Property series. Nicki Chapman helps a campervan-loving couple with a £400,000 budget find a perfect rural property within range of the Peak District.
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Today you will find me at the start of a 270-mile footpath
in the UK's first-ever national park. But where exactly am I?
Find out in just a moment.
Today we are helping a couple of happy campers find a permanent
pitch in the countryside.
And while work is put on the back burner...
Would you be tempted to come up here and check your e-mails at midnight?
..we give them a hybrid property to consider.
You've got mock Tudor, brick and a bit of rendering.
I can't really place it architecturally
to sort of what it wants to be.
Welcome to Escape To The Country and the village of Edale,
which lies in Derbyshire,
surrounded by the lush landscape of the Peak District.
Back in 1951, the Peak District was established as the UK's first
national park following a huge influx of tourists when
the Hope Valley train line opened at the turn of the last century.
More than ten million people flock to this area every year,
where rambling opportunities include the lengthy Pennine Way footpath.
Official statistics claim that just under one third of England's
population live within an hour's drive of the park's boundaries,
making this the most accessible national park in the country.
The Peak District National Park spans over 555 square miles
and some six county borders,
including Derbyshire, South Yorkshire and Staffordshire.
Although its landscape may not feature mountainous peaks as such,
its dramatic rolling hills and rich escarpments
make up a region of great natural diversity.
The park is split into two distinct areas,
with the rugged northern region of Dark Peak being home to Kinder Scout,
reaching over 2,000 feet at its highest point.
The south gives way to the limestone-rich area of White Peak
and to The Roaches,
an imposing ridgeway which dominates the landscape.
Over 15,000 footpaths and bridleways
cross a huge array of geographical landmarks, such as Baslow Edge,
offering huge scope to explore this timeless terrain.
Scattered throughout the area lie attractive villages and market towns,
including Bakewell, the reputed home of the Bakewell tart.
Forming a stable part of the town's food heritage,
three shops still claim to hold the original recipe.
Indeed, the Peak District's protected status
and extensive scenic beauty provide an enticing location for those
looking to trade city life for the countryside.
If you fancy making your home in the Midlands,
you might find that house prices are a real incentive.
Currently the average price of a detached home in Derbyshire
is around £75,000 less than the national figure.
Although just across the border in neighbouring Staffordshire,
you might expect to pay just that little bit more.
But it's still some £60,000 below the national average.
So this really is a region that's rich with bargains on offer
to reward the intrepid house hunter.
American-born business consultant Darcy
and project manager Ian first met in 2005 during a festive family event.
I was friends with Ian's sister. We both lived in London.
They invited me to spend Christmas with the family.
I did dress up and try to look nice, just in case he was cute.
I hadn't met him before.
But he had a girlfriend and he's a bit shy, so nothing happened.
Then fast forward to 2010, at his sister's wedding,
we met again and for some reason
that was when the magic happened.
The couple eventually married in 2012 and Darcy moved to St Neots
in Cambridgeshire to live with Ian.
But the town has all the familiar issues associated with urban living.
We live on a small estate.
For example, we have no rear access to our back garden.
We share fences with about five different neighbours.
It's convenient for transport because we are five minutes' walk
from the train station but then we have the noise of the trains.
The town can be pretty congested
and there is industrial areas not far from here.
The motivation for a country move has come from the love of the outdoors.
-And he rather inspirational purchase.
-Darcy always wanted a camper van.
I think it's honestly been
one of the best things that we've ever bought.
It's kind of changed our whole outlook.
We don't have to wait and see what the weather is going to
be like before we decide if we are going to go camping.
With a camper van, you pull up, raise the roof, and you are set up.
But it's not just Darcy and Ian making the move.
Max the dog will be coming, too.
We've had him for seven months now.
-It's been an adventure.
He's definitely got a big personality.
We've spent a lot more time outdoors walking him.
We thought the camper van would make us more fit and active,
-but we found out we really just sat around drinking.
-It's the dog that's got us into the outdoor lifestyle.
I lost 5lbs just from walking the dog.
And with freedom to visit anywhere in the UK, there was
one location that stuck in their minds.
Our favourite place to go in the camper van
has been the Peak District.
It's a place that has really spoken to us and we've spent some
really good weekends and some good times up there.
Every time we go out in the camper van in the Peaks we always say,
"Oh, wouldn't it be great to live here?"
So now we can make it reality.
The time is certainly right for them to make the move north
and anticipation is running high.
Darcy moved into this house. This was my house. It's our house now.
-We look forward to having our house together.
I'm definitely excited about a new location. And being in the park.
But I might also be equally excited about just having more space.
Especially for you, coming from America.
The houses are so much bigger and there is so much more space.
And that's something that you maybe struggled with
when you came over.
-Slate the Americans.
But it's true. Yeah.
Looking forward to having a lot more space. And also have that outdoor...
I want a big American fridge freezer.
Darcy and Ian are looking to be within a stone's
throw of the Peak District.
And although they generally want to work from home,
they also need good commuter links for job commitments.
Mindful of this, our house hunt will take in Derbyshire and Staffordshire
whilst remaining within a 30-minute drive of the National Park.
But before we set off on our property search,
it's time to find out exactly what they are looking for.
-Darcy and Ian, hello. Good to see you both.
-Hello, thank you.
This is where, hopefully, or around this region, you're going
to be moving to. But why this area?
Look around. It's beautiful.
And me being from Virginia, I'm kind of hankering to get back
into the mountains and away from the flats of Cambridgeshire.
We are looking to buy our first home together.
So yeah, this is an area that we've chosen
just because we've come here and camped quite a lot.
