North Wales Escape to the Country


Download Subtitles

SRT

ASS


North Wales

Alistair Appleton helps a couple searching for a rustic family life. They are hoping that a budget of £450,000 will buy their children a dream country lifestyle.


Similar Content

Browse content similar to North Wales. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!

Transcript


LineFromTo

I am 3,560 feet above sea level.

0:00:010:00:05

On a clear day, I could see all four countries of the UK from up here!

0:00:050:00:10

On a clear day!

0:00:100:00:11

But not today. Find out where I am in just a moment on Escape to the Country.

0:00:110:00:16

Today, I'll be helping a couple gallop over the Welsh border and find a homestead in the country.

0:00:280:00:34

But what they're after could be a tall order!

0:00:340:00:36

There he is! He's in.

0:00:380:00:40

A cork in a bottle.

0:00:400:00:42

But then we give them more than they ever expected.

0:00:420:00:45

I'll get my cheque book!

0:00:450:00:47

I was hoping it wouldn't be shrouded in cloud,

0:00:490:00:52

but that is the mighty peak of Yr Wyddfa, or Snowdon, as it's known in English.

0:00:520:00:57

It's right here in the middle of the Snowdonia National Park

0:00:570:01:01

which, rain or shine, is one of the most beautiful bits of the UK.

0:01:010:01:05

It's certainly a highlight in North Wales, which is a good job, as that's where we're looking today.

0:01:050:01:11

Spanning six counties, including the island of Anglesey,

0:01:110:01:15

North Wales offers up stunning scenery.

0:01:150:01:17

From the coastline of historic Conwy,

0:01:170:01:20

fortified by King Edward I in the 13th century,

0:01:200:01:23

to over 820 square miles of mountains, forests and lakes

0:01:230:01:27

that make up the Snowdonia National Park.

0:01:270:01:30

Throughout the centuries, man has made his mark on this epic and timeless landscape.

0:01:310:01:36

Since opening in 1896, the Snowdon mountain railway now carries up to 1,000 passengers a day

0:01:360:01:42

to the top of the mountain.

0:01:420:01:44

And local pride is strong amongst the 26,000 people

0:01:440:01:48

who live within the Park's borders,

0:01:480:01:50

with over 65% of people using the Welsh language.

0:01:500:01:54

North Wales buildings speak of the area's mining past,

0:01:540:01:58

with the local slate and limestone being a defining feature of its properties.

0:01:580:02:02

A detached house in North Wales costs about £185,000.

0:02:050:02:09

That's £75,000 less than the national average.

0:02:090:02:13

But lower house prices are not the only reason to come here

0:02:130:02:16

because the Welsh National Assembly is making a concerted effort to invest in the north

0:02:160:02:21

including a brand-new government building in Llandudno

0:02:210:02:25

and £27 million invested in the transport network.

0:02:250:02:29

That's not a bad thing.

0:02:290:02:31

And there are some fabulous properties to invest in, too.

0:02:310:02:34

For £535,000, this converted four-bed water mill near Bethesda

0:02:340:02:39

uses traditional materials outside and in,

0:02:390:02:43

combining Welsh slate flooring with a light, modern interior.

0:02:430:02:46

Or there's this 200-year-old chapel conversion, priced at £349,000.

0:02:480:02:54

With its original arched windows, the superb open-plan interior

0:02:540:02:59

has a light, bright, welcoming feel.

0:02:590:03:02

Along with three bedrooms, there are outstanding views over Snowdonia.

0:03:020:03:06

On the market for £250,000

0:03:080:03:10

this three-bed cottage near Ithyn

0:03:100:03:13

has character beams throughout its spacious reception rooms.

0:03:130:03:16

Outside, the pretty, cottage-style garden

0:03:160:03:19

offers up great views over the Vale of Clwyd.

0:03:190:03:22

As you can see, North Wales has some of the most spectacular countryside in the UK

0:03:230:03:28

and with properties to match, it's the perfect place to start the good life.

0:03:280:03:32

Will it be good enough for our couple today?

0:03:320:03:34

Mark and Dawn, along with their three young daughters,

0:03:360:03:39

have lived in their four-bedroomed detached property in the suburbs of Manchester for four years.

0:03:390:03:44

But despite all the home improvements,

0:03:440:03:47

they're now after the ideal location that will give their family space to grow.

0:03:470:03:52

I grew up in the country.

0:03:520:03:55

Just being able to run free and have horses and play tennis,

0:03:550:04:01

the roads were really quiet and safe.

0:04:010:04:03

I was so lucky to grow up like that

0:04:030:04:05

and it would be fantastic if they could do that as well.

0:04:050:04:08

Dawn can continue managing the accounts for her family's business from home,

0:04:080:04:13

but Mark's work as an engineer takes him to London during the week, so he has big plans for family weekends.

0:04:130:04:19

Hopefully, when we move to the country, we can expand on the sports and hobbies we already have.

0:04:190:04:24

I like walking, so to have Snowdonia ten minutes' away would be fantastic.

0:04:240:04:29

Pick my bag up and go. Katie is desperate for a quad bike

0:04:290:04:33

so we'll end up with two quad bikes and two ponies, cos you love horses.

0:04:330:04:38

Our youngest, Lucy, is obsessed with horses.

0:04:380:04:42

So I'll teach her to ride and then I'll get myself one again and get back into it.

0:04:420:04:50

I haven't rode for about ten years and I'm really missing it.

0:04:500:04:53

So that's my main ambition.

0:04:530:04:56

It may seem a romantic notion,

0:04:560:04:58

but there are practical reasons for the location and timing.

0:04:580:05:01

It's now or never because our oldest is coming up to changing to secondary school,

0:05:010:05:07

and she's going to have to start working hard, no disruptions.

0:05:070:05:12

-The youngest is just starting reception.

-In September.

-Now's the time to move and get settled

0:05:120:05:18

before they move schools.

0:05:180:05:20

We decided on North Wales because it's not too far from family and friends here.

0:05:200:05:25

North Wales we've got the coast and the train line.

0:05:250:05:28

For my commute to work, the train is very important.

0:05:280:05:31

I can be on the train and in the centre of London in a couple of hours.

0:05:310:05:34

The location fits the bill, but what are they looking for in their ideal country home?

