Series which helps prospective buyers to find their dream home in the country. Nicki helps a young couple from Surrey who are seeking a rural home for their £350k budget.
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The rock found below the surface of this southern isle is arguably more
famous across the world than the beauty of the rugged scenery above.
So, where am I, and what lies beneath?
I'll tell you in just a moment.
Today, I'm with a couple who are selling up in suburbia
in search of a better quality of life in the countryside.
I'm struggling to think of something in this room
that I'm not in love with.
And, with time of the essence, they're not messing about.
-Seriously, get your chequebook out now!
Today, I'm in Dorset, and this is the Isle of Portland,
at the southernmost point of the county.
Now, the island's unique limestone bedrock,
known as Portland Stone, was first quarried back in Roman times,
but has since been used to construct some of the world's
most iconic buildings, from St Paul's Cathedral in London,
to the United Nations headquarters in New York.
Now, later on, I'll be back on Portland,
getting up close and personal,
and experiencing this world-famous stone, but first,
let's take a look at what else this wonderful county has to offer.
The county of Dorset lies in the south-west of England,
with the English Channel lying off its southern shore.
Known as the Jurassic Coast, the 95 miles of rugged coastline,
stretching from Swanage into the neighbouring county
of East Devon, is England's first World Heritage Site.
These layers of sedimentary rock reveal 185 million years
of the Earth's history.
At the Dorset-Devon border sits the port town of Lyme Regis.
Nicknamed the Pearl of Dorset,
it's a popular starting point for sailing, diving,
and fossil-finding trips, its cliffs crumbling into the Jurassic seas.
Further along the Dorset coast, in a sheltered bay,
Georgian houses line the beachfront at the seaside town of Weymouth.
The golden sands and shallow waters here make it an ideal spot
for families seeking a traditional seaside getaway.
And it was a favourite of King George III, who holidayed here
for nearly 15 years at the turn of the 19th century.
Today, his visits are remembered by the Osmington White Horse,
a carving of the King on horseback.
Those more interested in history than beach life might prefer
to visit the romantic ruins of Corfe Castle.
Standing over a gap in the Purbeck Hills, the former royal palace
and fortress was built in the 11th century by William the Conqueror.
Now owned by the National Trust,
it receives over 200,000 visitors a year.
So, with a mix of dramatic coastline and picturesque towns and villages,
and unspoiled countryside, with not a motorway in sight,
Dorset really is the perfect place
for those looking for a countryside escape.
Well, there are no two ways about it -
buying here in Dorset comes with a hefty price tag.
The average cost of a detached home here is around £357,000.
Now, that's about £57,000 above the national figure.
Buyers, it seems, are willing to pay a premium for the beauty of
Dorset's stunning coastline and countryside,
a landscape that has been an inspiration to
some of our greatest authors, from Thomas Hardy to Jane Austen.
So, as one of today's buyers is a would-be writer,
they're certainly going to find themselves in good company.
Two years ago, Chris and Kate bought their first home as a couple -
a four-bedroom semi in Reigate, Surrey -
but their adventure together started long before.
We first met through mutual friends,
when Kate was at university in Birmingham.
He was a very slow mover in terms of making his move, so ten years after
we met, I think he finally plucked up the courage to ask me out.
-Ten years of groundwork.
I think I was perhaps confident that...
the feelings may have been mutual.
But, yeah, I was a bit worried... "A bit worried"?
A lot worried about taking the initial, sort of, step, I think.
Chris grew up in close proximity to the countryside in North Wales
and Cheshire, whilst Kate, born and bred in Reigate,
is used to more suburban surroundings.
When I grew up here, it was a lovely,
very community-driven sort of town,
and I think over the last 30 years, more and more people have moved here
who commute into London, so it's sort of lost its sense of community,
and it's incredibly busy, it's got bigger.
It was on a recent holiday away from the hustle and bustle of
the commuter belt that the idea of moving came about.
I was queueing to get a coffee in a coffee shop, and the gentleman
in front of me was having a conversation with the guy serving.
And it was going on and on,
and I remember sort of looking at my watch and thinking,
"Come on, you know, we've got places to go and things to see."
And then I thought, "Hold on a minute, what am I doing?
"I'm on holiday. There's no need to rush."
And I thought, "This is just the London in me
"wanting to do everything at 100mph."
I thought, "This is what it's about, these moments of life,
"not the rushing around all the time."
Not too far from Kate's family and friends in Surrey,
they've decided Dorset is the perfect place for them to
set up home, and, although Kate is looking to slow things down,
Chris will be taking his fast-paced job with him.
So, I'm a paramedic.
I've been in the Ambulance Service for about seven years now.
You know, it can certainly be a challenging job, but you know,
it's very rewarding at the same time.
I originally started working for London, so, you know, driving round
the big city, lots of traffic, and people everywhere,
and then the move out to Surrey was a big change already,
so I think the move to Dorset won't be quite as big a shock.
You know, certainly you have to be more wary of, you know, other road
users, in terms of, like, horses, foxes, badgers, I don't know.
Kate's hoping that the change of scenery will also offer
inspiration for her hobby.
I'm a sort of secret writer.
I've always wanted to be a writer, and then I don't really have a lot
of confidence in it,
so, for me, this gives me an opportunity to hopefully be able to
carve out some time for me to write in a quiet and peaceful environment.
With their house on the market, and Chris's new job due to start
in just six weeks, they're well on their way to making the big move.
