Cumbria Escape to the Country


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Cumbria

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.

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They also form the second-largest stone circle in Britain.

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Find out where I am in just a moment.

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In today's show, I'll be helping a couple desperate for the outdoors life

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find their first home together in the country.

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However, they're keeping their cards close to their chest.

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I don't what know what to say.

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You're quite hard to read. You have this poker face!

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But maybe our mystery house will force them to open up a bit.

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It's quite romantic.

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Welcome to Cumbria, a county filled with mountains, poets,

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and this stone circle, known as Long Meg.

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Meg, which is this one, was claimed to be a witch

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and she and her many daughters were turned into rocks.

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This stone circle, it's said, is protected by magic.

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It's impossible to go around it

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and count the same number of stones twice.

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So while I test that theory, you take a look at the rest of the county.

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One, two, three, four, five...

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As the most north-westerly of England's counties,

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Cumbria's charms are countless,

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many of them lying within the Lake District National Park.

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Among the 16 lakes scattered across the county's dramatic and mountainous terrain

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is Windermere, which, at ten and a half miles long and a mile wide,

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claims the title of England's largest natural lake.

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Its scenic splendour is a draw for over 8 million visitors a year,

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many who come to enjoy the raft of outdoor pursuits this area lends itself to.

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The outlying fells and villages beyond the National Park

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are also a compelling option for many people seeking a home here.

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Our house-buyers are desperate to leave their town life behind

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and move into the glories of the countryside,

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so let's find out why they want to make their escape to Cumbria.

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Lesley, a retail manager, and Carl, a school teacher,

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have lived together in their three-bedroom home

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in the suburbs of northern Blackpool for two years.

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But since becoming a couple, they both want to head out of town

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and pursue a more active lifestyle in the Cumbrian countryside.

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We both want to move to the country. I think we like the outdoor lifestyle

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and the accessibility to the countryside, basically.

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This'll be our first property that we'll have bought together.

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Becoming a fully fledged gardener

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is part of Lesley's outdoor ambition.

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As you can see, this is my little vegetable patch and it is very small.

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At the moment, all we can really grow are strawberries and raspberries,

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and when we move to the country, what we'd really like to do

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is grow a greater variety of fruit and vegetables.

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Whilst striving to fulfil their rural dream, they also realise

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that initially they'll have to commute back to Blackpool for work.

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Because of this,

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they want to settle in the Kendal area with easy access to the M6,

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and besides being insistent that their next home should be detached,

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there are other priorities to factor in.

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For me, I'd like the new house to be pretty much

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everything that this place isn't, to be honest.

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The main thing for me is location.

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It would be wonderful to see some scenery, wildlife et cetera.

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The property itself,

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I don't mind whether it's an older property

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or whether it's a newer build,

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but I would prefer it to have some character features.

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So I would like a nice, unusual fireplace

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or it to have character inside. Ideally, I'd love a big kitchen.

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Two bedrooms would be fine.

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Ideally, we need somewhere that could be a studio,

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so that might be some outbuildings that come along with the property.

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Lesley sold her property two years ago,

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and with Carl's on the market for £145,000,

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they've agreed their top limit.

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The maximum budget we're looking to spend

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would be around the £300,000 mark.

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I know we always say that it's going to be challenge to find

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what our homebuyers want, but in Carl and Lesley's case,

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there are some specific factors that could trip us up.

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Firstly, their budget's not the biggest.

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Secondly, everybody wants to move to this beautiful corner of the countryside,

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and thirdly, local occupancy restrictions really do limit

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the number of properties that "incomers" like Carl and Lesley can buy.

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The good news is, here on Escape, we love a challenge.

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At their request, we'll be focusing Carl and Lesley's property search

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in the Kendal area, although their budget may mean

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we have to push the boundaries to get them what they want.

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We've selected three handsome Cumbrian homes to tempt them with,

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but I won't be revealing the price of each until they've had a guess.

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The last property is our mystery house

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which we hope will push them beyond their comfort zone.

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Welcome to Cumbria.

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Has it always been your destination of choice? Why here?

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We had a conversation a while back and we decided

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we only ever wanted to move one more time, so we actually made a list.

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We did it separately to make sure it wasn't one person's choice

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over the other, of places where we really want to live,

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and top of our lists was the Lake District.

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-That's nice.

-So it made sense, basically.

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It sounds like you have perfect unison

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when it comes to where you want to live.

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What about the kind of property? Do you have the same taste there?

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I think Carl is definitely more to do with the location of the property.

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These views are amazing and that's what we're moving here for.

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I'm probably more to do with the interior of the house,

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whereas Carl is more to do with the exterior.