0:05:340:05:39

A detached house, three, maybe four bedrooms.

0:05:390:05:42

-Two reception rooms. That works for us.

-One for the kids, one for us!

0:05:420:05:46

-And a nice big kitchen.

-Yeah, we love the kitchen.

0:05:460:05:49

-We love to socialise in the kitchen.

-I'd like high ceilings as well.

0:05:490:05:52

The size of me we need high ceilings. And two bathrooms, with four girls in the house!

0:05:520:05:57

-A log-burning fire.

-Yeah, open fires.

-That epitomises the countryside, a log-burning fire.

0:05:570:06:04

-A winter's night with the fire roaring.

-Yeah.

0:06:040:06:07

But it's not the house that's going to swing it.

0:06:070:06:09

-A must for me is the land and the outbuildings.

-That's what the move's about.

-Definitely.

0:06:090:06:14

Enough land for the ponies and the kids to play, the quad bikes.

0:06:140:06:19

-We'd be happy with a three-bed house if there's room to extend.

-Yeah.

0:06:190:06:23

With their house already on the market for £415,000,

0:06:230:06:28

how much do they have to spend on the move?

0:06:280:06:31

The maximum budget for our move is £450,000.

0:06:310:06:35

Mark and Dawn are swapping their Mancunian roots for a slice of countryside

0:06:380:06:42

so their daughters can have a childhood to relish.

0:06:420:06:45

They want to transport their four-bed house in Manchester

0:06:450:06:49

out into two acres of lovely land and outbuildings

0:06:490:06:52

and that's not impossible in North Wales.

0:06:520:06:54

They have a budget of £450,000, which is a healthy one,

0:06:540:06:57

so fingers crossed.

0:06:570:06:59

So that Mark's weekly commute to London is as painless as possible,

0:07:000:07:04

we'll be basing our house search within easy access of main train stations,

0:07:040:07:08

such as Conwy and Wrexham.

0:07:080:07:11

I'll be showing three prime properties in the area

0:07:110:07:14

which we hope will fit the bill, but I won't reveal the price until they've had a guess.

0:07:140:07:19

And we'll try to unbridle them from their preconceptions with our mystery house.

0:07:190:07:23

-Welcome to Wales, guys.

-Hi.

-It's a bid damp for summer.

0:07:250:07:29

But you can't have everything. The forecast is good for our house-hunting.

0:07:290:07:32

-Why North Wales?

-I spent my holidays as a kid in Wales

0:07:320:07:36

so I was drawn to it and talked Dawn into it.

0:07:360:07:39

How big a component of the move is the land?

0:07:390:07:43

It's a major part. The main reason. The only reason, really, for me.

0:07:430:07:47

-Really?

-Get some animals, get outside for the children.

0:07:470:07:50

Let's talk money. What's the absolute pain limit of your budget?

0:07:500:07:54

-We've said 450,000 for everything that would need to be done.

-Right.

0:07:540:08:01

-We need some money left over for the extras.

-Extras?

0:08:010:08:04

Chickens, ponies, quad bikes.

0:08:040:08:06

Ponies? Wow! That halves your budget instantly!

0:08:060:08:09

-So 450, but if you needed to do work, it would have to be less than that.

-Yes.

0:08:090:08:14

OK. It's a good budget. But have your compromise hat on, just in case! Let's go.

0:08:140:08:19

Mark and Dawn's £450,000 budget needs to include any work they'd have to do.

0:08:220:08:27

But the essentials for their ideal property are...

0:08:270:08:30

-In terms of planning this, have you been dreaming about it for a long time?

-Yeah.

0:08:500:08:55

-I'd say this has been about eight years.

-Yeah.

0:08:550:08:58

We didn't think the children would be up for it, really, did we?

0:08:580:09:02

-No.

-We thought if we suggested it they'd be heartbroken and upset.

0:09:020:09:07

When we come back from our friends' in South Wales, we say, "Wouldn't it be lovely to move to Wales?"

0:09:070:09:14

This time, they went, "Yeah, brilliant." So I went, "Right, that's it. We're moving!"

0:09:140:09:19

We're kicking off our property search in Denbighshire,

0:09:210:09:24

just outside the village of Cyffylliog, a 40-minute drive from Wrexham train station

0:09:240:09:29

for Mark's commute to London.

0:09:290:09:31

Set in a pretty, rural location,

0:09:310:09:34

there's a primary school for the girls, and five miles away, the market town of Ruthin

0:09:340:09:38

serves up a secondary school and a charming array of independent shops.

0:09:380:09:42

'So let's see what they make of our first property which started life as a dairy farm in the 1700s.'

0:09:430:09:50

-Wow, it's beautiful.

-Yeah, it looks lovely.

0:09:500:09:53

-It's a stunner, isn't it?

-Yes.

-Yeah.

0:09:530:09:55

This is a really lovely Welsh cottage, incredibly well situated.

0:09:550:09:59

Amazing views down the valley. Lots of land which we'll explore.

0:09:590:10:03

The front part is actually the newer part, from the 19th century.

0:10:030:10:07

The back is from the 18th century. So it's a listed building.

0:10:070:10:10

-Right.

-OK.

-But you'll see inside they've done a lot of work to it.

0:10:100:10:14

'They seem impressed by the historic charm of the outside.

0:10:140:10:18

'Let's hope we can build on that when we see inside.'

0:10:180:10:21

Come on in.

0:10:220:10:24

This is the 19th-century part of the house. The front of the house has higher ceilings

0:10:240:10:30

and yes, no headroom issues with you, Mark. That's good.

0:10:300:10:34

Lovely big windows in two directions. Dual aspect.

0:10:340:10:37

You can see this is the blue stone here, it's been limed, around the fireplace.

0:10:370:10:43

-And a log burner.

-Hooray!

-I like that. This is my room.

0:10:430:10:47

-Well, you've got log burners everywhere, so no need to fight!

-OK.

0:10:470:10:51

I know you wanted two spaces. One for the kids and one for you. It does have two sitting rooms.

0:10:510:10:56

Let's look at all the rest.

0:10:560:10:59

-I'd be tempted to have this room as your room!

-Wow! It's massive!

0:10:590:11:04

I like that.

0:11:040:11:06

-You wanted a log burner. That's a proper one!