Although they'll be leaving Kate's family behind,
their pet Labrador, Dolly, will definitely be coming with them.
I think a lot of this move is also about Dolly,
so we want to be somewhere where we can fling the door open and
go straight out into the countryside, or, you know,
hopefully, for me, near the seaside.
We're lucky here there are lots of green spaces,
but they're often quite manicured parks,
they're not necessarily very dog-friendly.
I'd love to be able to just jump in the car and be five minutes
away from the beach, and just walk her there in the mornings.
That would be amazing.
As Chris's job will be based in Dorset,
we're keeping our search within the county borders.
Ideally, he and Kate would like to be near the sea,
but they're happy to look anywhere.
I'm catching up with them
to find out exactly what's on their property wish-list.
Well, Chris and Kate, here we are, in a very sunny Dorset today.
But why did you decide this was the part of the country that
you wanted to move to?
I was very keen to live by the coast - I always have been -
and I think when we started to look at the south coast,
this was perhaps more affordable than a lot of the counties towards
the east of here, so we're hoping to get a bit more for our money here.
Let's talk about the actual property itself. What are you after?
We're really flexible about it, actually.
I mean, there's only the two of us and our dog,
so we're happy to look at anything from two bedrooms upwards.
I'd like an area to be able to work in,
but I'm just as happy if that's a summerhouse in the garden,
but parking is quite an important one, because Chris obviously does
shift work, as a paramedic,
and so we really don't want him having to park two or three
roads away if it's two o'clock in the morning,
-so that's sort of a key want for us, isn't it?
-Yeah, I think so.
That makes sense. Chris, what are you looking for, with this home?
-I'm even more flexible, really!
If I can have a wood burner, I'll be happy, so...
Little bit of a garden for the dog? Not too big?
Yeah, just somewhere that she can go out.
What does your new home actually look like? What's its style?
I like something with a bit of character.
If it's sort of quirky or unusual, I'm going to be really interested.
-I think if it's like a conversion...
-Absolutely. I would love that.
How important is it for you two to be close to neighbours,
and have a community next to you, or is the idea that, actually,
you want to be a little bit more remote?
We'd like to be close to other people, really,
again, particularly because I work shifts, and you could...
Also makes it a bit easier to meet people if you're in
a smaller community or in a town, and I think that's one of
-the things we're really keen to make sure we do straightaway.
So, let's remind ourselves of your top budget,
and, ideally, what you want to spend.
-Top budget would be £350,000.
I think we'd prefer to stay around 325 if we can.
It just gives us a little bit more flexibility.
-And a little bit left over.
Well, I think we should get a move on.
Jump in the car,
because we have some fantastic properties to show you.
Chris and Kate are hoping their budget of £350,000
will buy them their perfect home in an area of the country they love.
They like the idea of a quirky character property,
but one which has enough head height for all six foot six of Chris.
They would need two or more bedrooms,
a garden for Dolly the dog, and space for Chris to park outside.
They'd also prefer to be in a village setting,
where they can meet other locals.
I'll be taking them to see the best properties Dorset
has to offer them for their budget, but before I reveal the price
of each, I'll be asking them to take a guess first.
Our final stop will be our Mystery House, a property steeped in history
and overflowing with character,
which I'm hoping will really inspire them.
On our way, one step closer - hopefully - to your next home!
Is it beginning to dawn on you both that it's very close indeed?
I think so. And actually,
the six weeks that sounded like quite a long time a few days ago
-is now beginning to sound like a really pressured timeframe.
Our first property is in the village of Cattistock in West Dorset.
A character village with a lively, active community,
it has a village hall attached to the church, a shop,
and an award-winning pub.
The village also plays host to the famous Dorset Knob Throwing
and Frome Valley Food Festival,
attracting thousands of visitors every year.
The property we're seeing
is situated right in the heart of the village.
Well, I'm looking forward to showing you around some of our properties.
Let's kick off with this one, our first.
-It is a chapel.
-This is... I have a real soft spot for converted chapels, so...
I have to admit, I may have looked at this one on the internet, Nicki.
Oh, OK! All right, how much did you view?
I looked at a couple of pictures, and that was it, we haven't
looked really beyond that, we've not viewed anything in person, so...
-So that hasn't put you off?
-Not at all.
-We'd be very excited to go in here. And it's a beautiful village.
Well, let's step inside and see what you make of our first property.
Fantastic. Thank you.
This Methodist chapel was built around 1870 to serve the village.
It was sympathetically converted into a home about 20 years ago,
retaining some fabulous character features.
Right, let me welcome you to your converted chapel.
You do have the character of the chapel, although, actually, if you
take your eye away from the doors, this just looks like
-a very pleasant sitting room/dining room, doesn't it?
You want the character, but you don't want too much character,
and so, for me, this is actually kind of about the right level.
It's really nice.
-What about you, Chris?
-Well, it's got the wood burner.
-What more do I need?
-In the centre of the village.
It'd be nice to see what's under these carpets, maybe, as well.
Yeah, you never know, there might be some stone floors or...
-Yes, traditional floors.
That'll be a little project for you, won't it?
We've only been in the house a few minutes.
That's quite impressive, yeah.
Let's walk into the kitchen, through, again,
-these marvellous doors.
It's like the big reveal, going through these doorframes.
-Yeah. Very theatrical.
-Your kitchen. Now, you could class this as a galley kitchen...
-Yep. It's quite a wide galley kitchen.
-It's generous, isn't it?
Yeah. I mean, you've got a wonderful range, I love the Belfast sink.
