Knaresborough must surely count as one of the jewels in Yorkshire’s crown. Its castle, railway viaduct and medieval street layout give it a unique skyline and lend it a charm its neighbours struggle to compete with.
Yet none of that would be possible without the river that runs through it, for without the River Nidd there would be no Nidd Gorge, and without the gorge there would be no castle; without the castle, no medieval town; without the town, no viaduct.
On a sunny day, the River Nidd sparkles as it winds its way past the high ground on which the town stands, eloquently showing how it got its name, which is a Celtic word meaning “brilliant”.
More tinged with colour from the peat uplands than many other Dales watercourses, it is deemed a decent river for fishing, with brown trout and grayling for fly-fishing, as well as roach, dace, chub, barbel, carp and even eels.
By the time the river reaches Knaresborough it has flowed through Nidderdale from the eastern slopes of Great Whernside – the Harrogate district’s western boundary – and is just over halfway to its confluence with the River Ouse at Nun Monkton, which lies at the district’s eastern boundary. It seems that although Harrogate, a spa town, happily does without a river altogether, its district is defined by one.
Within Knaresborough, the finest properties nearly all have a river frontage, and the following three are among the very best currently on the market.
Scotton Orchards is a large, early-20th-century, detached villa with fabulous views across Nidd Gorge. It has five bedrooms, three bathrooms and a sweeping circular staircase down to the spacious entrance hall.
There’s also a huge sitting room, dining room, study and snug, as well as a kitchen/breakfast room, utility room and rear hall with access to the single garage and workshop.
Planning permission has previously been granted to create an open-plan kitchen, and to convert the stables to detached garages, although this has since lapsed.
The house overlooks grounds extending over 3.5 acres, which run right down to the river, where it has fishing rights.
Old Manor Barn was originally the stables to the Old Manor House (thought to be Knaresborough’s oldest building, dating from the early 1200s) and was converted in the early 1990s. It now has three bedrooms, two of them sharing a jack-and-jill bathroom, a second en suite bathroom, dining kitchen, sitting room, study and integral single garage.
Outside, the back garden has a split-level stone terrace leading down onto lawns and wall by the river, where the property has full boating and riparian rights.
Finally, Stepping Stones is another barn conversion and is attached to the only neighbouring property, which was originally the farmhouse. It has three bedrooms, or four if you forgo the the study, two bathrooms, large dining kitchen, lounge and snug, plus utility room and garden room.
Outside, there’s a double carport and large parking area, and an acre of garden running down to the river’s edge, where it also has full fishing and boating rights.