Alistair Appleton is in the Lake District with a young-at-heart outdoor-loving couple who are ready to leave their family home of 22 years behind.
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I wandered lonely as a cloud that floats on high o'er vale and trees
And all at once I saw a crowd, a host of golden properties.
Find out where we are in just a moment.
In today's show, I'll be helping a couple ditch their urban life and head for the hills.
This is a really, really nice country kitchen, isn't it?
We'll be sizing up a series of desirable homes... Look!
-This is exactly what we asked you for.
-How did you find this?
And there's a Mystery House, which will add a twist to the mix.
Today, Escape To The Country is coming from the beautiful Lake District in Cumbria.
Back in the late 18th century, Wordsworth and the Lake Poets made this area so famous.
Wordsworth, alongside writing some very long and beautiful poems,
wrote a guide book in which he said that the Lake District
was a national treasure in which every man hath a right.
Whether they have a right to buy
is something we shall explore on the show today.
Cumbria takes up position at England's most north-westerly edge,
snug up against the Scottish border.
The county is famously home to the Lake District National Park,
which attracts 8.3 million visitors every year, who gather to walk
on the rugged peaks or take in the striking scenery from the stunning lakes.
This region has provided inspiration for generations of artists, poets
and writers, such as William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter,
who have partly been responsible for making this area such a draw
for tourists, netting Cumbria a £1 billion tourist industry.
Tourism alone, however, doesn't bring in all the bucks.
Farming is hugely important to the Cumbrian economy,
where the pastures are predominantly given over to sheep and dairy farming.
Away from the peaks and lakes, much of the region's beauty
is characterised by the buildings, which take full advantage of the rich variety of local materials
that provide this area with its distinctive identity.
The Lake District is awash with second homes.
In Keswick, a little town on Derwent Water, 11% of properties fall into that category.
You'd think, in this time of economic crisis,
that second-home owners would want to sell up and release a bit of liquidity,
but that's not the case. Why?
Because their second homes can be a nice little earner as a holiday let.
According to the Tourist Board, the number of requests for accommodation
has gone up 47%, so people are holding on and not selling.
Which is bad news for us cos we're trying to find properties to buy,
but we did manage to dig up a few beauties. Take a look.
If you have a cool £2 million to spend, then how about this barn
and coach-house conversion in Cockermouth?
The five-bedroom property exudes character and
it's easy to imagine those graceful carriages sweeping under the stone arches.
But best of all is the spectacular view of the formal gardens
and the Lakeland fells beyond.
Or if your budget is hovering around £545,000,
you could pick up this barn conversion in Rusland.
It's been renovated to a high standard
in a contemporary style, and shows off the stunning original oak beams.
Or if you fancy two for the price of one,
then this three-bedroom cottage with an attached two-bedroom annexe
is on the market at Beanthwaite for £375,000.
The 17th-century character shines through, and the view would have inspired any poet.
You see, despite the scarcity, some real beauties, but will they please
today's buyers who are, by all accounts, Lake District experts?
They are neuro-psychiatrist William and clinical-trials manager Gail
who live in Ponteland in Northumberland. They're lucky enough
to be taking early retirement and can't wait to indulge in a new lifestyle.
Here we are with our much-loved mountain bikes, but currently under-used,
so I'm hoping, when we go to the Lake District, that we'll be able to use them much more.
And I'm hoping to finally replace this bike
for a brand-new one and break it on some of those gentle Cumbrian fells.
This young-at-heart, outdoor-loving couple
have made this three-bedroom property their family home
for the last 22 years but, with the children all grown up
and retirement looming, it's time for change.
The ideal, if we can achieve this, is a slower pace than I'm doing now,
a pace at which I can decide each day whether I do something or not,
before I decide what it is that I'm going to do.
I think that's a perfect description
-of how we'd like to spend the next few years, isn't it?
But after an 18-month house search and 12 viewings under their belt,
they've not been successful in finding their Lakeland dream.
I think maybe we are being a little bit too fussy.
And I think the problem is that I want an £800,000 house
for half the price!
It's a wonderful dream, but what are William and Gail looking for?
A really pretty Lakeland-style home
with some Lakeland slate.
I would ideally love to have something with a view of the fells,
but I appreciate that that might be asking too much.
What about inside?
I would like a nice, community sort of feeling to it,
a nice living area where everyone was together, cooking, watching TV,
reading, planning our next day's walking or cycling.
Although they're moving to the other side of the country,
they're hoping their married children will make plenty of visits,
so they're ideally looking for a three-bedroomed house.
They're not looking for a large garden.
A small, low-maintenance one will do just fine.
My fantasy is to have a pub on the corner that I can walk to.
I've never lived anywhere that I could walk to the pub and walk back,
so that's the top of my list.
But, in reality, what we're really thinking about is somewhere that's
close enough that we can walk to the shop but rural enough that we can
-go out from the door to run, cycle, to just be in the countryside.
William and Gail are in the luxurious position of not having
to sell their current house to be able to afford their new home.
If we found our dream house that was perfect in location and outlook,
and it had everything we wanted, and it was next door to a pub,
I think we would be prepared to pay £450,000.
The budget may be sorted, but are they together with their thoughts?
I think the only slight difference might be that I would prefer to be
in a bigger area, perhaps in a town like Keswick itself,
whereas you'd rather be in a smaller, rural area.
-Yeah, I think that's true.
-But it's not a big issue.
To make things clear, Gail and William seem to be looking for
a three-bedroom house in the Lake District
with a nice community around, maybe a pub.