-It's perfectly big enough for us, isn't it?
-More than enough space.
If you were entertaining, it's still big enough.
How is this working now you're actually physically in the house,
compared to what you saw online?
-Erm, this seems bigger...
-..than we expected.
-The kitchen, certainly.
-Well, I'm looking forward to the invite!
-Right, let's keep going.
Well, we're certainly off to a good start with this property.
Kate and Chris seem to like the character and the space on offer
so far, so I'm pretty confident the upstairs won't disappoint either.
-Now, how is this for an unusual feature?
The original lamppost and light from the village itself.
Wow. That's a really, really nice feature.
Now, with our chapel,
we've actually given you more bedrooms than you asked for.
The largest is the master.
There's two further single bedrooms, a study, and the family bathroom.
Oh, that's fabulous.
-So I could have a writing room inside the house.
-Now, I can't promise you a view, sadly.
But what I can give you is the small dressing room here,
-on top of your wardrobes.
-That would be very useful,
because Chris often goes to work at four or five in the morning,
so if he's not in here getting changed,
then it would be slightly quieter,
and I'm more likely to stay asleep if he's in there.
It's like this chapel has been designed for the two of you.
Yeah, possibly. Yeah.
Well, let's go outside, to look at the space there.
Quite an unusual set-up.
I wonder how much you remember when you looked at those
cheeky details online. We'll see.
Chris, I'm going to ask you to lead the way. Thank you.
To the side of the property, there's a small, south-facing
enclosed garden, with a decked area accessed from the living room.
The property's also being sold with a separate piece of land,
which is a seven-minute walk away at the edge of the village.
If they wanted,
it could provide Kate and Chris with rental income as pasture land,
but, with its peaceful elevated position offering views like this,
I think they might be tempted to keep it for themselves.
So, unusually, our chapel has this parcel of land.
So you come up the bridle path, which is looked after by the farmer,
but you've got access into here, and it's nearly two acres.
-Wow. I think Dolly would enjoy that.
Quite what we'd do with it, I can't be certain, but I'm sure we...
-Is it a nice problem to have?
-A really nice problem to have.
-A great project.
So I'm now going to ask you to put a price on this property, but, Kate,
how good was your memory when you perused the internet and you saw it?
I can't remember exactly what it was, but I know it came up
under our top budget, so I would guess it was maybe about 340.
-Maybe my memory was a little bit better, then.
-But I would...
I seem to remember it being 325.
Well, your memory is right.
The asking price for the chapel,
-with the nearly two acres of land, is £325,000.
If you wanted to buy the chapel on its own, without this land,
they would be happy to sell that as well,
and the asking price for the chapel on its own is £295,000.
-Gosh. That's something to think about.
But they have had some serious offers on this land,
and ideally, they want to sell the two together.
-Do you two want to have a little explore on your own?
-Yeah, I think so.
-Quite a bit, yeah. Go on up there.
You'll get an even better view. I'll hang around,
and then we can walk back to the village when you're ready.
-Off you go.
So, even though they had an idea of how much
it was on the market for, it's still come as a pleasant surprise,
and actually, to stand here and think,
this could all be theirs as well in addition to that beautiful home,
I think it's a really good start here in Dorset.
I'm feeling pretty confident.
Coming in well under budget, even with the additional land,
this converted chapel has the character features
and village location that Kate and Chris were after.
There's also three bedrooms, a separate study,
and outside space for Dolly.
What's up here, then? Does it go to this border?
-I think it goes all the way over there.
And then right up to the top, there.
The thing is, you'd have to take out a lot of these trees
if you wanted to put anything sort of substantial up here.
It's not a massive house, but it's got everything that we need,
and I love the position right in the middle of the village.
That's exactly the kind of lifestyle we're looking for.
Perhaps upstairs, you know, it's a little bit short on head height,
but, you know, that's my fault, really, more than anybody else's.
Erm, but, you know, it's only really upstairs. The downstairs is great.
This plot is amazing, and I think I would just be blown away if
I actually owned a piece of land. I think that would be fantastic.
Well, I think that's a good start here in Dorset.
-Little bit of a walk now. We'll amble back into the village.
With its awe-inspiring coastline,
rolling chalk hills, and river valleys,
Dorset is a haven for hikers, ramblers, and dog walkers alike.
It offers 2,000 miles of footpaths, bridle ways,
and byways to choose from.
However, although the windy cliff tops and dense woodlands are
attractive for holiday-makers, they also have the potential to be
treacherous terrain if you get lost or injured.
The Dorset Search Dogs charity was established in 2006
to help rescue missing persons in the area.
With Chris's own experiences of helping those in need,
and his and Kate's ambition to explore the Dorset countryside
with their dog, Dolly, we've arranged for them
to meet chairman Matt Cooke to find out more about the charity.
Dorset Search Dogs was set up to find missing people,
vulnerable missing people, throughout Dorset
and neighbouring counties, and anybody who wants us, really.
And how does it work, then? Who actually calls you out?
We get called out by the police, coastguard,
or neighbouring search and rescue teams. You can't call us directly.
It has to be coordinated by police or coastguard.
How often do you find you get called out?
We get called out about 40 to 50 times per year.
We're available 24/7.
We're all volunteers, so it may not mean that we can attend all
the call-outs, but between us, we do try and get to as many as we can.
And how do you go about training the dogs?
Well, we've got two of our guys here, with two of their dogs.
-We can go and have a look, if you want.
