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Today, I've escaped to a county where the climate provides
the perfect conditions for the cultivation of withies.
That's willow-growing to you and me, and it's been farmed here for over 200 years!
I think you could get quite lost in here.
In today's show, I'll be helping a couple from the South-East
swap the noisy commuter belt for a dream life in the country.
And they're not just looking for a home, they're after
outbuildings to convert into a money-spinning venture, and location is going to be all-important.
The position is spot-on. I couldn't ask for more on position.
We'll be viewing three outstanding properties, each offering our buyers huge business potential.
-This is what we're looking for.
-Buildings such as this.
Then the mystery house, giving them more than they bargained for.
Today I'm in Somerset, and the low-lying wetlands here
make it the centre of the traditional willow industry.
And it's here that they're also trying to keep the ancient craft of weaving with willow alive and well.
But of course, that's not all that this county has to offer.
From the stunning coastline to the tranquil, heather-clad hills,
Somerset has a rich blend of landscapes, including Exmoor national park.
Nestling on the west Somerset/north Devon border, it's known for natural beauty and wild animals.
Whether explored by horseback or by foot, it's one of Britain's most beautiful breathing spaces.
Agriculture is big business in Somerset,
with apple orchards and local cider a traditional speciality.
The average detached house here in Somerset
will set you back just over £303,000.
That's 13% higher than the national average.
Cross the border to Devon, though, and that figure jumps to £312,000.
Now, for today's buyers we're going to be casting our net far and wide,
and I think it's going to be very interesting to see just how much we'll get for our money.
Today's property hunters are John and Kate, who have a huge six-bedroomed house in Woking,
Surrey, but now want to spread out onto a sizeable patch of land in the peace and quiet of the countryside.
We'd like to move to the country because we like it to be quiet.
We want somewhere that's rural, possibly self-sufficient, the whole nine yards. Ten yards.
How many yards is it?
John is a builder and can't wait to get his hands on a countryside
project, something he can convert into their dream property.
A period farmhouse with ten acres, four or five bedrooms and hopefully
some outbuildings that we could run a business from home from.
-Some old farmhouse, some old wreck.
A nice old wreck in the country.
And a country kitchen is going to be high on Kate's list.
What I really like about this house is the size of the kitchen.
So if we could get something that had a big farmhouse kitchen, or the potential
for a big farmhouse kitchen, then that'd be brilliant.
And she has her heart set on living off the land and looking after animals.
This is a fairly large garden, but what we're really after is about ten acres plus, so that
we can grow our own vegetables and become self-sufficient
and also have the land so that we can get a few animals in, as well.
What would be their dream life in the country?
We dream of more free time.
A couple of rescue donkeys.
-Yeah. A few animals.
-A few hens laying eggs.
A few hens.
Dog-walking. Time to go dog-walking.
They both long for a self-sufficient lifestyle and to just get back to nature.
John even plans to generate natural power.
One of the things that we're really hoping for if we move to the country is we want to become self-sufficient
in energy - geothermal heating, wind generation, and, if we've got a stream to generate some electricity
via water power, this thing here will no longer be connected to the national grid.
But it's not just about being self-sufficient.
Their big ambition is to run a business from home.
They're open to ideas, but for now they're thinking holiday lets or a guesthouse.
Our ideal property should have an office or a study, because if we're running a holiday letting business,
I think that becomes a necessity.
But are they going to see eye-to-eye with clinching a deal?
I think I'm rather more impulsive than Kate is.
She takes so long looking at it that someone else has bought it by the time she's made her mind up.
Well, no time to lose, as they already have a buyer for their home.
We exchanged recently for 1,115,000...
..a little less than we'd anticipated
or less than we'd have achieved last year.
Nevertheless, how much are they able to spend?
If we could find a nice period property, ten acres, stream,
hopefully with a holiday letting business attached...
-..or outbuildings that we could convert,
then I think we'd be prepared to go to one and a quarter million.
So Kate and John are after a substantial period property with four to five bedrooms and a large
kitchen, but the key here is the outside acreage and what's in it, those all-important holiday lets.
I think that's going to be the tricky bit, getting it just right.
Our property search today will focus on west Somerset, in the area around
Exmoor national park, and across the border into Devon,
where they've already begun some research.
As today's couple are looking for more than just a home, we'll be
having our work cut out for us finding a business as well.
They'll see three properties, but I'll keep the prices under wraps.
And to finish off, I'll show them a mystery house, sure to get them thinking outside the box.
Well, Kate and John do have a very healthy budget, but whatever
your price range, Somerset has lots of properties to suit.
Just take a look at these.
If you have twice as much as Kate and John's budget,
you could own 18 acres and a piece of history
in this superb Grade I listed house dating from the medieval period in Yeovil.
At £2.7 million, it's full of character and a homely feel.
Every last detail has an elegant finish.
£650,000 will buy you this four-bed cottage in a peaceful riverside setting in Great Elm.
Inside, there's a beautiful blend of period and modern features and a light and airy feel.
For those on tighter budgets, 249,950 could buy you this charming
natural stone cottage in the village of Merriott.
Recently refurbished, it has a bright and modern feel,
with two well-kept gardens, including fruit trees.
Kate and John, welcome to Somerset. I wish the weather was a bit better!
It is a bit grey, but we're hoping for bright prospects for your property search,
-because this is a big move for you, isn't it?
-Yeah, it is a big move.
It's a lifestyle change.
Just remind me, how much is that budget?
Got a total budget of around one and a quarter million, but that has to provide a home and a business for us.
And that's the crucial point - we're looking for a home, a business...
-And you're not afraid of a project, are you?
-No, we like a project.
-So we can leave you room to make some improvements with the budget.
