Masham is a real chocolate box town in Lower Wensleydale, in the Harrogate District of North Yorkshire, on the banks of the River Ure. It’s a widely visited spot because of the attractions of the town itself, and also because it’s a great base from which to explore the North Yorkshire Dales.
The history of Masham is subject to much debate. There are traces of Roman settlers and evidence of a Saxon community there. The architecture of the town speaks of its history too. The beautiful Georgian houses in the centre of town illustrate the growth of Masham in that period, when people came from miles around to trade at the market. Annual sheep fairs in the 18th century saw over 80,000 animals sold. Today there is still a sheep fair, though not quite as huge as it once was.
But there is plenty more to Masham than sheep. Today the town is home to a vibrant community. Tourism is important to the town, and people visit to see the pretty location, but also because of the two breweries (Theakston’s and The Black Sheep), the twice-weekly markets, the art galleries, gift shops, bars, pubs and restaurants. The locally brewed beer comes very highly recommended.
There is plenty to do in Masham too, whether you go on a day trip or spend a few days there. Masham Riding Centre offers horse riding, the breweries hold tours for visitors, Brymor Ice Cream Parlour is very popular with those with a sweet tooth and Switon Park gives you the opportunity to see various birds of prey. There are also various art workshops to get involved in, where you can learn anything from painting and printmaking to sculpture and blacksmithing.
Another popular event is the Masham Steam Engine Rally, which began in 1965 and has continued to grow in popularity. Then of course you can just walk in the stunning North Yorkshire countryside and take in the amazing natural beauty of the area.
If you are in or near Harrogate, a short trip to Masham is well worth it.