Prices in the “new Yorkshire Dales” are far lower than traditional hotspots but not for long. Sharon Dale reports.
The pretty market town of Kirkby Stephen staged a celebration when the boundaries of the Yorkshire Dales National Park were finally extended.
Its Westmoreland Dales Day marked a successful end to ten years of planning and discussion, the beginning of a new era of rural stewardship and a welcome boost to the local tourist industry.
The move, which has seen 161 square miles of upland landscape added to the existing National Park, could also spark a rise in house prices as would-be buyers discover the delights of this spectacularly beautiful area.
According to estate agent Elizabeth Fawcett, of JR Hopper, prices are at least 25 per cent cheaper than those in established hotspots in the Lakes and Dales: “A two-bedroom cottage in Hawes is £175,000 to £225,000 but the equivalent in and around Kirkby Stephen is between £125,000 and £150,000.”
That’s because it is largely undiscovered. Michael Dower, whose father produced the Dower Report in 1945, which led to the formation of the National Parks, has spoken of the “wonderful but forgotten landscapes” of the Mallerstang and Eden Valleys, the Lune Valley and Howgill Fells. He believes that the new National Park status will bring exciting opportunities for this hidden part of Cumbria, which has been ignored by many holidaymakers, walkers and day trippers, who are oblivious to its existence.
The tourist information office in Kirkby Stephen is bracing itself for increased footfall. Its visitors will be well catered for thanks to fresh routes for walking, running and cycling, which showcase the magnificence of the newly-designated areas.
Elizabeth Fawcett expects a rise in visitors to coincide with an increase in property values: “It won’t happen overnight but if the new National Park status does its job in boosting tourism then I think within two years they will certainly have increased. If anyone is thinking of buying then now is the time.”
Kirkby Stephen sits just outside the new National Park area but it is the hub for a host of picturesque villages and hamlets that are in the “new Yorkshire Dales”.
It will, says Elizabeth, be attractive to both would-be owner-occupiers who want to live in the country and those looking for holiday homes. Prices start from about £100,000 for a two-bedroom apartment and £125,000 for a two-bedroom cottage. Cumberland estate agents has a five-bedroom semi-detached house for £269,000.
The market town is surrounded by glorious countryside and has a thriving community served by independent shops, schools, pubs, a church, and plenty of social groups. It also has excellent transport links with a train station on the famous Settle-Carlisle line and the M6 within a 15-minute drive. The A66 at Brough is also close, giving easy access to the North East and Scotland, and the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales are within a half hour drive, as is Teesdale.
The surrounding villages are pretty, vibrant and equally accessible, according to Elizabeth, who lives in the area and says: “In terms of accessibility, they are actually better served than a lot of the popular places in the Dales and Lakes. Best of all, you can walk for miles on the fells here and never see another soul.”
*For more details about Kirkby Stephen and the surrounding area visit the town’s website www.kirkby-stephen.com