Pastures New: five ways to escape to the country
More people than ever are discovering life in the country, but it can be hard to know where to start. Here’s Inigo’s guide to rural relocation
Few people need convincing of the benefits of moving to the countryside, especially those who live in a bustling city. But though a desire for more space, proximity to nature and clean air might be an oft-heard refrain from those who have grown tired with the urban grind, making the jump to living in the country is not always straightforward. Here, we’ve combed through our sales listings to find five different ways to swap the urban sprawl for rolling fields – or, if you’re already lucky enough to live in the countryside, some ideas to change it up.
The easiest way to make the jump to country living is to not completely upend your day-to-day life. This seven-bedroom farmhouse – the oldest part of which dates from 1700 – is located in the heart of rural Buckinghamshire. The views from the first floor overlook green fields, and Wicken, a picturesque village with a cosy pub, is just a short walk away via a footpath through the woods. Yet with Milton Keynes train station and its regular service to London only 15 minutes by car, swapping the busy city streets for country lanes doesn’t necessarily mean rethinking your work and social life.
There are some unique historic homes just waiting to be discovered in the countryside. Though it has been sensitively modernised, this Grade II-listed farmhouse in a quiet Hertfordshire hamlet offers a very particular window into 500 years of history. It retains its medieval wall paintings and a 17th-century brick fireplace with ‘Marian’ marks, which at the time were thought to ward off evil. It’s a setting that encourages a more grounded and contemplative lifestyle than you could find in the city.
Recognised as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1965, the Chilterns are a landscape of rolling chalk hills and villages of brick and flint cottages nestled in quiet valleys. This 18th-century barn conversion is situated just next to the Ridgeway – which runs through the Chilterns and is thought to be Britain’s oldest road – and the house is an ideal place to explore the stunning surrounding area. With gardens by multi-award-winning designer Jilayne Rickards, the encircling landscape emphasises the house’s connection with nature.
Boscastle is an ancient Cornish fishing village once painted by JMW Turner. Nestled in an idyllic natural harbour and close to two Michelin starred seafood restaurants, Harwood Cottage offers the chance to participate in culture and community in equal measure. Fifty yards from the site of the Norman castle that gave the village its name and with its own stream, the traditional slate-fronted Georgian house proves that you can live in picturesque surroundings without being cut off.
Only 2.5 per cent of listed buildings are designated Grade I, meaning the property is of ‘exceptional interest’. This manor house is one such building, and is one of the most distinguished homes in the ancient Somerset village of Croscombe. Thought to have been built in 1460 for the Treasurer of Wells Cathedral, the house features in Nikolaus Pevsner’s 1958 guide to British architecture for its distinctive Palladian cornicing, ribbed stone ceiling and original Tudor fireplace. Set in landscaped gardens and close to the Mendip Hills, the house offers a rare chance to live in one of the country’s most celebrated buildings.
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