-That's a real fireplace.

0:11:070:11:11

-I like that.

-It's an amazing beam.

0:11:110:11:14

-I really like that.

-He's touching the beam. That's a good sign!

0:11:140:11:19

Stroking things.

0:11:190:11:21

So we're going into the older part.

0:11:210:11:25

In the olden days, Mark, people were short!

0:11:250:11:28

-They were little.

-Right, OK.

0:11:280:11:30

So it's through into the kitchen. A bit lower.

0:11:300:11:33

-Right. I'll keep out of the kitchen!

-Exactly. Send the girls to get your food!

0:11:330:11:37

-Mind your head!

-This is nice and big.

0:11:370:11:40

Oh, no!

0:11:420:11:43

Step forward.

0:11:450:11:47

You can actually stand up. You don't have to crick your neck. Stay between the gaps.

0:11:470:11:51

What a lovely big room!

0:11:510:11:53

They've done a beautiful job of combining... These are the outhouses.

0:11:530:11:58

There's the old bread oven where the range is.

0:11:580:12:00

-Ah, yes.

-They've absorbed all these outbuildings and made it into one big space.

0:12:000:12:07

There's a beautiful walk-in larder there with a double Belfast sink.

0:12:070:12:12

-This has all been done in the last couple of years.

-Nice block.

0:12:120:12:16

Wooden work surfaces. Another deep sink there.

0:12:160:12:21

-In terms of your head...

-That's the only stumbling block. The size of it

0:12:210:12:25

is great. The little room with the table, I really like that.

0:12:250:12:30

But I'm really struggling with the head height.

0:12:300:12:33

-It's even lower at the other end.

-No high heels for you!

0:12:330:12:36

I mean, the one option, it's an expensive one, I won't hide the fact, is to lower the floor.

0:12:360:12:43

You dig out the floor and maybe put in underfloor heating,

0:12:430:12:47

so you step down into this area. But it would be a huge job.

0:12:470:12:51

-Yeah.

-And expensive.

0:12:510:12:53

Let's look at the dining room.

0:12:530:12:56

This used to be the cow barn.

0:12:560:12:58

That window was the food chute where they threw in their food.

0:12:580:13:04

We could feed the kids like that!

0:13:040:13:06

There's lots of space downstairs. Is it enough for you and the girls?

0:13:060:13:10

As long as it's got land outside, it'll be fine.

0:13:100:13:13

-It's got land outside.

-Hooray.

0:13:130:13:15

Could be worse. The ceiling height is something I'd have to get used to.

0:13:150:13:20

-You'd have to be careful.

-But I could live with that.

0:13:200:13:23

-What about upstairs?

-We shall see.

0:13:230:13:26

'Well, they won't have to lower their expectations of upstairs

0:13:300:13:33

'as there are the four bedrooms they wanted.

0:13:330:13:36

'Although Mark might have to duck!'

0:13:360:13:38

This is going to be very funny when Mark comes in.

0:13:380:13:41

There he is, he's in.

0:13:420:13:44

A cork in a bottle.

0:13:440:13:46

This is the master bedroom. There are two rooms in the front which are quite grand.

0:13:460:13:51

-This is the master because it's got an en-suite shower room.

-It's very pretty.

0:13:510:13:55

-It's big enough. Love the ceiling height.

-High ceilings.

0:13:550:13:59

It's unusual in a period cottage to have high ceilings upstairs. Both have got cast-iron fireplaces.

0:13:590:14:05

-They're decorative.

-Nice feature. I like that.

0:14:050:14:08

-Nice, deep windows.

-Yeah.

0:14:080:14:10

Next door to the master bedroom is a lovely light double room

0:14:100:14:15

and leading off the landing, the smallest bedroom currently serves as a study

0:14:150:14:19

with a bright, modern family bathroom next door.

0:14:190:14:22

And Mark should think highly of the following bedroom.

0:14:220:14:25

This room is a nice surprise to the back. This was the hayloft.

0:14:250:14:28

Very high ceilings and this lovely hayloft door with steps down into the garden.

0:14:280:14:33

So four bedrooms. All in really good nick. You could move in tomorrow

0:14:330:14:38

and not have to do anything. How does this feel?

0:14:380:14:40

There's a lot more space than I thought there'd be. More roomy.

0:14:400:14:43

It's a lot bigger than I imagined.

0:14:430:14:45

The historic charm and space this house offers seems to have hit the spot.

0:14:450:14:49

But as we know from Dawn, it's all about the land outside.

0:14:490:14:54

The adjacent stone outbuilding doesn't come with the property.

0:14:540:14:58

But it's used for lambing by the neighbouring farmer so it'll no doubt keep the girls amused!

0:14:580:15:03

But can we deliver on the land?

0:15:030:15:05

Tell me again what you want to do in your land?

0:15:060:15:09

With the girls, what are you going to be doing?

0:15:090:15:12

-For me, ponies, horses, quad bikes.

-Quad bikes...

0:15:120:15:16

-Some chickens.

-Chickens.

-A goat was mentioned.

-Goat.

0:15:160:15:19

Basically, you've got the formal gardens and you've got this L-shaped paddock

0:15:190:15:25

that wraps all the way round, all the way down to the road.

0:15:250:15:30

-OK.

-OK.

0:15:300:15:32

So in total, the plot is two acres.

0:15:320:15:34

-What do you think?

-I think we'd have to put stables possibly down there.

0:15:340:15:39

There are hard footings with water and electricity.

0:15:390:15:42

-There's potential...

-There's a base there. It's whether the land is enough for a horse and a pony.

0:15:420:15:48

-It's incredible. Look at the views.

-It's beautiful.

-The views.

0:15:480:15:52

The hills, and unspoilt countryside all around you.

0:15:520:15:56

How much do you think it's on the market for?

0:15:560:15:58

Probably 430.

0:15:580:16:02

-430,000.

-I'll go 440, then. Just to be different.

0:16:020:16:08

-440?

-440.

-Split the difference and you'd be spot on.

0:16:080:16:12

It's on at 435.

0:16:120:16:13

Oh!

0:16:130:16:15

-So it's under your budget.

-Yeah.

-There's 15 grand to play with.

-Build the stables.

