Property show. Alistair Appleton house hunts in Cumbria with an active young couple looking to spend up to £300,000.
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Legend has it these stones are all that remains of a witches' coven.
They also form the second-largest stone circle in Britain.
Find out where I am in just a moment.
In today's show, I'll be helping a couple desperate for the outdoors life
find their first home together in the country.
However, they're keeping their cards close to their chest.
I don't what know what to say.
You're quite hard to read. You have this poker face!
But maybe our mystery house will force them to open up a bit.
It's quite romantic.
Welcome to Cumbria, a county filled with mountains, poets,
and this stone circle, known as Long Meg.
Meg, which is this one, was claimed to be a witch
and she and her many daughters were turned into rocks.
This stone circle, it's said, is protected by magic.
It's impossible to go around it
and count the same number of stones twice.
So while I test that theory, you take a look at the rest of the county.
One, two, three, four, five...
As the most north-westerly of England's counties,
Cumbria's charms are countless,
many of them lying within the Lake District National Park.
Among the 16 lakes scattered across the county's dramatic and mountainous terrain
is Windermere, which, at ten and a half miles long and a mile wide,
claims the title of England's largest natural lake.
Its scenic splendour is a draw for over 8 million visitors a year,
many who come to enjoy the raft of outdoor pursuits this area lends itself to.
The outlying fells and villages beyond the National Park
are also a compelling option for many people seeking a home here.
Our house-buyers are desperate to leave their town life behind
and move into the glories of the countryside,
so let's find out why they want to make their escape to Cumbria.
Lesley, a retail manager, and Carl, a school teacher,
have lived together in their three-bedroom home
in the suburbs of northern Blackpool for two years.
But since becoming a couple, they both want to head out of town
and pursue a more active lifestyle in the Cumbrian countryside.
We both want to move to the country. I think we like the outdoor lifestyle
and the accessibility to the countryside, basically.
This'll be our first property that we'll have bought together.
Becoming a fully fledged gardener
is part of Lesley's outdoor ambition.
As you can see, this is my little vegetable patch and it is very small.
At the moment, all we can really grow are strawberries and raspberries,
and when we move to the country, what we'd really like to do
is grow a greater variety of fruit and vegetables.
Whilst striving to fulfil their rural dream, they also realise
that initially they'll have to commute back to Blackpool for work.
Because of this,
they want to settle in the Kendal area with easy access to the M6,
and besides being insistent that their next home should be detached,
there are other priorities to factor in.
For me, I'd like the new house to be pretty much
everything that this place isn't, to be honest.
The main thing for me is location.
It would be wonderful to see some scenery, wildlife et cetera.
The property itself,
I don't mind whether it's an older property
or whether it's a newer build,
but I would prefer it to have some character features.
So I would like a nice, unusual fireplace
or it to have character inside. Ideally, I'd love a big kitchen.
Two bedrooms would be fine.
Ideally, we need somewhere that could be a studio,
so that might be some outbuildings that come along with the property.
Lesley sold her property two years ago,
and with Carl's on the market for £145,000,
they've agreed their top limit.
The maximum budget we're looking to spend
would be around the £300,000 mark.
I know we always say that it's going to be challenge to find
what our homebuyers want, but in Carl and Lesley's case,
there are some specific factors that could trip us up.
Firstly, their budget's not the biggest.
Secondly, everybody wants to move to this beautiful corner of the countryside,
and thirdly, local occupancy restrictions really do limit
the number of properties that "incomers" like Carl and Lesley can buy.
The good news is, here on Escape, we love a challenge.
At their request, we'll be focusing Carl and Lesley's property search
in the Kendal area, although their budget may mean
we have to push the boundaries to get them what they want.
We've selected three handsome Cumbrian homes to tempt them with,
but I won't be revealing the price of each until they've had a guess.
The last property is our mystery house
which we hope will push them beyond their comfort zone.
Welcome to Cumbria.
Has it always been your destination of choice? Why here?
We had a conversation a while back and we decided
we only ever wanted to move one more time, so we actually made a list.
We did it separately to make sure it wasn't one person's choice
over the other, of places where we really want to live,
and top of our lists was the Lake District.
-So it made sense, basically.
It sounds like you have perfect unison
when it comes to where you want to live.
What about the kind of property? Do you have the same taste there?
I think Carl is definitely more to do with the location of the property.
These views are amazing and that's what we're moving here for.
I'm probably more to do with the interior of the house,
whereas Carl is more to do with the exterior.
-Your budget is 300.
We have found some lovely properties to show you, so let's start looking.