But for all of that, we are going to have to cast our net far and wide.
So, we're in Somerset, but perhaps we could sneak across the border to Devon?
-Yeah, we could certainly go to Devon.
-Good. Well, let's not waste any more time, then. Let's get going.
So, with a budget of £1.25 million, we're looking for a four-to-five-bedroom
period farmhouse with business potential such as outbuildings
to convert into holiday lets,
a rural setting with plenty of their own surrounding land
and, ideally, a stream from which John can create
I do believe with their budget they'll be sitting quite pretty
in their dream farmhouse very soon.
For our first property, we begin our search travelling to south Somerset,
to the village of Ashill,
an idyllic countryside location.
There's a beautiful village green
and nearby fields, perfect for horse riding and walks,
and the surrounding apple orchards and cider farms
offer tranquil living that should keep our buyers sweet.
The house we're about to see is believed to have been a nunnery,
so the outside is sure to impress.
-Right, my lovelies!
Yeah, I'm made up with the chapel!
You spotted the chapel straightaway.
-He did, didn't he?
-That is quite impressive. That's the chapel, but this is the house.
Look, I like stone buildings.
I like stone windows, stone buildings, chapels. Nice.
-So tick, tick, tick.
Fantastic. Well, let me tell you a little bit about the property. It is Grade II listed.
-You'd be surprised it wasn't, wouldn't you?
Parts of it date from about the 16th century, so we're talking fairly old.
So, so far, in terms of what you were thinking of when you
were thinking "dream property out in Somerset", are we doing well?
-Not too bad at all.
-Good! Well, I'm feeling good about this, and I think I should show you what's inside.
-OK, lead on.
-Are you ready? Let's go.
Come in here, to this lovely, grand, gorgeous hallway.
Nice, high ceilings.
-Yeah, nice, high ceiling.
-I'm thinking, "Christmas tree,"
and apparently when you think Christmas, you're thinking of living there!
Christmas tree there. Nice big tall one. That'd be super.
What a great idea.
-Yeah, that's good.
-Nice floor. Very nice floor.
-Yeah, it's a nice entrance hall. Yeah.
I'm glad to see it's not gone unnoticed. Let's move into this room.
And what we have here is the living space at the moment.
-Aren't the windows fantastic?
-Yeah. The detail is just really good.
-Yeah, nice bit of stained glass on there.
-And the shutters, John, either side.
-It's ideal, isn't it?
And there's a lovely working fireplace there, which is a nice feature.
Yeah, I like the fireplace. I like stone fireplaces.
I could live with this quite happily.
Shall I show you through to the other side of the house?
-As you can see, the way this house works, it's one room deep.
-So we're going to head that way to check out the other rooms. OK?
And just off the hallway is a period dining room, also with
the Gothic stained-glass windows which continue as a striking feature as we head into the kitchen.
It's the Aga!
..in the kitchen, what we're standing in now used to be what they think was the nunnery.
-This was a separate house, so at one point there were two separate
houses, so this wall went right the way across. They took away the wall.
They discovered that lovely brick arch and the bread oven.
-It's a good-sized kitchen.
-Yeah, it's a great kitchen.
It's got that country feeling, I think, even though
there's that ecclesiastical flavour, as well, to the house, which the windows continue to bring in.
Is this the style you were looking for?
I'd be perfectly happy. I wouldn't change a thing. Feature after feature.
-You're almost a bit speechless.
Oh, it's feature-packed, there's no doubt about that.
It's very much my cup of tea.
-So far you are quite taken by this property, aren't you?
-And we haven't seen the half of it yet, so let's keep going.
As we travel through the rest of the rooms, the unlimited potential of this house soon becomes clear.
Also off the kitchen is a utility room, and an office for their business operations.
Out the back, there is a stunning conservatory
which leads to the chapel area which will make a fantastic conversion space.
From the outside, you were quite taken by the chapel, John?
-And now we're in it. You can see it's a games room at the moment.
-You could do a lot with this.
-Yeah, I could do.
Any ideas starting to bubble over?
-It depends how much space there is up at the back there.
-Shall we go and have a look?
-Because, you're right, I think you could do a lot with what's up there. Let's have a look.
I think they are going to find that the chapel area could be the perfect foundation for their home business.
Through the back here, what's clearly being used as a workshop at the moment.
But, you don't just want a house, do you?
You are looking for a business.
-That's right, yep.
-The whole of the chapel would make a good holiday let.
-It could be interesting.
-Definitely food for thought there, isn't there?
The room we are in, we've got another level downstairs.
There is definite potential in this building. A nice living area down there.
I see a nice little kitchen underneath where we are as well.
Great thoughts. But there is more potential with this property.
-Let's go check out the bedrooms and come back to it, yeah?
Upstairs, into the main building, there's plenty of guest space with five large and bright bedrooms,
all full of character, one of which has its own en suite.
'And then, the principal bedroom where I am sure they could imagine waking up.'
Into the master.
-A nice room too.
-I think it's gorgeous.
-Nice and light.
You wouldn't have to do a lot in here. Quite nicely decorated.
And, the en suite.
-Let's have a look.
-It's a good size for a bathroom, especially en suite.
-Another nice window.
Nice window. Nice dinky little fireplace.
You've seen the whole house now, it's quite well done, isn't it?
Yeah, to quite a nice standard.
Is there enough of a project for you, John?
Possibly not in this house, no, because there's not a lot for me to play with.
It depends whether you've got anything else to interest me outside though.
Funny you should mention that!
Because we haven't seen the outside yet, have we?
-Right, let's get out there. After you, Kate.
We are off to a good start. They seem drawn in and we haven't even explored outside.
