Yorkshire, it’s been my home for almost 35 years. It’s been a place I’ve forged a career, put down roots and felt inspired to live. But why? Today, 44% fewer 16-34 year-olds are putting down roots in Craven & South Lakeland Districts. Just a few miles up the road small Yorkshire Dales towns like Skipton and Settle are seeing a decline in young adults choosing to live there. The draw of city life is too much and often these small towns and villages are left behind but if you look close enough, they are more vibrant and exciting than you think!
As part of the Great Place: Lakes & Dales #LiveMoreDoMore campaign I went to explore.
Less Sleepless in Settle and more Sight Seeing in Settle
Settle, a beautiful Yorkshire village overlooked by rugged crags and with art and culture at its core. Before our first meeting we arrived early and had lunch at a very cool café. On the first floor of a quirky gift shop, Car & Kitchen lives a vibrant modern cafe which prides itself on sustainable locally sourced produce and great quality coffee.
The Listening Box
After lunch we were all set for the day’s activities and met up with Jess Harris, who swapped a job in property for a job in the arts sector, and she made the move to the Dales. Jess showed us to the village phone box. The iconic red booth stood before us, but this booth makes no ordinary calls… For this was a Listening Box, the first and only one of its kind in the UK. The Heritage Lottery Fund helped transform the old phone booth into a 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year exhibition. The current exhibition is Bill Mitchell – Tales from the Archive which tells tales of local inhabitants.
Find the Listening Gallery on Duke St, Settle, Yorkshire Dales, BD24 9DJ (near Settle Post Office).
Life In Our Hands
Settle Stories, where Jess works, is the home of adventurous storytelling and The Joinery is their base, right in the heart of the village, just behind the Ye Olde Naked Man (yep, great name for a café – I just hope it’s not the waiter!). Here they have regular movie nights, exhibitions and gatherings. Plus they’re often in schools, delivering workshops and even festivals all over the Dales.
The Joinery is currently home to a thought provoking display of sculpted hands – the creation of internationally renowned artist, Shanthamani M. Based on a similar project Shanthamani did during her journey on the Ganga river, the process allows her the time and space for Settle’s inhabitants to tell their story. And whilst they talk, she casts. The hand casting created an intimate space allowing the conversation, caught on camera, to flow freely.
The exhibition is on until the end of February 2020 and is free to enter (although donations are very much welcome).
You can find The Joinery in Dawsons Court, Market Place, Settle, BD24 9ED (Behind Ye Olde Naked Man Cafe).
Uncovering the Studio Vault
Down a winding stone staircase underneath the beautiful Town Hall is a treasure trove waiting to be discovered. Studio Vault owned by Emily is a studio come gallery come shop, displaying various handcrafted collections from different artists. Jewellery designer by trade, Emily set up her studio five years ago. Her and her boyfriend put down roots in the next village along. We loved the pieces she’d chosen for the shop. So much so, we ended up buying two very cute face pots by the original face pot artist Atelier Stella Ceramics.
Emily has been so successful that she now offers silversmithing workshops within the local area. Her main business is from the locals but from time to time tourists come in. It’s well worth a visit if you’re looking for a gift, even if it’s to yourself!
Skipton: a town more contemporary than you might expect
Inspiring the next generation of entrepreneur Qworkery
As part of Great Place: Lakes & Dales aim to encourage more 16 to 34-year olds to live and work in the area, they’ve sponsored two desks and supported the development of a new co-working space, Qworkery. Intrigued to find out more and conscious that co-working spaces are on the increase, I went to go check it out.
From Skipton high street look for the cobbled road of Otley Street, and there you’ll find a handsome building which has been renovated to the highest of standards – the home of Qworkery.
Set up just last year by Co-founders Anita and Katie whose mission it was to find a place to work that wasn’t their kitchen table. Katie said, “Skipton may not be a hectic metropolis, but it’s bustling with interesting people in search of a strong community, rural beauty, good ales and a better work-life balance.”
The space, set over two floors, has been sympathetically restored taking advantage of the beautiful period features hence the name – a quirky co-working space. Qworkery allows you to be flexible, with a choice of a permanent desk, subscription for a hot desk or a welcome drop in for the day. The scheme offers a kitchenette to make your lunch with tea and coffee making facilities. They have also drawn on their community connections and can offer preferential discounts on local coffee shops and printers.
A pit stop at Elsworth Kitchen
This was no pit stop – I could have spent all day in here. Located in a beautiful old Coach house, Elsworth Kitchen opened its doors on Coach Street in July 2018. With cosy corners, street view hangs ideal for people watching, and an upstairs space ideal for entertaining – it’s a perfect cafe come restaurant.
Husband and wife duo, Bruce and Rebecca made the dream a reality after years in the hospitality sector. Bruce has a strong fine dining background but wanted to make it affordable and accessible to all.
The family friendly restaurant serves heartfelt food, taking advantage of what seasonal produce Yorkshire has to offer. The set menu starts from £16.95 for two courses.
Niki and I enjoyed three courses. I started with a light Pear, Yorkshire Blue Cheese and Walnut Salad, and Niki went for Mackerel with Sauerkraut.
For main I couldn’t resist the Steak, cooked to perfection (plump and juicy) with a rich peppercorn sauce and fresh rocket. Niki was tempted by a veggie dish – Roasted Cauliflower with chickpeas, roasted flaked almonds and puffed rice.
Skipton has surprised me over the last few years with some up and coming places. Elsworth Kitchen certainly makes the list as a great place to dine with family or friends without breaking the budget!
Big cheer for Great Place: Lakes and Dales
Great Place: Lakes and Dales have been instrumental in keeping the younger generation in these rural communities. They’re:
- Funding more than 30 small businesses and individuals with ideas to provide more opportunities to under 35s.
- Creating a career development toolkit for young people living in the area already.
- Running a number of innovative, free training courses. This gives young people the skills required for the future business and jobs market.
- Running events and courses that attract other young people to the area.
- Teaming up with the Royal Institute of British Architects to run a housing competition. This will bring affordable housing to the area that’s suitable for young professionals requiring flexible living and-working spaces.