Happily, with their budget of £300,000,
Lesley and Carl have realistic expectations,
but ideally they are after a detached property that provides them
with a living room, preferably with a lovely period fireplace,
a large kitchen/diner, a minimum of two bedrooms,
space for Carl's studio
along with a good-sized garden for Lesley to grow vegetables
and countryside views are a must.
We're getting our property search under way with location
at the top of the agenda as we head to the village of Brigsteer.
With all the amenities of Kendal just three miles away,
this is a superbly rural spot with a well-regarded pub,
a small parish church and a scattering of properties
which enjoy views over the Lyth Valley,
and our first house is no exception.
So this is the spot I wanted to bring you to.
-And this is the property I want to show you.
A gorgeous setting, absolutely gorgeous.
Couldn't have asked for a nicer setting.
Really like it from the outside.
-Really intrigued to see what's inside.
How do you feel about that?
That's the first thing I noticed,
but obviously, in this location, something's got to give.
The dog will decide, I think.
Hopefully, the dog will give the heads-up to the large double garage
which has studio potential for Carl.
But it's the windows in the main house
that I think will hold his attention.
Come in to the sun room. What are your thoughts?
It's the view that I'm looking at. It captures the view perfectly.
It's very modern, which obviously, ideally, I wanted some period features,
but I do like the general feel and the presentation of the room.
OK, well, let's move on.
This was the original front door before they put it on the sun room,
but now it's become the back door.
This is the sitting room.
Size-wise, it's cosy.
I'm just wondering if it's a little bit too small. Ceilings are OK.
But then it could be positioning of furniture.
'Let's see if Lesley warms to the kitchen.'
Right, now. You've seen everything on the ground floor.
-What do you think?
-I think it's lovely.
Everything you could need in the kitchen. Quite modern.
I can't fault the kitchen at all.
You're quite hard to read.
You've got this poker face when you come into a room. So you like it?
-I take everything in first.
-It's hard, isn't it?
'We have a quiet but positive reaction to the downstairs,
'and upstairs the space has also been well configured
'to offer three bedrooms spread over two floors.
'There's a single room with a small but sleek
'refitted modern bathroom, and next door is a possible master.'
-This is one of the two bedrooms on this floor.
-Beautiful view. Imagine waking up to that.
-Is this the main bedroom?
They use this as their master bedroom, yeah.
-But all the bedrooms are pretty much the same size.
-Size is fine for me.
'We'll head upstairs again and see
'if they have any creative thoughts for the third bedroom.'
Up in the eaves, they've added an extra room.
The reason they didn't use this as the master is
because you're a bit leany-over.
But it's got great views
and it might be a good work space or an office.
Be ideal for you if you wanted it.
Yeah, I've already got my mark on it, to be honest.
The view is stunning.
'This cottage has all the requisite rooms they were after
'and would be an extremely comfortable first home for them.
'Outside, the location gives them glorious countryside
'on their doorstep, but at the expense of the size of the garden.'
We have to compromise.
I was waiting for that word.
Because this is your back garden,
essentially just a little patio garden.
Space enough to have a barbecue and a big kennel,
-but not really room for a veggie patch.
What do you think this property is on the market for?
I think because it's a semi-detached property,
I'm thinking it might be around 270.
Knowing you're a man of your word
and you wouldn't go above our budget,
-I'm going to go, actually, 290.
Clearly you overestimate my word, because sadly, this is over budget.
This is actually on the market for 315,
but have a look around again, explore at your leisure,
and I'll meet you out in the front in the sun room
and then we can take it from there.
-OK. Thank you.
-In you go.
'The fact that this semi-detached cottage is over-budget
'at 315,000 only highlights the premium'
they have to pay for location.
However, it's also in excellent decorative order
and provides them with two living rooms, one with great views
and the other with a stone fireplace,
a beautiful kitchen/diner and three bedrooms,
one of which Carl has already earmarked as his studio.
The main drawback for them was the courtyard garden,
but it's offset by being in their ideal location with great access
to Kendal, the Lakes and the M6 for driving to work.
Internally, I think it offers us all the space and the rooms that we need.
We've got two potential living rooms.
I think the kitchen/dining room is absolutely amazing.
Location-wise, this is probably as good as it gets, so the question
is are we prepared to lose the back garden for being in this space?
Being able to enjoy the magnificent countryside of the Lakes
is key to their move,
although our second property also factors in their request for land,
as we edge over to the western side of the Lakes,
close to Broughton-In-Furness, just over 30 miles from Kendal.
In the past, this small market town prospered
from the trading of wool and cattle.
Many of its historic buildings surround its Georgian market square
with its central obelisk marking the Jubilee of King George III in 1810.