So yeah, just love this area.
There is four in this marriage, isn't there?
There is the two of you, there is the dog
-and there's the beloved campervan.
Let's talk about the actual property itself.
In your mind, what are you after?
I like that look there, Darcy. I like that look. It says it all.
-Don't just look at me.
-Come on, Ian, tell me.
-It's your turn.
I think we are probably after a four bed, preferably detached,
but that's not really high up on the list.
We'd both like something that's nice looking from the outside.
We both have the opportunity to work from home,
so some work space as well as some extra bedrooms for visitors.
We'd like to have a lot of light and to feel like we've gone up
in the world a bit in terms of the space that we have available to us.
Where the rooms just flow really well into each other.
-Rather than having the narrow hallway.
Both Darcy and I do like to cook,
so a nice big kitchen-diner as well.
-So, quirky, perhaps not.
A little bit of quirk is OK.
-A little bit, I like that.
-Nothing too new.
I think we've both got a thing for a wood burning stove.
That's something that we'd like in the house.
So, in a way, you're quite undecided where exactly you want to live,
aren't you? I say, "undecided". I could say, "open".
We're open. Yes. We're quite flexible.
Are we talking rural or perhaps on the edge of a village?
Edge of the village, I think.
Somewhere we could walk to the pub would be great.
So if it's about a mile away, maximum.
We've discussed the ideal property but are there any no-nos?
Well, this might be me being American,
but listed buildings make me nervous because of the restrictions on them.
You've been renting out your property so there is no chain, so I'm
presuming you can move pretty quickly if we find you that perfect house.
-Yeah, if you find something, we are ready to go.
Remind us of the budget we are working with.
-Up to a maximum of 400.
-£400,000 to spend.
Perhaps within the national park, the Peak District.
Perhaps outside of it. Who knows? Not going to give too much away.
But we do have some splendid properties to show you.
-So should we get started?
-Come on then.
With a top budget of £400,000,
Darcy and Ian have drawn up a realistic wish list.
They are looking for a property with character features
which provides them with a large kitchen-diner.
Four bedrooms would be ideal, along with an office.
Location is also a key consideration for them.
So finding a home close to a thriving village community is important.
As is being within striking distance of the great outdoors.
Our couple can't wait to start their new life in the country.
So with no time to waste,
we have a varied mix of rural properties to show them.
Only after they have explored each one fully
will they discover its price tag.
Finally, it's off to the Mystery House, which may be a little on
the quirky side but certainly offers plenty of character and kerb appeal.
Making friends is going to be a big part of this move.
Hoping to immerse yourself in the local community.
Is that on the agenda?
I've moved back and forth between England and the US
a couple of times now, so each time I move, I leave friends behind.
And when I came back to the UK, it wasn't like I was just moving
right back into the same, cos everyone's lives had moved on.
So, I am hankering after setting down some more solid roots.
I like to do a bit of knitting, crochet, and of course, cooking.
So, I've heard there's this thing in the UK called
the Women's Institute that I might check out.
Oh, yes! The WI is the backbone of the countryside.
I'm sure they would welcome you with open arms.
For our first property, we are
heading to the Derbyshire village of Hognaston, that lies just under
ten minutes from the Peak District Park border.
This rural village grew up on the side of a valley
and its attractive architecture includes many 17th
and 18th century farm buildings and cottages.
Hognaston's skyline is dominated by its Grade II listed church
that is located in the heart of the village
and dates back to the 12th century.
And that's exactly where we are heading for our first property.
So our very first property, right in the heart of the village.
-Wow. I like it.
-It's got a really interesting face on it.
It looks good. It looks very pretty.
Looks a little small so we will see what it's like inside.
It could be deceiving from the outside.
It's set into the hill a little bit
so interesting seeing how it is laid out on the inside.
But I like the looks of it from the outside.
And two doors down from the pub, you can't beat it.
-Shall we start the tour?
Built from local stone, this house dates back to the late 1800s
and started life as a pigsty.
Extended in 1922, it is now a warm and inviting home
which Darcy and Ian seemed to have spotted from the outset.
Time to explore inside.
So, first room. I thought we would start off with the sitting-room.
-I like it.
-Seems bigger than I was expecting.
-It's nice and bright with three windows.
That triple aspect goes in your favour, doesn't it?
It's a good proportioned room, you know? You can do a lot with it.
-I like the wood floor.
-And the wood-burning stove. It's good.
-That's a good start.
-Let's see some more.
-Yeah, kitchen is on its way.
The first reactions to the interior seem positive.
So fingers crossed we can build on that as we continue.
I'm going to start off by saying I think this is good-sized kitchen.
-Yes. I agree.
-Room for the dining table is good.
We are not formal dining room people, really,
so an eat-in kitchen is perfect for our lifestyle.
And there's plenty of surface area for preparing and cooking food
and lots of storage, so I'm really liking it.
It's another well-proportioned room.
It's got the beams in the ceiling, but they're not oppressive.
So we wouldn't change anything in here?
Um, no. Cos I like the wooden surface and I like the Belfast sink.
-I could move in and live here for some time before feeling that
-I needed to change things.
Right, we'll continue.
So far so good.
And with the ground floor also providing a study,
the downstairs seems to have impressed Darcy and Ian.
Hopefully there are equally positive reactions to upstairs,
which is made up of a family bathroom and three light, airy,
good-sized double bedrooms. I'm showing them the largest.
This is the master. It doesn't have an en-suite but it is a dual aspect.
-If you look over there.
-Yeah. That's beautiful.