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-Your budget is 300.

-Correct, yes.

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We have found some lovely properties to show you, so let's start looking.

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Happily, with their budget of £300,000,

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Lesley and Carl have realistic expectations,

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but ideally they are after a detached property that provides them

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with a living room, preferably with a lovely period fireplace,

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a large kitchen/diner, a minimum of two bedrooms,

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space for Carl's studio

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along with a good-sized garden for Lesley to grow vegetables

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and countryside views are a must.

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We're getting our property search under way with location

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at the top of the agenda as we head to the village of Brigsteer.

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With all the amenities of Kendal just three miles away,

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this is a superbly rural spot with a well-regarded pub,

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a small parish church and a scattering of properties

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which enjoy views over the Lyth Valley,

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and our first house is no exception.

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So this is the spot I wanted to bring you to.

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-And this is the property I want to show you.

-Excellent.

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A gorgeous setting, absolutely gorgeous.

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Couldn't have asked for a nicer setting.

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Really like it from the outside.

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-Really intrigued to see what's inside.

-It's attached.

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How do you feel about that?

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That's the first thing I noticed,

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but obviously, in this location, something's got to give.

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The dog will decide, I think.

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Hopefully, the dog will give the heads-up to the large double garage

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which has studio potential for Carl.

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But it's the windows in the main house

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that I think will hold his attention.

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Come in to the sun room. What are your thoughts?

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It's the view that I'm looking at. It captures the view perfectly.

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It's very modern, which obviously, ideally, I wanted some period features,

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but I do like the general feel and the presentation of the room.

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OK, well, let's move on.

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This was the original front door before they put it on the sun room,

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but now it's become the back door.

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This is the sitting room.

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Size-wise, it's cosy.

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I'm just wondering if it's a little bit too small. Ceilings are OK.

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But then it could be positioning of furniture.

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'Let's see if Lesley warms to the kitchen.'

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Right, now. You've seen everything on the ground floor.

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-What do you think?

-I think it's lovely.

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Everything you could need in the kitchen. Quite modern.

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I can't fault the kitchen at all.

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That's good.

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You're quite hard to read.

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You've got this poker face when you come into a room. So you like it?

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-I take everything in first.

-It's hard, isn't it?

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'We have a quiet but positive reaction to the downstairs,

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'and upstairs the space has also been well configured

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'to offer three bedrooms spread over two floors.

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'There's a single room with a small but sleek

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'refitted modern bathroom, and next door is a possible master.'

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-This is one of the two bedrooms on this floor.

-Excellent view.

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-Beautiful view. Imagine waking up to that.

-Is this the main bedroom?

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They use this as their master bedroom, yeah.

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-But all the bedrooms are pretty much the same size.

-Size is fine for me.

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'We'll head upstairs again and see

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'if they have any creative thoughts for the third bedroom.'

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Up in the eaves, they've added an extra room.

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The reason they didn't use this as the master is

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because you're a bit leany-over.

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But it's got great views

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and it might be a good work space or an office.

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Be ideal for you if you wanted it.

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Yeah, I've already got my mark on it, to be honest.

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The view is stunning.

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'This cottage has all the requisite rooms they were after

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'and would be an extremely comfortable first home for them.

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'Outside, the location gives them glorious countryside

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'on their doorstep, but at the expense of the size of the garden.'

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We have to compromise.

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I was waiting for that word.

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Because this is your back garden,

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essentially just a little patio garden.

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Space enough to have a barbecue and a big kennel,

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-but not really room for a veggie patch.

-No.

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What do you think this property is on the market for?

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I think because it's a semi-detached property,

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I'm thinking it might be around 270.

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Knowing you're a man of your word

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and you wouldn't go above our budget,

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-I'm going to go, actually, 290.

-290.

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Clearly you overestimate my word, because sadly, this is over budget.

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This is actually on the market for 315,

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but have a look around again, explore at your leisure,

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and I'll meet you out in the front in the sun room

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and then we can take it from there.

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-OK. Thank you.

-In you go.

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'The fact that this semi-detached cottage is over-budget

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'at 315,000 only highlights the premium'

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they have to pay for location.

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However, it's also in excellent decorative order

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and provides them with two living rooms, one with great views

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and the other with a stone fireplace,

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a beautiful kitchen/diner and three bedrooms,

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one of which Carl has already earmarked as his studio.

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The main drawback for them was the courtyard garden,

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but it's offset by being in their ideal location with great access

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to Kendal, the Lakes and the M6 for driving to work.

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Internally, I think it offers us all the space and the rooms that we need.

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We've got two potential living rooms.