That's not too difficult but what slightly worries me
is they've already looked at 12 properties here and not liked any of them.
And Gail's sort of admitted that, although she only wants to spend
£400,000, what she really wants the house to be worth is £800,000.
Now, the only way out of that is to make a few compromises,
so let's see if we can nudge them in that direction.
William and Gail are keen to be in the Northern Lakes
but well away from the tourist hot-spots,
so we're targeting the area to the north of Keswick.
I'll be taking them on a tour of three tantalising Cumbrian homes,
but I'll be keeping them in the dark as to the prices until after the viewing.
The last of the three will be the Mystery House
which will challenge their perception of their Lakeland dream.
I know you're biased, but this is probably one of the most beautiful places in Britain.
-We think so.
-And you're going to live here.
-Well, we hope so.
The pool of property here in the Lakes is very small.
It's constricted largely by the fact that there are not that many properties.
Also, a lot of them are taken as holiday lets and are not being sold.
And also, there's local occupancy laws
-which mean that local people are preferred here.
-So we're taking you on a bit of a magical mystery tour.
-So we might be going to places you haven't thought of before.
And showing you properties you haven't probably considered before.
-Are you up for that?
-We're up for that.
-Shall we get looking?
-That would be great, thanks. Let's find the car.
William and Gail have £450,000 to spend and are ideally looking for
a minimum of three bedrooms, an open-plan kitchen-diner
for when the family gather, a small, easily-maintained garden
and, top of William's wish list, a village pub.
Stunning countryside. Are you excited to be actually moving here?
I know you've been here lots and lots, but
it's different, isn't it, when you decide to move somewhere?
Oh, yes. I mean, we... One of the problems with coming over here is that you have to go home again,
so...being here means that we can do what we like and stay here to live.
Yeah, I think so too. Just having this great opportunity
of having taken early retirement, and we're both fit and healthy,
to come over here and have this life every day
-is just what most people dream of.
They certainly do, and I for one am very envious.
The first house on our list
is in the village of Wythop Mill, eight miles from Keswick,
and tucked just inside the Lake District National Park.
The fells in the Wythop Valley are the Lakeland's final outpost on its north-west edge.
The landscape is more gentle than the rest of the dramatic Lake District.
It's a lush patchwork of sheep pastures and peaceful villages.
Our first house is the epitome of a Lakeland cottage
and lies in an idyllic rural setting.
We're looking at this house here.
-This one on the left.
-Pretty little cottage.
Pretty little cottage. It's a mill cottage. That's the old mill.
Yeah, you can hear the water going by.
The mill race. So the lovely local brick that you wanted, the stone that you wanted.
Yes, and the very traditional-looking Cumbrian cottage. Yeah, well done.
Ten-minute walk to the pub. Can you manage that?
Ten minutes there, twenty minutes back!
You might need to get a bicycle.
-Shall we look inside?
-I'd love to, yes.
We'll go in the back door, as good country-style people do.
In you come.
Downstairs loo and utility room.
This is the kitchen.
-This is lovely.
This is a really, really nice country kitchen, isn't it? Nice eating area.
And this is perfect for cooking while sitting and talking at the same time.
-Do you spend a lot of time in the kitchen?
-That is our plan, very definitely.
At the moment, we've got a separate living room and kitchen, and we find we're in separate rooms.
The layout of this kitchen is traditional Lakeland.
It looks like a nice cottagey kitchen.
And picking up from your brief about wanting kind of open-plan living,
this house has this because...it steps straight out into this.
-Oh, my goodness!
-This is excellent.
-A really good family room.
It's not a massive property. This is the whole of the downstairs,
but it does flow just as one big space from the kitchen.
Yes, with lots of windows and lots of light.
-There seems to be lots of light.
And sheep running on the hills outside!
It's got the feel of a cottage which is really what we would like.
There's no point in coming to the Lake District and living in glass and chrome, to be honest.
Drat, must take those other three houses off the list!
There are some nice features, including the wood-burner behind you.
It gives off an enormous amount of heat, and this fireplace has got a very nice beam here, reclaimed.
But also, this is Cumbrian red sandstone.
That is very, very impressive, a log-burning fire, isn't it?
-It is, yes.
-It's really, really good.
And it will keep you incredibly warm.
In those cold Cumbrian winters.
After all that fell-walking.
-Upstairs, you're looking for three bedrooms?
-If at all possible.
-We've got that.
This cottage with its cosy feel is deceptively large, and I think it's appealing to them.
Heading upstairs, I'm going to start with the largest bedroom.
Some of the bedrooms upstairs may be in need a bit of remodelling.
-I think perhaps upstairs, the wood's a little bit dark.
-It is quite dark.
If you lightened the wood up, it would make the room look bigger.
You could live with this for a little while,
but I think you'd want to stamp your own style onto this.
It's a really nice size for a cottage.
It will be you and your children, presumably, coming to stay.
Yes, we've got two married daughters.
We have a fantasy in our head of Christmas with the six of us here,
in the snow, walking back from the pub.
It's amazing how many people buy their houses on the basis of that one day a year.
There are other bedrooms and, of course, the bathrooms, so let's check those out.
I'm sure their family would be very happy with the second double bedroom next door.
Time to size up the bathing quarters.
It's a very good-sized bathroom.
-Cos you've got a huge double shower, look.
-And a nice corner bath.
-I'm not sure how they found enough room to put this bathroom in.
It is strange, isn't it?
I think because it's all one space downstairs, you think it's going to be tiny upstairs.