It looks like the cottage from the outside of the road, doesn't it?
-But when you walk in, it's a proper home.
-It's quite large.
-It is. It's deceptively large, actually.
There is one more thing to show you with this property.
It is thumbs up for the house but in addition,
at the end of the garden, an outbuilding has been cleverly
converted into yet another living area.
Delivering more space.
The final part of this house tour is...
-So we're thinking you both work from home.
It is away from the main house so it could be your separate area.
-It's really cute.
-Yeah. I like this.
And for working at home it gives you that feeling of leaving
-and going to the office.
You can lock it away at night and not have it in the lounge.
But would you be tempted to come up here
and check your e-mails at midnight?
Too much to do.
Let's go back out into the garden cos we need to try and guess the price.
The annexe clearly is a bonus for our couple
so I'm just hoping the size of the garden won't be a disappointment.
This is where I can't lie.
I'd love to be able to offer you a couple of acres of garden.
But this is it.
I appreciate you've got a dog. So you might want to slightly change it.
-But I also know you've got a camper van.
Yeah, we're not in the garden every weekend cos we tend to be away.
We are away every weekend. For me, a low-maintenance garden is a bonus.
-But we might put some grass down for the dog.
So, I know you're both quite flexible on area - do you like the region?
We're in west Derbyshire. Does that fit for the two of you?
I think it fits. I think when we've looked around,
I've always been more in this side of the Peaks and Derbyshire.
And you're more towards the Staffordshire border.
-I might be a convert now.
-Yeah, it's gorgeous around here.
-I'm really, really impressed.
-Good! Oh, well, even better than good!
Fantastic! And on that note, we should talk money.
So, I'm going to ask you. It's on the market.
What do you think the asking price actually is?
-I'm going to say 375 to 380.
-I'm going to say 340.
The asking price for our first house is £310,000.
-You nearly said it, didn't you? But, yeah.
-Yeah, yeah. Happy to pay less.
So now you know that, why don't you take another look around together?
-Time to explore. I'll catch you in the front when you're ready.
£90,000 under budget, our first house has made quite an impression
and it's easy to see why.
It provides generous reception rooms and that all-important kitchen-diner.
Along with three bedrooms,
there is an annexe which gives them both fantastic office space.
Outside may not be exactly what they are after,
but it does sit in a great village location.
The village seems really nice and approaching the house,
I did think it looked a little small from the outside.
But when we came in, it was a bit like a TARDIS.
The rooms are much bigger than I was expecting them to be.
It's not just linear dimensions of a room that matter.
It's how it is laid out.
And this is probably about the same size as home,
except this is a much better layout.
So even though it's not a huge jump up in terms of square metres,
it's very usable and flexible and we could really fit well.
Oh, this is nice. Look at the beams in the ceiling.
-Check out the view.
-Nice view onto the garden.
The garden would be my one concern. It's quite small.
It's quite limited.
Ian can be hard to please or just reluctant to take the leap.
He will want to wait
and try to find the perfect house at the best price
and I'm willing to get the almost perfect house
at a pretty good price.
-How are we doing? Seen enough?
-That was a good beginning, wasn't it, to our house hunt?
-Excellent. Right, more to show you.
Roughly the size of Greater London,
the Peak District receives more than ten million visitors a year,
attracted here by its sweeping rugged vistas.
But below the surface lies a world that's equally fascinating.
An extensive network of caves and caverns which have been
created over time by nature and man's mining explorations.
Heading into the heart of the national park
and to the village of Castleton, outward bound enthusiasts Ian
and Darcy are hoping to learn more about the subterranean
landscapes the Peak District has to offer.
They are meeting cavern expert John Harrison at Speedwell Cavern.
Welcome to the Peak District. Welcome to Castleton.
-Thank you very much.
-You've picked a beautiful day for coming out here.
The whole area, we are in a limestone area,
and limestone is a permeable rock.
And the rain water, which is slightly acidic,
falls on the hills, on the tops, permeates down through the limestone
and over thousands and thousands of years,
creating passageways and caverns under the hills.
How many of them are there?
Hundreds. I don't know an exact number.
But I'm going to take you into one, the Speedwell Cavern,
which is an old lead mine that was driven from pretty much
where we are standing under the hill over there
to intercept an 18km cave system that the miners had found
back in 1750, 1760.
And they drove a tunnel
to bring lead back out from deep under the hill there by boat.
Are we exploring the cavern today by foot?
A little bit, but mainly just going down the steps on foot
and then we are going to board a boat.
-We will head on down.
Though mining in the Peak District can be traced back to the Romans,
mining operations at Speedwell Cavern didn't start till
the late 1700s, and due to poor yields, lasted only 27 years.
OK, guys, come on in.
And it was then quickly converted into a show cave.
First things first. Hard hats, I'm afraid, are essential.
Before we get down to the boats, there is a small issue of 106 steps
to go down. OK, off we go.
As the steps descend to a depth of 25m,
the temperature drops to a constant 11 degrees Celsius.
Use the hand rail. It is a little bit wet and slippy today.
Down in the depths, cave guide Phil Robins is going to take Darcy
and Ian into the unique underground canal system
which was cut by the lead miners and leads to Speedwell cavern.
The miners were working in the first six months through
this section here. It's very rough and very uneven.
They were obviously new to the job.
As they blasted the tunnel,
it was already full of water or did it fill in?
No, they were on foot at this stage but they made it to this scale
because they were planning ahead.
This section, it wasn't until about halfway down that they met
the first underground stream
which then started to cause them flooding problems.
The tunnel took around 11 years to create and was used to ferry
workers and rubble to and from the lead veins in the rock face.
