The brochure description of Storthwaite Hall reads like a fairytale that leads you further and further away from the frantic, stressful 21st century and into a remote, rural idyll where time has stood still.
“The property is in a very secluded location in a beautiful hidden valley. It has a most interesting approach down a narrow track running adjacent to Arkle Beck, then through woodland followed by grass land and finally through a ford…”
Estate agent Tim Gower, head of Robin Jessop’s Leyburn office, has waxed lyrical and with good reason. Homes like this are rare and appeal to those who want a true escape to the country.
The property in Arkengarthdale is accessible only by 4x4, thereby shutting most of the world out. Even the postie doesn’t venture this far and you have to take your rubbish to the nearest village for collection, although there is a very good pub a mile’s walk away.
The secluded Dales setting, the quaint interior, the £250,000 price tag, and possibly the pub’s proximity have prompted enquiries from all over Britain. Within days of being advertised on Rightmove, there were 9,000 hits and a third of those who had a virtual viewing downloaded the brochure.
“Those statistics are quite remarkable and prospective buyers are coming from all directions, including London, the Midlands and Yorkshire. It is an indication of how special this property is,” says Tim. It’s so good that the owners, Tony and Frances Gardner, have lived there for 33 years and are struggling to let go of their four-bedroom idyll.
“We agreed to move to Sweden to be near our daughter but it has taken us five years to put this house on the market because we don’t want to say goodbye to it,” says Tony.
They found the substantial cottage, which has its roots in the 15th century, when they were out walking.
The seclusion appealed to the couple. The nearest property, a rarely-used holiday cottage, is a quarter of a mile away.
“It is a mile to the nearest road in the village of Langthwaite and three miles to the closest shop in Reeth.
Storthwaite Hall, which appears in historical documents as “Stirthet”, had been used as a holiday home and was in need of complete renovation when the Gardners bought it. Tony, a stonemason and builder, was the best man for the job. He replaced the makeshift tin roof with Yorkshire stone flags, installed new windows and went to great lengths to restore and keep the original features while replacing those that had been lost.
“An officer from Yorkshire Dales National Park came down while I was doing the work and admitted that the property should’ve been listed but had been forgotten about. He could see we were doing it properly so he left us to get on with it,” says Tony. “The house had charm and a very loving feeling and we wanted to preserve and enhance that.”
It now needs some updating, including a new boiler, which is reflected in the price.
“Leaving is going to be hard. It is heaven down here, just absolutely beautiful. We brought our four children up in the house and they have fantastic memories. There is a stream to play in, fields to roam in and no-one to bother you,” says Tony.
“It’s so peaceful and there is no light pollution. At the moment all I can hear is the sheep and a cuckoo calling. It really is the quiet life but it takes a certain kind of person to live here and you do need a 4x4.”
One would-be buyer from Birmingham is planning to view it on two wheels. He is travelling up on the train with his bike. Others will rely on a lift or shanks’s pony as, according to Tim Gower, most of those looking don’t have a four-wheel drive vehicle.
He believes that homes in secluded and remote locations are becoming increasingly popular despite access issues.
“These truly remote properties are rare and appeal to a wide variety of people, including many buyers who are relocating from the South of England and from built-up areas in South and West Yorkshire. Some want them as second homes and others just want to move to the country, somewhere they can have peace and quiet,” he says.
“This sort of buyer is becoming increasingly keen to secure a property in the North Yorkshire Dales National Park area. Demand continues to outstrip the supply which is, of course, having a significant effect on prices.”
*Storthwaite Hall has a kitchen with range oven and Calor gas hob, a shower room, dining room with range, sitting room with open fire and an old hall room that could be converted into a bedroom or another reception room.
On the first floor, there are three bedrooms, an en-suite bathroom and a study/fourth bedroom. Outside, the property has a cottage garden and storage buildings. Some updating is required, including a new boiler.
The guide price is £250,000
For details contact Tim Gower at Robin Jessop, tel: 01969 622800, www.robinjessop.co.uk.