While the Yorkshire Dales, North York Moors and Whitby have been the focus of a ferocious onslaught of attention from would-be buyers looking to escape to the coast or country, the lesser known Wolds have also been targeted.
This beautiful part of Yorkshire was described by Wolds-born writer Winifred Holtby, author of the best-selling book South Riding, and her words still hold true almost 100 years later.
“Fold upon fold of encircling hills, piled rich and golden”, she said of the glorious landscape, which encompasses 400 square miles of chalk hills, valleys, woodland, market towns and chocolate box villages that sit between just outside York and stretch to the coast at Flamborough Head.
David Hockney played his large part in bringing the Wolds to the world’s attention with his paintings and iPad drawings, as has the 79-mile Wolds Way walk, but it is the pandemic that has turbo charged interest in the area.
Andrew Wood of Cundalls estate agency says: “When most people think of rural areas of Yorkshire, it’s the Dales and the North York Moors that come to mind, which is why they have been so popular with buyers. The Wolds was something of a well-kept secret but since the pandemic we have seen more people from urban areas in Yorkshire and from the south coming here to buy homes and second homes not least because prices here are generally cheaper than those in national park areas.”
Andrew adds that those who move to the Wolds tend to stay there. “It is still relatively unspoilt and it isn’t teeming with tourists. “The countryside is wonderful and much of it is still a working landscape with a lot of agricultural land where crops are grown and that provides an ever-changing scene.”
Another great lure of the Wolds, which has the market town of Driffield as its capital, is access to the coast, which is within an hour’s drive at the most, while Hull, York and the M62 and A64 are in easy travelling distance.
Those coming in to buy from outside the area tend to be age 40 plus and house prices start at £150,000 for a small cottage, though the average price of a Wolds is £275,000 to £325,000 and bungalows are in greatest demand.
Martin Slater, valuer at Ullyotts estate agents, says: “The market here went crazy last year with prices rising between 20 and 25 per cent with bungalows increasing by more than 25 per cent. Stock levels are low this year so the supply and demand issue is pushing prices up, and I would say that 80 per cent of our sales so far this year are to buyers from outside the Wolds area.”
He adds that buyers are now offering over the asking price: “We had a cottage on for £375,000 and the buyers offered £400,000 straight away to secure it.
“They had been trying to buy here for a while and kept losing out and they didn’t want to lose out again.”
Mark Woolley of Woolley Parks estate agency says that 70 per cent of his buyers last year were from Yorkshire with 30 per cent from outside the region. Buying holiday lets was popular as they are a bit cheaper than in the Dales,” he says.
While the Wolds is becoming better known, its profile could be enhanced if it becomes an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Natural England has announced that it is being considered for AONB status. “That will increase demand,” says Mark Woolley. “The secret will be well and truly out if that happens."