In the absence of electric power, miners moved the canal boat
through the tunnel using a trick known as legging.
-Just take your helmet off while you do this.
-You feeling comfortable?
-Feet onto the ceiling.
And just start to slowly walk, one foot at a time. There you go.
That's it. Big strides once we get going.
Is this is where the British expression "legging it" comes from?
Hard work, isn't it? You just trod straight on a fossil then.
-Did you see that?
-Yeah. Big fossil of a shell.
Efficient legging, that. Good foot pushing.
Under Darcy's steam, the boat quickly covers the half mile that
leads to the Speedwell Cavern itself.
A natural chamber that's so large you can't even see the top.
It was actually discovered by accident
and contains another unique underground water system.
So yeah, down over those railings, we've got a drop of about 30m,
90 feet or so, to a natural underground lake
-called the Bottomless Pit.
-Why the Bottomless Pit?
When the miners were here, they used that as a dumping ground
for all the waste rock from the far canal there.
They put in about 2,000 tonnes
of rubble and the water level never rose.
And they couldn't figure out why.
They were very superstitious people in those days.
They came up with the theory that the lake was bottomless.
-So the Bottomless Pit.
Of course, nowadays we know that can't be right.
Cos otherwise all the water would come out in Australia.
Thank you very much for a lovely day.
Great. It's been a pleasure having you both.
After all that time underground,
we need to leg it to the surface to continue our property search.
For our second property, we are travelling to the western
side of the Peak District and crossing the county
border into Staffordshire, where we find the village of Cheddleton.
Located just 15 minutes from the national park, Cheddleton is
a historic village situated in the Staffordshire moorlands.
Having developed into a larger community over time,
the original part includes a small collection of shops,
a tearoom housed in what was, until recently, the village school,
a busy post office,
and three pubs to choose from, along with its listed medieval church.
Just to the north of Cheddleton, down a country lane, lies our next house.
We have certainly driven around some beautiful country winding roads.
-Because we have lined up this property for you to view.
-It's very imposing.
-It is, isn't it?
Much larger looking than the last one.
-A different type of property we are showing you this time.
I like the look of this one. From the outside.
It's an interesting kind of mishmash, really.
I don't think I've really seen a lot of houses like it.
You've got mock Tudor, brick and a bit of rendering.
I can't really place it architecturally
as to sort of what it wants to be.
-Let's see what you make of it inside.
Originally built in the '30s,
this detached property was then extended in 1999,
providing that all-important living space our couple are after.
It seems the outward appearance, attractive setting,
and generous size have struck a chord with Darcy and Ian.
-Come on through. Let's start off with the first sitting room.
-I love the parquet floor!
-I like the sun.
-Having a sunroom attached is really nice.
-Bathed in sunshine. With a lovely view.
-Yeah, views for miles.
You walk in, don't you, and you feel like it's a home.
That first impression, that first feel as you walk through the door.
-Oh, yeah, it has it in spades.
-We have got plenty more to show you.
Through here you have another sitting room/snug/office.
-But look what's in here.
I think you are going to love this.
Oh, wow. This is massive!
-This is a country kitchen. It's massive. It's lovely.
That's a great pot rack. The tile backsplash is lovely. The units.
-There's a lot to take in and it looks really good.
On top of that, you've got a utility room
and further access outside, as well.
Outside access straight into the utility room
to wash muddy paws is perfect.
-And Ian, she's not talking about you.
-You never know!
Can you see yourself sitting here having breakfast in the morning?
-I can, yeah.
It does have a very comfortable, cosy feel to it.
-We have a few things to think about.
-Let's see what you think of upstairs.
They both seem over the moon with what this property
delivers on the ground floor.
And I'm confident this momentum will continue upstairs.
Here, a stylish family bathroom serves all four of the double
bedrooms, three of which are of a generous size.
While the smallest is being used as a study.
There is one obvious room to show them next.
-Here is the master bedroom.
You would never let me paint our bedroom this colour.
-No, this wouldn't be my choice of colour.
-No, not you, Ian?
In terms of the size of the room, cos I can see past the colour,
it's a nice sized room. I like the picture rail...
It's right up my alley. You are supposed to look past the decor
and think of putting your own stamp on it but there is
a lot of the stamp that's here already that I quite like.
I think we're getting close.
I really like the light and the views and the dual aspect.
Let's head back downstairs, Ian, if you would mind leading the way.
For Darcy and Ian, this house has got it all,
delivering everything they wished for.
And with outside providing ample space for their dog and a garage
for the camper van, there's also plenty here for them to smile about.
With this property, we have about a quarter of an acre of land in total.
But you didn't want a large garden.
How is this for a practical, low-maintenance garden?
-Low-maintenance. Just lawn. Easy.
-And because it's fenced
-it's good for the dog.
We are now though going to have to be serious and try
and put a price on this property. What are we thinking?
Let's just go under. 399,950.
-LAUGHING: Don't let me influence you.
-For the sake of argument.
OK. All right, then, just under your £400,000 budget.
We are going to have a role reversal here, I think.
I'm going to guess slightly lower.
I'm going to say 340.
-Just to be different.
-I think that's hopeful.
-LAUGHING: Do you?
OK, interesting on that one.
-Because the asking price is offers in the region of £400,000.
-On your budget.
-On the budget.
On reflection, how do you find that price?
It's kind of what I expected it to be, with the land and the setting.
-It seems about right.
So, are you disappointed though, cos you're about 60,000 down?
-It's not a competition, Nicki.
-It's not a competition.