On average, it takes between 12 and 18 months to train a search dog.
For the dogs, it's like a big game of hide and seek,
starting off with the squeaky toy used as a reward.
-This is Wendy, with her search dog, Hattie.
Hattie's a trainee search dog at the moment,
but what we do is we wind the dogs up with a squeaky toy,
run off behind the nearest tree or nearest bush, and the dog goes in.
Wendy, if you want to give me your search toy.
This is where Hattie will start getting wound up.
TOY SQUEAKS, DOG BARKS
Successful search dogs need to have a high play drive and be agile,
with plenty of stamina.
Although any dog could be trained as a search dog, they tend to be
larger, working breeds, like Hattie, who's a Giant Schnauzer.
There are also Springer Spaniels, Labradors,
and Border Collies in the team.
Woohoo! Good girl!
The charity has a number of volunteers,
who help out on training sessions.
they play the role of a missing person for the dogs to find.
OK, so we've set up a bit of a scenario here.
We've got Sue, one of our volunteers.
She's sat on a log, felt unwell, fallen over,
and she's banged her head. We wouldn't get that full scenario.
All we would get is a call from a relative,
saying that somebody hasn't turned up.
So, Steve would go out as a handler, with search dog, Oscar.
Oscar is one of our more experienced dogs.
So, Steve, show us how it's done.
Are you going to go find? You going to go find?
Most search dogs are air scenters, which means
rather than tracking a scent like a police dog,
they pick up the scent of a human being in the air.
With a sense of smell thousands of times stronger than that of
a human, some of the Dorset search dogs can detect human scent
from 500-800 yards away.
Once the dog finds their missing person,
they return to the handler to indicate their find.
-Hello, I'm Steve. You all right?
-Hello, I'm fine, thank you.
-What's your name?
-Sue. You all right?
-I'm fine here.
-Good. This is Matt.
He'll sort you out.
OK, that's the end of the scenario, then. Well done.
Now that Chris and Kate have seen the techniques,
perhaps they'll be tempted to try out training with Dolly
when they make the move to Dorset.
We're heading towards the coast for our next property -
to the market town of Bridport.
Historically recognised as one of the leading rope-producing towns
in England, today Bridport is known for its vibrant
local arts scene, playing host to a range of events and exhibitions.
There's an array of independent shops and a popular cinema.
I think the culture on offer here would really appeal
to Kate and Chris.
The house I'm showing them is just under two miles from
the centre of Bridport, in the neighbouring village of Bradpole.
So you said, ideally, you'd like to be close to the sea.
Well, we're about five or ten minutes away.
Well, that would be lovely.
We try and show our couples different varieties of properties.
This one is an old cottage with a thatched porch.
-The good news is the roof is quite new!
-It's definitely got some kerb appeal, hasn't it?
-Hasn't it just?
We are right on the edge of Bridport so you've got all that
community there, lots going on.
-That would been nice for me, I think.
They have lots of festivals and things to get involved in.
So first impressions...?
I love the little bit of thatch, so you've got a bit of character.
-I'm really looking forward to going in.
On that note, we will. Come on.
This property dates back to the 1880s.
Originally it would have been a worker's cottage
for the surrounding land.
Despite showing its age on the outside,
I think the interior might surprise them.
So, we all love this delightful porch.
-You could call it a boot room, or a little dog room.
It leads us straight into the kitchen/diner.
I love it.
-It's really nice.
I'm struggling to think of something in this room
that I'm not in love with.
-Yeah, it's great.
-It's been done really well.
-It's very much our taste, as well.
-Yeah, very much.
It's got character, but it's got modern touches to it,
and you know, it's been brought up-to-date.
Even things, like I've just noticed the stable doors,
which would be so useful with the dog, getting her in and out, or...
-Or keeping her out.
-Keeping her in. Yeah, exactly!
So that would be good.
The current owners have had it about 6-7 years.
They've done all the work on it.
-They actually live next-door.
-This is a holiday let.
The whole property, apart from that conservatory at the back,
or utility room, in actual fact, is probably a better word for it.
It's got a downstairs cloakroom - basic but functional.
A log store and there's water out there.
If you're ever going to think of a project,
and perhaps extending slightly, you've already got the footprint.
You'd need to get the right planning permission but you could extend
a little bit further out if you wanted to have a bit more space.
It sounds like you could both certainly live in this room.
Let's see what you make of next-door,
if I can squeeze past you.
Right, reactions for our sitting room, please?
I still love it.
I love the wooden floorboards that have been painted white.
I mean, it's beautifully done out.
It's really charming.
How are the ceilings?
-I wouldn't even think to notice them, really.
I think from outside, I was a wee bit,
"Oh, are we going to have a ceiling-related problem?"
But, actually, it's like a normal-sized house.
I wonder if they might be slightly lower upstairs.
I like that - "a ceiling-related problem".
That's good. I'm going to use that one again.
-Let's go upstairs and see if we do have any issues.
The upstairs of the property has a family bathroom and two bedrooms,
a good-sized double for guests and the master bedroom.
So downstairs has been a bit of a success story.
I'm hoping this will be the same upstairs.
I think we should just buy it now, really. It's fabulous.
I wouldn't have thought outside that the inside would look like this.
I think you get all the character and the age outside,
and then something quite modern and stylish inside.
-No ceiling issues?
-No ceiling issues.
One of the last things I just want to mention
is when you're lying in bed, if you look out of your window, you can
see the church for Bradpole, and the surrounding fields as well.
