Postcode focus - NE49

Once a sleepy backwater, Haltwhistle is fast becoming the Tyne Valley's best-kept secret.

Once a sleepy backwater, Haltwhistle is fast becoming the Tyne Valley's best-kept secret.

Nestled on the River South Tyne between Hadrian's Wall and The Pennine Way, Haltwhistle is well situated for commuters and holidaymakers alike. The city of Newcastle can be reached in around a 45-minutes drive and Carlisle is just a 25-minute drive away. Bus and train services also offer regular and reliable services.

Haltwhistle has a population of approaching 4,000 people and is well served with local amenities, having two supermarkets and a great variety of shops, a care home, child minders and a nursery, first and middle schools and adult education facilities.

Other amenities include a dentist and a health centre, a public library, pharmacy, newsagents, banks, building society, several public houses and hotels. Almost every necessity can be bought here for convenience without the need to travel further afield.

For sports enthusiasts, the town caters for football, cricket, golf, lawn bowls, darts, BMX, cycling, fishing, walking and a host of other sports. There is a strong community identity and a desire to compete with the larger towns.

Property in Haltwhistle is quite diverse, from substantial detached rural properties on acreage down to one-bedroom former miners' cottages. There has been some development in recent times with new build properties and further development is scheduled over the next few years.

Property prices have risen dramatically over the past four years but are still considered affordable for many buyers. How long this continues we cannot be sure with demand for property outstripping supply at present. Our Haltwhistle branch alone has more than 700 registered buyers seeking property in and around the town.

A staggering 70% of buyers are from outside the town and upon visiting the area, quickly make Haltwhistle their first choice place for relocation.

We can only see Haltwhistle becoming more and more desirable for home buyers with competitive prices, a great community and the most amazing scenery on the doorstep.

* David McCormack is proprietor of Northumbrian Independent Estate Agents based in Westgate, Haltwhistle. The agency can be contacted on (01434) 321581, www.niea.co.uk

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A place for all seasons

Home to the heart of Hadrian's Wall country, Haltwhistle and its surrounding villages offer the homebuyer tranquillity and stunning beauty in a friendly, rural setting.

Yet despite the remote location, the area is almost equidistant between the regional capitals of Newcastle and Carlisle - meaning residents can easily enjoy all the trappings of city comforts without the hectic lifestyle.

Along with Dunsop Bridge in Lancashire, Haltwhistle is one of two towns in Great Britain which claim to be the exact geographic centre of the island, and this is one of its major selling points.

Haltwhistle was probably in existence in Roman times, as it is one of the closest approaches of the River Tyne in its upland reaches to Hadrian's Wall. The old Military Road passes just two miles to the north of the town.

While coal mining, metal ore distribution and paint manufacture have been major commercial interests in the area, the tourist industry dominates the economy with Hadrian's Wall, walking and rambling, counting among the principal interests of visitors.

This has brought with it the attraction of charming pubs, bed and breakfasts and restaurants springing up. Principal drinking venues include the Black Bull and the Milecastle Inn. Food lovers can visit Charles and Debbie Rayson's Northumbrian Rare Meats farm for many years, which supplies high quality beef, pork and lamb.

The farm, on Shield Hill between Haltwhistle and the Military Road, sells rare breed meat alongside home-cooked pies, cakes and quiches and locally sourced vegetables, jams and pickles and cheeses.

South of the town, the tiny village of Coanwood is home to Trees Can't Dance - a firm which grows its own chillies and turns them into sauces and dips.

While the Wall does dominate the area - the section of the wall closest to Haltwhistle is among the most spectacular and complete - there is far more to do.

The heated outdoor swimming pool complex is very popular during the summer months, indeed it is believed that Haltwhistle may be one of the smallest towns to have made such a provision in the UK. The town centre has small fashion shops, local food sellers and traditional firms, while the Cumbrian Co-operative is on Main Street.

Schooling is also well provided for, with two first schools - Haltwhistle County First School and Herdley Bank Church of England First School in Coanwood - as well as South Tynedale Middle School.

With the splendid countryside, it is no surprise that walking is one of the most popular pastimes in the area. The nearby Spadeadam Forest is worth visiting as are Plenmeller and Ashholme Commons.

But the rambling highlight comes in April each year, when the Haltwhistle Walking Festival takes place.

Add in the Roman Walk Show in June and the return of the walking festival each October, and Haltwhistle really is a place for all seasons.

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I wouldn't live anywhere else

Hotel and restaurateur David Taylor wouldn't live anywhere but Haltwhistle.