-Yes, you do.
-It is really a very nicely sized bathroom.
I don't think you'll be disappointed by the third bedroom either.
-That's through there.
-Lead the way.
I think this the nicest room or the biggest room.
It's a big difference from the other room, the lighter colour. It's really lifted the room.
You haven't got built-in wardrobes
and mirrors and things. It looks more cottagey with the pine.
You've got a lovely little Victorian maid's fireplace.
-That is pretty, isn't it?
Now, I know outside space is not an important thing for you.
Well, when there's all the Lake District to explore, why do you need a garden?
We do have a garden. Let's have a look at it.
This cottage certainly delivers ample room for their needs,
and I think we have it spot on with the garden.
-Lovely mill stream.
The sound of running water. And it's a very small
but very manageable garden.
That's exactly what I want - a nice sitting area.
It's a perfect little garden that just needs a bit of maintenance, but no lawns to mow.
-A guilt-free garden.
-It's a guilt-free garden.
It gets all the afternoon sun, which is really nice, so you can come out here with your G&T.
-A little bit overlooked from this property here.
-I don't think so too badly.
-Not too bad.
I think it's a perfect little garden. Very pretty.
-Yes, isn't it?
-What about the price?
Obviously we are IN the Lake District National Park,
-It's difficult to find properties in here.
What do you think it's on the market for?
The three double bedrooms is a good selling point for the house,
but I think the one bathroom would be an issue
if you had six people staying in the property,
so I would think, or possibly hope, it would be about £360,000.
I'd put it a little higher than that because I think it is
done to a high quality, and with the big bedrooms.
I probably think it would be going for about £390,000.
Well, it's on the market for £430,000,
which is maybe a hangover from the good old days when everything
was absolutely sky high because it's been on the market for a while.
So why don't you have a little snoop around without me,
and then we'll meet out the front and then we'll power on.
-OK. Thank you, Alistair.
This lovely cottage is on the market for £430,000.
It has the kitchen diner they were eager to have, a spacious lounge
with character features, three bedrooms for when the family visit
and a low maintenance garden which suits their needs.
Properties in the National Park come at a premium.
If this house was further inside, on the outskirts of Keswick,
it could easily be marketed for £500,000.
-I can see us spending a lot of time in the kitchen.
I like the way it just sort of flows through into the living room.
-I think that's what we were looking for, wasn't it?
I really like the house. I think it's a really pretty house.
It's quaint and pretty from the outside, and you don't
expect the rooms to be quite as big and open as they are.
It's a pretty, nice house, the sort of house I would like to live in.
A nice, quiet area.
Inside, it's very well appointed and very well maintained.
The only thing that I'm a little bit unsure about, whether it would work for us, is only one bathroom.
With three double bedrooms, I could see that might cause a queue in the mornings.
It's a little bit further out from the town than I would like,
but that's a compromise I'd be prepared to take.
On balance, it's the sort of place that we are looking for,
and it would definitely be one of the properties that we'll look at.
-Hi. How was it? It's good.
-Yeah, it's a lovely little property.
-Excellent, but there's more.
The lakes are waiting.
The Lake District has been the favoured holiday destination of William and Gail for many a year.
They aren't too familiar, however, with Keswick,
so earlier in the week they set out to explore.
And tourist officer, Linda Furniss, was on hand.
-Hi, welcome to Keswick!
-I'm sorry the weather's so bad.
It's a bit rainy and grey, but that's what makes the Lake District what it is,
that's why we've got the lakes and that's why it's so green and beautiful for our visitors.
Shall we just walk up the town?
-I'll just tell you a little bit about the history, especially the Moot Hall.
It was in the 18th century that tourists began to trickle into the area,
after writers and artists like Wordsworth and Constable
drew attention to the landscape in their work.
But its place in the history books began in the 13th century
when Keswick - which is said to mean cheese farm - started its life as a market town.
Moot Hall itself has got loads of history.
That started off as our market town.
On a Thursday and a Saturday we have really good markets with local produce,
but the Moot Hall was the original market,
then it moved to be a court house and a prison,
and it's now the tourist information centre.
It has a chequered history itself!
Today, Keswick is a major tourist destination,
attracting climbers and fell walkers,
and catering to their every need.
But, if it's a more gentle stroll you're looking for,
Hope Park offers a haven of tranquillity.
And just a ten minute walk from here,
the scenery changes dramatically
and opens up to deliver the jewel in this area's crown.
This is Keswick's lake, Lake Derwent Water,
which is classed as the queen of the lakes, really.
It's three miles long,
and we have a launch on here which has several times a day which is used as a bus.
Get on it, drop off, go for a walk, come back, catch it again. It's fabulous.
-Beautiful lake, isn't it?
-Yeah, it's absolutely stunning.
The hills in the background and the peacefulness of the lake.
-It's just so beautiful.
-Yeah, really, really lovely.
Can't wait to get here!
Our next house is at Raughton Head, a 30 minute drive from Keswick,
but just seven miles outside the national park.
Dalston, just a few miles north, is the focal point for the surrounding smaller villages.
It has a small selection of shops, housed in the fine array of Georgian buildings,
and the area is enveloped by the abundance of dairy farms,
which are vital to the economy.
-Look at that. Now, you wanted views.
-I did, yes.
-I give you views!
-You certainly have.
-This is a great view.
Obviously this is not the Lake District.
I mean, it is the Lake District but we've come a lot further north.
But I wanted to bring you here because you get a lot more for your money.
-And I want to show you this property.
-It looks lovely.