0:16:150:16:20

So I think this is an absolutely corking place.

0:16:200:16:23

-Yeah.

-It does work.

0:16:230:16:25

Have a wander round.

0:16:250:16:27

-OK.

-Have a look inside, go round the grounds,

0:16:270:16:30

see of it'll work with you and the girls.

0:16:300:16:32

-I'll meet you at the porch and we'll push on.

-OK. Thank you.

-Excellent.

0:16:320:16:36

Under budget at £435,000,

0:16:390:16:42

this spacious character cottage would require no work

0:16:420:16:45

and answers many of the demands on their wish list.

0:16:450:16:48

-I really like this kitchen.

-It's beautiful.

0:17:100:17:13

-I'm just struggling with the head height.

-Yeah. It's a shame.

0:17:130:17:16

Every time I come I'll bang my head, when I go out I'll bang my head, and walking across, I'll bang my head!

0:17:160:17:22

I was really surprised at how modern it was. It's a lot bigger than it appears from the outside.

0:17:220:17:29

I think Dawn loves the house. I can see her being happy while I'm away.

0:17:290:17:34

The kids being happy.

0:17:340:17:36

I think Dawn's only concern is the outside space.

0:17:360:17:40

This will be a hard act to follow.

0:17:400:17:42

-Are you ready?

-Yes.

-Yes.

0:17:420:17:44

-I won't ask your thoughts on this. I'll drag you onwards.

-Let's go.

0:17:440:17:49

The Snowdonia National Park offers up swathes of glorious mountainous terrain

0:17:570:18:02

which has shaped its villages and towns.

0:18:020:18:05

Acting as gateway to this area, Betws-y-Coed shed its image as a lead-mining town,

0:18:050:18:10

flourishing from the early 1900s as a fashionable Victorian resort,

0:18:100:18:15

inspiring the likes of landscape painters such as J.M.W.Turner.

0:18:150:18:19

Although it's now a busy tourist destination for climbers and day trippers,

0:18:190:18:24

its traditional architecture remains intact

0:18:240:18:26

although the boom years did impact heavily on its oldest building,

0:18:260:18:31

St Michael's church.

0:18:310:18:32

Earlier in the week, Mark and Dawn met the chairman of the St Michael's Trust, Jim Bowton,

0:18:320:18:37

to find out more about this humble gem.

0:18:370:18:40

Welcome to Betws-y-Coed and St Michael's church in particular.

0:18:400:18:45

Betws-y-Coed means "the bead-house in the wood".

0:18:450:18:49

That's the literal translation, a prayer house,

0:18:490:18:52

and St Michael's is, in effect, that chapel.

0:18:520:18:55

This building is 14th century.

0:18:550:18:58

It's built on the site of a much earlier chapel.

0:18:580:19:01

The interior is very plain and simple.

0:19:010:19:04

But there is the stone effigy of Gruffydd ap Dafydd Goch,

0:19:040:19:08

who is related to the last native Prince of Wales, Llewellyn.

0:19:080:19:12

It has a special place very much in our hearts.

0:19:120:19:15

After 140 years of neglect,

0:19:150:19:17

the Friends Committee has raised £130,000 to restore it to its former glory.

0:19:170:19:23

Following in the footsteps of the Victorians, many of today's visitors, including Mark and Dawn,

0:19:230:19:28

come with a lust for outdoor adventure.

0:19:280:19:31

So, with that in mind, we've arranged for them to indulge in a spot of canoeing near Bala

0:19:310:19:37

under the watchful eye of instructor Andy Butler,

0:19:370:19:40

who's going to teach them the basics.

0:19:400:19:43

We often call these divorce boats.

0:19:430:19:45

When married couples get in, they're always blaming each other

0:19:450:19:48

and end up getting divorced!

0:19:480:19:50

Let's see if teamwork reigns, or if someone's rocking the boat!

0:19:500:19:54

-You're not even paddling!

-Steering's far more important!

0:20:010:20:04

Over 30,000 people take to these waters every year to enjoy the rapids,

0:20:060:20:11

which fortunately are graded, ranging from a class one ripple

0:20:110:20:15

to a class six, known as danger to life and limb!

0:20:150:20:18

But it's not as easy as it looks to navigate.

0:20:180:20:21

That wasn't meant to happen!

0:20:250:20:27

With over five miles of river to explore here,

0:20:270:20:30

it's a huge outdoor playground

0:20:300:20:33

that's sure to keep the family busy.

0:20:330:20:35

We continue our property search with land at the top of the agenda,

0:20:380:20:42

crossing over the Conwy border to the village of Groes.

0:20:420:20:45

Although there are no amenities, a ten-minute drive would bring them to Llansannan,

0:20:450:20:50

home to this striking statue by a student of Rodin, William Goscombe John,

0:20:500:20:54

and the church of St Sannan.

0:20:540:20:56

Set in rural seclusion outside of Llansannan, our second property certainly makes a statement.

0:20:560:21:03

I'm excited about how you'll react to this one.

0:21:030:21:05

-Wow!

-Hah!

-It is a whole chunk of property.

-Yes!

0:21:050:21:10

We can't afford this!

0:21:100:21:13

We're thinking, "OK, pull out all the stops. Let's go big."

0:21:130:21:16

It's definitely big!

0:21:160:21:18

What's lovely about this property is this property has land.

0:21:180:21:23

-Brilliant.

-Excellent.

-I want to show you the land first.

0:21:230:21:27

-Let's go.

-'And they'd better brace themselves for a big surprise!'

0:21:270:21:31

-Climbing boots on.

-Yeah!

0:21:310:21:33

-All-righty!

-I'm thinking we need a lawnmower, a sit-on.

0:21:330:21:36

You'll need more than a sit-on lawnmower! You'd need a tractor!

0:21:360:21:40

I'm getting my cheque book.

0:21:400:21:42

Because your land is this field, that field, and the field beyond.

0:21:420:21:49

-Nine and a half acres!

-You're kidding!

0:21:500:21:53

Ker-ching!

0:21:530:21:55

It's brilliant for the bikes, though. Quad bikes on here!

0:21:550:21:59

-Look at the view!

-Yeah.

-View's fantastic.

0:21:590:22:01

The girls could just run and run and run and ride and ride and ride!