First of all though, at the rear of house
is the enclosed kitchen garden, with a ready-made vegetable patch to keep Kate busy.
I know you're into gardening and vegetable-growing.
-This is a fantastic area.
Smashing. The dahlias are lovely.
Yeah. They are nice dahlias.
As well as this little garden out here, the other things to point out are, double garage there.
You have got the driveway plus space to park cars.
And this building here is currently being used as a studio, the owner is an artist.
I think, potential there.
Just around from the gardens, there is a farmyard where Kate can keep her animals.
Come on out here. A great place to keep chickens.
-A couple of oinkers in there would go down nicely.
Next to the farm area are yet another set of large outbuildings, ideal for holiday let conversion.
In addition to a possible accommodation business,
this property sits on another potential little money-spinner - 18 acres of apple orchard.
As you can see, it is being commercially operated.
What the current owners are doing is just letting it out.
So, that means minimum effort for them, but also minimum returns.
What sort of return does he get from letting the land?
Just £1,000 a year.
It's a long contract, but it can be broken by either side on 12 months.
So there is potential here for making this into a bigger business of your own.
I don't know anything about cider manufacturing.
But I know quite a bit about drinking it. So I am halfway there.
But, if you had a secondary business over and above your primary business, it's always nice
to have something to fall back on.
It's something to think about. As you say, a potential secondary business.
We haven't finished seeing the rest of it. All in all, you will have 24 acres.
-Shall we see the final part?
-Right, let's go.
So, plenty of prospects here for a flourishing business.
The house also boasts its own tennis court.
And, as we walk to the front of the house, we pass the lavish landscaped gardens.
A blend of grandeur and privacy.
We are back at the front of this beautiful house.
We have been past your 18 acres.
If you want to know where the final six are, just behind you, the second hedge there,
-you can see a few sheep in the field.
-The second hedge? Wow.
Oh, we've got some sheep?
Some sheep grazing there as well. Quite a lot.
-And all this too.
-The front of house looks super, doesn't it?
Doesn't it just? But the big question is, how much do you think it is worth?
Yeah, that is the big question, isn't it?
-I am going to start with you, John.
-I am going to go for £1,000,050.
And you, Kate?
I'm going to go slightly higher, I'm going to go for £1,100,050.
Well, how about this? It's on the market for £985,000.
-That's not bad.
-That's not bad, a little bit lower than both of you.
At that figure, that gives you a bit of space in your budget.
We'd need money if we were going to convert those buildings, we'd need money to do that.
It's a nice-looking house. For under £1 million.
You are absolutely right. So, take those thoughts, head back in,
and I will catch up with you later when you have had another look round.
-Off you go. OK, see you later.
Pleasantly surprised. I think Kate really likes this place,
and John can certainly see the potential of what he can do with it.
At that price, they've got enough left over to work some wonders.
At £985,000, this grand converted nunnery
comes with six bedrooms and a chapel, ideal for a guest house.
And an abundance of land - just over 24 acres,
including an apple orchard.
The business opportunities are clearly endless,
and it looks like they are already sold.
The entrance, the driveway, is absolutely stunning. I am sort of overwhelmed.
A magnificent looking house. Plenty of scope outside for improvement and business point of view.
This is quite a good barn. You could get more than one bedroom in there.
We have looked at other houses of a similar size and a similar
amount of acreage, and I thought the price was fair.
Nice fireplace, nice bit of stone.
-And the dual aspect.
-Yeah, it's a nice light room, it's a nice house.
For me, it is perfect, it is exactly the kind of thing I like.
I feel very much as if I could just move in and get on with it.
Right, you two. Had a good look around again?
-Yeah, had a good look around.
-You've got lots to think about now.
-But we're not finished yet, so let's go.
To get a feel for Somerset, Kate and John have decided to wander around
the medieval village of Dunster, the perfect base from which to explore Exmoor and the National Park.
11th-century Dunster Castle immediately catches the eye.
-It's quite a nice place, Dunster.
-It's a really good view, look at the castle.
From the top of the castle, John and Kate take in all the breathtaking
scenery, giving them even more of a reason to move to Somerset.
-Yeah, lovely country, lovely countryside.
-A good bit of land.
Yeah, a few hundred acres of this sort of land here would go down a treat.
But a real flavour of Somerset wouldn't be complete without, first, a taste of local juicy apples.
Apple orchards were once the county's lifeblood,
and since the mid-'90s, there has been a renaissance in farmhouse cider.
Kate and John visit a local cider farm for a quick swig of this sweet delicacy.
Right, this is our apple juice which we have only just pressed.
This is our first press of the year.
-Yeah. We make that from dessert apples, three parts dessert
apples to a third part of Bramleys, just to give it a bit of
a kick to it. If you want to just taste that, and can see what you think?
After a sip of apple juice, it's on to the hard stuff.
That is strong.
-It's the same one.
-It's the same one.
-Oh, is it? Sorry, I thought you had the other one.
I am quite partial to a drop of cider, so if you're going to
keep on making this stuff, we will have to move in close to you.
You will, you certainly will.
-Good luck. Good health.
After producing cider, there is plenty of pulp left over which the resident pigs get to feast on.
-Smell that. It smells like cider already.
-Oh, it does, doesn't it?
That's just the pulp left over from the pressings.
-I think the pigs want it.
-Apparently, Cynthia likes it.
There we are.
Pigs dig with their noses to eat snails, and they will eat pretty much anything you throw at them.
-They liked that. Did you put it all in?
-Yeah, it's all gone.
Our next property is near the rural village of Halse,
east of Exmoor National Park.
Halse is the quintessential olde worlde village
with gorgeous thatch-roofed cottages and a sweet little church.
It oozes charm and character.
Who wouldn't want to live here?