Depends how much you love my house, you see.
-Yeah, I guess we're just hoping we can get it for a steal.
-I like that!
I like that! If you're hoping, that's good.
With that price in your mind, why don't you have another
look around and we'll see if you're willing to pay it.
Bang on budget,
this extensive detached property has delivered on all fronts,
providing Darcy and Ian with two reception rooms,
a large country kitchen and four double bedrooms.
Along with a generous interior, decorated to their taste,
the space outside had their spirits soaring.
What's more, its elevated position offers them
stunning countryside views.
-Oh, this is a good-sized room.
-Yeah, double spare room.
And more picture rails. I like it.
-This is bigger than our bedroom at home.
This is a much bigger house and it's much more in the style
that I think we picture ourselves in.
I'm conflicted about the location
because even though there is the big views out the windows,
which are marvellous, the house is only part of the whole equation.
With this one I think I feel quite at home, to be honest.
Great first impression as you walk through the gates.
The kitchen is fantastic, with the range cooker.
Yeah. Rating this one pretty high.
-How are we doing? Seen enough?
-Yeah, really good, thank you.
-I just want you to take one last lingering look at that view.
-Before I drag you away.
-I'm taking a mental snapshot of it.
It's impressive, isn't it?
-Right, time to hit the road.
Today's energetic house hunters, Darcy and Ian,
from the Cambridgeshire town of St Neots,
are property searching in the Peak District.
With £400,000 to spend on the right country pad,
they are planning to devote more time to the great outdoors.
But how much explaining will our mystery house need?
What am I looking at?
And later, I'll be turning my hand to a forgotten craft.
-It's beginning to take shape!
-There is shavings coming off.
Well, a good beginning to our house hunt here
with Ian and Darcy yesterday.
We started off showing them a village that she instantly fell in love with.
But, of course, we need to get the combination right.
The perfect property in the ideal location. Something they both adore.
So, today, we've got plenty more to show them and, of course,
our final offering, the mystery house, a historic and slightly regal
affair that I'm hoping will inspire and challenge them in equal measure.
But before we head to our mystery house, we're venturing 15 miles away
from the Peak District borders to the rural parish of Leigh.
Situated by the banks of the River Blithe, Church Leigh is the
largest community in the scattering of hamlets that make up this parish.
Here locals can find amenities including the Post Office
and a shop, the pub, a village hall along with the parish's impressive
Grade II listed church.
Our property lies just to the west of Church Leigh
in the hamlet of Lower Leigh.
Our next little treat.
-It's lovely. It looks big.
-Yeah. Big again.
-Yeah, nice dormer windows.
It has a nice space to it.
As you can see, it's set in a wonderful plot,
so you've got plenty of garden at the front,
but you've also got amazing vistas and garden at the back.
-So, what's running through your minds
when you first take a look at this offering?
-The size again, I think the...
-Size, a lot of parking.
Excellent, right, well, shall we?
This modern red-brick property was built in 1982 and as they'll see,
blends countryside style with contemporary living.
Judging from their first reactions to the outside, Darcy and Ian seem keen.
-Let's see if that continues inside. So, welcome.
-We like an entry hall.
-Let's start with the kitchen, I think.
-Oh, wow. I like it. It's very bright.
-Yes, it's a good size.
There's a lot of work surface and a bit of an island,
as well, which is nice.
I might actually take the island out just to be able to put the table
more in the centre. Other than that, I think it's pretty good.
-And I like the size of that fridge-freezer.
Now, that's the American coming out!
Home from home, a huge fridge-freezer.
-I won't have to bend down any more to check the milk.
-And what is that?
We're so used to it, we don't even think about
having the fridge up there, it's always down there, isn't it?
-So, you've got all this space here.
You've got the utility room next door so additional space,
plus access outside.
But let's keep going inside. More to show you.
With the kitchen making a good impression on our couple,
we're crossing the hall to continue our tour.
-So, next up, our sitting room.
-Wow, is it nice and bright in here?
-Lovely with the dual aspect.
-Yeah, dual aspect, front and back.
Yeah, it's really good. I like the beam across the middle, too.
You've got the wood burner. Perfect.
That should be in the contract, shouldn't it?
"Won't look at a house unless it's got the wood burner."
They shouldn't build houses in the country without wood burners.
You should have to get planning permission to take it out.
That's true. I mean, this is...
It's a modern house, but it's practical.
-It's not your typical 1980s interior.
-No, so, are we liking it?
I wouldn't say I'm grabbed completely yet,
-but there's still more to see.
-It's not leaving me cold.
-Let's head up and look at the bedrooms.
Even though the ground floor also includes an additional dining room,
it seems their enthusiasm has taken a dip.
However, the upstairs of this property delivers generously
with a large family bathroom, two single rooms
and two double bedrooms - one en-suite.
But we'll take a look at the other one.
Now, there's bedrooms and there's master bedrooms.
-I don't think we've ever seen a room so big.
-This is a big room, yeah.
This is massive.
-Yeah. I can put all my clothes and all of Ian's shoes in here.
If you're passionate about cupboard space,
that's going to satisfy is, isn't it?
-You can store a few clothes here.
Storage is one thing we could use more of and this fits the bill.
Now, we spoke downstairs a little bit about the house,
you had some great compliments, however,
you told me you know about a property as soon as you see it.
I'm not getting that feel. We could end up here,
but it would be a head decision rather than a heart decision.
-It's not lighting me on fire.
I can't really put into words why it's not grabbing me.
Maybe it's the dark wood stairs and hallway which have just kind of...
Yeah, don't have that country feel
that I think we were really looking for.