On the outskirts of the town, and with stunning views
of the Duddon Valley, we find our second property,
whose remote setting should appeal to Carl,
whilst giving Leslie the original character she wants.
We thought we'd bring you somewhere
that was just a little bit more remote.
Yes. This is just what I was after,
but I don't know about Lesley. Location-wise, this is perfection.
It's a great location and this is the property I want to show you.
-It again is attached.
What do you think of this architectural style?
This is probably more in your...
From what I can see, I like the outside of the building.
I like the fact that it's built in stone so that's very appealing.
Let's see if she's sold on the internal quirks
that inevitably crop up in such a historic conversion.
Come into the pigsty, aka the dining hall.
I like the features.
I like the fact that it's uneven walls
and not finished to a smooth finish.
This is billed as the dining room because it's next to the kitchen.
Why don't you have a peek in the kitchen?
Mind the step.
It's not huge.
No, I think if you look in the English dictionary, the term little
is a picture of this kitchen.
Maybe the features of the living room can work their charm.
This is the other room on the downstairs.
This would be the sitting room, lounge.
So, it's a bit more period-y.
It is much more period-y.
It's certainly cosy. It's got the features.
The features are lovely,
the little features they've done and the fireplace.
I'm just trying to think
if it's a workable space.
The views are a big theme upstairs, where there are
three bedrooms which like the last property are spread over two floors.
The first consists of two cosy, little singles
and a well-furnished family bathroom.
But we'll see if the master on the second floor measures up.
So the present owners have just put this on.
This is a top-floor extension
to give themselves this master bedroom.
This is fine for me.
It's got a nice feeling, with the light coming in through there.
And from there as well, behind the door.
Although they feel that the room sizes overall have come up short,
there is the possibility to extend downstairs
as the current owners have drawn up plans to build a glass sun room
out from the current porch.
Subject to planning permission, of course.
There are also other opportunities outside
that will exceed their expectations.
You may have fallen in love with the house in the last property but you didn't like the land.
-There was no land to like. Fair enough?
So this property has a bit more land.
All of this is yours, the mown, green grass bit,
but there is also the possibility for a small purchase price
of buying all the two acres right up to the top of the hill.
So without that big parcel of land,
how much do you think this property costs?
I might say it's slightly more than that.
270. Well, this property is on the market for 250
and that parcel of land could be yours for £10,000.
So that makes 260 altogether. Why don't you go have a look?
You can have a wander up there as well.
Take a look in, see what you think about the house again,
what you think you can do with the land and then we'll meet at the end.
-Off you trot.
Priced at just a shade under £250,000,
this stone cottage is well under their budget threshold
and offers them a wealth of period features,
including exposed beams and a stone fireplace,
and a sizeable garden which they could extend to two acres
if they spent £10,000 on the adjoining woodland,
all wrapped up in a spectacular setting
with far-reaching Lakeland views.
I love all the period features that we have in this property.
Obviously, the little window seat and the beams.
But for me, I think the living area downstairs
is just a little bit on the small side.
I can see why you brought us here.
Again, you do need to look at the potential
as opposed to what's actually here.
This does offer the potential to become THE house for ever.
As evening falls over the Cumbrian hills,
it marks the end of the first day of our property search.
I've already clocked that Carl has a strong, but probably slightly frustrated, creative streak,
but I realised yesterday that Lesley has it too. They're both dreamers.
They're both always looking forward to the next room, the next project, the next house, the next field.
We need to force their hand, and the mystery house certainly does that.
For our mystery property, we're staying on Cumbrian soil
with the Lakes 25 miles away,
and heading to Alston in the North Pennines.
Reputedly the highest market town in England, at over 1,000 feet
above sea level, it provides them with great walking terrain
for their new outdoors lifestyle.
Five miles from Alston, our mystery barn conversion challenges them
to think about turning their back on the commute to Blackpool,
and gives them a taste of how they could earn an income from running a holiday let.
So, I appreciate I've taken you on quite a hike
but luckily I've brought some Kendal mint cake to keep you fired up.
And it's this property here.
The whole stone-built, from the 1700s,
old miners' cottage in a beautiful location.
From the outside, I love the stone-built property.
And the location is absolutely mind-blowing.
'Now they've taken the bait, we'll explore the larger cottage,
'whose two bedrooms and living areas are set out over three storeys.'
Come on in.
Bearing in mind it is a sort of upside-down house -
to take advantage of all the views,
the bedrooms in both cottages are downstairs.
Yes, I completely agree, I would have all the bedrooms downstairs.
You need to appreciate the view,
so there's no point having your living room downstairs.
Tacked onto the side of the property is a laundry room used by holiday guests,
and downstairs there is a good-sized bathroom
along with a separate sauna.