Yes, this whole forecourt with the views is just beautiful.
William, what are your thoughts about the location?
It's a little bit further out than we wanted to be.
I appreciate what you're saying about getting more for your money
when you come out of the national park.
It depends on what the house is like inside and whether it's worth that compromise.
-Certainly does. Shall we have a look inside?
-I'd love to, yes.
Come on in.
-Lovely country kitchen. Lovely beams.
Everything has been redone, right from top to bottom.
-You've got these lovely quarry-tiled floors.
-Teak worktops here in the kitchen.
-It's a lovely kitchen, separate from the rest of the house.
It's a good working kitchen, I think is what it's best described as.
Couldn't really eat or do anything else in here.
-It's got a nice quality feel about it, hasn't it, the kitchen?
Yeah, the whole house has, actually, if we look into the main room.
We're into the main body of what was the barn.
It's a really, really lovely room, isn't it?
-It's been well thought through and designed.
-Yes, very nice.
-I like the two windows either side, gives it a nice open feel about it.
These beautiful Georgian stripped-down double doors,
lead us into the living room, the drawing room.
-It's a really nice room.
-Lovely big fireplace.
-Yeah. More sandstone.
-More redstone, yes.
-A lovely log burner there.
-Yes, you've got the log burner.
-Keep you nice and warm.
Well, you can see it's getting quite cosy in here at night time,
-closing these doors and getting the fire on.
-After a long day off.
I think they've done a fantastic job on this house.
It's going to be hard to resist.
I get this impression that you're quite muted about it?
No, the house is wonderful.
I have nothing to say about that, except it is a wonderful house.
The thing that's concerning me is its location.
Again, this is going to be the compromise all the way through is,
how near do you have to be to the Lake District?
You're damping your enthusiasm because you know...
I'm trying to control my feelings for the house, because I think the house is just stunning.
But I agree with you, that the location is just outside where we thought we wanted to be.
That's always going to be where we'll have to compromise.
Either on the house, or on the location.
This is part of the reason that we wanted to bring you here,
because it's fascinating to see how much more quality you get for your money.
Yes, so you're wanting to see us tussle with this?
-I'm wanting to make you spin in anguish!
You're going, "No, it's so beautiful, but I can't have it, I can, I can't, I can!"
That sort of thing.
-I think we will be doing that with this house.
Marvellous. Wait till you see upstairs.
It's clear that no expense has been spared on the renovation,
and even the staircase is made from the local red sandstone.
Upstairs there are three bedrooms, and the first one is quite special.
-This is a master bedroom!
-Oh! This is wonderful.
-Isn't it wonderful?
-It really is, yeah.
-Absolutely wonderful, just as you walk into it... knocked out by it.
A lot of character. Unlike some houses, where all the rooms are pretty much the same,
each one is like, "Wow! It's a great room."
They've really thought about keeping it light and fresh.
And they've made it look like a really country sort of home,
with the checked curtains and the bare wood floors, and the style of furniture.
A lovely bonus in this room...
-is quite the most special en-suite I've ever seen.
Oh, I love it!
Isn't it great?
I never thought we'd find a sunken bath in here.
-Isn't it extraordinary? Very wacky.
-It is lovely.
-It is incredible.
-Which is lovely. You've got a double shower, just very stylish.
-It's very lovely.
Then there's another two bedrooms.
They're much smaller, these ones, but that's fine, I think,
to have a big master bedroom and then smaller...
Yeah, it's still a double bedroom.
-Features again, like the slip windows.
-It's lovely. Really lovely.
As if that en-suite wasn't enough, there's a very nice family bathroom, too.
Here's your second sunken bath!
-Look at this! Fantastic, another one.
-Good, isn't it?
-I wasn't expecting...
Is this going to answer your wish about having two bathrooms?
You've got the en-suite and then this one.
-I think you've slightly bettered the property this morning.
-That's right, this is lovely.
-And added two sunken baths into the deal as well.
-Yeah, was that on your list? I don't think so.
-No, but we'll deal with it!
A third bedroom was, however, on the list and I think you could squeeze in a double bed in this room.
This tasteful house, with its superb views, is providing a conundrum for William and Gail.
And I'm not done yet!
When I said that it's just this property,
I wasn't quite telling the truth.
It's not that property, but it's this property and that property.
-The whole building?
-The whole building is yours.
You've got a car port, a very, very posh garage,
and then, you can see they've converted the whole upstairs of that building into a rumpus room.
-With a little log burner.
-We need to go and look at that.
You can explore that later. But that's a lot of stuff extra.
-It's a lot of extra.
In terms of garden, you've got this little space here,
-and a little bit behind the house, which is not too much to tend.
How much do you think it is?
I'm struggling with that, a little bit.
Partly because it's such a wonderful property, real quality features and fixtures,
but it's slightly outside the national park,
so I think I'm going to go for about 425.
Yeah, I think that, because it's outside the national park,
then you'd expect the price to be lower, but given the quality of the place and the build in it,
then I'd agree that around 420,000.
You're both spot on the money, it's on at 425.
That's, uh...you've set us a real dilemma now.
I like doing that! I like doing that.
Ha, go inside and have a scrap. Yes, you can use the rumpus room.
At £425,000, this stunning barn conversion is £25,000 under budget.
It's been renovated to a high standard, it has a large lounge,
ideal for those family Christmases. Three bedrooms, with master en-suite,
and it takes in superb views of the Cumbrian countryside.
