Why Yorkshire house buyers are heading up to Herriot territory

At 20 per cent cheaper than the golden triangle, the area around Thirsk is beginning to appeal to discerning buyers. Sharon Dale reports.

Thirsk is friendly market town with a host of amenities. It's also known for its army of knitters, aka the Thirsk Yarnbombers, who regularly brighten up the streets with their fabulous knitted sculptures.

It’s easy to see why buyers are starstruck by Yorkshire’s golden triangle. The sought-after area that lies between Harrogate, York and North Leeds is home to fashionable bars, restaurants, posh shops, health clubs, golf courses, good schools and a host of other amenities facilitated by wealth.

Yet there are rumblings in paradise. Traffic congestion is one of the main issues, especially in Harrogate, which has boomed in recent years. Many of those who have moved to the beautiful spa town work elsewhere, which means the main routes in and out are a bumper-to-bumper crawl at peak travelling times.

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The traffic, the bustle and the high cost of homes have prompted some buyers to expand their horizons. As highlighted in last month’s Property Post, Bedale has benefited most from this.

Old Byland Hall, £950,000, www.carterjonas.co.uk

According to property buying agency The Search Partnership, the price of detached houses in Bedale and its surrounding villages soared by 21.1 per cent last year, which was far higher than any other part of North Yorkshire.

The market town is clearly a hotspot thanks to the A1 upgrading scheme, which has turned the section between Leeming and Barton into a three-lane motorway, enabling faster journey times to Leeds, Harrogate and York.

But, according to estate agents, Thirsk and its satellite villages are also hotting up. The Search Partnership agrees. Its data shows that detached homes there rose 8.6 per cent last year.

Best known as the glorious setting for the James Herriot books, Nick Talbot of Jackson Stops and Chris O’Mahony of Dacre, Son and Hartley, say the attraction is the area’s unspoilt charm, value for money and great transport links.

Glebe House, Sowerby, £1.65m, www.jackson-stops.co.uk

“Properties are about 20 to 25 per cent cheaper than those in the golden triangle and there are some beautiful country houses there, which don’t tend to be ostentatious or flashy,” says Nick.

He and Chris both point out that, although it is 44 miles away from central Leeds, it is almost as quick to drive there from uncongested Thirsk than it is from Harrogate, which is just 16 miles away. It takes 55 minutes of motoring down the A1M from Thirsk to Leeds and least 44 minutes, if you are lucky, to drive from Harrogate to the city.

Thirsk also has a railway station on the East Coast mainline with direct trains to Leeds, York, Newcastle and London.

“People are beginning to wake up to how accessible the area is. The A1, A19 and A168 are on the doorstep and then there’s the train. That’s a major pull.

Village Farm, Baldersby, £350,000 for a semi-detached house on this new development. www.dacres.co.uk

“The countryside is lovely too and you’ve got the Yorkshire Dales on one side and the North York Moors on the other. You can be also be at the coast within an hour,” says Nick.

While it could never be described as glamorous and wouldn’t want to be, Thirsk is a rural market town with plenty of charm and facilities.

Along with a good number of independent shops, there is a large Tesco and a Lidl, some great pubs, a racecourse, a cinema, a swimming pool and a thriving art and crafts scene. Collectors travel from far and wide to visit the Zillah Bell gallery on Kirkgate and the Rural Arts gallery and cafe is also popular.

Its knitters are most prominent. The Thirsk Yarnbombers now have worldwide fame thanks to their fabulous knitted creations that pop-up all over town - the latest batch was to celebrate the Tour de Yorkshire.

South Crescent, Sowerby, £225,000, www.dacres.co.uk

Prices in Thirsk start at about £100,000 for a one-bedroom flat and £150,000 for a three-bedroom terraced house, bungalows are from £170,000 and semi-detached and detached properties in the town from £200,000.

Dacre, Son and Hartley is also marketing a self-build plot for £85,000. It comes with permission for a two-bedroom bungalow

“First-time buyer prices here are cheaper than York, Harrogate and Ripon and there’s a lot of new-build in the town, which has come with all the usual help-to-buy incentives,” says Chris O’Mahony.

Sought-after areas include the pretty village of Sowerby, which is within walking distance of Thirsk town centre.

Further out, there are plenty of tucked away villages and hamlets. Among them is Old Byland close to the top of Sutton Bank, where the sale of Old Byland Hall is attracting a lot of attention. It is on the market with Carter Jonas for £950,000.

Available for the first time since 1984, the historic, six-bedroom detached property was once owned by Herbert Read, a renowned art historian and latterly by his son, Piers-Paul, best known for his non-fiction book “Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors”.

The late Paul Daniels credits a rainy afternoon on holiday in Old Byland with his introduction to magic as a small boy. It’s where he performed his first card trick.

Abi Spence and her three siblings are selling the hall, which was their childhood home and it comes with lots of happy memories. She describes the house as “an amazing place to grow up in.” and says the village “feels remote and incredibly rural but “it’s only nine miles from Thirsk station and you can drive to York in under an hour.”

The buyers are likely to be “quiet money”, as opposed to “flash cash” as that is what Herriot country attracts. Some of the wealthiest individuals in Yorkshire have made their home there.

“It is more laid back and less flashy than Harrogate, York and North Leeds and that’s what the quiet money likes,” says Nick Talbot.