But I think Lesley is going to be convinced about the upstairs kitchen
when she sees its main focal point.
That's what you call a fireplace!
This is what you call a period detail.
-It is a period detail.
-It is a period detail.
What do you think of the bones of the kitchen?
It's bigger than the last one.
It's really good. I could imagine, you know, modernising this,
and look at the view.
-Is that a positive poker face?
Let's have a look upstairs.
'We've notched up Brownie points from Lesley for the kitchen,
'so time to admire the views from the upstairs living room.'
Up the stairs to the view!
-Makes sense to have the sitting room upstairs.
I do really like it.
I can see if our furniture was in here, facing out to that view,
it would just be wonderful.
They do have one room upstairs, which is the master bedroom.
-It's quite romantic.
-It is, actually.
And then, in the morning, ta-da!
It's the view.
'Now we've seen the house they could call home,
'we'll go and explore the second part of our mystery proposition.
'These two holiday lets combined are currently bringing in
'an annual income of around £20,000 based on just a 20-week occupancy.
'The second cottage also has a double bedroom downstairs,
'and benefits from a Victorian fireplace and flagstone floors
'with a spacious modern bathroom opposite.
'But it's time for a game of compare and contrast
'as we take a look at the main living area upstairs.'
Coming through to the sitting room again with a beautiful view.
And with the kitchen all part of it.
That definitely passes!
'While they mull over which side of our mystery house
'to take as their own, we'll head outside,
'where they get more than they could have ever expected.'
Ah, it's the big moment.
These two cottages together come with a parcel of seven acres of land.
Oh, my God.
-I don't know what to say.
-OK, well, let's talk money.
I'm going to say 340.
I'd certainly say it's worth that, but I'm going to hope it's 320.
This is on the market for...
Well, why don't you have a wander around,
while you think about it,
-and when you've found some words, we can talk afterwards.
Bang on budget at £300,000,
our mystery house is the ultimate test for them to sever work ties to Blackpool.
But if they are brave enough to go the distance,
they will get two houses in one, providing a two-bedroom
and one-bedroom cottage, with upper-storey living rooms
from which to soak up those incredible views.
And along with the ready-made holiday let business,
there are over seven acres of land
to fulfil Lesley's dream of self-sufficiency.
I think this property is absolutely amazing.
It's got a fabulous location, it's detached,
the decisions are which part of the property do we potentially live in?
This property is too good to be true, to be honest.
There are no negatives.
The only problem as I see it is which side of the house
do we want to live on?
As the teachers would say, it's an A+, top of the class.
There's your little gold star.
Even by Escape standards, that was an epic mystery house.
Not only did they totally love it against all the odds,
it seems to have blown the other two houses out of the water.
Let's find out what they really think.
I'm quite excited to hear what you have to say,
because you've been playing poker face,
and you've had all sorts of crazy ideas left, right and centre.
So, it's time to gather the threads together.
So, spinning back the clock to the first house.
I still really like that property.
The downside of that is obviously
the back garden wasn't as big as we would have liked
for potentially growing vegetables et cetera.
But the actual property was beautiful.
Now, the second house was pretty remote.
What you think about that one in retrospect?
The location was good again.
I was relatively happy, I think it was the house that probably
didn't fulfil the ticked boxes.
I think the layout didn't work properly for me downstairs.
I didn't get a nice feeling downstairs.
Having said that, upstairs the bedrooms and the bathroom
were more than adequate for me.
Now, the mystery house certainly gave you space to be adventurous.
The house itself is just too good to be true, to be honest with you.
The river at the bottom, the view, you know, the B&B.
I think we're both in agreement for the mystery property.
Like you said, there's a lot of opportunity to decide in which
property we actually want to live.
It all boils down to the interview I've got next week, as it happens,
for a position just outside Carlisle.
-Oh, right! That's handy.
-So, I mean, again, fate has intervened here.
It's all falling into place.
Ker-ching! So it looks like the mystery house came up trumps.
Well, I really hope things work out.
You've been great to show around because you're so creative and thinking ahead.
It's a real joy to see that you found somewhere that you can keep on doing that.
-I hope it goes ahead. Good luck with your interview.
I am so pleased about the way this show panned out,
because we often start off saying, "This is a challenge
"and there's going to be a compromise
"and no-one will really be pleased,"
but, actually, the mystery house pleased everyone.
It pleased Carl, it pleased Lesley, it certainly pleased me,
because in one swoop, Carl's news about getting a job 25 miles away
made all the pieces fit together. Property perfection.
If you want to see more of that,
make sure you tune in next time for Escape To The Country.
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please apply online.
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