It might not be the location they had in mind, but if this property
was on the outskirts of Keswick, with a view of the Fells,
it could be on the market for a whopping £600,000.
Well, you've set us a real problem. Set ME a real problem.
This is a fantastic house. I could live here.
-It would answer everything I wanted.
-It's absolutely bowled me over.
It's a beautiful property, with a lovely outlook,
and everything inside the house is perfect.
There is nothing in the house that I don't like,
and I could very well see myself living here.
The big disadvantage is it's not where I want it to be.
It's too far out from the Lake District. I could manage that,
I could drive in to do the walking, but there's nothing else around, it's too isolated.
So this is what a rumpus room is!
-This could be anything, couldn't it?
-It could actually, yeah.
-Be a perfect music room.
-It would, wouldn't it?
-Separate from the house.
-Make as much noise as I wanted to.
It's to be considered,
but it's got to be thought about very carefully, in my view.
-Going to have to drag you away.
The Lake District is home to the beautiful raw material of natural slate,
which is used throughout the region
and helps give it its trademark look.
William and Gail are keen to buy a property that incorporates this beautiful product,
so we're visiting the last working slate mine in England to discover more.
The 400-million-year-old green slate
is the product of compacted volcanic ash
and has been extracted from this mine for 300 years.
Behind the dramatic entrance lies eleven miles of tunnels
of this strong and durable material.
John Taylor, who's been mining for over 40 years,
tells us about his love affair with the mines.
How old were you when you started working here?
Did you enjoy being underground?
-Oh, I love it.
You're in a different world altogether, you know.
John, how do you get the rock out of the face? Do you use dynamite?
Gunpowder for good rock,
and any rock we don't want, we dynamite it.
How long do you have to wait for the dust to settle after the explosion?
Well, old rock hands fire at night so that she can settle all the fumes
and then, when we come in next morning, we can put our ladders up
to test our roof with iron poles to make sure she rings.
If it doesn't ring, it means we've got a problem.
It means we've got to stick another stick of dynamite in to get it down.
-You know, so...
-So it's a slow process?
It is a slow process, yes, aye.
-OK, so we're going to take some slate out and split it?
Once the slate is at the surface, machines are used to cut it
into more manageable-sized pieces, but even today,
the final stage is in human hands.
-So, John, this is where we split?
So this has to be done by hand. You can't do this with machines?
No, no, you can't!
It takes a skilled craftsman with many years' experience
to identify where the slate can be split,
and it will take one minute to split a slab like this.
Look at that!
-It just splits like that.
-I know, it's amazing.
So these have been together for millions of years.
-For millions of years, aye!
And they've just seen the light of day.
Wow. Can we have a go?
-Oh, most certainly, yes.
-Gail, do you want to have a go?
-I'd love to.
John is clearly a dab hand at this,
but I wonder if it'll be so clear cut for a novice.
from your 60 years of experience, give me a couple of quick hints.
Just keep it dead centre all the time and quite a nice hit.
-A nice sharp tap.
-Yes, that's right.
You've done it!
Woo-hoo! Look. 40 million years...
Some fresh air, thanks to you.
John, thank you so much. That's amazing.
Who would have thought that slate was so fascinating?
As the last of the afternoon light fades,
William and Gail head back to the hotel to collect their thoughts.
What did you think about the house with the mill stream?
-I thought it was a lovely little house and it was deceptively spacious.
It looked quite small on the outside, but when you got inside...
-What I really liked about it was where it was.
-The location of it.
I thought it was a lovely house.
Little bit small with the one bathroom, but you could live with that.
-And that lovely sort of flow of the downstairs.
-It really was a good start to the day, wasn't it?
-I think so, yeah.
So, what are your thoughts on the barn conversion?
Well, I thought it was a beautiful house.
Fantastic, had everything we wanted, as far as I was concerned,
except for one very important thing, and it's not in the Lakes.
It was isolated, it wasn't part of the community.
-I'd feel a bit lonely there, I think.
I think I have to agree with that.
I was absolutely blown away by the house itself, it was just a bit remote.
-Put that house two miles from Keswick, it would be perfect.
-Except we wouldn't be able to afford it!
-No, that's a shame.
-We've had a really interesting day, haven't we?
-Seen two great houses in two very different locations.
-So, it's going to be interesting to see what tomorrow brings.
-Hope they can come up with something just as good!
-Yeah, hope so!
William and Gail are looking forward to early retirement
and a new lifestyle in the Lake District.
They have £450,000 to spend, but are chasing a three-bedroomed house with room for the family to stay.
So far, they've seen one house and, coming up...
That's just like the cherry on top of a very big cake. Wonderful.
And there's a Mystery House,
our risk-taking choice that could swing either way.
I think I might have got to the bottom of our couples buying technique,
because Gail is very, very strong about what she wants inside the house -
that's very important, of course -
but William is digging his heels in on two things.
One, it's got to be inside the Lake District National Park,
and, two, it's got to be near a pub.
And who can blame him, because if you want a happy retirement
with lots of walking, those are very important.
So, today I'm going to show them a beautiful property in a village in the Lakelands.
William and Gail will be delighted to know
that we're heading back inside the national park,
to Caldbeck, for our first house today.
This quiet area is not as well known as the other parts
of the Lake District but still boasts stunning scenery.
The village has achieved conservation status,
but the best thing of all for William is the pub
which is just a stone's throw away.
And the house I want to show you is...
-Lovely Cumbrian-looking house.
It was the gatehouse to the mill. There's a mill complex behind the mill house to the right,
and this is where the workers would come to get their pay, for example.