0:22:010:22:05

-Brilliant.

-It's not listed, but it's a historic property.

0:22:050:22:10

I'll warn you now, you'll probably want to do some work in there.

0:22:100:22:13

-It's not as pretty as the first house.

-OK.

0:22:130:22:16

-Just preparing you! Let's have a look.

-OK.

0:22:160:22:19

'Now that we've sweetened them up with a huge amount of land on offer,

0:22:190:22:24

'let's see if they can get creative with the living spaces inside these fabulous stone walls.'

0:22:240:22:29

This is the second sitting room.

0:22:290:22:32

Not the only sitting room. Thing is, a lady's lived here for 11 years

0:22:320:22:38

and it's beautifully maintained. We need to think about the size of the rooms

0:22:380:22:43

-and whether they'd work for you and the girls.

-OK.

0:22:430:22:46

I think you'd have to remodel it a bit to make it work for you.

0:22:460:22:49

I'll show you.

0:22:490:22:51

-Your girls like pink, cos they'll love this kitchen!

-Wow.

-That's pink!

0:22:530:22:59

It's pink, isn't it? Pink draining board.

0:22:590:23:02

-Pink everything!

-Pink salt and pepper mill.

-Pink fish!

0:23:020:23:06

Pink fish! You knew!

0:23:060:23:09

But this is where the remodelling comes in. This was great for the two of them,

0:23:090:23:14

but not for you and the girls.

0:23:140:23:16

But...

0:23:160:23:18

you've got this room which is inadequate to your needs,

0:23:180:23:21

and then next door...

0:23:210:23:23

..you've got this room, which is a formal dining room.

0:23:250:23:28

So I was thinking you have to work within the walls of this property.

0:23:280:23:32

-There are some very, very thick walls.

-OK.

0:23:320:23:35

You take out all that space up to the very thick outside wall, where that arch is.

0:23:350:23:40

And make it one big kitchen/diner.

0:23:400:23:42

-It would be a nice big kitchen.

-That would work for us.

0:23:420:23:45

What do you think? That's quite a bit of remodelling.

0:23:450:23:48

-Structural changes. It's not listed.

-It would depend on the price.

0:23:480:23:52

Right. There's the biggest room at the end here.

0:23:520:23:55

You see, this is a big room.

0:23:580:24:00

-Wow.

-High beams.

0:24:000:24:02

-Fire's gorgeous. Lovely.

-A giant fire.

0:24:020:24:06

It's a beautiful room.

0:24:060:24:07

This would be your main sitting room. What do you think?

0:24:070:24:10

It's really nice. Sound.

0:24:100:24:13

-A sound property.

-Yeah.

0:24:130:24:15

Let's have a peek upstairs.

0:24:150:24:17

'It's great that they're so positive about seeing past the decor and layout of downstairs.

0:24:180:24:23

'Upstairs, there are four bedrooms.'

0:24:230:24:27

The bedrooms are pretty big.

0:24:270:24:30

This is the master. Mind the beam. This beam would catch anybody.

0:24:300:24:34

This is the master because it's got an en-suite.

0:24:360:24:39

-Nice one.

-But I was thinking, you said two of the girls wanted to share a room.

0:24:390:24:45

-They'd quite like to.

-With their own bathroom.

0:24:450:24:48

-What do you think?

-I really like this room.

-It's a good space.

-Unusual.

0:24:480:24:52

That doesn't bother me at all. That's a feature, part of the house.

0:24:520:24:56

And I thought this room would be OK for you guys.

0:24:560:24:59

It doesn't have an en-suite.

0:24:590:25:02

It's big enough, though.

0:25:020:25:04

If the kids have got an en-suite down that end, it doesn't bother me.

0:25:040:25:08

-As long as there's two bathrooms.

-Dawn, you're not convinced!

0:25:080:25:11

I'm thinking of wardrobe space.

0:25:110:25:13

-Right.

-You'll have to leave your clothes in London!

0:25:130:25:16

There is a little bit of an issue about storage.

0:25:160:25:20

You have these two big rooms

0:25:200:25:22

and two quite small rooms.

0:25:220:25:24

-Yeah.

-And the family bathroom.

0:25:240:25:27

The third bedroom is a light single, perfect for their other daughter,

0:25:270:25:31

with the fourth currently set up as a study.

0:25:310:25:34

There's also a spacious family bathroom.

0:25:340:25:37

With the interior of the house covered,

0:25:380:25:41

let's survey the fantastic setting of this farmhouse

0:25:410:25:44

and contemplate the price.

0:25:440:25:45

From here, you get a better view of the house. We saw a bit from the other side.

0:25:470:25:51

But you couldn't see the house in the dip. It's really wrapped around on all sides.

0:25:510:25:58

-It's good, that.

-How much is it on the market for?

-I think top end of our budget. I think 450.

0:25:580:26:04

I think it's more, to be honest.

0:26:040:26:08

Definitely more than 450. I'd like to say under, but...

0:26:080:26:11

-Around 450?

-Yeah. Why not?

0:26:110:26:14

It's actually on the market for... Get this - £400,000.

0:26:140:26:18

Ooh!

0:26:180:26:20

You would have 50 grand to play with if you moved here,

0:26:200:26:24

-as well as nine whole acres of lovely land!

-Gobsmacked.

0:26:240:26:28

Oh, my word! Brilliant!

0:26:280:26:30

Have a wander round. Inside is where you need to scratch your head most.

0:26:300:26:34

Explore, but it'll take ages to explore nine acres! So I might be ruthless and get you back.

0:26:340:26:40

-I'll whistle!

-OK!

0:26:400:26:42

Under budget at £400,000,

0:26:440:26:46

there's a generous £50,000 pot left over for work on the house,

0:26:460:26:51

which has real potential.

0:26:510:26:53

Schools are in nearby Denbigh for the girls,

0:27:040:27:07

and Rhyl's mainline station for Mark's commute to London.

0:27:070:27:10

When we first came into the house, there's a fair bit of work needed to bring it to the way we'd like it.

0:27:110:27:19

But that doesn't put me off.

0:27:190:27:21

I think this house and land would really work for Mark.

0:27:210:27:24

He says he doesn't need much, but his face lit up when he saw all the acres!

0:27:240:27:30

He actually does want quite a lot of land.

