With its picturesque castle and popular ice-cream shop, the small community has been crowned North Yorkshire’s best village to live in. Arabella Youens finds out why.

When  opening a discussion about North Yorkshire’s most desirable areas to live in, it doesn’t take long until someone mentions the ‘golden triangle’ between Harrogate, York and Leeds. In simple terms, this hallowed turf has been sought after for years thanks to its proximity to York (for fast trains to London King’s Cross and cultural attractions), Harrogate (for shopping and restaurants) and Leeds (for business and its airport), not to mention access to some of our most beautiful countryside.

However, new research that ranked 42 villages on a range of criteria— including proximity to roads and train stations, shops and post offices, Ofsted ratings of the local schools and the number of pubs in the vicinity that are featured within an approved guide—suggests that classic focus should be shifted slightly north.

According to Tom Robinson of The Search Partnership, which commissioned the research: ‘The map of the location of these villages shows that the historically most expensive villages between Harrogate and Leeds don’t rank particularly highly. Yorkshire’s golden triangle has moved north and now stands between Harrogate, York and Ripon.’

The village that managed to rank highest—a perspective that Toby Milbank, also of The Search Partnership (01423 324716), explains reflects the demands of today’s country-house buyers in North Yorkshire—is the 200-strong village of Ripley. Lying just a few miles north of Harrogate, the village is dominated by the castle, which has been home to the Ingilby family for the past 700 years.

‘It’s not a big village, but it’s extremely picturesque and there’s always lots going on. Not only is there an excellent farm shop with its famous ice cream, but there’s also a post office, florist, gallery and all the events that take place at the castle,’ explains Mr Milbank. ‘Added to which, there’s an excellent village nursery, a good primary school and some of the best schools in the county within an easy distance.’

Tim Waring, who runs the Knight Frank office in Harrogate (01423 535373), agrees with these findings wholeheartedly. ‘Ripley genuinely has everything you’d expect from a classic English village. It’s packed with pretty houses and hasn’t been spoilt and it’s only a few miles north of all the action in Harrogate.’ The classic spa town— which, last year, hosted the final day of the first stage of the Tour de France—has, for a number of years, featured on the buying maps of those looking for an excellent quality of life with its clutch of top-end shops and good-quality restaurants.

‘If you want to live in the countryside, but not too far from the action, having all this on the doorstep definitely adds an attractive edge to buying in Ripley and its surroundings,’ adds Mr Waring. ‘And on the other side, it’s also at the southern end of the Nidderdale, which some refer to as the least discovered of all the Yorkshire Dales.’

It won’t surprise anyone to discover that buying a property in such a village doesn’t come easily. Prices start at £250,000 for a small cottage, rising to £1 million or £2 million for some- thing more substantial. Tony Wright of Carter Jonas in Harrogate (01423 707815) says that two houses already have sold off-market this year. ‘We’ve also sold cottages on behalf of the Ripley Castle estate and they’ve always attracted attention. With its tree-lined main street and popular pub, The Boar’s Head, which is owned by the estate, it’s picture-postcard material and we have clients who will name the village as the place they want to buy in.’

He adds: ‘If you draw a radius of a 15-minute drive from the centre of Ripley, you’ll find you’ve got everything on your doorstep—including some of the best schools in North Yorkshire in both the independent and State sectors.’

ripley north yorkshire

Top 12 North Yorkshire villages

  • Ripley
  • Burton Leonard
  • Birstwith Green
  • Hammerton
  • Tockwith
  • Hampsthwaite
  • Great Ouseburn
  • Upper Poppleton
  • Crayke
  • Kirkby Fleetham
  • Scotton
  • Marton cum Grafton

Source: The Search Partnership