Why you should move to Thornton-le-Dale in the North York Moors

Stream running through English country village

Stream running through Thornton le Dale - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Neighbourhood know-how, places and people 

It's hard to avoid clichés when writing about Thornton-le-Dale (locals know it as Thornton).  Even if you've never been to this ancient village on the edge of the North York Moors you have probably seen some of its landmarks on chocolate box tins.

FDM0K7 The famous thatched cottage at Thornton le Dale

The famous thatched cottage at Thornton le Dale - Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

As long ago as 1907 it was voted the best looking place in Yorkshire. But looks can be misleading. Quality of life is another thing and this place delivers in spades. Most of the village is in a conservation area, bisected by Thornton Beck.

The pantile roofed cottages and honey coloured stone engender a sense of calm in a fraught world. Despite the fact that Pickering, Scarborough and Malton are close by, they could be on a different planet. That in part is also down to the setting. Thornton backs onto the biggest area of forest in the county, adding a fairy-tale aspect. It can also legitimately describe itself as the gateway to the national park and in autumn the purple clad heather moors are just a short journey away. What's more you can be sat on the beach in 40 minutes, with York a similar journey time away in the opposite direction. Factor in good quality shops and cafes, excellent schools (the village has a primary school, with seniors catered for in Pickering) and lots of fresh air and you can see that your only real problem will be hunting down a property.


DRAWGR Thornton le Dale Ryedale North Yorkshire England

Alms houses in Thornton le Dale - Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

You can easily walk from one end of Thornton to the other in 20 minutes. It's an excellent way to get the measure of the place. Yorkshire doesn't have many thatched buildings, but the ones we do have are magnificent and the most celebrated is here. Beck Isle cottage with its stream side location dates to the 17th century. Most of the buildings in the village once had such roofs, but this is the last left standing. It may look familiar as it's been on countless jigsaw boxes and biscuit tins. Other outstanding old buildings include 12 stunning alms houses, a beautiful restored mill and grand Thornton Hall. Time seems to slow down in these parts so take that as a hint and do likewise. Thornton is full of history as you would expect from a place mentioned in the Domesday Book. But there comes a moment when you have to pick up the pace. Dalby Forest is just three miles away with some of the UK’s finest mountain bike trails. The world off road cycling championships have been held here twice and all you need to do is hire a bike (there are outlets in Thornton and Dalby) to enjoy a thrilling day out. Routes on offer vary from novice to expert, all colour coded. The same venue also has a popular Go Ape hire wire attraction, plus scores of walks. If you like to look up at night and see stars instead of light pollution you are going to be in heaven.  The North York Moors is one of just 19 dark sky reserves across the globe with Dalby staging regular star parties. If it's automobiles that peek your interest, Thornton has an auction house and motor museum which exhibits vintage cars from 1918 onwards. For the record the nearest railway stations are Malton seven miles away (services to York, Leeds and Scarborough) and of course there is the North York Moors steam railway in Pickering, which links to Whitby and Middlesbrough via Grosmont. The area it travels through was the location for the Forbidden Forest in the Harry Potter movies.

Bag a property

Pretty as a picture cottages Thornton Le Dale, North Yorkshire

Pretty as a picture cottages - Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

Thornton is a village of just 2000 people so you might expect desirable properties to be in short supply. For the most part that's true. But there is a surprisingly high density of homes so you do have at least a sporting chance of finding what you want. To summarise the village's conservation report, the housing stock is mostly modest cottages,  one  to  three  storeys  high, pitched pantile roofs and hand  made brick chimney  stacks. That's very much the scene heading out east along Church Hill from the village centre, where the elevated pavements nicely separate pedestrians from coast bound traffic. Eighteenth century century town planing at its best. Typically these properties go for over £300,000. At the top end of the market you can pay over £2.5m for a grand house set in beautiful grounds, but you might want to leave that one until you win the lottery. Those on more modest budgets will be pleased to hear there are options below the £200,000 mark, including relatively modern small bungalows. For a detached dwelling with three rooms you are looking at around £500,000. Renting a two bed property locally while house hunting will set you back around £700 per month. Occasionally properties do come up for sale at Low Dalby in Dalby Forest, whilst Allerston is a viable alternative to Thornton just a couple of miles east.

Town Life

Gill Harper Thornton Dale

Gill Harper, Thornton le Dale - Credit: Richard Darn

For Gill Harper every day in Thornton is blooming wonderful. The former health care assistant opened her first ever flower shop called Ginger Pig Florist last year. The stylish outlet with its historic doorway tiling is housed in an old butchers with meat hooks still in the beams.

'I really adore Thornton. Yes it's a beautiful place, but what's so nice is that locals are very friendly and unassuming. I've had lots of support for my new business which is lovely. It's also got great places to eat out. Hip and Square behind Dalby Bike Barn has tasty food and coffee and Moore's deli cooks a tremendous lasagne and fresh pizza, plus artisan bread and meats. The food at the New Inn is also well worth checking out.  When I need a break I go on one of the walks through the village. I never tire of them.'