Mashamshire - A Land of Strange Structures
The north-eastern third of the AONB is not the long valley shape that defines Nidderdale and the Washburn Valley, but undulating hills and moorland, on a long gentle slope down to the River Ure and the market town of Masham at the bottom of Wensleydale.
The unofficial name of Mashamshire has been colloquially used to describe the area for hundreds of years.
Ripe for exploration, it has a selection of curious and mystical structures hidden away for you to find.
At the heart of this area is Masham itself.
The town is famed for its two breweries, Theakston’s and Black Sheep, born of a family feud long forgotten.
A rich and unique events calendar embraces its rural setting.
All this distinguishes Masham from surrounding towns and makes it a true hidden jewel at the top of the Nidderdale AONB.
The short, loosely shaped valley of the Colsterdale, which sits around the river Burn to the west, holds two Reservoirs, Leighton and Roundhill.
The survey towers used to direct the supplying pipelines are still visible today, standing proud on the skyline and known as the Colsterdale Towers.
Colsterdale is more recently known for the Leeds Pals Battalion training camp situated there which later became a POW camp for German officers.
To the south of Masham are the villages of Laverton, Kirkby Malzeard and Grewelthorpe, a beautiful trio of idyllic villages set within rolling farm land, and offering a peaceful respite for visitors to enjoy the calm beauty of the surrounding countryside.
Just outside Grewelthrope, the Woodland Trust site of Hackfall is a Grade I garden, landscaped by the same family who shaped the World Heritage Site at Studley Royal.
Hackfall offers a number of walks and castle-like follies for visitors to explore and meander among.
Nearby the village of Ilton is another popular landmark, the Druid’s Temple, not a real temple but a folly barely two hundred years old.
This imitation holds a convincing atmosphere of mystical power however and will intrigue active imaginations.
On the other side of Masham, Thornborough Henges is a genuine neolithic wonder, thought to be a ‘ritual landscape’ and dating back around 5000 years.
Mostly buried and only discernible from the air they serve as a reminder of ancient human history and add to the curious structures for which Mashamshire is so well known.
Perfect for exploration by foot, cycle or car you will find this patch of Harrogate district has plenty to offer visitors looking for something a little special.