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Five Idyllic Spots To Buy A Rural British Bolthole

 In the UK, the COVID-19-effect is driving a comeback for the country pile.

Beacon View, Berwick, South Downs. On the market at £1.35m with UK Sotheby’s International Realty

The UK real estate portal logged its busiest day on record last week, as people search for a quieter life out of lockdown. The website recorded six million views, an 18 percent rise on this time last year. The most popular searches were for homes in rural locations and quiet towns, said Rightmove in a report. 

“Areas with beautiful scenery and a potentially quieter life are proving to be popular as home-movers’ priorities start to shift and outside space becomes more important,” said Miles Shipside, commercial director and housing market analyst at Rightmove, in the report. The spike happened after the UK relaxed its lockdown rules around moving house and visiting estate agents. 

While much of the online traffic will have been from people fantasising about their dream post-lockdown homes, record levels of people took action by contacting the agent too, also up 18 percent on last year. Shipside said that many people may want to continue working from home after lockdown is over, so cities may become less appealing, especially for families. 

“There are also those considering a move further out now that they’ve realised they can work out of the office and may be finding they can get more for their money in some of the South West and Northern locations,” he added.

Mark Parkinson, Director at UK buying agent, Middleton Advisors, believes certain sought after communities will soon be welcoming an influx of ex-Londoners looking for a forever home. 

“Since lockdown we have received 23 enquiries for country property and most of these have come from London based clients, many of whom have changed their searches from second homes to permanent homes. They have budgets of between £1.5m - £10m+ and the main priority is for garden privacy and proximity to good schools. I feel certain that we are going to see ‘massive pressure’ on school places”.

Here are five rural locales that are gaining traction from city slickers seeking a slower life, according to Tom Hudson, Director at Middleton Advisors. 

South Downs - This is the UK's newest National Park and is now more protected than ever - which is a good thing. You barely have to roll out of London, duck under the busy motorways heading west and drop down the A3 into what is, in my view, one of the most beautiful parts of Southern England. As well as large rolling chalk downland inter dispersed with pretty villages, you have a great network of stations for commuting, as well as a good road network. The region is packed full of good pubs, excellent schools and  villages that people aspire to live in. Hopefully with the new protective qualities brought by being a National Park it will remain the same for many years.   

8 bedroom house for sale in Meonstoke, Winchester, Hampshire £9m with Knight Frank

Test Valley - Pevsner famously said that once you cross the Winchester/Newbury/Oxford line (today the A34) you move from the Home Counties to the east into the West Country, in the west. If you cross this line in Hampshire you will find yourself in a beautiful and rural riverine landscape with market towns such as Stockbridge pulling people from all over the uk and further afield. Famed for its gin clear chalk streams and fantastic trout fishing, the Test Valley is an untouched and secluded pocket of Hampshire which has always been high on our list for clients looking to move out from London. 

Coln Valley  - Within this little corner of the Cotswolds, the River Coln (a tributary of the River Thames) meanders its way along the valley from Fosse Bridge in the west, to Bibury in the east, along its’ way passing through four of the prettiest and most secluded villages in Gloucestershire; Coln St. Dennis, Coln Rogers, Winson and Ablington. Part of the continued attraction of this collection of ‘quintessential English villages' is the un-altered charm and feeling of stepping back in time to a period when congestion on the lane was from livestock rather than the motor car. The Cotswold stone houses, cottages and dry stone walls frame the undulating landscape and appear as they were when first built. The Cotswold AONB and more local Conservation Areas continue to protect this vista for all, whilst embracing the modern conveniences such as broadband, making working from home a necessity, in this landscape.

 11 bedroom house in Dewlish, Dorset, priced at £12m with Knight Frank

Jurassic Coast, Dorset  - The Jurassic Coast, as England’s only natural World Heritage Site, has historically been a destination for A Level geography students and summertime camping parties.  However, it is finding more balance in recent years as the spectacular coastline and improved accessibility have encouraged franchises like The Pig restaurant chain to establish there and consequentially increased awareness of the area.  

At its eastern end The Knoll House Hotel, where Enid Blyton found her inspiration for the Famous Five series of books, was recently acquired by a hotel group with the intention of making it one of the most iconic resorts in the UK. At its western end, the port town of Exmouth is known for its wide sandy beaches.

The dramatic countryside and coastline is part of the story, but the friendly and historic villages set against the Purbeck Hills are something of a secret. Parts remain dated, which for some is charming but others understandably find the pace of life too slow. 

Turnberry, Sandy Lane, Surrey Hills. On the market at £3.5m with UK Sotheby’s International Realty

Surrey Hills AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty).
Lying to the South of London within 20 miles of the City, the Surrey Hills AONB is a picturesque, quite heavily wooded rural area stretching from Farnham to Reigate. It includes market towns like Dorking, the county town of Surrey Guildford and pretty villages like Shere, Peaslake and Holmbury St Mary. It is very popular for buyers looking to live somewhere slightly out of the commuter belt but still within easy striking distance of London.

In some of the more elevated areas, houses come with sensational views to the south, occasionally catching glimpses of the South Downs. A good edge of village family house with a garden that includes a pool and a court can set you back between £2.5m -£3.5m, and larger houses in this area with a bit more land occasionally creep upwards towards £10m. The Surrey Hills has, over the years, attracted wealthy business owners, corporate executives, hobby farmers, rock stars and international second home owners, principally because of the beautiful countryside in close proximity to London.