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I think the kitchen/dining room is absolutely amazing.

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Location-wise, this is probably as good as it gets, so the question

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is are we prepared to lose the back garden for being in this space?

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Being able to enjoy the magnificent countryside of the Lakes

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is key to their move,

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although our second property also factors in their request for land,

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as we edge over to the western side of the Lakes,

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close to Broughton-In-Furness, just over 30 miles from Kendal.

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In the past, this small market town prospered

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from the trading of wool and cattle.

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Many of its historic buildings surround its Georgian market square

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with its central obelisk marking the Jubilee of King George III in 1810.

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On the outskirts of the town, and with stunning views

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of the Duddon Valley, we find our second property,

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whose remote setting should appeal to Carl,

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whilst giving Leslie the original character she wants.

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We thought we'd bring you somewhere

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that was just a little bit more remote.

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Yes. This is just what I was after,

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but I don't know about Lesley. Location-wise, this is perfection.

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It's a great location and this is the property I want to show you.

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-It again is attached.

-OK.

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What do you think of this architectural style?

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This is probably more in your...

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From what I can see, I like the outside of the building.

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I like the fact that it's built in stone so that's very appealing.

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Let's see if she's sold on the internal quirks

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that inevitably crop up in such a historic conversion.

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Come into the pigsty, aka the dining hall.

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I like the features.

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I like the fact that it's uneven walls

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and not finished to a smooth finish.

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This is billed as the dining room because it's next to the kitchen.

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Why don't you have a peek in the kitchen?

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Mind the step.

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It's not huge.

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No, I think if you look in the English dictionary, the term little

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is a picture of this kitchen.

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Maybe the features of the living room can work their charm.

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This is the other room on the downstairs.

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This would be the sitting room, lounge.

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So, it's a bit more period-y.

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It is much more period-y.

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It's certainly cosy. It's got the features.

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The features are lovely,

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the little features they've done and the fireplace.

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I'm just trying to think

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if it's a workable space.

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The views are a big theme upstairs, where there are

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three bedrooms which like the last property are spread over two floors.

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The first consists of two cosy, little singles

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and a well-furnished family bathroom.

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But we'll see if the master on the second floor measures up.

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So the present owners have just put this on.

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This is a top-floor extension

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to give themselves this master bedroom.

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This is fine for me.

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It's got a nice feeling, with the light coming in through there.

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And from there as well, behind the door.

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Although they feel that the room sizes overall have come up short,

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there is the possibility to extend downstairs

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as the current owners have drawn up plans to build a glass sun room

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out from the current porch.

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Subject to planning permission, of course.

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There are also other opportunities outside

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that will exceed their expectations.

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You may have fallen in love with the house in the last property but you didn't like the land.

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-There was no land to like. Fair enough?

-Fair enough.

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So this property has a bit more land.

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All of this is yours, the mown, green grass bit,

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but there is also the possibility for a small purchase price

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of buying all the two acres right up to the top of the hill.

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So without that big parcel of land,

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how much do you think this property costs?

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250?

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I might say it's slightly more than that.

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270.

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270. Well, this property is on the market for 250

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and that parcel of land could be yours for £10,000.

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So that makes 260 altogether. Why don't you go have a look?

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You can have a wander up there as well.

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Take a look in, see what you think about the house again,

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what you think you can do with the land and then we'll meet at the end.

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-OK.

-OK.

-Off you trot.

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Priced at just a shade under £250,000,

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this stone cottage is well under their budget threshold

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and offers them a wealth of period features,

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including exposed beams and a stone fireplace,

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three bedrooms

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and a sizeable garden which they could extend to two acres

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if they spent £10,000 on the adjoining woodland,

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all wrapped up in a spectacular setting

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with far-reaching Lakeland views.

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I love all the period features that we have in this property.

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Obviously, the little window seat and the beams.

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But for me, I think the living area downstairs

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is just a little bit on the small side.

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I can see why you brought us here.

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Again, you do need to look at the potential

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as opposed to what's actually here.

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This does offer the potential to become THE house for ever.

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As evening falls over the Cumbrian hills,

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it marks the end of the first day of our property search.

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I've already clocked that Carl has a strong, but probably slightly frustrated, creative streak,

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but I realised yesterday that Lesley has it too. They're both dreamers.

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They're both always looking forward to the next room, the next project, the next house, the next field.

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We need to force their hand, and the mystery house certainly does that.

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For our mystery property, we're staying on Cumbrian soil

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with the Lakes 25 miles away,

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and heading to Alston in the North Pennines.

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Reputedly the highest market town in England, at over 1,000 feet

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above sea level, it provides them with great walking terrain

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for their new outdoors lifestyle.