0:27:300:27:32

He wants to be the farmer!

0:27:320:27:34

Might have to get some sheep.

0:27:350:27:37

To keep the grass down!

0:27:370:27:39

Like Animal Farm.

0:27:400:27:42

Quite an impressive drive you have here.

0:27:420:27:45

-Yes.

-On your North Wales estate!

0:27:450:27:47

-Yes.

-With your four paddocks!

0:27:470:27:49

Are you happy?

0:27:490:27:51

-Very.

-Very, yeah.

-Glad we came?

-Yeah, definitely.

0:27:510:27:54

-Excellent.

-Beautiful.

-It's been a big day,

0:27:540:27:57

-so let's have a little quiet time.

-OK.

0:27:570:28:00

As the sun sets over the Welsh countryside,

0:28:030:28:06

it marks the end of our property search.

0:28:060:28:08

Armed with a £450,000 budget,

0:28:170:28:19

Mark and Dawn want to swap this for a huge slice of this!

0:28:190:28:24

So far, we've shown them two properties,

0:28:240:28:27

one of which they really warmed to with the space they wanted for their daughters

0:28:270:28:31

and their horses.

0:28:310:28:33

Let's hope they don't bolt when they see our mystery house!

0:28:330:28:37

Amazing views!

0:28:370:28:38

And I seek out tea and sympathy with these pioneering ladies!

0:28:380:28:41

-It's so easy!

-Hooray!

0:28:410:28:43

Yesterday went really well. Mark was so enamoured of the house with all the land.

0:28:470:28:51

He talked about "his" nine acres, which is a good sign.

0:28:510:28:54

So I could rest on my laurels.

0:28:540:28:56

But look at all this. When you've got this much North Welsh beauty to explore,

0:28:560:29:01

you can't rest on your laurels. You've got to push further.

0:29:010:29:04

So, for the mystery house, we're going to add extra value - equestrian opportunities.

0:29:040:29:10

Our mystery property takes us to Moelfre,

0:29:130:29:15

a hillside retreat with a scattering of rural properties.

0:29:150:29:19

Four miles away, the coastal town of Abergele has that useful primary school

0:29:190:29:24

and serves up all the amenities including a train station,

0:29:240:29:27

with the fairytale Gwrych Castle overlooking the town.

0:29:270:29:31

Our mystery house is all about housing the horses and complete rural seclusion,

0:29:310:29:37

with glorious views down the Elwy Valley,

0:29:370:29:39

which I hope will take their breath away.

0:29:390:29:42

Now this is what I call North Wales!

0:29:420:29:45

-Wow!

-Wo-hoh!

0:29:450:29:47

We've come a bit further north and a bit further west.

0:29:470:29:50

We're a bit further away from Sale.

0:29:500:29:52

But that's a good thing. This is why this is the mystery house

0:29:520:29:56

because you're still quite tied to your job, to your job in London.

0:29:560:30:01

I'm wanting you to get bewitched by the view, by the house,

0:30:010:30:05

and by the...

0:30:050:30:07

..horses. The secret ingredient of the mystery house is horses.

0:30:080:30:12

-We'll look at those later. What about the house?

-Amazing views. Amazing house.

-Breathtaking.

0:30:120:30:18

What's nice is this house really takes advantage of the views.

0:30:180:30:22

-Yes.

-Let's look inside.

0:30:220:30:23

'You can't ask for a better first reaction than that.

0:30:230:30:26

'I hope the high spirits continue inside.'

0:30:260:30:28

Ta-da! Straight into a nice big entrance porch.

0:30:280:30:33

Slate floors.

0:30:330:30:34

And then into the sitting room.

0:30:340:30:38

-What do you think?

-It's really big. Brill.

-Nice high ceilings!

0:30:380:30:42

Nice high ceilings. No banging your head at all.

0:30:420:30:45

In many ways, it's similar looking to the last property we saw.

0:30:450:30:49

It's got a big fireplace with a beam above and a log burner.

0:30:490:30:55

-And the beams above. But everything is lighter and bigger.

-Yeah.

0:30:550:30:59

The thing about this house, the layout is very simple.

0:30:590:31:02

Three big rooms on this floor and this magnificent conservatory.

0:31:020:31:07

I think this is a magic space because you're indoors, but you've got views all around you.

0:31:080:31:14

Yeah.

0:31:140:31:16

Fantastic space, this.

0:31:160:31:17

It's beautiful. Gosh!

0:31:170:31:20

-Can you imagine the girls in here, doing their homework?

-Oh, yes.

0:31:200:31:24

'And the living areas just keep on going.'

0:31:240:31:28

Next to that big sitting room, a smaller room. Quite flexible what you do with them.

0:31:290:31:34

This would be nice for the girls, wouldn't it?

0:31:340:31:37

So I feel a bit of a dip of enthusiasm. Is that the case?

0:31:370:31:41

I don't know. As soon as we came out of there into this room, I just sort of dipped.

0:31:410:31:46

It's like haunted. It's an enthusiasm dump!

0:31:460:31:51

-Sucking all the energy out of you. Quick, let's go to the kitchen.

-Run!

0:31:510:31:55

Wonder what you'll think in here?

0:31:570:31:59

-It's a big size.

-It's nice and big.

0:31:590:32:02

-Ceilings are good.

-It is a continuation of the 1980s extension,

0:32:020:32:07

so how's your enthusiasm? Air levels?

0:32:070:32:10

-Coming back up?

-Yes, they are a little bit, yeah.

0:32:100:32:13

-I'm inspired again now.

-Little dip?

-Yeah.

0:32:130:32:16

-Back up.

-The thing about this property is it has good bones

0:32:160:32:20

simply by virtue of where it's located.

0:32:200:32:23

Let's look upstairs.

0:32:230:32:25

'We had a wobbly moment there,

0:32:250:32:27

'but the downstairs of our mystery property is a light, blank canvas

0:32:270:32:31

'with big living spaces that easily flow into one another.

0:32:310:32:35

'Upstairs, the four bedrooms are a generous size, too.'

0:32:350:32:39

Nice and bright. This is the girls' room. Two girls in here.

0:32:390:32:43

-It's bigger than I expected.

-Yeah.

-It's really big.