Tucked behind private hedges, we find our next farmhouse.
It has much more than meets the eye, including a number of traditional outbuildings
which the owner has already explored with the council for conversion.
Up we come.
Through here. Take a look at this.
-This is nice.
-This is lovely.
-This little thatched cottage.
A traditional Somerset long house.
It is 300-400 years old, it is a Grade II listed building.
-Nice period property for you again.
Your thoughts on living in a property like this?
-Oh yeah, great.
-Very nice too.
-I think it's really sweet.
Yeah, it looks in nice condition, a nice quiet spot. Fine.
I've got no problem with a nice little thatched house.
That's good. Let's see what you make of the inside,
-because it is quite old, and that means it's got lots of lovely period features.
We are off to a positive start.
Let's see what they think of the cosy interior.
Go straight through here.
That's a nice room.
-Wow, yeah, it's super.
I think this is smashing. Bread oven fire, old doors, beams.
-You're looking at the chocolate box outside, and this is the chocolate box inside, isn't it?
-It really is.
What are your feelings, now you're standing inside?
-I'm feeling I want to go over and look at the fireplace.
-And get cosy.
It's a nice room. You can see yourself cosying in with a little gin and tonic of an evening time.
It's got that the character, and it's got that amazing door over there.
Which I think we should head through.
'We head into what would normally be the kitchen,
'but it's actually something else on their wish list.'
-Now, through here...
-I was expecting the kitchen.
Not a kitchen. As you can see, they are actually using it as an office.
But, you were right, originally, this was the kitchen.
And, the clue is over there.
-Another bread oven.
-And what a big and unusual office it is as well.
-It is a big office.
Would this suit you as an office?
-Oh gosh, yes.
-It's plenty big enough.
And you have got outside access, so that's good.
It is an unusual office, which used to be a kitchen.
I guess we should see the real kitchen.
-We're going to go back through that way, and across the lounge.
So, here is the kitchen! On the other side.
-Oh, wow. Look. It's massive.
-It is. It's a bit unusual.
What do you think of it as a kitchen?
As a kitchen, it doesn't do anything for me.
It's a good size though, isn't it?
The size is fine. But you'd have to redo it.
John wanted a project and he's got plenty to play with here.
Also downstairs, just off the kitchen is a nice
bright sitting room, a large utility room and a handy washroom.
Upstairs, there are three guest bedrooms, two of which are light and airy.
And there's a modern bathroom.
And finally, to their room which has loads of charm.
This is the master bedroom.
It's quite nice sized room.
-A nice little fireplace.
-A nice fireplace.
-Nice window seat.
-With lovely views.
Yeah. It's in a nice spot, it has got nice views.
I think we might be able to expose some of these beams.
-You're looking at some changes you could make.
-Yeah, I think so.
-I think it needs a bit of attention.
-What's also important to you, though, is outside.
So let's have a look, shall we?
-And get to grips with what kind of a business you could have here.
The potential is endless in his house, especially as John loves knocking a wall down here and there.
I can't wait till they see all the possibilities outdoors.
Right, time for the outside.
Land, business, important, right? So let's start with this area.
We have got eight acres around the house.
That extends right the way round to a couple of fields that way.
There's another 20 acres across the way.
So you have got all of the land going all the way round.
-But we've also got...
Barns, that's right. One here, one over there.
The good news is there's a verbal planning permission at least, obviously it is subject to
the official planning permission, to transform them into holiday lets.
-OK, that sounds good.
-Sounding good, isn't it?
So we have got this one here, but I think we should start
-by having a look down there.
Although there's no guarantee, the owners have had the nod
from the council's listed buildings and planning departments to convert the barns as holiday lets.
But they'd still need to make a formal application.
Coming in here, you get an idea just how much space you have got.
-That would be all right, a nice little mezzanine bedroom up there.
-It's high, isn't it?
It is. There's a lot of space.
-A lot you could do here.
And again, there is verbal planning permission
to open some of it up, so you could get some light coming through.
This is what we are looking for. Buildings such as this.
I can see you are quite excited by the barns.
Shall we have a look at the rest of the outside?
-And then we will guess the price.
-You lead out.
In total, there are three massive barns that will offer our house hunters
huge scope to start their dream holiday letting business.
But now, something just to warm Kate's heart.
Now, come back here.
-Because I think this is another nice surprise.
-I see a smile. You can see the stables.
How many acres did you say we had?
-All in all, this whole plot adds up to 30 acres of land.
-And then the stream.
-It's quite a bit of land.
-I'm big on the stream.
When we looked at the places before, the stream has been a boundary.
But that stream is actually going through your land.
And I want to get a little bit of hydropower out of it.
It also looks quite clear, there might be a few trout in there.
You are absolutely right. If you fish in there. So it's ticking lot of boxes.
You like it. It's got potential for the business.
The house could be cosy enough for the two of you. How much do you think it is worth?
I can only go on the properties that we have seen elsewhere.
And what I think it is most probably worth, the value to me is no more than £750,000.
I would then say, I always go higher, 825 then.
-The whole lot is £775,000.
-Not too bad then.
-Not at all.
-Yes, it's a lot under your budget, but there is a lot of potential here.
-Yeah, there is.
-You are quite taken by the house.
So I think, you head back in, I'll catch up with you later.
-Good day. Cheerio.
This pretty thatched roofed property is on the market for £775,000.
But it will need some extra cash to bring it up to their expectations.
It has four bedrooms, three traditional barns with great conversion potential.
A stream for John's water power.
Stables ready to house Kate's future donkeys and horses.
And an entire 30 acres of land to play with.
But, will there be enough in this property to keep them both happy?
The location is good, it's a good location, it's very quiet.
