Weekend homes for sale in The South Downs, Kennet Valley, The Cotswolds and The Chilterns
The rolling hills of the Cotswolds have always been a draw for weekenders and, with good access from London via the M4 and M40 and numerous train stations, including Charlbury, Kingham, Moreton-in-the-Marsh, Banbury, Swindon and Kemble, this is unlikely to change.
According to Robert Fanshawe of Property Vision (01635 813135), anywhere beyond two hours from London becomes more of a holiday home. ‘The top weekend villages that are the most popular among our buyers in this part of the country are Taynton near Burford, Kingham near Stow, Bisley near Stroud and the Coln Valley near Cirencester.’
He comments: ‘Taynton has the most expensive properties per square ft sold this year. Located just outside Burford, it’s not influenced by the A40, but has easy access to and from it. The area has lots of beautiful chocolate-box cottages and is great for walking.’
The best villages in The Cotswolds
Taynton, Kingham (with Daylesford’s Wild Rabbit restaurant, this village is becoming known as a foodie hotspot) and Bisley (the gateway to the true Cotswolds: honeycoloured cottages, sweeping views of woods and meadow, narrow roads and distant church bells). The Coln Valley—quieter, with fewer tourists but, fear not, for Waitrose is just a 15-minute drive away
Property for sale in The Cotswolds
This three-bedroom property carved out of Nether Swell Manor would make a perfect lock-up-and-leave home as it sits within a gated development. Residents have the use of the communal gardens. Knight Frank (01451 600610)
The Kennet Valley
The stretch of countryside that opens out once you get past Newbury on the M4 and runs until Marlborough is another prime hunting ground for weekend homes: many places are reachable within an hour and a quarter from west London. ‘It has a pretty chalk stream running through it, which is so clear, you can see the bottom,’ says Charlie Wells of Prime Purchase (01962 795035).
‘Ramsbury is considered to be one of the premier villages in the local and surrounding areas. The downland countryside is designated as an AONB and numerous footpaths and bridleways surround the village,’ says Tania Thompson of Winkworth (01672 552777). ‘And, of course, the Ridgeway is good for walking and the Savernake Forest just outside Marlborough is another draw,’ adds Mr Wells. The Lambourn Valley is also welltrodden turf for weekend-house hunting, particularly around the villagesof Eastbury and East Garston.
The best villages in the Kennet Valley
Marlborough is making a name for itself as something of an interior design hub and, to the south, lies the attractive Vale of Pewsey. Ramsbury (the Bell Inn pub) is on the banks of the Kennet, and Hungerford has always been popular for its antiques shops and has a pretty collection of smaller villages nearby, including Inkpen and Shalbourne
Property for sale in the Kennet Valley
The Grange is a periodstyle newly-built oakframe house in the village of Burbage, just to the south of Marlborough. It comes with five bedrooms and stands in an acre of garden. Winkworth (01380 729777)
The Chiltern Hills offer delightful rolling countryside, beech woods, walking, cycling and access to the River Thames. The area to the south of the M40 is safely out of the path of the proposed HS2 railway and offers easy access to Henley and Marlow. This area really hits the spot for weekend homes, believes Nick Mead of The Buying Solution (01344 206070) because it offers ‘green, open spaces with a relatively painless journey back to London’.
However, he adds: ‘Buyers with children in mind often look a little further west, particularly around the villages with links to the M40 and Oxford. The draw of the city’s boarding schools is often irresistible, but parents like to see their offspring regularly and a weekend house within easy reach of these schools allows them this flexibility.’
The best villages in The Chilterns
Nettlebed, Christmas Common, Hambleden and Swyncombe are particularly popular as they offer picture-perfect views and you can almost walk to the Huntercombe golf course
Property for sale in The Chilterns
This four-bedroom farmhouse sits in the beautiful Stonor Valley, an AONB in the heart of the Chilterns. The hamlet of Pishill has a good pub—the Crown—and the house has been carefully renovated. Hamptons International (01491 693781)
The South Downs
For anyone with a sailing or racing bent, there’s no better place to go than towards the coastal villages of West Sussex. Now that the Hindhead Tunnel has removed the nasty bottleneck of traffic on the A3, on a good run, you can be down by Chichester Harbour in an hour and a half. ‘That, together with the creation of the South Downs National Park, has made areas around Petworth, Midhurst and further down towards the Goodwood estate a real favourite for weekend homes,’ says Katherine Watters of The Buying Solution (01344 206070).
As we’re slowly joining our European neighbours and becoming more of a cycling nation, there’s plenty of opportunity for weekend excursions on two wheels, adds Rupert Nicholson of Property Vision (01344 651700), with both the flat coastal plain and the hilly downs on the doorstep. ‘And for racing, Goodwood is close and has a lot to offer, with events such as Glorious Goodwood and the Goodwood Revival.’
He continues: ‘The best spotson the waterfront and with access to Chichester Harbour demand premium values. To get a sea view in one of the best locations, you would have to pay in the region of £1.5 million and, even then, the house may require serious work. However, these properties don’t come up very often as people tend to hold onto them once they’re there.’
The best villages in the South Downs
West Wittering (coastal views), Bosham, Itchenor, Birdham (harbour views), Lurgashall (the Noah’s
Ark pub), Midhurst (the Cowdray Farm shop and cafe)
Nobles Barn in Blendworth is a mere 15minute drive from the coast. It has glorious rural views, four bedrooms and just under an acre of garden. Strutt & Parker (01243 832611)
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* This article was first published in Country Life magazine on August 20 2014