So, that's fair enough. However, one final thing to show you.
Let's take a look at that view in case it changes things slightly,
-and we're going to talk money, as well.
Despite offering everything our couple wished for
from their country property, I sense they're not totally sold on it.
But maybe the garden has enough to win them over.
Now, I particularly like this aspect because you've got
a good-sized, but not-too-large garden. Manageable.
But then, look what's behind us!
Sheep in the field. You've got the horses grazing. Stunning, isn't it?
-Yeah, it is.
So, on your doorstep,
the joys of the countryside without having to do any of the work.
-That's very true.
-But again, it's back to the house, really.
I think maybe the layout and the style is very similar to
a lot of the homes in America.
And I feel, maybe, I'm not really getting the English experience.
It's not really what I wanted, moving to Britain,
to go into an American-style house.
So maybe that's why I'm not really loving it.
Well, let's see if the price makes any difference.
Who would like to go first?
-I can try first. I'm just going to go top of budget and say 400.
I'm going to say a bit over budget. 415?
Well, the asking price is £400,000.
-Well done, Ian.
But if it's not pulling on those heartstrings,
there's not much more I can do. I tell you what,
-I'll suggest you have another look around cos it's always worth it.
-So, be my guest, thank you.
Bang on budget at £400,000,
this substantial detached house may not have set their hearts soaring,
but it does answer many of the demands on their wish list.
It provides them with two reception rooms, a spacious kitchen/diner,
four bedrooms, and it's all wrapped up in a hamlet setting.
This house just isn't grabbing me. I can't put my finger on why.
It has all the things that we say we want in house,
-but it just doesn't have the feel.
-It's a very attractive place.
The gate on the front, the separate garage,
nice-sized front and rear gardens.
It's a good size and a lovely family home.
This must be the smallest one.
-It would make a nice study.
-We'd have to flip for it.
Who gets the view.
-I'll have this one.
Whilst this is everything we asked for, the heart's not in it.
It's just not for us.
Well, sadly, that house tour didn't quite go according to plan.
-Ready to make a move?
So, we're making our way round these winding little country lanes
to our mystery house.
I wonder what's going through your mind at the moment?
I'm really wondering what that mystery house is going to be,
whether it's going to be something completely off our list, maybe?
A listed property or a barn conversion?
Anything you think you're going to see
that you'd want to turn tail and not go inside?
Brand-new. A build on an estate.
Or, we went up and it was really grim-looking pebble-dash
on the outside.
No. Wouldn't want to go see that.
For our mystery house, we are
heading 30 miles south of the Peak District borders
to the Staffordshire village of Tixall,
five minutes from Great Haywood.
Situated by the River Trent,
Great Haywood is home to the picturesque Haywood Junction,
a stretch of water were two of the country's finest canals meet.
The local Catholic church was actually built in Tixall
and in 1845 was dismantled and moved, stone by stone, to Great Haywood.
In the village, locals are catered for with a number of amenities,
including a post office and a farm shop.
Back in Tixall, Darcy and Ian are under strict instructions
to keep their eyes shut.
-All will be revealed. Look up.
That is a big crescent.
What am I looking at?
It's the first time you have been speechless, Darcy, the whole time.
Welcome to the mews.
Mews like horses and carriages?
Absolutely. You are on the money.
My mind is a bit blown at the minute.
-Do we get the middle bit?
-Do you want the good news? Yes, you do.
So this is your chance to buy into a real piece of British history.
-I guess so.
-This was converted around 1976.
Into residential properties. It is listed.
Good news for you guys is, this is Grade II listed.
So you do have a little bit more flexibility.
So, as it's a listed building,
how are they going to feel about us parking a camper van in front of it?
Well, I don't want to give too much away, but the good news is,
-it has a garage at the back.
So how do you feel about possibly owning a little bit
-of English Heritage?
-I'm a little bit scared
but I'm looking forward to seeing the inside.
-OK, well, I think we will take this as an adventure.
-That's all right.
-It certainly is.
-Let's go and have a look.
Our mystery property is an early 19th-century mews house,
built for the Aston family of Tixall Hall, which stood opposite.
In 1927, the hall was demolished and only a Grade I listed gatehouse
remains, which was used to imprison Mary Queen of Scots in 1586.
The property we are looking at
takes up the complete central section of the mews.
And although it is currently unfurnished,
I can't wait to see what Darcy and Ian think of it inside.
-Let's start off in the drawing room.
-Oh, my goodness.
Put modern houses out of your mind.
Let's go back at least 200, 300 years.
And this could be part of your new life.
I actually really like it. It's just an odd shape.
But the shape kind of matches the outside.
It'll bear some thinking, but it almost feels like two spaces.
It could be a quite nice little reading room or nook or snug.
It does need a little bit of work, I think it would be fair to say.
Care and attention. I think you can see that as you walk around.
-But Lord and Lady of the Manor?
I've never quite pictured myself that way
but if I'm going to become British then I might as well adapt.
-Yeah, be a Lady of the Manor.
Darcy loves its noble country pedigree, so with encouraging first
reactions, let's hope the kitchen serves up the same positivity.
-A lovely kitchen.
-Look at that massive dining area.
-I'm liking that. Doors to the back.
Not a bad view, either?
I think I'd have to change a lot of my ideas about decorating,
moving into this house.
But we thought we might buy new furniture anyway, so, it's OK!
-There you go! You see?
Is it beginning to work its magic on you, Ian?
-Yes, it is.
I think it was working its magic as we walked towards it but...
Yeah, I'm impressed with the inside.
