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Once an inspiration for the painter Turner, you’ll find the market town of Masham in the heart of North Yorkshire.
Located not far from Ripon on the banks of the River Ure, Masham was also reportedly one of Lewis Carroll’s favourite places to visit. With not one but two great breweries, an award-winning fine dining restaurant and an annual Sheep Fair there is more than meets the eye to this pretty market town.
The Gorgeous Guide to Masham
Image Courtesy of visitmasham.com
At the heart of Masham is a Georgian market square which holds markets throughout the year every Wednesday and Saturday. There is a long history of markets in Masham dating all the way back to 1250 when King Henry II granted the town its first royal charter for weekly markets and special fairs. There have since been three additional royal charters and a special plaque by the medieval Market Cross celebrating this fact.
Masham Sheep Fair
There is also a long history of sheep trading in the town and Masham holds a unique annual event every September to commemorate this. The Masham Sheep Fair celebrated its 30 year anniversary this year and attracts visitors from around the UK with activities such as sheep racing and sheepdog demos as well as a sheep show, morris dancing and a craft market. It is a great day out for the whole family and also raises lots of money for charity.
Time for a pint
Masham is home to not one, but two major breweries. Both are owned by the Theakston family who originally started brewing beer in the town back in the 1800s. The Black Sheep Brewery was founded in 1992 by Paul Theakston after Scottish & Newcastle took over the original Theakston’s company and relocated its production to Tyneside.
It is now one of the UK’s leading independent brewers and you can find plenty of Black Sheep pubs throughout Yorkshire. In 2004, the Theakston family bought back their original brand and Theakston’s Bitter is now once again brewed in Masham. Both breweries are fully operational and offer guided tours where you can see how their beer is created before getting to sample the results.
If the brewery tour whets your appetite for a beer (or two) then there is a choice of good pubs to visit in Masham including The Kings Head which overlooks the Market Square, The Bay Horse and The Black Swan which also offers a couple of great walking routes which start and finish at the pub.
For top quality dining, try Vennell’s Restaurant which is an award-winning fine dining restaurant holding 2 AA rosettes and a coveted Bib Gourmand in the Michelin Guide. Opened 10 years ago by husband and wife team Jon and Laura Vennell it was recently named one of the 40 best restaurants in Britain in the Observer Food Monthly. Chosen for the publication by local chef Frances Atkins of The Yorke Arms, her must-eat from the menu is the beef, mushroom and suet pudding made with Black Sheep Ale from Masham’s own Black Sheep Brewery.
Within the town you can also find a variety of great food to take away including award winning local sausages, homemade every day at Beaver’s Butchers which produces over 30 varieties and is known to many as The Sausage Shop and a chocolate and sweet shop that counts James Bond himself (well Daniel Craig) as a customer. Joneva stocks over 100 varieties of sweets and chocolates and makes 20 varieties of fudge on the premises with flavours including Irish Cream, Old Peculiar and of course Black Sheep Ale. There’s also an excellent wine shop in town, Corks & Cases.
Other delights nearby
We recommend the walk to the Druid’s Temple, a 19th century folly which looks like a mini Stonehenge set just outside the town on the Swinton Estate. This estate is also home to a fabulous hotel and restaurant as well as a spa within the grounds - everything you need to complete your stay in Masham!
Masham packs quite a punch for its size, filled to the brim with interesting attractions, excellent places to eat and of course surrounded by stunning Yorkshire Dales scenery. We have several Gorgeous Cottages in and around Masham including Morton House and The Mistal. So, when are you coming?