Packed with history and glorious countryside, but with a small population, Northumberland will always be a popular choice for buyers, says James Abbott
THE county of Northumberland was once perceived as remote and difficult to reach and then difficult to travel. However, my experience in the past seven years has shown me that this belief is changing.
Tourist numbers are up year on year, while Alnwick and Hexham have both been voted Best Market Town in England by Country Life’s annual award and I cannot remember a year when there have been more features about the county in the national broadsheets and on television, with Coast, Spring and Autumn Watch among others filming in the area. All great for the county’s profile nationally.
Locally, within Northumberland, the Tyne Valley was traditionally seen as the most desirable area to live, with excellent rail and road links to Newcastle.
While Tyne Valley property prices still carry a premium, values around Morpeth and Alnwick have closed the gap over the past few years.
My perception is that people have become more comfortable with the idea of commuting farther, while technological advances such as the advent of broadband have enabled more of us to work from home.
However, for me, Northumberland remains an unspoilt county that retains the traditional feel of yesteryear.
At 1,943sq miles in size, it has a population of just 350,000 and I doubt that many other parts of England have as many intact rural estates and large period country houses that have not been broken up in past sell-offs.
While values have increased in recent years, for the price of a modest house or maisonette in many of London’s suburbs you can still trade up to a small country estate, or many of our larger period properties and my experience has been that people all over the country desire a piece of Northumberland.
Indeed within the county’s boundaries I believe there is a home to suit every budget, all within an acceptable commute of the main employment centres of the region, as well as either a stretch of beautiful coastline or the hills and moors of the National Park.
At the top of the market, Orchard Vale is a stunning Georgian house with adjoining two-bedroom cottage within walking distance of Corbridge’s village centre, with a guide price of £1.3m. Lindisfarne View, near Belford, is an attractive converted school with wonderful elevated views over the north Northumberland coastline to Holy Island, guided at £295,000, while a former farmworker’s cottage in Ebchester is guided at £185,000.
Like so many of the county’s homes, these properties have an abundance of character and charm.
James Abbott is an associate at property agents Smiths Gore at Corbridge. Tel: (01434 632404). The company, which has a national network of 20 offices, has a second Northumberland branch in Berwick-upon-Tweed.