In a funny way, that's music to my ears,
cos that's what we want to achieve with our mystery.
And I've still got so much to show you.
They are willing to be open-minded about our mystery house
and it actually seems to be winning them over.
More space is on offer, with an extra sitting room
and games room down in the cellar on the lower ground floor.
Leave the sleeping arrangements until later
and go outside to explore the garden.
-And also, it's quite secluded.
So, although you do have neighbours either side, you do have privacy.
King and queen of the castle, we've moved to, rather than lord and lady.
Yeah, I can't get my head around how much like a castle it looks.
It does. So, a splendid garden but again, quite low-maintenance.
-Perfect size, as well.
-And very grand, to match the house.
-Yes, it is.
Does it have a regal feel to you, this property?
-Yes, I think you could say that.
-I think you are desperate to get up there, aren't you? BOTH:
-Take a look at the view.
Spread over four levels in total, the first floor is made up
of a single bedroom with attic storage space and a family bathroom.
Further up, on the second floor, is the remaining sleeping accommodation.
Consisting of two further double bedrooms and, of course,
the final room on our property tour.
-It is a feast on the eyes.
-That's not what we would have expected.
I wouldn't use the word feast.
-It's a shock.
-It's unusual. There you go, how's that for a lampshade?
That's quite the lampshade, too.
But take away the fixtures and fittings,
although I quite like the bath, and look at the space.
Yeah, it's huge.
You could do some work on this
-and really turn it into something special.
I think I'd take the bath out for that.
Although it could be a fun feature when friends come to visit.
Do you know what, if you go into some very upmarket hotels
they have the baths in the middle of the room with the bedroom next to it.
I'm just thinking of scrap value, Nicki.
So upstairs? Still stressing you guys, isn't it?
Still causing all sorts of shocks and surprises, but in a good way.
One more thing to show you, so let's step through the doors,
-look at the view, and we can discuss money.
Although the master bedroom hasn't really
captured their imaginations, I'm hoping the last offering
of our mystery proposition will inspire them.
We all agreed the back garden was beautiful.
However, if I bring you out here
and then you just look over your shoulders...
-Just take a look at that.
Could you see yourself living here?
This would be quite a big undertaking, but...yes.
-I'm still struggling a bit.
-Yeah, just a little bit.
Well, it's like royalty, isn't it? It's a bit regal.
I've never pictured myself anywhere so grand before.
I suppose it is time to try and put a price on a little bit of history.
What are we thinking?
-I'm going straight for top budget. 400.
I've honestly no idea so I will join you on 400 cos, yeah, who knows?
The asking price is a little bit over that.
We have spoken to the owner
-and they would look at offers in the region of your top budget.
If you wanted to take it a little bit further.
How do you feel about the price?
Well, it needs a bit of work doing to it.
That wouldn't leave us any money for doing that.
But I guess it would depend on where in the region
-they would accept an offer.
-We would need a little bit left over.
I'm going to send you off.
So have another look around, lord and lady of the manor.
Our historic mystery property tips £20,000 over their budget,
but there is scope to negotiate.
With three large reception rooms and four bedrooms, there is
plenty of space for them to create their ideal home here.
What's more, the good-sized garden and garage mean that the dog
and the campervan are also catered for.
Crucially though, this mystery property gives them
the unique opportunity to buy into the region's heritage
and reimagine their vision of country living.
My feelings about the house are a bit torn.
It's quite grand, it's got great views, there's the history about it.
But it did feel cold.
I know that that's partly because it's uninhabited,
but there is a novelty factor to it.
And I think, for me, the novelty is already starting to wear off.
-It's a bit like a dungeon!
-Down and into the dungeon!
-There's the fire.
Oh, I don't know what to think...
This one has taken me way out of the comfort zone.
I really don't know how to put it into words.
It's bigger, grander, don't really know how to use the space,
-but it's really nice.
I feel like your footman, waiting to whisk you away.
You've got the horses, you've got the carriage.
-I can picture it.
-It's a remarkable property, isn't it?
-It's a grand property.
And I guess we have giving you a lot to think about over the last
-few days. A real variety of homes to consider.
I want you two to have a bit of time on your own, to have a chat.
-Then let's find out what your next move is going to be.
Up until the early 1700s, most of Britain's tableware was made of wood.
And a village wood turner plying their craft was a common sight.
I'm heading to the heart of the Peak District to see
if I can turn my hand to a manufacturing process which had all
but disappeared until one man came to rescue this traditional craft.
He is known as the last bowl tuner in Britain.
And is appropriately named Robin Wood MBE.
-Robin, good to meet you.
-This is a wonderful, peaceful setting.
-This is where your workshop is.
-This is where I spend my day.
Tell me a little bit more about your profession.
What exactly is a bowl turner?
I make wooden bowls. I'm a particular type of bowl turner.
I make wooden bowls on a foot-powered lathe, which is
a very old craft going back to the Middle Ages.
-So a real traditional method?
And you literally went and did some research
and started doing it yourself.
-So you didn't have any experience?
No experience. There was no-one to teach me. There was no-one doing it.
There was about a 35-year gap with no-one turning bowls
on a foot-powered lathe anywhere in the world, in fact.
-I'm desperate to have a go.
-Are you going to have a go?
-How difficult is it though?
-You're not going to learn it in a day,
-but you can get a feel for it, for what it feels like.
With Robin reviving a forgotten tradition,
he was effectively starting from scratch.
He had to hand-make all the tools whilst also learning
the process of turning the bowls.
20 years on, and the results are now outstanding.
-These are the sorts of bowls that I make.
Look at that.