0:32:430:32:46

It's a big, bright upstairs room.

0:32:460:32:48

'Next up, we'll check out where they would sleep.'

0:32:480:32:51

-This is the master bedroom.

-It's a good-sized room.

0:32:510:32:54

-Yes. Nice to have an en-suite.

-An en-suite, yes.

0:32:540:32:58

-It's a bit '80s.

-But look at the views!

-It's still '80s now.

0:32:580:33:02

-Look at the views!

-Can't fault the views. By far the best views.

0:33:020:33:06

But on a rainy day in December, when I'm sat inside, I'd be struggling.

0:33:060:33:10

Let's go outside and cheer you up!

0:33:100:33:12

Their third daughter can take her pick from the other two bedrooms,

0:33:150:33:19

one a bright single or another large enough to be a double.

0:33:190:33:22

No doubt the girls will be delighted by the family bathroom, fit for a pink princess!

0:33:220:33:28

Mark and Dawn are finding it hard to see past the decor and style of the inside,

0:33:280:33:33

although the room sizes and ceiling heights really measure up.

0:33:330:33:36

But they were euphoric about the location.

0:33:370:33:40

Outside, they should be delighted by the six acres with its very own manege.

0:33:400:33:44

Plus four stables and a tack room.

0:33:450:33:48

So lots of space for humans and horses alike.

0:33:480:33:51

But at what cost?

0:33:510:33:53

A big equestrian property

0:33:530:33:55

with space for lots of horses.

0:33:550:33:57

Amazing views. What do you think the market price is?

0:33:570:34:00

I think about 465,000.

0:34:000:34:03

-Dawn?

-Do you? Probably because of the work to be done inside,

0:34:040:34:09

I think less. 450, maybe?

0:34:090:34:12

-450.

-Maybe.

0:34:120:34:13

I'm afraid in this instance, Mark was right.

0:34:130:34:16

It's considerably over your budget. It's on at 475.

0:34:160:34:20

-I think if the house was more...

-Characterful.

0:34:200:34:23

Yes, more character towards our tastes, or we could make it the way we liked,

0:34:230:34:27

I would definitely put a cheeky offer in.

0:34:270:34:29

-Yeah.

-See how it went.

-The view is fantastic.

0:34:290:34:32

Do have a wander around. There's more to look at.

0:34:320:34:35

Wander round, peek your head in the house again.

0:34:350:34:37

-I'll see you at the front.

-OK. Thanks.

0:34:370:34:40

Our mystery property is £25,000 over budget at £475,000.

0:34:440:34:49

But it's a stark reminder that finding a spacious family home

0:34:490:34:53

with enough land and outbuildings for horses is a challenge.

0:34:530:34:57

Something might have to give.

0:34:570:34:59

We've had a reality check in the last couple of days.

0:35:180:35:21

Yeah. I really thought that it would be the land and outside that would be more important than the house.

0:35:210:35:28

But coming round here,

0:35:280:35:30

I've realised I actually do want the nice house as well as the land.

0:35:300:35:36

-Yeah. We need to find a good balance between the two.

-Yeah.

0:35:360:35:39

It's opened my eyes to the way we're looking at things.

0:35:390:35:42

When I walked down the drive, I was blown away.

0:35:420:35:45

The mystery house, absolutely stunning.

0:35:450:35:48

So pretty and the views are amazing.

0:35:480:35:51

I had a look over the fence and saw the menage and stables

0:35:510:35:54

and thought, "Yes, this is the one!"

0:35:540:35:57

The lounge I loved. I liked the beams and the fireplace was gorgeous.

0:35:570:36:02

But then everything else from that point on unfortunately lacked character.

0:36:020:36:07

-All done?

-Yep.

-All looked?

-Yes.

0:36:070:36:10

-Right, let's go and discuss these properties.

-OK.

0:36:100:36:14

North Wales doesn't do things by halves.

0:36:230:36:26

It lays claim not only to this country's largest national park, Snowdonia,

0:36:260:36:31

but it was here that the largest voluntary organisation for women was born.

0:36:310:36:36

History was made when in 1915 in Llanfairpwll,

0:36:360:36:40

the first UK women's institute was founded.

0:36:400:36:42

Formed to encourage women to get involved in food production during World War I,

0:36:420:36:48

today it has over 200,000 members.

0:36:480:36:51

I'm meeting Audrey Jones, chair of the Anglesey Federation,

0:36:510:36:55

to find out about its history and how it's still relevant today.

0:36:550:37:00

-Hello, ladies.

-ALL: Hello!

0:37:000:37:02

I see you've made some tea!

0:37:020:37:04

Yes, we've got to have tea and scones.

0:37:040:37:06

I thought this was the image you wanted to get away from!

0:37:060:37:09

-It is, but we've got to eat!

-Shouldn't you be drinking cocktails?

0:37:090:37:13

We've got some Buck's Fizz for the evening.

0:37:130:37:16

Buck's Fizz! You've got celebrations coming up. In 2015, you'll be 100 years old.

0:37:160:37:21

Everybody must remember that it is this branch's birthday - Llanfairpwll.

0:37:210:37:26

-That's what's important.

-I hope you'll be celebrating with cake and scones.

-We've got to have scones.

0:37:260:37:33

But the tea and cake are a foil for the huge amount of national campaigning

0:37:330:37:38

the WI does.

0:37:380:37:40

The 500 Welsh foundations also get involved on a local level,

0:37:400:37:43

teaching cooking skills to young parents,

0:37:430:37:46

helping schools' gardening projects,

0:37:460:37:48

and teaching crafts,

0:37:480:37:50

one of the staple skills of which being knitting.

0:37:500:37:53

I'm performing under pressure cos you're all watching!

0:37:530:37:56

It's much easier with big needles. You're not holding the needle.

0:37:560:38:00

Put the needle into that stitch, the same way.

0:38:000:38:03

-Perfect!

-It's so easy!

-Hooray!

0:38:030:38:06

I'm being applauded by the founding women's institute!

0:38:060:38:09

Historically, the zeal for being part of the original federation

0:38:090:38:14

has filtered down through generations,

0:38:140:38:17

as this photo of Gweno Williams' grandmother, taken in the 1920s, shows.

0:38:170:38:21

Which one's your grandmother?

