodland and lakes with over 80 striking contemporary art sculptures. Nearby Thorp Perrow Arboretum boasts one of the largest collections of trees and shrubs in the North of England and their collection of hydrangeas in late Spring is a sight to behold. If you enjoy spotting local wildlife head for Marfield Wetlands Nature Reserve just a few miles outside Masham, a great option for little ones with buggy-friendly paths and lots of birds to see.

#10 Sheep Fair

Masham Sheep Festival - Yorkshire Velvet
Sheep Shearing at Pry House Farm, Hardraw, Wensleydale

We had to give Masham Sheep Fair its own special mention as its such a huge event for the local community and the wider Dales calendar. In centuries past as many as 80,000 sheep would have been sold in the annual Sheep Fairs, including animals from the flocks of nearby Fountains and Jervaulx Abbey. The tradition continues on a smaller scale when for two days of the year the Masham market square is packed with 100s of rare breed sheep. It’s tremendous fun for all ages with lots of events, stalls and local produce available to sample.

Our first holiday cottage is set in the pretty village of Healey, just a few miles outside of Masham. We look forward to welcoming you there soon to try out some of the wonderful things above.