I'm loving the markings inside. Look at those different colours.
-Beautiful, isn't it?
Can you use any wood or do you have a particular variety that you like?
I love turning beech. This is actually 179-year-old beech.
I've been working this tree for a couple of months now
and it's just beautiful.
Trees, when they get older like that, get a lot more character.
It is gorgeous.
The bowls start as rolled blocks of wood to which Robin fixes
a handmade spin lob.
This is then attached to the lathe, ready to be turned.
When you first started out, was it real trial and error?
There was a lot of trial and error, yeah.
Obviously I didn't have anyone to teach me, there was no-one doing it.
As well as bowls, Robin has made many replica woodware museum pieces.
In fact, his own pole lathe was designed
and manufactured using one from a museum as his guide.
Operated solely by manpower, it uses foot pressure to create
the motion that enables the bowl to revolve.
That's now spinning nice and true on there.
So, we get one of these tools and as it is spinning...
You just start to take a cut.
Using a special hook tool, Robin can carve a bowl in around 20 minutes.
But seasoning the material beforehand to dry out the wood can take
up to a year. Each bowl that he creates is entirely individual.
What do you think? Do you fancy a go?
I'd love to have a go.
-But you make it look so easy.
-Yeah, it's kind of like riding a bike.
When you can do it, it's easy.
But when you first try, it's very difficult.
'I have to say, Robin made it look simple.'
Just get the feel of the pedal. Have a pedal on there.
-Is that about right?
-Yep. That's great.
I'm making contact with the wood, but not getting much out, am I?
There's some little shavings coming off.
'Dare I say I seem to be getting the hang of it?'
-I am really enjoying this.
-It's beginning to take shape.
-There's shavings coming off.
-Yeah, it takes a long time to begin with.
You're just taking little shavings then gradually, over time,
it gets faster and faster.
And you get a cleaner and cleaner cut, as well.
-Let you carry on.
In his career, Robin has hand-made 20,000 bowls for a range of clients
including the Tower of London, Hampton Court,
and props for Hollywood blockbusters.
OK, that's about ready to snap off now.
It's just attached by a little piece in the bottom. If I lever that...
-You hear that crack?
-Yes, that's it.
Absolutely. And there you go. One nearly finished bowl.
Finally, the bowls are left for up to three months
to allow any moisture to evaporate.
After being given the finishing touches with a knife once dried,
they are then shipped out to clients nationwide.
But being the only turner in the UK making a living from his trade,
the craft is at considerable risk of disappearing.
What's going to happen in the future?
For a long time, you were the only wooden bowl turner.
Not only in this country but around the world.
What's going to happen to that legacy?
Well, I've taught a lot of people. I've been doing this 20 years.
-So the tradition is going on.
-Robin, it's been an absolute pleasure today.
-Thank you very much indeed.
-Great. Thank you.
So how did we fare showing Darcy and Ian
our properties in Derbyshire and Staffordshire?
In all honesty, I'm not quite sure. But there is one way to find out.
Let's go and ask them.
Well, Ian and Darcy, I've come to join you. If I can squeeze in.
-It's been a good few days, hasn't it?
A good few days. An eye-opening few days.
We weren't sure when we started.
Derbyshire, Staffordshire, but I wonder how we've done?
I've been pondering, and "I don't know" is the truth.
Well, we're still not sure which one because the houses
you've shown us - I'm now more interested in Derbyshire,
-Ian's more open-minded to Staffordshire.,
And now, you've added a whole new other area that we think
we can look in that we would not have entertained before.
-The Cannock Chase area where the mystery house was.
Oh, my goodness. Have we got close with any of our properties?
Absolutely, yes. The first house was a great area.
We loved the community feel to that house.
The house has lots of potential.
It was smaller, it's probably a similar size to what we live in now.
Plus the annexe.
And at the price that it was on that, yeah, it gives us
-lots of room for manoeuvre.
So that was our first property.
But I'm getting the impression there is more.
The house on the hill.
When I think back, I am always picturing myself
sitting in the house on the hill looking at that view.
-And then, you've also mentioned the mystery house, as well?
Now, the house itself definitely challenged us,
you hit the mark there.
And if that house had been flooded with sunlight,
then I think it would be a real contender.
-So, we've planted another seed?
-Planted a seed, yeah.
That's not bad, is it?
Those houses, they have all got something going for them.
So what happens next?
We will go back, I think,
to have a look around the area of the house on the hill.
Maybe go for some walks around there.
I think with house one we will go back and arrange a second viewing.
Get some better ideas of the sizes of the rooms.
And how it could really work for us.
We need to really have a good chat
and take a hard look at the realities of the way that we
live our lives and then choose a house that will suit that.
Brilliant. Well, I hope we have played a small part in the move.
An important part.
And, well, I hope one of ours comes through in the end.
-We will let you know.
-Please do. Thank you both so very much.
Well, we may not have secured a definite house sale with Darcy
and Ian, but I'm delighted they are going back for a second viewing.
And by the sound of it,
there are still a few questions that need answers.
But whether it's Derbyshire or Staffordshire,
wherever they end up,
we wish them all the very best. I'll see you again soon. Bye-bye.
Darcy and Ian did return for second viewings at two of our properties.
And, I'm happy to say,
decided to put in an offer on our first house in Derbyshire,
which was accepted.
So with no onward chain, they should be moving in very soon.
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Nicki Chapman helps a campervan-loving couple with a £400,000 budget find a perfect rural property within range of the Peak District. Along the way, Nicki turns her hand to some unique woodcraft with Britain's last traditional bowl turner.