It's pretty from the outside. Inside, it's got some nice features.
-This is a nice room.
-This is the best room in the house. It's got the best-looking beams.
-And all the character.
Three nice barns outside with the potential for conversion.
Somebody might be quite happy to come and stay in there if it was a holiday let.
As to whether we might buy the place, I think it warrants further investigation.
OK, we're not finished yet.
There is a lot more to see.
-Are you ready?
'Having planted some seeds in the minds of our house hunters,
'we visit a sprawling Somerset harvest.
'For over two centuries,
'the Somerset wetlands have provided flourishing conditions for willows.
'We've come to the Willows and Wetlands Centre,
'to see how these amazing plants are harvested and crafted into goods like baskets and furniture.
'Such local craftsmanship could be perfect to decorate their holiday lets.'
So, the willow's been harvested.
Talk us through the process, what happens next?
This is as it's come back from the moor.
It's all various lengths, from three to eight feet.
So we have actually got to grade it into its sizes.
We drop it in a barrel, pull out the tall ones first, and work our way down
until we end up with seven different sizes, as you can see behind you,
three to nine feet high.
'Once the willow has been sorted into different sizes, they are boiled for ten hours.
'The bark is stripped off, and then it is ready for weaving.
'Expert Jonathan Coate shows us how it is done.'
Jonathan, talk us through what you're doing.
I am slewing up, the weave is actually called slewing, and we're putting the side on a log basket,
using steamed willow and buff willow.
And the steamed willow is just giving it a bit of a contrast.
How long will a log basket take to make then?
Something like this, about an hour-and-a-half.
-Hour-and-a-half, really good.
Yes. Everything is done by hand?
That's right, yeah. No machinery involved in basket making at all.
Well, I think it's time that we had a go. Are you ready, guys?
-Kate, I think you're up first.
Good, good. Am I here?
It may take the experts one-and-a-half hours to handcraft a basket
but it's going to take us a little longer to get the hang of it.
So, hit it down with the side of the hand.
That's right. And continue on round.
That's it. That's right, in and out.
You can join another one in there.
-Looking good, John.
-What do you think? When shall I start?
Put another 14 inches on and put the border down -
if you can do that in the next 20 minutes, you can start on Monday!
If the holiday lets don't work out, John's always got a handy backup as a willow weaver.
As the day draws to a close, Kate and John head back to the hotel to reflect on the day's properties.
-What did you make of that stone house at Ashill?
-I really liked that.
I thought the house was smashing.
Super frontage on it. There's a few barns there to convert.
-Is it in an area where you are able to let them? That's the main thing.
Quite a novelty having the orchard.
And there's enough land for a few animals.
There's enough land. There's enough outbuildings.
It's just whether it is in...
-The right location.
The thatched house at Halse, what did you make of that?
I think the location was smashing.
-It was very quiet.
Pretty, chocolate-box, quite quaint.
Anyway, there's tomorrow yet. So we'll have to wait and see what that brings.
Today's property hunters are John and Kate from Woking in Surrey,
who are looking for a farmhouse with a business attached,
in the West Somerset and Devon borders, with a £1.25 million budget.
They're looking for a four-to-five-bedroomed house,
with a hefty stretch of land, with outbuildings for conversion.
So far, they have seen two properties which have had plenty of money-making prospects.
I don't know anything about cider manufacturing, but I know quite a bit about drinking it!
So, I'm halfway there.
But there's even more still to come, including a mystery house.
-Yeah, it's a pretty place.
-It's higgledy-piggledy. Yeah, I like it.
It's the start of a gorgeous day in Somerset.
The sun has come out for our property search
and we know that John and Kate are looking for the dream location
and that's what we are hoping to find today.
Next, we travel to the southeastern edge of Exmoor National Park,
near the tiny village of East Anstey.
It's an idyllic spot, surrounded by woodlands and just four miles from Dulverton,
a picturesque village set on the River Barle which rests inside Exmoor National Park.
Sweet little tea rooms and pubs are a pit stop for the park's two million visitors a year,
which Kate and John can capitalise on with their accommodation business.
Our first house for the day sits amongst its own sprawling landscape, and is a real Somerset oasis.
Right. Today, we have brought you to the foothills of Exmoor National Park.
And this farmhouse is what I want to show you,
I know you wanted a rural location,
this is surrounded by its own land.
-Yeah, good, that was one of the boxes to tick.
-So, looking at it, what are your thoughts so far?
-It's a lovely spot.
The house is possibly slightly newer than we might have wanted, but it looks in good shape, though.
I like the driveway, it's always nice when you drive up your own drive to your house.
I like that talk, "Drive up the driveway to your own house."
-Starting to place yourself here.
-To one's estate.
-To one's estate, absolutely! Shall we take a look inside?
Well, it's a farmhouse. So we're not heading in what looks like the front door,
we're going round the back, as you would traditionally.
'The back entrance leads right into the family dining area
'which takes advantage of this amazing rural setting.'
In we come. The traditional way, through the back, wipe your feet.
And, into the kitchen.
-It's not a bad space, with the breakfast area there.
-And, the views.
-Yeah, smashing views.
Even I might do the washing up looking out that window.
Plenty of windows, plenty of light.
-You can modify the interior but you can't change the position it's in.
That's absolutely right. It isn't just this area.
-Come this way.
-It goes all the way round to here.
-Ah, yeah, yeah.
-It's the snug.
-This is when you can really see the traditional features.
You've got the range. It's fitted into the inglenook.
-It's quite a nice space actually.
-Yeah, it's a nice snug little room.
Yeah, I think you'd most probably spend quite a bit of time here.
-We could do something with this.
'Plenty of potential in this house.
'Just round the corner is a cosy formal living room with beautiful views of their own land.
