Londoners are moving out in droves to places where they get a bigger house and more garden for their money whilst still living within commuting distance of the capital. Bedford house prices are half those in London and the fast commute into St Pancras makes it an ideal location for families looking for a home in the countryside.
Written by Lisa Proffitt | 2nd October 2020
Moving out of London: Escape to Bedfordshire
So along with the high-achieving schools, areas of outstanding natural beauty and properties to suit every budget, what makes Bedfordshire so appealing?
Excellent transport links
Bedfordshire is well regarded as an excellent commuter county with Luton, Dunstable, Biggleswade, and Leighton Buzzard all renowned for their fast and reliable rail service to London. The county town of Bedford has two Midland main line stations, with the larger of the two offering around six trains per hour to London all under an hour with Thameslink rail services all the way to Brighton. By road, the M1 and A1 link Bedford to cities in the north of the country and local roads connect Bedford with Milton Keynes and Hitchin. For air travel, Luton Airport is just 18 miles away and a useful alternative to the major London terminals.
Bedford is a historic market town on the banks of the River Ouse and appeared in The Sunday Times Best Places to Live Guide in 2019. The Castle Quarter area has most of the high-end homes, shops and restaurants and those in the know also keep a look out for Victorian terraces coming on the market around Bedford Park. This detached Victorian townhouse is within walking distance of the Castle Quarter, and this double fronted Victorian house is just five minutes’ walk from Bedford Park. The 60-acre green space has a lake, a swimming pool, football and cricket pitches, tennis courts and a Victorian bandstand. Given our renewed appreciation of green spaces post lockdown, there’s plenty to enjoy here when life gets back to normal. The annual Kite Festival in Russell Park is a local highlight as are the Bedford Park Proms and the Bedford River Regatta and River Festival. Nearby Harrold-Odell Country Park has two lakes, river meadows, a nature reserve and a bird hide.
Merchant Square is part of Riverside North, a town centre development with new restaurants and bars, a cinema, hotel and a beautifully landscaped square all located just a 10-minute walk from the station. This light and bright third floor apartment with a balcony has uninterrupted views over The River Great Ouse. One more thing - in a poll by JustGiving, Bedford was named the most generous town for charitable donations. Sir Captain Tom Moore, who raised millions walking laps of his garden, lives just down the road in Bedfordshire’s Marston Moreteyne.
Pretty villages and thatched cottages
For village life with a manageable commute, there are numerous idyllic villages with houses that will take your breath away. If schooling is on your checklist, this magnificent six-bedroom Georgian townhouse in Woburn sits in catchment for an Oftsed outstanding school. Nearby Aspley Guise is another sought after village with a wonderful sense of community. Some of the most coveted homes in Bedfordshire are thatched cottages and when they’re dotted around a village green they have an altogether fairy-tale feel. Shyre Cottage has pride of place overlooking the village green in Ickwell and couldn’t be a prettier example of a 17th century period cottage, and Cherry Cottage in Pavenham is part thatch and part tiled and is another hidden gem.
Charming market squares and farmer’s markets are a highlight of country living and nearby Olney has one of the prettiest market towns in the county with a mixture of boutiques, cafes and restaurants plus a weekly and a monthly farmers market. This stone built characterful townhouse sits in a conservation area in Olney and enjoys an elevated position on the High Street with electric gated parking.
Schools in Bedford
Bedford has some renowned independent schools and an excellent range of local schools, several rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted. If you opt for private schooling, Bedford has four schools run by the Harpur Trust charity: Bedford School for boys, Bedford Girls’ School and the co-educational Bedford Modern School, all for pupils aged 7–18. Pilgrims Pre-Preparatory School is an option for younger children.
Things to do in Bedfordshire
The county is packed with glorious, wide-open green spaces. Dunstable Downs on the edge of the Chiltern Hills, the forest of Marston Vale and Greensand Ridge are all areas of natural beauty and you can enjoy canoeing, kayaking and leisurely river cruises on the Great Ouse river and the Grand Union canal. For lovers of lions, tigers and bears, Woburn Safari Park is fabulous and Woburn Abbey House and Gardens tick the afternoon tea box beautifully – the English social custom was invented here in the 1840s by Duchess Anna Maria, wife of the 7th Duke of Bedford, who entertained her friends at Woburn Abbey. There is even a Centre Parcs in Woburn Forest, perfect for a family holiday without the stress of overseas travel.
If you’re thinking of swapping the town for the country we’d love to help. If you’d like to speak to one of our team please do get in touch. The homes below are all characterful country properties on the market with us right now.