So even though we're elevated and we do have a few houses around us,
you do get glimpses of that view.
-That's really nice.
So2 far, it's just perfect for what we were looking for.
Oh, my goodness, I'm so happy.
But...a small word of caution, because we are quite close to
Bridport and we've got to decide how much it's on the market for
before we get too excited.
Don't break our hearts, Nicki.
No, but we're going to head outside and we're going to talk money.
So...be my guest, off you go.
Internally this property has a high standard of finish,
but outside the paved back garden is the low-maintenance space you'd
expect from a rental property and could benefit from some work.
Nonetheless, fully enclosed and with side access,
it would make an adequate space for Dolly.
Now, at the moment. it's practical, isn't it?
You could put down a little bit of lawn here and you'll get the sun,
not in the evenings, but certainly during the day.
-Again, just somewhere for the dog.
This is workable because there's no doubt plenty of walks on
-the doorstep because we're in that part of the country.
-The tour of the cottage has gone exceedingly well.
The final part, obviously, is to try and put a price on it.
I think, I would say
this is on for 320.
I'm going to say a little bit higher.
I'm going to say 335.
OK. I'm going to give you two a completely different figure
-to either of those.
Asking price, £275,000.
-Seriously, get your chequebook out now.
Fabulous. Thank you for showing it to us. It's wonderful.
I think we both probably loved it so much,
we valued it maybe more than, obviously, it's on for.
And I was a bit naughty cos I threw in the curveball with Bridport,
-You did, you did.
So I'm guessing, on your own this time,
you'd like to take a second look.
-Off you go.
It is a wonderful property
and you know what they say when you step through the door
and it feels like home.
Well, for our couple, they certainly got that feeling.
For a staggering £75,000 under budget,
this updated character cottage offers Kate and Chris
the two bedrooms they need and potential to extend in the future.
It's close to Bridport town centre and less than
a ten-minute drive to the sea.
This is a great little area, isn't it? Perfect for Dolly.
Yeah, cos if we were bringing her back from the beach
and she's covered in sand,
we could just bring her in the back door and clean her off in here.
One of the things about the cottage is that there aren't
a huge amount of rooms, but actually the green sizes are really good.
The way it's decorated, the furniture, the kitchen,
everything is almost to our taste, really.
Down to the paint on the walls, probably.
The real highlight for me with this place would be
proximity to the beach.
You know, it's always been a dream that we would be able to walk
Dolly on the beach and actually here it's completely feasible
that we could do that.
That's a really big thing to think about.
Don't you two look pretty, coming out of the thatch?
-Well, that was successful.
You look very at home. All I need is my camera.
-That's it. Let's hit the road, shall we?
It's the second day of our search with Chris and Kate who,
with a budget of £350,000,
are looking to swap their four-bedroomed semi
in Reigate, Surrey, for a character home down in Dorset.
With Chris's new job starting in just six weeks,
there's no time to lose.
Still to come,
it looks like our Mystery House might be working its magic.
I'm a little bit emotional.
-Mm, a little bit.
And I'll be reaching new heights on the Isle of Portland.
Go on, all your weight through that leg. Go on, push, push, push.
My heart, Will, is racing!
With Chris starting a new job in literally a matter of weeks,
both he and Kate are after a new life, as well as a new home.
And I think yesterday's house-hunt was pretty successful.
Today, of course, it means our mystery property,
which is going to offer our couple over 1,000 years of
history and potentially everything they want.
So, where's the catch?
Well, I'm going to be using every penny of their budget.
But first, I'm going to show them a home that,
with Kate's creative flair, could be a real contender.
What's more, it's in the most beautiful village location.
For our next offering,
we're heading to the idyllic village of Sydling St Nicholas.
Ancient thatched houses line the banks of Sydling Water
in this picturesque, sleepy village.
Often described as one of the prettiest in Dorset, Thomas Hardy
featured the location in his short story, The Grave By The Handpost.
Visiting walkers and cyclists can explore the country lanes
and numerous public footpaths.
And if you're looking for a pit stop,
you could call in at the local pub.
Wandering through the village, we find our next property.
So, we've brought you to probably one of the most beautiful villages
that I've been in in a long time, without it being a tourist trap,
because in the heart of this village is our property.
That's what do you think about when you think of Dorset, isn't it?
-Something like that.
-That's the picture postcard, isn't it?
-Yeah, it is.
This house was last thatched in 2002.
There's a little bit of work being done on the ridge between.
so that's sort of joint ownership between the two properties
cos it is semidetached.
-So you're going to get about 30 years out of it.
-I think it looks beautiful. Yeah, I can't wait.
-Shall we take a look inside?
This grade-II listed property dates back to the late 17th century
and is typical of the traditional thatched cottages in the area.
Inside, there's a host of original features.
So, as you come in, you've got this hallway - with beams.
I'm looking at Chris now, just to see...
Yes, we're in action there. No problems with beams.
And then we come into this wonderful sitting-room.
-Beautiful inglenook fireplace.
-Yeah. That's amazing.
And then you've actually got a bread oven
-just tucked away in the corner there.
-It is quite awesome.
Now, the owners of this property, they do have
quite a lot of furniture and knick-knacks, beautiful things,
but take those away and actually look at this space,
being dual aspect, you get quite a lot of light,
-but it's bigger than it first appears.
It's quite a big room, really, yeah.
Yeah, it's charming, it's really charming.
OK, right, still more to show you.
So, Chris, if you wouldn't mind leading the way, thank you.