'Also downstairs is a shower room, a massive utility room, and what could be their business office.
'Next, we head upstairs, where there are three well-positioned bedrooms, ideal for guests.
'And, a modern bathroom.
'Let's see what they think of their room.'
So, THIS is the master.
OK. Yeah, double aspect.
-Nice and airy, yeah, fine. It's quite a nice room.
-It is, isn't it?
-It's a nice house. You could see it being a home rather than just a house.
There's more to it. If you head round there, there's an en suite.
-OK, that's a decent size.
-Yeah, got a bath in there.
Makes a change for an en suite to have a bath.
-It does, doesn't it?
-A full-size bathroom,
that's fine. Super.
-And the views.
-The views! That's right.
We've talked enough about the views, let's get out and look at that land.
'let's explore all that land surrounding the house.'
So, we're back outside.
And, as I said, this house comes with land all the way around it. So I'm going to do you a quick tour,
all the way round, then give you time to explore.
-How many acres have we got in total?
Right, in total, we are talking 30 acres.
-It goes all the way round.
I'll point the various parts out to you.
-Let's start here, shall we? You have got a little stone building.
That you could do as you wish with.
Then we have got this patch here which was used as a rose garden.
Another thing is that your land goes behind there and you have your own water supply.
Yeah, I thought we might have a borehole.
-There's a tank there.
-Up there, you've got your tank.
That does supply the house, but you are connected to the mains.
-So you've got the option.
That's quite a lot going on just in this little section here.
-Shall we keep going?
-OK, lead on.
There are also large barns which could be great for keeping horses.
The current owners are maximising the gigantic stretch of land
with a chicken business which could be another lucrative sideline.
-They're following us.
-They do think it's grub-up time!
There are two chicken houses here. They are running it as a business.
And I can tell you that, annually, each of the houses
makes about £68-£70,000 turnover, profits in total about £40,000. So there's a business going.
It doesn't have to come with the property.
The land you get, the chickens, not necessarily,
you can take the land but you don't have to have the business.
-They can pack up and go.
-I wasn't quite expecting 50,000 chickens.
-It is something to think about, definitely.
-It's a lovely option.
But the great thing about it is that you don't have to have them.
While we are up here, I also want to show you some more of your land, because this valley comes with it.
-Oh, smashing outlook.
-And there's a stream running through.
-The location a superb, isn't it? It really is good.
I think, the location of the property is exactly what we are after.
So, there is all of this, and the valley, and that's not all.
-There's a bit more to see. Shall we keep going?
And, if that wasn't enough to win John over, wait till he sees the impressive water features.
You get your very own pond.
There's a stream running all the way through.
-This is a great location, isn't it?
-Yeah, super location.
The only sounds you can hear are the sounds of the countryside. A few birds twittering, no cars.
No cars, absolutely. The position is spot-on.
I couldn't ask for more on position. It's a lovely little spot.
So, there's the house situated in the middle. So, consider where we are, the property, all of the land.
How much do think it is worth? I'll start with you, Kate, this time.
-OK. What do you think, John?
I think I might go a little bit higher, maybe 875.
So, 825, 875.
This house and all that land is on the market for £950,000.
I think, in today's market, I think that might be a little bit strong.
It is definitely a nice spot though.
Why don't you have a wander round, there's a lot to see, and we'll have a good catch-up later?
-All right, see you later. Head off that way.
A little bit under on their guess.
I think 950 is actually pretty good for all of this.
But remember the location. We are right by Exmoor National Park.
If they want to run a holiday let business, where better to be?
This stunning farmhouse is on the market for £950,000.
It has four bedrooms
and comes with a whopping 30 acres of land in a private setting.
There is the option to purchase a chicken business
with a lucrative income,
and it offers modern farm buildings, ideal for converting.
It's in a gorgeous location and has a hefty chunk of land.
But will that be enough?
We're on to a winner here. It's definitely the right position.
I think the location is perfect.
It's absolutely spot on. I could see us just moving in and living here.
-It's quite a nice room. It's quite a nice house, isn't it?
-It's not a huge house or anything.
-No, it's big enough for us.
Quite a few thousand hens, which was a little bit of a surprise.
A good friend of ours, his business is eggs, so we'll speak to him when we get home.
If the price was right, then I think we might be interested.
There's so much here, isn't there?
And there's a lot more to see.
-So I think we should get going.
Kate said she wants to adopt a few rescue ponies,
so we've taken her to the Exmoor Pony Centre to find out how to care for them
and what makes these adorable animals so special.
-Would you like to come and meet some of our residents?
The Exmoor pony is one of the world's oldest breeds,
having lived wild on the Exmoor hills for centuries, and making them a unique part of the landscape.
They are hardy animals. Incredibly, they evolved to suit their environment,
with teeth for a coarse diet and digestive systems for internal warmth to survive the winter.
There's a good boy.
What is the difference these ponies and a standard breed of pony?
These ponies have survived for thousands of years out on the moor.
The research at the moment is suggesting that they go back more than 25,000 years.
They've been here a lot longer than we have.
These days, their numbers are kept under control, and are sold by herd owners.
But sadly, some are rejected, so the Exmoor Pony Centre takes them in.
Valerie Sherwin takes us through grooming time, a firm brush down, and a hoof checkup.
If you were to have a pony or two ponies,
it is important that every day, you do need to check their feet.
That cleans their hoof out and you can see there is nothing there to bother him.
-They don't need any shoes, then?
-No, they don't. That is one of the features of the breed.
They have this black hard sole which has carried them over Exmoor
for thousands of years without needing shoes.
Next, it's off to watch them live naturally on the Exmoor plains.
This is only a small herd here.