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Five miles from Alston, our mystery barn conversion challenges them

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to think about turning their back on the commute to Blackpool,

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and gives them a taste of how they could earn an income from running a holiday let.

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So, I appreciate I've taken you on quite a hike

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but luckily I've brought some Kendal mint cake to keep you fired up.

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And it's this property here.

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The whole stone-built, from the 1700s,

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old miners' cottage in a beautiful location.

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-Detached!

-Detached.

-Excellent.

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From the outside, I love the stone-built property.

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And the location is absolutely mind-blowing.

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'Now they've taken the bait, we'll explore the larger cottage,

0:20:280:20:32

'whose two bedrooms and living areas are set out over three storeys.'

0:20:320:20:36

Come on in.

0:20:390:20:40

Bearing in mind it is a sort of upside-down house -

0:20:430:20:46

to take advantage of all the views,

0:20:460:20:48

the bedrooms in both cottages are downstairs.

0:20:480:20:51

Yes, I completely agree, I would have all the bedrooms downstairs.

0:20:510:20:55

You need to appreciate the view,

0:20:550:20:57

so there's no point having your living room downstairs.

0:20:570:21:00

Tacked onto the side of the property is a laundry room used by holiday guests,

0:21:020:21:06

and downstairs there is a good-sized bathroom

0:21:060:21:08

along with a separate sauna.

0:21:080:21:10

But I think Lesley is going to be convinced about the upstairs kitchen

0:21:100:21:15

when she sees its main focal point.

0:21:150:21:17

Ta-da!

0:21:170:21:18

That's what you call a fireplace!

0:21:210:21:24

This is what you call a period detail.

0:21:240:21:27

-It is a period detail.

-It is a period detail.

0:21:270:21:31

What do you think of the bones of the kitchen?

0:21:310:21:33

It's bigger than the last one.

0:21:330:21:37

It's really good. I could imagine, you know, modernising this,

0:21:370:21:40

and look at the view.

0:21:400:21:42

-Is that a positive poker face?

-THEY LAUGH

0:21:420:21:44

Let's have a look upstairs.

0:21:440:21:46

'We've notched up Brownie points from Lesley for the kitchen,

0:21:460:21:50

'so time to admire the views from the upstairs living room.'

0:21:500:21:53

Up the stairs to the view!

0:21:560:22:00

-Wow.

-Makes sense to have the sitting room upstairs.

0:22:000:22:05

I do really like it.

0:22:050:22:07

I can see if our furniture was in here, facing out to that view,

0:22:070:22:11

it would just be wonderful.

0:22:110:22:14

They do have one room upstairs, which is the master bedroom.

0:22:170:22:21

-It's quite romantic.

-It is, actually.

0:22:210:22:26

And then, in the morning, ta-da!

0:22:260:22:31

It's the view.

0:22:320:22:34

'Now we've seen the house they could call home,

0:22:340:22:37

'we'll go and explore the second part of our mystery proposition.

0:22:370:22:40

'These two holiday lets combined are currently bringing in

0:22:400:22:43

'an annual income of around £20,000 based on just a 20-week occupancy.

0:22:430:22:50

'The second cottage also has a double bedroom downstairs,

0:22:500:22:54

'and benefits from a Victorian fireplace and flagstone floors

0:22:540:22:57

'with a spacious modern bathroom opposite.

0:22:570:23:00

'But it's time for a game of compare and contrast

0:23:000:23:03

'as we take a look at the main living area upstairs.'

0:23:030:23:06

Coming through to the sitting room again with a beautiful view.

0:23:110:23:15

And with the kitchen all part of it.

0:23:160:23:21

That definitely passes!

0:23:240:23:27

'While they mull over which side of our mystery house

0:23:270:23:29

'to take as their own, we'll head outside,

0:23:290:23:32

'where they get more than they could have ever expected.'

0:23:320:23:36

Ah, it's the big moment.

0:23:380:23:41

These two cottages together come with a parcel of seven acres of land.

0:23:410:23:46

Oh, my God.

0:23:460:23:48

-I don't know what to say.

-OK, well, let's talk money.

0:23:500:23:54

I'm going to say 340.

0:23:560:23:58

I'd certainly say it's worth that, but I'm going to hope it's 320.

0:24:000:24:06

This is on the market for...

0:24:060:24:09

£300,000.

0:24:090:24:12

THEY CHUCKLE

0:24:120:24:15

Well, why don't you have a wander around,

0:24:150:24:17

while you think about it,

0:24:170:24:19

-and when you've found some words, we can talk afterwards.

-OK.