Right. It's full of Lakeland character.
It's exactly the sort of thing that you want to walk up to and open the front door of.
Well done for finding this. We're really interested to go inside.
We can't go inside, I'm afraid.
Just from the outside, do you want to buy it or not? Just teasing.
Come on in.
Yeah, with a beam running down the middle.
Yeah. We're going left.
There's a little plaque on the door, cos this house has history.
This is where the composer of D'ye Ken John Peel lived.
-John Woodcock Graves lived here for all his life.
-And he's buried in the local churchyard.
-It's a historic house.
-We shall sing that in close harmony before we leave.
Now, I'm quite interested to know how you feel about the feeling of this house.
-It feels cosy, it feels welcoming, it feels at one, really.
I was a bit concerned from the outside, with having small windows,
that it might be quite dark inside, but this room certainly isn't dark.
It's well decorated.
It's quite symmetrical, so you have this room
and then you have almost exactly the same on the other side.
-Another lovely room.
-A lovely view.
-Yes, straight into the village green.
This one's got a lovely little window seat.
-Nice little cupboards underneath.
Yes, you can imagine settling down here on a cold, wet evening
with the fire blazing and being very, very comfortable indeed.
-So do you like it so far?
-I do. I love it.
Well, wait till you see the kitchen!
Now, this is exactly right.
-Oh, this is lovely.
This is exactly what we asked you for. How did you find this?
If I could've drawn what you were asking for,
-this is what I would've drawn.
A lovely big working kitchen at this side, and the dining area,
-so you could use this room as a family room.
You've got the big range which has a system where it clicks in for
-three minutes and clicks off, so it doesn't waste oil.
Lovely features in this kitchen.
Yeah, really tastefully done and thoughtfully done.
-Yeah, it's a really lovely kitchen.
-All in keeping with the cottages.
It just makes you smile when you're in here.
-Doesn't it? The minute you come in here, you're like, "Ohh, yes, I want to have a cup of tea!"
Excellent. It's top marks for this kitchen,
and there's the bonus of a porch area for the coats and muddy boots, just next door to a cloakroom.
I'm hoping the upstairs impresses them just as much.
Let's take a look at the bathroom first, cos it's beautiful!
Oh, it is nice.
-Isn't it sweet?
-Yes, lovely bath.
It does feel nice, doesn't it? Makes me want to have a bath.
If you just want to look round, I'll just run a...
Let's look at some of the bedrooms. If you turn right...
This is a nice big room, isn't it?
-It is. Isn't that lovely?
-You keep finding space in this cottage.
-Absolutely. Nice, isn't it?
And the beams add a lot of character, and also the lovely stone casements around the window.
Yes, it's really nice when people leave them unpainted like that. It really makes a property lovely.
There are four bedrooms in total, all of which are a good size,
providing plenty of space for when the family visit.
This is the master bedroom.
-And you've got two window seats looking out into the village.
-And a very nice en-suite with a shower.
-Perfect. Fulfils requirements.
-Very pretty again.
-Oh, a lovely, lovely room.
So, does it feel somewhere you could imagine living in?
This seems such a lovely village, in an area that we're not
that familiar with at the Lakes, but I'm sure we'd enjoy exploring.
So, yeah, it's got a lot of positives.
This is great news, and there's still more to come outside.
It's a postage stamp of a garden, which is perfect for you.
-Yeah, well done.
Usually, that's the kiss of death when I show a property but, for you, that's just perfect.
It's a little patch of lawn and lots of beautiful slate wherever you look.
This would be perfect for us - low-maintenance.
It's surrounded but not enclosed because it's raised. The sun will come over the top of the buildings.
-It feels like a little, enclosed, secret garden.
Now, obviously we are inside the Lake District and we're in a very popular village.
How much do you think it costs?
-I'm finding this one quite hard to judge...
..because you've given us more than we asked for,
as well as everything that we did.
I'm going to go slightly higher,
and think about £450,000 for this one.
I think I'd go even higher than that. I think 560.
-It's on at...380.
-Then that's incredible.
You have exceeded yourself.
-That's just unbelievable. I can't believe that.
-It's good news, isn't it?
-It really is, yes.
-That's just like the cherry on top of a very big cake.
-It's a find, it's a real find.
-It is. Well done.
-So you probably want to look around.
-Yes, I think so.
-Yeah, I think so.
So pleasing when that happens,
when they guess way over the estimated price and then I can tell them
that it's £60,000, £70,000 less!
And I think this is a fantastic bargain.
It's got four bedrooms, fantastic location, lovely feel to the house.
Where's the cheque book?
The £380,000 price tag for this handsome property was a superb surprise for William and Gail.
At £70,000 under budget and just a stone's throw from the pub,
it's a property that could fit them like a glove.
This is a pretty living room, sitting room.
-Yes, it's a really nice...
Really nice snug little square room.
-I'm getting used to the sandstone idea.
Yeah, it really feels in keeping with the area and fits very nicely.
Well, walking up to the house and from outside, I thought, "This is the perfect place."
It just looked so right. And coming inside the house didn't alter that at all.
It's warm, it's a family house. I could really live here.
I think the property is absolutely lovely.
You've fulfilled everything that we asked you to find in a property - in a village,
all the bedrooms, all the bathrooms.
I was happily surprised at the price and I think that this is definitely top of my list.
The fact that it's a Grade 2 listed building and all its historical associations
just makes me feel very privileged that we're in a position to consider buying this house.
And perhaps most importantly, I can see the pub from the window.