These are related to our ponies, but they are a totally different kettle of fish.
-You wouldn't get close to these.
-They are not tame?
Not quite as docile?
-No, not at all.
-You can't cuddle them.
No, no, these are wonderful, wild creatures.
You can almost see by their colouring that they come from here, they blend into the scenery.
They blend in beautifully. They belong here, you can see that. They do belong here.
This morning, we seemed to hit the right spot with the location.
But I think they're looking for more potential with the business.
So, for the mystery house, we have gone deeper into Devon, coming south.
Let's hope we can find Kate and John exactly what they're looking for.
Right, my lovelies, it is now time for the mystery house.
What would you absolutely love it to be?
I'd love it to be a converted mill.
Because then we've got the stream, as well.
Yeah, a mill means Kate's happy. A stream means I'm happy. And, well, we're all happy.
That all sounds very good.
We'll see what we can do for you.
Well, they may just find their wish about to be granted.
But first, the all-important location.
For the mystery property, we head away from Somerset,
southeast to Devon, just outside the small parish of Cotleigh.
It's a sought-after, picturesque haven,
deep in the countryside.
It's quite the rural peaceful life our couple have in mind.
When they need to nip out for shops and restaurants,
they can drive to the busy market town of Honiton,
popular with visitors to Devon,
and which the mystery house could cash in on.
Come through here.
Mystery house time. Now, we have hopped across the border, we're in Devon now.
-Yeah, so I believe.
That's right. In fact, we are not so far from the coast.
We have moved quite far into Devon.
But this is the property. And also, this is a converted mill.
-That stream could be great for your hydroelectric power.
-Something for you to look into.
-Sounds quite fast-flowing.
You've got the main house here.
The other great thing about this property is, it comes with three ready-made holiday lets.
-All ready to go.
-So we've got a little bit of a business
-to take on straightaway.
-You have also got an annexe. There's a lot of property there.
All ready for you to go.
What are you thinking so far?
I'm thinking, things are looking up.
-I like the look of it.
-It's a pretty place.
It's kind of higgledy-piggledy.
-I like it.
-Yeah, it looks nice.
Good. If you are liking the outside, like the location.
-Let's see the inside.
'This old mill was just what they wished for, and the inside won't disappoint.
'It's also got a lot to offer with ready-made guest accommodation.
'First, let's take a look at the main house.'
In we come.
This is the living room.
Yeah, it's a nice big space. It is a big space.
Triple aspect. There is no reason why we can't do something with this.
-Feels a little bit dark, though.
-Do we know what age it is?
Around about 1828.
-Do we know whether it's listed or not?
That's good, we might be able to chop it about a little bit then.
So, the beginnings are there.
-I think you just need to draw out this room really.
Pretty much what you are looking for, right?
Yeah. I'm quite looking forward to looking round.
-Let's see some more, shall we?
-This is good. Through there.
'They both see they can make something of the living room.
'Now we head into the kitchen.
'There could be plenty in here for John to get stuck into.'
Now we are through, as you can see, into what is a kitchen-dining area.
This is a fair size. It needs a bit of work.
How would you attack something like this?
John would just rip it all out.
And I would say it's fine, leave it alone.
I'd just get a few skips in, and just rip everything out and start again,
'Now, we explore upstairs, where there is a good-sized bathroom and three spacious bedrooms.
'As we head to what would be their room, I wonder if John still sees more work for himself.'
-A very big master bedroom.
-Yeah, a nice big room.
It's a huge room! You're next door to the bathroom, so it doesn't need to be an en suite.
I'm sure we could cut one end off of here and make an en suite in here anyway.
I knew you'd say that.
It's got potential, this room. A little bit of tidying up and modernisation...
'And on top of that, on the second floor, there's another bedroom as big as the master bedroom.
'Next, we are heading to the annexe,
'which is connected by a reception area, currently used as a games room.
'The annexe is where the unique character of this house really stands out.
'Also on the ground floor, there is a utility room, and a large area containing the old mill,
'which could, potentially, be a fourth bedroom, something John could really get his hands on.
'And, upstairs, all the character of the old mill continues.'
Come on up, we're going into the annexe.
And actually, I think this could be the first holiday let. It's a great space.
And the first thing you've probably noticed, is the gear! Look!
-You've got the millstones.
-Oh, golly, yeah.
-All the workings.
-They're using it as a table, that's quite nice, that old millstone.
-This is really interesting.
-I like that.
-Plenty of space.
The layout might need to be modified, but there's plenty of space here.
-It's a little bit dark, but nothing we can't sort out.
-And, a nice bit of gear.
-You're liking this, aren't you?
I am liking the workings of the mill, yeah.
-You can't buy somewhere just because you like the workings of an old mill.
That is an absolutely good reason to buy somewhere. Very nice.
-You won't want to let this, you'll want to live here with all this.
-Yep. I'll put my bed there.
Well, you have got that option. You move in here, have all the lovely features.
And turn the main house into a holiday let.
'John seems keen to make his mark on the mill.
'Just above the annexe is a double bedroom and a bathroom which connects back to the main house.
'But, if that wasn't enough, wait till they see the three cottages outside.'
So, in here, we are into one of the units.
-As you can see, it is quite big, isn't it?
-It is big. A good size.
-Yeah. It just needs a bit of a spruce-up.
-And you're good to go.
-They are not being used as holiday lets at the moment.
-Have they ever been?
They were. It's only in the last couple of years they haven't been.
-Yeah? All good? Shall we have a look at the rest?
Another big, family-sized room.
A nice big room. Quite dark.
Maybe we could put a skylight up on that vaulted ceiling, to get more light in there.
-A bit of a feature as well.
-It would be great.
A great idea. I like your imagination getting going.