So, you have a separate dining room.
I can even offer you a wood burner. Always goes down well with Chris.
Look at that smile. I'm going to take us next door to the kitchen.
Now, not the largest of kitchens, is the truth.
However, you've got everything that you need here.
Got a view outside into your garden.
You've got access, which is going to be so important for the dog.
That wall, with the right permission,
because obviously we have to bear in mind that this is a listed building,
if you took that down, cos it's not a supporting wall
by the looks of it, and open it out,
I know it's going to be a project
but I think it would transform the kitchen/diner.
I think that would make a lot of difference.
It is quite...small, really,
but perfectly formed, everything we need.
Maybe just a little bit of love.
And opened out would probably fit better for how we live generally,
-so I think that's something we could definitely do.
Well, we've still got more to show you.
We're going to head upstairs.
Although in its current state
this house isn't quite to their taste,
I'm pleased to see Kate and Chris are remaining open-minded
and that they might even consider doing some work.
As we head upstairs, there's a family bathroom
and a small double bedroom at the back of the house
as well as two larger double bedrooms to the front.
Now, I'm wondering if this is going to be
a little bit more of a challenge for lovely Chris.
-I clear it, Kate clears it.
Chris takes off the top of his head. Oh, no!
Well, OK, I can come up with a solution.
-We have three doubles upstairs.
This is at the moment the master,
but perhaps next door might be more suited to your needs, shall we say?
From the outside, I wasn't expecting three doubles, so that's great.
It's just whether you can cope with the ceilings.
-I can, so...
Maybe a crash helmet just for me when I'm upstairs.
Let's pop outside, have a talk, see what conclusion you two come to.
-Mind your head, Chris.
I've got the plaster ready.
Outside, there's a good-sized lawned garden
and access to a more recently built large garage
which could be converted into a creative hub for Kate.
Looking back, you really can see your cottage from here, can't you?
Yeah, it looks absolutely beautiful.
I am going to be honest when it comes to the garden.
I think it's really ready to be loved.
We quite enjoy working in the garden in recent years,
so this would be great because we could really, you know,
turn it into something really exciting.
Can you afford, then, our thatched cottage?
What price are we going to put on it?
It might be a cheeky one, but I'm going to say 310.
I was going to be even cheekier.
I would probably say 250.
-That's very cheeky!
-Very cheeky, but...
Is that cheeky and hopeful, I'm wondering?
-You'll be disa...
Yeah, you are going to be disappointed.
Kate's closest, but she's still not quite on the money.
-Kate said 310.
-Asking price - £320,000.
So, you've got three really good sized doubles, that's why.
-It's a really good family house.
So probably now is the right time for the two of you on your own
to have a real look and see if it's a project that you want to take on
and whether it will give you that dream home.
-OK. Will do, thank you.
This Grade II listed thatched cottage
is packed with period features.
It would give Chris and Kate an extra bedroom,
but would require a bit of updating to suit their needs.
There's a good-sized garden with a garage
and it's set in a stunning village location.
I think the thatch certainly appeals.
It obviously makes for a beautiful-looking house.
Certainly a contender, but I think it's going to be a little bit of...
thinking and vision to see what we could do with it.
I'm not worried about doing any work to it but, you know,
it's obviously in a very nice village so the price reflects that,
so it does put us very close to our top budget.
I think it's something that we would think about
if we could get it for the right price, but if it was at full asking,
I'm not sure it would be the right place for us.
Right, our thatched cottage.
Little bit of a project for the two of you.
I wonder if you're going to rise to the challenge.
Oh, you're not giving anything away today, are you?
Right, well, we've seen this one. Let's make a move.
The Isle of Portland has long been renowned for its durable
and hardy limestone bedrock,
used for building across the UK and abroad for centuries.
But in recent years, it's also become popular
in the world of outdoor pursuits.
Today, Portland is known as one of the UK's top spots
for rock climbing.
With four miles of almost unbroken cliffs,
there are over 1,000 climbing routes to choose from
and with breathtaking views of the English Channel,
it's the perfect location to don a harness for a lesson
from local climbing instructor Will Moy.
Will, this is a truly remarkable spot here.
I mean, that rock face is something else.
-It's amazing, isn't it?
-Tell me about the geology of it.
So this is Portland stone and so it's a sedimentary rock,
which has been formed by layers and layers of tiny crustaceans
over a long period of time that's been squeezed together
and now it's been pushed up and created this island
-and left this amazing rock for us to climb on.
Amazing is a good word for it because just standing here,
you can see just so many layers.
-Is that where it's been compressed?
So, essentially, it's built on layers
and sometimes you get those layers at an angle
and on Portland most of the time, it's actually horizontal, flat.
So that's why it's really great for us to rock climb on.
It means that we've got lots of handholds to climb on,
and lots of little edges to put our feet on.
So who could actually attempt to climb a rock face of that size
and stature, if you like?
Well, that's the great thing about Portland, really.
There's a grade for everybody.
So starting from really young, so maybe five, six, seven years old,
all the way up to 70s and 80s can get up there,
if they're fit and willing.
-I'm nervous but I'm looking forward to it.
-We'll give it a good go.
The seam of limestone I'm going to be climbing
is around 50 foot high.
It sounds daunting but Will assures me it's a good distance
for a beginner like myself.
-So we've got the harness on.
-Helmet on. What next?
-So this is the rope here that you're going to be climbing on.
The rope's here just to safeguard you, all right?
