If you have an appreciation of fine ales then Masham is a must visit place. The lower Wensleydale town has a brewing history stemming two centuries and is home to not one but two ale-makers.
The most famous of the two is Theakston which was founded in Masham in 1827 and is the second largest family-owned brewer in the whole of the UK. It’s best known beer, Old Peculiar, has been in production since 1890 and has won multiple awards for its distinctive taste.
At the Theakston’s visitor centre you can smell the delights of malted barley and hops as well has see coopers making wooden barrels – a rare sight in these days of metal. After completing the tour you can head to the brewery tap and sample a few finished ales.
Also in the town is the Black Sheep Brewery and again it gives you the opportunity see how traditional brewing is done. Black Sheep was founded in 1991 by Paul Theakston, who had left his position at managing director of his family business after it was taken over by new owners.
The two are now rivals and you will see their logos on pub boards and pumps at premises across the Yorkshire Dales.
Masham, pronounced ‘Massam’ by the locals, is also famous for its central market place, which is one of the largest in the country. The market, which is held three days each week, can trace its history back to 1250 and offers a variety of products including fresh produce from local farmers and butchers.
The square also hosts the annual Masham Sheep Fair every September. Held over two days, the event sees more than 70,000 sheep sold on average and also includes an entertainment programme that features Morris Dancers, an art exhibition, Hand Bell Ringers and an children’s fair.
Another fun-packed day out for the family can be had at the Masham Steam Engine Rally, which takes place each July. The event has run for almost five decades and features an array of old steam powered vehicles as well as historic fair organs.
If you like steam travel of a different kind then you can ride the Wensleydale Railway from nearby Bedale. This volunteer-run heritage line reopened to passengers in 2003 and gives you a rare opportunity to experience train travel from yesteryear.
If adventure riding is your thing then why not take a day trip to Lightwater Valley. Located close to the village of North Stainley, the much-loved theme park is just 11 miles south-east of Masham and promises fun yet thrilling time for all.
The park is set over 175 acres and attracts more 500,000 fun seekers each year thanks to its wide selection of rides. The jewel in Lightwater Valley’s crown is undoubtedly The Ultimate, which is the longest rollercoaster in the whole of Europe with a track of 1.5 miles.
It also has two hills scaling 102 and 107 feet. While the carts climb these you see miles up on miles of picturesque countryside but you can’t stare at the scenery for two long as the drops come quickly and are hair-raising.
Also within easy reach of Masham are the ruin yet beautiful historic sites Fountains Abbey and Jervaulx Abbey.
Both are Cistercian monasteries that were founded in the 12th century and fell into ruins following the English Reformation under Henry VIII. They are separated by just 11 miles and make for great walks as well as good place to take in some history.
As Masham borders both the Yorkshire Dales and the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, there are a number of other fantastic walking and cycling routes around the town.
One of which heads to Leighton Reservoir around four miles south-west. The reservoir has lush green banks that are perfect for a summer picnic while the water is good for fishing with rainbow trout being the quarry. Day tickets can be purchased, but you need to have the correct change as an envelope system is used.