It's a contender. Tell me it's a contender.
Alistair, at the moment, this one has to be high on the list.
The dramatic landscape of Borrowdale lends itself superbly
to one of this region's top sporting activities - fell running.
William and Gail are already keen road runners, running up to four times a week
and having completed over 34 half-marathons between them.
They're always eager to try something new,
-'so we've arranged to meet competitive fell runner Roger Atkinson...'
..who runs a local club which meets regularly at its beautifully placed club house.
-Welcome to High House.
-What is this place? It's very grand.
High House is the K Fell Farers' club hut in Borrowdale,
-one of the oldest huts in the Lake District, actually.
-And we're at the head of a beautiful valley...
-The head of the Borrowdale Valley, the last building in the valley.
And the little hamlet, Seathwaite, is the wettest inhabited place in England!
But not today.
No, you've caught us on a good day.
Roger is unfortunately out with an injury at present, so he has enlisted the help
of two of his club members to give William and Gail a taster session.
Richard and Cheryl have been running these fells for over 20 years,
and know the terrain like the back of their hands.
Lakeland weather is extremely changeable, so it's important
runners have suitable clothing, sturdy footwear, and know how to navigate with a map or a GPS.
There are no rules or regulations, but common sense and a good level of general fitness are a must.
The sport has long been popular, with races and championships being held throughout the year,
and Borrowdale hosts what is considered to be one of the toughest races in the fell-running calendar.
The 70-mile race covering some of the roughest ground in England
takes in 6,500 feet of ascent and is strictly reserved for experienced fell runners.
William and Gail, however, are just finding their feet
so, after a steady climb, it's time to head down.
Welcome back. Cup of tea ready for you all.
Thank you very much.
-And how was that?
-Did you enjoy it?
It was brilliant. Very invigorating.
Bit tough but, with a bit of practice, when we join your club, we should do great.
And with this wonderful scenery on the doorstep, who wouldn't want to hot-foot it into the fells?
Personally, I think that last house will be hard to beat
but for our wild card Mystery House, we're bringing our couple to Cockermouth.
Cockermouth is the biggest town in the Western Lakes,
and the Western Lakes are a secret bit of the Lake District
that is often overlooked but very, very beautiful.
Cockermouth is a busy Victorian and often very beautiful town,
but it's a town nonetheless, and not always as tranquil as this part of it.
So our final stop is Cockermouth,
just outside the National Park.
The town is best known for being the birthplace
of poet William Wordsworth, yet hasn't attracted the tourist crowds.
With its proximity to the peaceful lakes and fells, it's a good option for William and Gail,
and will provide them with fantastic value for money.
William has expressed an interest in living in a town, and as Keswick
is extremely pricey, we thought Cockermouth would be an alternative option worthy of consideration.
How do you feel about town houses?
-Not exactly what we were looking for.
I'll give it a chance inside.
-It's something a bit different.
-We are willing to have a look at it.
-It's the brief of the Mystery House.
It is. We were expecting something different,
so let's give it a shot.
This may be a town house, but I'm keen to show them how much they can get for their money
and challenge their town house preconceptions to boot.
Come on in.
-So a classic Victorian vestibule.
Coloured glass. High ceilings.
-It looks like a very typical town house.
-It is a town house.
-It's not a cottage. This is the Mystery House. It's something different.
A face like thunder! It's only a house!
-We'll go and have a look round.
-I won't force you to buy it at the end.
-It's beautifully done up.
-It's a nice house. Don't get us wrong.
It's a pretty house. It's a well thought through and decorated room.
It's a nice sitting room. We can sit in here and watch the world go by.
The view across the field is really quite nice.
Well, let's have a look at the kitchen cos that's obviously a possibility.
Here's the kitchen!
-It's very modern.
-Yes, it is.
-Not really to our taste, I think.
-Speaking for both of you?
-Everything I show you is like a nail in the coffin.
-Breaking my heart.
-No, it's fine. A lot of people would love this sort of style but it's not your style.
I think it's a very good example of a Victorian terraced house, you know,
-and it's very nicely done but, for me, it doesn't appeal at all.
Oh, dear. After the last house, the mood has definitely sunk.
Nevertheless, I'm going to hold strong and continue to the dining room.
-So you're probably familiar with this layout,
-The Victorian town house goes back.
This probably would've been the scullery and then the kitchen at the back.
-And they swapped it around. That was the dining room, they turned that into the kitchen.
-This is now the dining room, and then you've got a boot room toilet at the back.
The owners have certainly made best use of the space and the decoration is first class.
-Now, on a purely academic level, you've got to like this.
-This is a lovely bathroom.
-It really is, yes.
-Thank the Lord!
They've done a really nice job in this bathroom. It's really lovely.
-This is possibly the nicest shower I've seen in a long while.
-Quite unusual, isn't it?
That's a work of art. Mmm.
It really is a lovely room.
Yeah, lovely colours that they've used.
It's immaculately done, as are the three bedrooms in this house.
This first one is a small double, and up in the eaves
is a large twin room that would easily take a double bed.
Last for us, is the master.
-What a big bedroom.
-It's a lovely big bedroom.
It's a very charming little property for a young family.
They've got two kids.
Yeah. Nicely proportioned rooms and two lovely big windows with the sashes still intact.
-It's a shame the road's quite busy. It's the main road into Cockermouth.
-But, as often happens, the most beautiful houses were built on the thoroughfares...
..which was just a few carriages. Now it's a main arterial road.
Well, that's it for the inside. All that's left for us is the outside space.