0:24:190:24:23

Bang on budget at £300,000,

0:24:250:24:27

our mystery house is the ultimate test for them to sever work ties to Blackpool.

0:24:270:24:31

But if they are brave enough to go the distance,

0:24:310:24:34

they will get two houses in one, providing a two-bedroom

0:24:340:24:38

and one-bedroom cottage, with upper-storey living rooms

0:24:380:24:42

from which to soak up those incredible views.

0:24:420:24:45

And along with the ready-made holiday let business,

0:24:450:24:48

there are over seven acres of land

0:24:480:24:50

to fulfil Lesley's dream of self-sufficiency.

0:24:500:24:53

I think this property is absolutely amazing.

0:24:530:24:57

It's got a fabulous location, it's detached,

0:24:570:25:01

the decisions are which part of the property do we potentially live in?

0:25:010:25:05

This property is too good to be true, to be honest.

0:25:050:25:09

There are no negatives.

0:25:090:25:10

The only problem as I see it is which side of the house

0:25:100:25:15

do we want to live on?

0:25:150:25:18

As the teachers would say, it's an A+, top of the class.

0:25:180:25:22

There's your little gold star.

0:25:220:25:24

Even by Escape standards, that was an epic mystery house.

0:25:330:25:38

Not only did they totally love it against all the odds,

0:25:380:25:40

it seems to have blown the other two houses out of the water.

0:25:400:25:44

Let's find out what they really think.

0:25:440:25:47

I'm quite excited to hear what you have to say,

0:25:520:25:56

because you've been playing poker face,

0:25:560:25:58

and you've had all sorts of crazy ideas left, right and centre.

0:25:580:26:02

So, it's time to gather the threads together.

0:26:020:26:04

So, spinning back the clock to the first house.

0:26:040:26:07

I still really like that property.

0:26:070:26:08

The downside of that is obviously

0:26:080:26:11

the back garden wasn't as big as we would have liked

0:26:110:26:15

for potentially growing vegetables et cetera.

0:26:150:26:19

But the actual property was beautiful.

0:26:190:26:21

Now, the second house was pretty remote.

0:26:210:26:24

What you think about that one in retrospect?

0:26:240:26:27

The location was good again.

0:26:270:26:28

I was relatively happy, I think it was the house that probably

0:26:280:26:32

didn't fulfil the ticked boxes.

0:26:320:26:34

I think the layout didn't work properly for me downstairs.

0:26:340:26:37

I didn't get a nice feeling downstairs.

0:26:370:26:39

Having said that, upstairs the bedrooms and the bathroom

0:26:390:26:42

were more than adequate for me.

0:26:420:26:46

Now, the mystery house certainly gave you space to be adventurous.

0:26:460:26:50

The house itself is just too good to be true, to be honest with you.

0:26:500:26:55

The river at the bottom, the view, you know, the B&B.

0:26:550:27:01

I think we're both in agreement for the mystery property.

0:27:010:27:05

Like you said, there's a lot of opportunity to decide in which

0:27:050:27:10

property we actually want to live.

0:27:100:27:12

It all boils down to the interview I've got next week, as it happens,

0:27:120:27:16

for a position just outside Carlisle.

0:27:160:27:20

-Oh, right! That's handy.

-So, I mean, again, fate has intervened here.

0:27:200:27:25

It's all falling into place.

0:27:250:27:27

Ker-ching! So it looks like the mystery house came up trumps.

0:27:270:27:31

Well, I really hope things work out.

0:27:310:27:33

You've been great to show around because you're so creative and thinking ahead.

0:27:330:27:36

It's a real joy to see that you found somewhere that you can keep on doing that.

0:27:360:27:40

-I hope it goes ahead. Good luck with your interview.

-Thank you.

0:27:400:27:44

I am so pleased about the way this show panned out,

0:27:510:27:54

because we often start off saying, "This is a challenge

0:27:540:27:56

"and there's going to be a compromise

0:27:560:27:58

"and no-one will really be pleased,"

0:27:580:28:00

but, actually, the mystery house pleased everyone.

0:28:000:28:03

It pleased Carl, it pleased Lesley, it certainly pleased me,

0:28:030:28:06

because in one swoop, Carl's news about getting a job 25 miles away

0:28:060:28:11

made all the pieces fit together. Property perfection.

0:28:110:28:14

If you want to see more of that,

0:28:140:28:17

make sure you tune in next time for Escape To The Country.

0:28:170:28:21

If you'd like to escape to the country in Scotland, Wales,

0:28:210:28:24

Northern Ireland or England and would like our help,

0:28:240:28:27

please apply online.

0:28:270:28:32

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:28:490:28:52