Heather is realistic about the challenges and benefits of living here but is very clear about the benefits to her family. "Relocating my family was the best thing I could have done on so many levels. The sense of community is incredible and calling such a beautiful place ‘Home’ is something you can never take for granted. I think the biggest impact has been on our girls. Moving from a large suburban school to a small village school was the making of my eldest daughter; watching her struggle with intense anxiety in an overwhelming environment to blossoming into a confident and happy girl in a smaller nurturing environment has been incredible. Despite the significant challenges* that our rural schools are facing, they’re giving our children experiences that will benefit them for the rest of their lives."
How easy was it to actually move and what were the challenges? Heather says, "I remember someone saying that where we live is idyllic, and though I love it very much I’m not sure anywhere in the world is truly idyllic. It's a bit like house hunting - there is always going to be some kind of compromise. It’s a fact that you simply don’t have the same access to the same facilities as you would if you lived in an urban area. My children don’t have limitless clubs and leisure opportunities than they might if they lived somewhere closer to a larger town. Retail is a totally different ball-game in the country - a lot of people can’t get their heads around our closest supermarket being half an hour away. It’s all about counting the costs and weighing up if they can work for you and your family."
"We have been incredibly fortunate since we moved to The Dales four years ago. We found work almost immediately, both within fifteen minutes from the village we live in. Andrew works for Outhwaites the Ropemakers in Hawes and I worked at one of the village primary schools. After having my little boy we made the decision for me not to return to work and not long after that we set up a small business called Land of Rope and Glory, an online store selling handmade homeware and bespoke dog leads from the locally made Rope."
Heather has two pieces of advice for anyone thinking of moving to the Yorkshire Dales:
"Firstly, the amazing sense of community is a two way street; you’re not going to experience it if you want to be an island on your own. If you make an effort as a newcomer you will not find a more welcoming community. Secondly, do visit us in all seasons, it’ll give you a taste of Dales life beyond the holiday experience!"
* Note from Dales Discoveries' editor, Susan Briggs: A key challenge for our rural schools are pupils - we want more of them! Whereas many city schools are over-subscribed, many of our excellent village schools have spaces so if you're looking for a more nurturing, personalised learning experience and wonderful childhood for your offspring, do think about moving to the Yorkshire Dales!