Country houses for sale

A list that claims to name the ten most tranquil places to live in the UK, from North Berwick to Kingsbridge

If asked to name the most idyllic, peaceful place to live in the UK, where comes to mind? A new report aims save you the bother of thinking of an answer to this question, but how big a pinch of salt you take their answer with is up to you. Lydia Stangroom takes a look.

This past year has seen people pack up and leave the places they once loved in search of somewhere that offers more. What that ‘more’ is, is hard to describe. A better garden (or rather, any garden at all)? Access to less-trodden paths? A local pub that doesn’t have a three month booking waitlist?

Like many others,  I made the jump from London back to South Devon, where the lure of coast walks, the sea and monumentally less sirens beckoned. When so much of our lives have felt restricted and out of control over the past year, we’ve collectively looked for places to live that install a sense of calm, and help soften the blow of the near-constant breaking news notifications.

On the quest to help people in their search, Delamere have come up with a study of the 10 most relaxing locations to live in the UK.

‘How can this be judged?’ I hear you ask.

Well, as ever with these things, there’s a bit of maths, a bit of judgement, and a bit of licking your finger and holding it in the air. The researchers kicked off by restricting themselves to a separate study of the top 30 most popular towns in the UK — something which will, of course, have removed all manner of blissful villages.

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After that, the team concocted a list of criteria, with ‘tranquility’ rated by the number of ‘tranquil facilities’ in the area: including cafes (because more caffeine equals more calm…), the number of spas (because catching a stranger’s gaze through the steam room is said to immediately lower cortisol levels), population (less is always more), green space, beaches (not sure if sandpits count, for those who don’t live near the coast), walking trails, libraries, museums, crime and nightlife — or rather, in the case of the final two, the lack thereof.

And yet, despite (or perhaps because of) the sort of methodology which would make the statisticians of the ONS reach for the whisky, there are some truly lovely spots here. We could all name an Aberdovey or a Hunstanton or a Lindfield which perhaps ought to make the cut, but even so, this really is quite the list.

1. North Berwick, Scotland

North Berwick, a seaside town in East Lothian was ranked as the number one most tranquil place to live, and it is home to some spectacular beaches. It is also the centre for Scottish seabirds, because what says tranquil more than a town known for the world’s largest northern gannet colony?

This four bedroom traditional stone farmhouse just outside of North Berwick  is for sale at £700,000 with Rettie.

2. Ilkley, Yorkshire

If, like Heathcliffe in Wuthering Heights, you find yourself drawn to the wild, rugged landscape of the moors, then you’re in luck, because Ilkley is located on the southern end of the Yorkshire Dales and is home to countless walking trails (tick) and plenty of green space (double tick).

3. Melrose, Scotland

Birthplace of the rugby seven’s, Melrose balances thousands of rowdy rugby fans that travel from all over the world to watch games with an annual piped band championship. We’re sure they’ve got a few good cafes, too.

4. Woodbridge, Suffolk

Woodbridge is a vibrant market town on the banks of the River Debden, and is known as the ‘gem in Suffolks crown’. The town lies on the edge of an AONB and is the perfect place from which to explore the Suffolk coastline, numerous well-loved gastro pubs and beautiful walks.

This red brick house is set within over an acre of land, on the outskirts of Woodbridge, and is for sale for £1.75 million via Jackson-Stops.

5. Kingsbridge, Devon

Coming in at number five is the seaside town of Kingsbridge in South Devon. The traditional market town lies in an AONB, on the Kingsbridge Estuary and is home to some spectacular coastal walks, beaches and good pubs. All sounds very tranquil, until you meet a tractor coming down one of the narrow country lanes with no passing bays.

This sprawling property on the outskirts of Kingsbridge comes with two additional holiday cottages, and is currently for sale for £2 million with Marchand Petit.

6. Rutland

Not a town, of course, but an entire county — albeit one of England’s smallest. What it lack in size, it makes up for in terms of wildlife: it is one of the best places to bird watch in the UK, has access to fantastic walking trails and popular nature reserves.

This impressive country house estate comes with 30 acres, and is currently for sale for £4 million through Fine & Country.

7. Dunkeld, Scotland

Previously rated as one of the best places to live in Scotland, it’s no surprise that Dunkeld is featuring on a similar roundup. Located on the edge of Highland Perthshire with views over the River Tay, the small town is also home to an art gallery, good deli and bakery.

8. Lewes, Sussex

The picturesque town of Lewes is famous for its bonfire night celebrations, however aside from that, there is a lot of charm and character to discover through its meandering streets. The town is also home to the oldest freshwater outdoor public swimming pool in the UK, and a number of traditional English pubs.

Is this the grandest private home in Lewes? Right on the High Street and full of history, it’s hard to argue otherwise. £2.6m via Oakley Property.

9. Wadebridge, Cornwall

Wadebridge is a lively spot on Cornwall’s north coast, located just inland from the Camel Estuary, and it really seems to have something for everyone. From miles of sandy stretches of beach, world class surfing, castles and museums and countless restaurants, cafes and bars, it’s a wonder why it didn’t appear higher on the list (potentially due to it’s lack of spa’s).

10. Barnard Castle, Durham

Last, but certainly not least in our eyes is Barnard Castle, a market town in Durham. Unsurprisingly, the town is centred around a pretty spectacular medieval castle and sits on the bank of the River Tees. It’s a lovely place that for all its charm boasts all sorts of amenities, including an optician, for those in the area who wish to get their eyes tested by a professional.

A wonderful renovation opportunity in the heart of Barnard Castle, currently on the market for £495,000 through GSC Grays. And no, we didn’t miss a zero off the end of the price.

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