-Shall we look through here?
-So, we have got two bedrooms in this unit.
-That's quite a good size.
And this is the second one.
-Not a small room.
-Not at all.
-There's certainly a lot you can do here.
We've got the bare bones here.
It just needs, as with the house, a little bit of love.
But it's good enough for you to move in and pay it that attention at the same time, isn't it?
-Yeah, it's fine.
-Good. Let's head outside.
'The two other holiday lets have a similar open-plan layout.
'But now, let's have a look at the land,
'which has an idyllic setting and plenty of pastoral pursuits for visitors.
'There's a pretty stream with trout, and a lake full of carp.
'And romantic trails
'for country walks, all sitting in just under eight acres.'
-It's beautiful, isn't it?
The land goes all the way round. As you can see here, it's a bit overgrown,
but you have got a couple of good commercial polytunnels.
Lots of veg growing. You've got all this,
and it does go all the way up into the hills behind the house and all the way round.
So, we are in Devon.
We have got ready-built holiday lets.
-Are we guessing now?
-Oh yes, you can tell what's coming next!
-How much do you think it is worth?
-I was going to say 950, so I'll say 925.
But actually, it's on the market for £1.25 million.
So, we are at the top of your budget.
Well, that seems a lot to me.
Yeah, it's a nice property in a nice place.
But there's a lot of money needs to be spent on it.
Don't write it off yet. It has been on the market for a couple of months.
-We know what the market's like.
I think you should have another look,
think about what you could do with it, pricing it up
-and then maybe you can put an offer in.
-I'll catch up with you later.
'Sitting at the top of Kate and John's budget is this old mill,
priced at £1.25 million.
It is has four bedrooms but, in addition,
it has a further two bedrooms in the annexe.
It has three ready-made holiday cottages, a lake,
a stream for John's water power,
and a vegetable patch for Kate,
all set in just under eight acres.
It is in need of some care,
but the idyllic location
and business possibilities
should give them a lot to consider.
The pond's supposedly got some decent fish in it.
The position is lovely, the stream is lovely. Nice pond.
The location is fabulous.
And the houses are very picturesque.
I think the structure of the holiday lets is fine. They are dated inside like the rest of the house.
Internally, structurally sound.
Tired. Needs a good bit of effort and money spending on that.
-Hi, you two.
You have seen all of the properties now.
I know you've got a lot to think about. Shall we find somewhere quiet?
-We can sit down and mull it all over.
'Our couple have now seen all four properties,
'which have thrown up a range of options for their dream home business.
'They've got some serious thinking to do.'
Well, it's decision time.
It's difficult to second-guess John and Kate.
I'm not sure we've found them the perfect property.
There's only one way to find out. Let's have a chat with them.
We have seen a variety of properties, haven't we?
And some interesting businesses. Let's go through them.
We'll start with that stone house in Ashill with the wonderful chapel
and the big orchard. What did you think, Kate?
I thought the house was superb, absolutely superb, I loved it.
-What about you, John? That orchard was impressive.
Apparently 185 tonnes of apples,
but at the moment, they let somebody else pick them and make any profit out of them.
But it's worth looking into. Various outbuildings that we might be able to convert.
Let's move on to the Somerset long house, that traditional Somerset long house which was out in Halse.
-What did you think of that one?
-I liked the location.
The house was quite sweet from the outside, picturesque.
I'm a little bit concerned about the amount of work and consequently the cost on the thatched cottage.
But yeah, it was in a lovely location and it was a nice-looking building.
-What did you think of the outbuildings on that one?
-Two good barns out the back.
There was another barn across the road that was in quite good condition.
We'll have to get the calculator out and try to work some numbers out on that one.
What about the lovely farmhouse that was up near Exmoor National Park?
What were your feelings on that one, John?
Smashing location. I think that was the best of the bunch, location-wise.
The house was nice, light and airy.
The main drawback on my part there was that all of the barns were of modern construction
and therefore not really suitable for conversion.
I loved the location of the house.
I'm very keen on that.
As for the business side of it, I don't know a thing about it.
Finally, we saw the mystery property, the old mill, the converted mill.
When we pulled up outside, I was well pleased with that one. The carp pond at the back, very nice.
Internally, the building needed quite a bit of work.
But, having all those old workings in there in the mill, that was definitely a bonus.
I was quite pleased with that one.
The location was good. Every one has done a great job on location.
I can't quite put my finger on why it's my least favourite.
-I think it's because it's dark inside.
-Yeah, that is true.
It was the darkest of the properties.
But, hopefully, we might be able to do something with it, if we spent some money on the thing.
That was the main stumbling block, because it was already the top of the budget,
we wouldn't have any money left to do improvements.
I think it's fair to say that, overall, we've got a mixed picture.
Now you've seen them all, are we any closer?
Is there one or two you'd like to revisit?
I think I'd like to revisit the thatched property,
walk round it.
Get a bit of a feel for the location of it.
And, possibly look into the farmhouse, the traditional farmhouse.
Because I do think that location is superb, I really do.
I wouldn't mind looking at the stone house, and the converted mill.
So that makes all of them!
Exactly as I said, really hard to pin you two down!
But you have shown us four properties which are all totally different.
So, the next steps then, revisit those properties and really get to understand the locations?
They're big properties, and it takes a while to fully appreciate what they have got to offer.
It sounds like you have a little bit more work to do.
I'm hopeful that you get the move you are looking for, and you get to start that business.
-Best of luck, do let us know how you get on.
-Thanks very much.
Well, it seems like we've got a split decision,
and I think Kate and John are going to have their work cut out for them,
not just to find their dream property, but to work out exactly what that is.
I'll see you next time on Escape To The Country.
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