So it's just in case you want to come down
or if you fall off the rock, it's there to help you, all right?
So, the idea is we need to tie you in. All right.
With this knot here, so let me just do this for you.
-So I'm going to be controlling this end of the rope.
As you climb up, my job is to take the rope in.
All right, so it's always there ready to catch you.
I know I'm in good hands, Will.
-It looks an awful long way up.
So the idea, obviously, you've got lots of handholds and footholds
to place your hands on. Sometimes it's difficult to find your way,
so you do have to feel around sometimes
-to find the best place.
So the first tricky move is getting your feet up on to this one,
-then across to here.
You've got an excellent handhold up here.
-As soon as you can get your hand up to here, the better.
-This is where my first foot goes.
Can you reach right up?
That's it. Bend your knee a bit that way. Perfect.
VOICEOVER: Climbing is a great full body workout.
Using both the upper and lower body,
you work your abdominals and leg muscles,
whilst all the reaching and stretching for holds
improves flexibility and agility at the same time.
Will, the fact that you've got that rope is so reassuring,
I can't tell you.
Right, Will, next bit?
OK, so I would go out to the right a little bit.
-Can you see those ledges you've got?
My heart, Will, is racing!
-OK. You're almost at the top now.
So if you can climb a few more steps.
VOICEOVER: The popularity of climbing in the UK
is currently on the increase.
Membership with the British Mountaineering Council
has more than doubled in the last 15 years.
Go on, all your weight through that leg. Go on, push, push, push.
I can't believe I'm practically at the top.
And, turning around,
having the confidence just to look at that spectacular view...
it's worth it.
Right, better get down now.
VOICEOVER: I can see why people get addicted to climbing.
The feeling of reaching the top is just exhilarating.
And little steps down on the rock now, then.
-Just small steps, yeah.
-Yeah, little steps.
VOICEOVER: With sport climbing on the up, it's been shortlisted
for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
NICKI SIGHS Terra firma!
And with over 500 indoor climbing walls now in the UK and Ireland,
it couldn't be easier to get started.
I can't believe I did it.
But, when it comes to my climbing career,
I think it's best I leave it to the experts and stick to house-hunting.
Great that we've been able to show you characterful properties
that have all been under budget by quite a bit.
-And in beautiful locations as well.
Yeah, I mean the villages that we've been seeing
while we've been driving around are just spectacular.
So it's only made you want to move here even more, I'm guessing.
Yeah. I don't think there was any doubt before,
but there's definitely none now.
Now, on our way to our Mystery House.
-Have we left the best till last?
I think this is the one that I'm actually the most excited to see.
So I'm really looking forward to it.
Our last stop is Maiden Newton,
just two miles down the road from where our search began.
The large village lies on the confluence of the rivers
Frome and Hook, surrounded by the chalk hills of the Dorset Downs.
The village centre, marked by the remains of a 15th-century
market cross, has a selection of local shops and places to eat
and is served by a train station with routes to London and Weymouth.
The buildings are a mix of old and new,
some dating back to the 17th century.
The village church is said to have the oldest original
wooden church door in England.
Just a two-minute walk around the corner,
our Mystery House sits on the banks of the River Frome
on a rather notable site.
Now it's not every day I can show our couples
a property that is right next to 1,000-year-old mill.
Mentioned in the Domesday Book,
-that is how old this whole area is.
The good news is your property isn't 1,000 years old.
It's only about 100 years old.
I'm in love.
-It's beautiful, isn't it?
Now, this is community living because you've got a few properties
here that have already got families living in them.
But I'm going to take you to your house and see what you make of that.
-Ready for the mystery tour?
This impressive three-storey terraced building is the largest
property we've seen so far.
The current owners have spent 18 months renovating the house,
as well as restoring the neighbouring mill
to its former glory.
Come out of the rain.
Leave our umbrellas behind.
-You've got your kitchen here,
you've got your wood burner,
-which we've got to get out of the way for Chris.
Dining area and then we've got our sitting room too.
It's lovely. It's really nice.
I love the floor, the tiles on the floor.
I love the open-plan living.
I think that really works for kind of our lifestyle.
It is Grade II listed,
but by association because of the old mill
because that has so much history and heritage.
We all love downstairs. Let's see what we make of the next floor.
Just off the open-plan dining area is a useful utility room with
downstairs toilet, completing the accommodation on the ground floor.
This being our Mystery House,
it does have a slightly unconventional layout.
There's a further sitting room and a bathroom on the first floor,
which is where we're heading next.
Right, pleasing start to our house tour.
I'm feeling confident on the next floor.
I love the look.
I'm a little bit emotional.
-Mmm, a little bit.
This is like everything we would ever want.
You're making me go now.
That's not the whole point! I'm meant to be taking you around.
Could you see yourselves living somewhere like this?
-May already be seeing ourselves.
In our wildest dreams, I think. Yeah.
This, for me, would be a house we might never leave
as opposed to I think some of the others where maybe we've thought,
"This is great, you know, and in a few years,
"maybe we'll move on to something else."
-But this feels more like a house we'd stay in. Oh!
I'm going to take you upstairs and show you what else there is.
-Are you ready for this?
Can we improve on that reaction upstairs?
You've got some work to do. Right, let's see.
I'm not sure this viewing could get any better -
at least not where Kate is concerned.
Also on the first floor is the family bathroom.
Heading up to the top floor,
there's an additional shower room and three sizeable bedrooms,
all with gorgeous exposed beams and high vaulted ceilings.