0:38:210:38:23

She's that one with the slight moustache!

0:38:230:38:26

-Showing her ankles as well.

-She is.

-Racy!

0:38:270:38:30

She had four daughters, so she was quite up to date!

0:38:300:38:33

So it's had a big influence in lobbying for women's rights.

0:38:330:38:36

Are you hopeful about the way it's going? Are you pleased with how the WI is shaping up?

0:38:360:38:41

I think so. Not perhaps our WI because we're most of us retired now.

0:38:410:38:47

But we have an evening WI, which is flourishing.

0:38:470:38:50

Presumably by the time it's 100 years old, they'll have taken over from us.

0:38:500:38:55

-You're five years shy of your centenary.

-Yes.

0:38:550:38:58

-What would you hope to be able see in...

-I'd just hope to be able to see!

0:38:580:39:02

It's heartening to meet these passionate women

0:39:040:39:07

who have helped champion this national institution.

0:39:070:39:10

And with an average of 500 new members joining nationwide every month,

0:39:100:39:14

it looks like the WI is set to grow and grow.

0:39:140:39:18

I'm pretty certain I know which one of those houses

0:39:210:39:24

they don't like.

0:39:240:39:26

But I'm a bit hazy about which one Mark and Dawn like of the first two.

0:39:260:39:30

Let's find out.

0:39:300:39:32

I thought we'd take ourselves to the beach cos we haven't seen the sea.

0:39:330:39:37

-No.

-Half the joy of being in North Wales is you're close to the sea.

0:39:370:39:41

-Is it clearing your head?

-Yes.

0:39:410:39:43

The first property we looked at was the Blue Stone cottage.

0:39:430:39:47

What about that in retrospect?

0:39:470:39:49

-I still like it a lot.

-I really like it.

0:39:490:39:51

But it's just not practical for Mark with the ceiling height in the kitchen.

0:39:510:39:56

Which is a shame. I couldn't fault it. It was beautiful.

0:39:560:40:00

It would have been nice to get more acreage, but if you can rent it, that's fine.

0:40:000:40:04

It would be interesting to find out how much it would cost to drop the floor.

0:40:040:40:09

If it was 15 grand, you'd still be in budget. You wouldn't have to spend anything else.

0:40:090:40:14

-No, it's beautiful.

-Nothing you'd need to do.

0:40:140:40:16

The land question was quite a big one.

0:40:160:40:19

You say two acres wasn't enough. How important has it become

0:40:190:40:23

that you actually own all the land you want?

0:40:230:40:26

-I don't know.

-I think if you...

-You've got to own some land, I'd have thought.

0:40:260:40:31

The Blue Stone House, you had land at the side, and if you struck up a rapport with the farmer,

0:40:310:40:36

he would maybe sell you a couple of acres joining your land.

0:40:360:40:40

It's something else to look into.

0:40:400:40:43

The second property, the Long House, had lots and lots of land!

0:40:430:40:46

-The land was fantastic.

-What are your thoughts about that one?

0:40:460:40:50

I really like that one.

0:40:500:40:52

Although it needed work done to the kitchen to make it how we'd want it,

0:40:520:40:58

and you would do quite a lot of work cosmetically inside,

0:40:580:41:01

the outside worked perfectly for me.

0:41:010:41:03

It was nice that the land was all the way round the house.

0:41:030:41:07

It was nice and safe for the girls to play.

0:41:070:41:09

Dawn, what do you think about the inside?

0:41:090:41:12

I can see through all the decor and the carpets.

0:41:120:41:15

So it's whether... I think you'd need to come out a bit at the back

0:41:150:41:20

and make the upstairs two bedrooms a bit bigger.

0:41:200:41:23

Although they're small and they'd be OK now,

0:41:230:41:26

when the girls are older, they'd probably want more room.

0:41:260:41:29

-Certainly not putting me off.

-The mystery house?

0:41:290:41:32

Outside was great, absolutely. The land, the horses, the stables.

0:41:320:41:37

It was fantastic. But the house was really too modern.

0:41:370:41:42

Without being up-to-date modern.

0:41:420:41:44

It was like '80s, '90s. It's a shame cos the view was absolutely amazing.

0:41:440:41:50

-Yeah.

-Out of all those properties, is there any that stand out?

0:41:500:41:54

That you'd go back and visit?

0:41:540:41:56

-I think the first two.

-Yeah, definitely.

0:41:560:41:58

-We could enquire on prices for the floor and the extension on number two.

-Yeah.

0:41:580:42:04

And see about all the bits you'd want to do.

0:42:040:42:07

-They both would need stables.

-Two. That's a good score.

0:42:070:42:11

I suppose the big question then is, which of those two would the girls like best?

0:42:110:42:16

The first one, I think. Pretty.

0:42:160:42:18

-Very pretty.

-I would have said the second one.

0:42:180:42:21

Well, I can't wait to hear back from you which one the girls test.

0:42:220:42:27

I think we should take them to both.

0:42:270:42:30

-Yeah.

-Definitely.

0:42:300:42:31

Let them decide!

0:42:310:42:34

I know it's a massive move for you,

0:42:340:42:36

and it's a real quantum leap from Manchester out to the country with the girls.

0:42:360:42:40

Fingers crossed that one of those two work out.

0:42:400:42:43

-If not, some other one.

-Yep.

0:42:430:42:45

-Thanks for being such good sports.

-Thanks very much. It was fun.

0:42:450:42:49

Send us pictures from your first gymkhana!

0:42:490:42:52

I think the whole house-hunting business would have gone much quicker

0:42:570:43:00

if Alice, Lucy and Katie had been helping!

0:43:000:43:03

It would have been, "Yes, no, no." And we could have gone home for tea!

0:43:030:43:07

If you've enjoyed today's show, you and your children,

0:43:070:43:10

make sure to tune in next time

0:43:100:43:11

for more Escape to the Country.

0:43:110:43:13

If you'd like to escape to the country

0:43:150:43:17

in Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland or England,

0:43:170:43:20

and need our help, please apply online:

0:43:200:43:23

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:43:490:43:52

Alistair Appleton is in North Wales with a couple searching for a rustic family life with ponies, chickens and goats all on the wish list. They are hoping that a budget of £450,000 will buy their children a dream country lifestyle.