The 62-year-old moved to the Northumberland town 20 years ago on January 1, 1987, and - despite hoping to retire soon - is determined to stay in the picturesque spot.

After spending many years in the Midlands before moving to the Tyne Valley, the father-of-four says it is the perfect place to live.

Mr Taylor, whose wife Grethe is Danish, moved to Haltwhistle when he leased a bed and breakfast business at Bellister Castle, on the edge of the town.

He then took over the derelict Red Lion pub and transformed it into the upmarket Centre of Britain hotel and restaurant.

The venue celebrated its 10th anniversary last week, and although Mr Taylor and his wife are now looking to sell it, they will not be leaving the town to which they have grown attached to over the last two decades.

Mr Taylor has three grown-up children who have moved away, while 16-year-old Mia still lives at home. He said: "Most people live around here because it is one of the last uncrowded parts of England.

"There are no parking problems, no pollution, no congestion, people are friendly and there is a real community spirit.

"Even in the Tyne Valley it's beginning to get crowded, while Tyneside is unrecognisable from 20 years ago. Northumberland is one of the only quiet spots left."

Despite Haltwhistle's rural, relaxed charm it has a host of amenities. Mr Taylor said: "Haltwhistle is only a small town, but because it's quite a long way to anywhere else it has a commercial centre far bigger than places of a similar size somewhere else.

"People from all over the country, and the world, visit the hotel and they always comment on the number of shops here."

And for any additional needs Haltwhistle is just a short drive to the bright lights of Newcastle and Carlisle, as well as a number of attractions including the Lakes, Kielder Forest and Durham.

Mr Taylor said: "It's incredibly easy to get anywhere else in Britain, and with the increasing number of connections from Newcastle Airport you can also be anywhere in Europe or the rest of the world very easily.

"It shows that just because you live in the country you don't have to be isolated at all. I just couldn't think of anywhere else I'd want to live."

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Out and about in NE49

Population - 3,595.

Main schools - First Schools - Herdley Bank C of E First School, Coanwood; Haltwhistle County First School, Woodhead Lane, Haltwhistle. Middle School - South Tynedale Middle School, Park Avenue, Haltwhistle.

Shops - Cumbrian Co-operative, Main Street, Haltwhistle, numerous traditional meat and food stores, a florist, Four Seasons department store on Westgate, pharmacies and newsagents.

Main leisure activities - Hadrian's Wall to the north of the town, Plenmeller and Ashholme Commons to the south and a large open-air swimming pool in the town centre.

By car - The A69 trunk road which links Carlisle and Newcastle passes just south of the town centre.

By rail - Haltwhistle railway station on the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway.

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On the market in NE49

This is a character stone terrace situated in a central Haltwhistle location.

The property benefits from a fitted dining kitchen, rear garden, UPVC double glazing and a loft bedroom.

The first floor of the property includes two bedrooms and a family bathroom. A second set of stairs lead to the loft bedroom. There is a rear garden and the property is close to all local amenities.

2 Edens Lawn, Haltwhistle, is for sale through Yellow Estate Agency priced a £145,000, Tel: (01661) 831234.

This well presented property which was formerly the Primitive Methodist Chapel built in 1823 was converted to a house around 1894 and extended in 1985, with a double garage added in 1992.

This property has been significantly improved and enjoys pretty views across the open countryside. The property has a master bedroom, three further bedrooms along with another family bathroom.

There are gardens including a lawn and raised chicken run.

Mill Lane House, Haltwhistle, is for sale through Northumbrian Independent Estate Agents priced at offers in the region of £375,000, tel: (01434) 321581.

This traditional double fronted stone house enjoys a prominent position on the north side of the Tyne Valley.

The three-bedroomed property is ready to move into and could provide a spacious home for a family.

To the ground floor there are double entrance doors that lead to a conservatory, dining room, inner lobby, sitting room, breakfasting kitchen and rear lobby. To the first floor there is a landing with access to three bedrooms and a family bathroom.

The property stands in extensive gardens and has far reaching southerly views.

Maple House, Shield Hill, Haltwhistle, Northumberland, is for sale through Foster Maddison with a guide price of £279,500, tel: (0191) 222-1066.

A superb Edwardian family home set back on a secluded site. Dunholme is within easy distance of the facilities and amenities of the town centre and conveniently situated for easy access to the A69 and rail links from Haltwhistle

The accommodation has period features and includes an imposing reception hall, cloakroom, spacious drawing room, dining room, breakfasting kitchen and utility room. A conservatory connects the main house to a useful annex.

Dunholme, Comb Hill, Haltwhistle, is for sale through RPS Property Consultants with a guide price of £545,000, tel: (01434) 608980.

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