Now, I know you don't like gardens.
And, really, this is it.
-That's a plus.
-Yes, it's a plus, you see. That's reason enough to buy it.
You wouldn't have to do any gardening at all.
So just for academic interest, really,
how much do you think a house like this costs in Cockermouth?
Um...it's hard for us to make an estimate on this.
It's not what we've been looking at, so we're not familiar with prices.
It's nice, and if you wanted to live in Cockermouth,
it's the sort of house you would be looking for, so I think it would be sought after.
I'd guess, and it would be a guess, a price of around £360,000.
I'm going to go for about 345.
Right, that's very interesting because, actually, this house is on the market for £240,000.
-We were hoping that, if you fell in love with it,
-you could spend all that extra money on something delightful.
-But it wasn't to be.
It's a very good price for it,
and I think with the other properties, we've certainly got some food for thought.
And talking of thinking time, that's what we've got coming up.
At £240,000, this house would offer William and Gail the space they're seeking
for a whopping £210,000 less than their budget.
Well, it's quite a nice, light bedroom, isn't it?
-Used as a child's room at the moment but you could turn this into a really nice double bedroom.
With the light coming from the back.
Yeah, it's a nice L-shaped room.
It's a very fine example of a Cumbrian Lakeland terraced town house. It's really nicely presented.
It's got some lovely features inside,
but it doesn't have the extra bathroom that we were looking for, and it doesn't have the flow of
the rooms downstairs, with the big sort of family kitchen and things.
Well, I have to be honest. It's not for me. It's not the house that I want.
It's a nice house and, if I wanted to live in a town, it's the sort of house that I'd be looking at,
but I want to be in a village or
further away in a rural area.
Ah, this is a nice sitting room at the front of the house.
Yeah, it is. The fire's lovely.
Yeah, I like the fireplace.
It hasn't got the log-burning stove that we were hoping to find, has it?
-No, but it is pretty.
-It's got space for one, though.
For me, in spite of the fact that the property is well under budget,
it's not really the house that I was looking for.
I know what you're going to say. Don't say it.
You've changed your mind and you want to put an offer in.
I'm afraid not, Alistair.
William and Gail's property search has had its ups and downs, and there's plenty to consider.
I'll wager a bar of Kendal mint cake which property they're NOT going to buy,
but I have been known to be wrong in the past, so let's find out.
-All over now.
No more town houses to show you.
Let's look at the houses, cos we've seen quite a few, and I know it can be exhausting and a bit dizzying,
but can you cast your mind back to the mill property that I showed you?
-What do you think about that property now, in retrospect?
-I really liked that.
I said that at the time. It's the first one we saw, but I really liked the location of it.
It was smaller than we ideally would want,
but I think that that was liveable with, and particularly for where it was - closer to the fells.
For me, the lack of a second bathroom would be a downside to it, but apart from that, it was a lovely property.
Stylistically, that was quite different from the next house I showed you,
which was a fair bit outside of the Lake District National Park,
but was pretty impressive, the barn conversion.
Absolutely stunning property. For me, the location was not really
where we wanted to be, but it was an absolutely gorgeous property, yeah.
Yeah, lovely property.
Huge, really, particularly with the extra building and the rumpus room,
which could be used for all sorts of different things.
But it was in the wrong place for me.
-How about the "D'ye Ken John Peel" house?
-That was a superb property.
There are two things that you look at in a house.
One is the actual house itself, and the other is the location, and that had both going for it.
The location was a village with a pub and shops. It was perfect.
The house itself had everything, and more besides, that we asked you
to find for us, so your really get top marks for that property.
-Well, I felt myself... It was the house that I felt myself living in.
As soon as I walked in, it felt very comfortable.
I could see myself there without any alteration to it.
I agree that the location was beautiful, the village...
You know, I could feel myself integrating into the village life.
A little bit further from the fells, but that's easily dealt with
-for the village life that I really would crave.
So that's top of my list without any doubt.
Sure the house in Cockermouth hasn't grown on you?
No, it hasn't, I'm afraid. It was a good Lakeland terraced house
but, for me, it was the wrong layout and it was in the wrong location.
Yeah, it was in the town. A nice house if you want to live in a town. I don't want to,
-so that was it.
-All right, already! I get the fact that you don't want to live in a town!
Are you going to proceed on the house in the village?
I think we're going to have a second viewing
and seriously consider putting an offer in for that property.
Great. Well, I'm delighted, I think it's a wonderful opportunity.
And I hope that you move to the Lake District very soon.
Thank you, and it's been a great experience looking at the houses with you.
-Yeah, thank you, Alistair.
Looking at this beautiful landscape, you can understand why Gail and William
really want to live smack-bang in the middle of the Lake District.
Part of me wants them to continue looking until they find
their dream property, right on the edge of Derwent Water,
but the other part of me wants them to go and put an offer on that house
in Caldbeck as soon as possible, cos it was a beautiful opportunity.
If you've enjoyed our jaunt in the Lake District,
do join us again for another edition of Escape To The Country,
cos we will be somewhere equally beautiful.
If you'd like to escape to the country
and would like our help, please contact us through our website at:
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Alistair Appleton is in the Lake District with a young-at-heart outdoor-loving couple looking for a lifestyle change. With retirement looming they are ready to leave their family home of 22 years behind, but after 18 months of house searching they have failed to find their Lakeland dream. With £450,000 to spend, they are looking for a minimum of three bedrooms, an open plan kitchen/diner, a small easily maintained garden and top of their wish-list, a village pub.