Masham (pronounced ‘Massam’) is one of Herriot Country’s matchless market towns that has a worldwide reputation in real ale circles with its famous Theakston’s and Black Sheep Breweries. There’s the same family behind both of them and a brewery tour at both will take you through that story. Alf Wight (James Herriot) was partial to a Theakston’s and he would have loved a stop at Masham on one of his farm visits.
An attractive market square and the streets off it presents you with a collection of curiosity such as a retro sweet shop, unique gifts, pubs, cafes and every Wednesday and Saturday a market where you can buy delicious locally sourced food, crafts, clothes and bargains in an enjoyable atmosphere that only a bustling market can bring.
Masham is also a town for art with several galleries and creative workshops around the town giving locals and visitors a fine choice of unique masterpieces in glass, paintings and sculptures. There’s a collection of locally created sculptures that make up a trail around the town that celebrates the hundreds of migrating swifts that swarm around the town every summer when they return from their long flight from Africa.
Masham is surrounded by wonderful landscape and contains many 19th Century follies that have enchanted people on the wonderful walks in the area including a Druids Temple that looks ancient but is only 200 years old. They can be seen on walks such as in Hackfall woods where Turner loved to paint and created some imaginative works based on his visits here. Look out too for the Masham Bones around the town, 58 skeletons dating back to pre-Norman times that have their final resting place in the churchyard.
Famed for its annual Sheep Fair in September, Masham brings together some of the finest specimens and raises money for charity by filling the town with entertainment and sheepy fun all weekend. There’s a Sheep Show, Sheep Racing, Craft Market, Bishop Blaize Procession, Fleece Stalls, Wool Competition, Sheepdog Demonstrations, Hand Bell Ringers, Morris Dancers, Art Exhibition and Tours of Theakstons & Black Sheep Breweries, as well as the Old Time Children’s Fair.
Another popular event, The Masham Steam Engine and Fair Organ Rally happens every July and brings together a huge variety of vintage vehicles of all descriptions as well as the ever popular spectacular Steam engines and beautiful Fair and Street Organs. It has evolved since the early 1960’s when it was organised in order to raise funds to save the local town hall which had fallen into disrepair. It now includes a whole range of added activities including daring motorcycle acts, monster trucks, aeriel acts, hot air balloons, heavy horse and drays displays, military bands, sheep dog displays amongst many others – even racing camels!
Look out for Brymor Ice Cream at Masham where there’s a real taste of the Guernsey cows milk that is used to create this fabulous taste of Herriot Country. Masham is just 14 miles from the World of James Herriot in Thirsk and easily reached via the A1(M) J50. It is also easily accessible from Ripon, Harrogate and perfect for starting a tour of Herriot Country into the Yorkshire Dales National Park.