I'm confident we won't have any ceiling-related problems
with six foot six Chris here.
On our second floor now,
we can't just do, you know, the normal layout, can we?
This is a fantastic sized room.
There's a great feeling of space through the whole house.
Even just coming up the stairs and the landings.
I love the beams.
Chris likes the high ceilings, I guess.
No, my head is not going to be bashing those in a hurry.
And we talked always about you having two bedrooms,
but three is a bonus, isn't it?
Three's brilliant because we can have a sort of designated
guest room that kind of doesn't get touched so it's always ready
for people to come and stay and I can have a writing space.
The weather is a little inclement, but I think it is worth going
outside just to have a look at that garden and that outside space.
-Right, we'll head back.
Back on the ground floor,
there's a garage to the front of the property
offering a fantastic double-height space.
Then there's a generous lawned back garden.
We can cheat a little bit out here,
because if you don't want to, we don't need to go out in the rain.
We can stand under this canopy
and see the full effect of your garden.
There's a few things I've always wanted in a dream house.
One is a door in the middle, which this has.
The other is a walled garden.
It's like we knew.
It's fabulous, and this canopy is so substantial,
we could come out here even in those rainy summer days
and still barbecue.
So we're going to have to now try and put a final price
on our Mystery House.
-It's got to be 350 plus.
I think, I'm really hoping not
but I think it might be slightly over our budget
and you're pushing us a wee bit.
I'm going to say 375.
OK, well the asking price is...
for offers over £350,000.
-We need to save more money.
-We can really see it.
They are looking for offers just over.
-But I think it's down to your negotiation skills.
This could be the perfect home.
Yes, why don't you have another look and decide if it is?
Because it is a lot of money, I do appreciate that.
I'm going to join you because I'm not staying out here in the rain,
however beautiful this garden is.
-Off you go.
Certainly gone very well indeed, but why not?
It is a splendid property.
Taking their budget to the limit, this fantastic character property
satisfies everything on Kate and Chris's wish list and more.
There's an extra bedroom that Kate could use for a writing room,
the living space is practical and modern but with period features
and there's a private enclosed garden,
all within walking distance to the village centre.
This might be a really nice writing room for me
with the view out over the garden.
That's a nice, big, wide window, that one, isn't it?
Yeah, and these amazing ceilings, so it feels so airy, doesn't it?
From outside it looked fantastic, already.
But as you come through the door and just open out into this fantastic,
open-plan living space...
Yeah, I think we both really kind of got that feeling.
I got a bit emotional when we came upstairs
and I think that's because this is sort of the house
that you always dream that you might have
and I'm not sure that I thought that was
something that would be achievable on our budget.
I think we would do anything we could to probably buy this house.
Well, I think we've finished our tour of Dorset
on a high with our Mystery House.
What are you going to do next, I wonder? Let's make a move.
Chris, you grab the door, we're going to duck this way and let's go.
Well, we've certainly had a very pleasant few days here in Dorset
with Chris and Kate.
Now we know our couple need to move quickly,
the big question is,
are they going to move into one of our properties?
Let's find out.
Well, Chris and Kate, what a delightful few days
we have spent with you driving around Dorset.
It's been great, hasn't it?
-It's been fantastic.
-Yeah. Really wonderful.
At what point do you think as you were looking around the properties
did you suddenly think, "This is it, this could be our new home?"
Excuse the fireworks going off in the background.
I think it happened in possibly two of the houses.
Definitely the Mystery House.
The mill cottage was just amazing and I think, you know, I mean
I reacted quite emotionally to it
which I had not really done I think in any of the other houses.
Um, and possibly the cottage that we saw in Bradpole,
as well, was something that we would definitely consider.
Why the Mystery House? Why does that one work for the both of you?
I think just the proportions were certainly one of the things
that really had that wow factor, definitely.
That's exactly it, wow factor.
I think that house had it.
It really was that kind of moment where you have a really gut...
A gut feel of "This place is amazing and incredible."
So where are you going to go next?
Definitely going to do a second viewing as soon as we can.
And we're going...
We've got a few little things that we want to iron out,
just a couple of questions about the property.
And then it's the check on the finances,
conversation with the owner because I think we need to understand
what they're looking for when it says "in excess of."
-Um, and then, you know, take it from there.
This is all sounding really promising.
I think in our entire lives, it's probably the nicest house
we've ever walked around.
You know, we'd never viewed a house that's affected us
quite as much as that one did.
So, if we could have it, I think we'll do everything we can to.
I can so see you two in that property.
You just seem to fit.
You really do.
It's been our pleasure, thank you,
and, well, enjoy the rest of your lives here in Dorset.
-Thank you very much, it's been brilliant fun.
Well, I've loved showing Chris and Kate around Dorset.
Such a different collection of homes
and only one of them at the top of their budget.
That house, our mystery property,
well, it certainly brought tears to Kate's eyes.
The perfect home for a lovely couple.
Obviously, they've got a little homework that they need to do,
get a few questions answered
and revisit their finances, but hearing those reactions
and seeing that emotion,
I'm feeling quietly confident.
So that's it from, well, at least a rather rainy Dorset today,
and I'll see you again in another part of the country soon.
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Nicki Chapman is on a property-hunting mission in Dorset with a young couple from Surrey seeking a rural home for their £350k budget.
As well as looking at potential houses, Nicki also heads to the southernmost tip of the county and bravely attempts to scale the limestone cliffs on the Isle of Portland.