The shore thing

For the perfect sec­ond home, con­sider an up-and-com­ing coastal town that may not be on your radar, says Flora Watkins

Country Life Every Week - - Contents - Edited by An­nun­ci­ata El­wes

Flora Watkins urges us to con­sider some lesser-known parts of our coast for a holiday prop­erty

ON a sum­mer morn­ing, when the sea in Mount’s Bay, Corn­wall (above), is a cerulean blue of the in­ten­sity usu­ally found only in the Pelo­pon­nese, it’s easy to see why the New York Times in­cluded Pen­zance in its must-see places of 2017, at 14 out of 52 on its list— ahead of Mada­gas­car and Ky­oto.

At first light, ‘the sea is of­ten just like glass, a beau­ti­ful piece of flat wa­ter,’ en­thuses Su­san Stu­art, who moved to el­e­gant Ge­or­gian Chapel House in 2013 af­ter a ca­reer in the City.

Chapel House, which Miss Stu­art runs as a bou­tique ho­tel, ‘sits about 60ft above the har­bour’. On a clear day, ‘you can see right across from St Michael’s Mount to the Lizard, all the way round to Mouse­hole. The qual­ity of the light is as­ton­ish­ing’.

De­spite its beauty, Pen­zance is of­ten just a tran­sit point for vis­i­tors on their way to the Scil­lies. That’s a mis­take, be­lieves Miss Stu­art. With its gran­ite-and-stucco Ge­or­gian houses (the most of any Cor­nish town), Art Deco salt­wa­ter lido and bur­geon­ing foodie scene, ‘it has ev­ery­thing you’ve got at Pad­stow—ex­cept Rick Stein’. The fa­mous open-air Mi­nack Theatre, carved into a gran­ite cliff over­look­ing Porthcurno Bay, is a 20-minute drive away.

Ian Lil­l­i­crap, of Cor­nish es­tate agent Lil­l­i­crap Chilcott (01872 273473), says Mount’s Bay is a clever choice for those seek­ing a sec­ond home who’ve been priced out of Pad­stow and Rock. He re­cently launched a house on the seafront at Marazion, a cou­ple of miles east of Pen­zance, di­rectly in front of the Mount, at of­fers over £1 mil­lion.

‘We agreed a sale com­fort­ably in ex­cess of the guide price, with many dis­ap­pointed buy­ers in tow,’ he dis­closes. Two-bed­room apart­ments on the seafront with ‘stu­pen­dous views’ of the cas­tle can, how­ever, be found for less than £300,000 (see box).

When try­ing to pin­point the ‘next Pad­stow’, a sure-fire sign that an area is on the up is the pres­ence of na­tional es­tate agents. Christo­pher Bai­ley, a part­ner at Knight Frank’s Ex­eter of­fice, cites Maw­gan Porth in north Corn­wall and Croyde in Devon as his ‘head­line des­ti­na­tions’. These are ‘not A-grade ad­dresses by any stretch of the imag­i­na­tion, but I just know they will be’, he ex­plains. Surf­ing there is some of the best in the coun­try and The Scar­let eco-ho­tel in Maw­gan Porth does ex­cel­lent food.

Sim­i­larly, Kingswear and Brix­ham in Devon and Wey­mouth in Dorset are still ‘a bit daytrip­per-ish; the shops need to go through an­other it­er­a­tion of be­ing spruced up’—but pro­vide the ‘same lovely life­style’ of, say, the vastly more ex­pen­sive Sal­combe and Dart­mouth.

Mitch Tonks opened the fourth branch of his Rock­fish restau­rant

‘The New York Times in­cluded Pen­zance in its must-see places of 2017

in Brix­ham har­bour in 2015 and Wey­mouth’s sandy beach has a de­light­fully old-fash­ioned feel, with don­key rides and a Punch-and-judy show.

On the other side of the coun­try, Wells-next-the-sea, Norfolk, is also shed­ding its ‘kiss-me-quick-hat’ image, ac­cord­ing to Daniel Money of Sower­bys (01328 711711). Peo­ple who would once have looked at Blak­eney and Burn­ham Mar­ket on the north Norfolk coast are in­creas­ingly turn­ing to Wells, he dis­closes. This pretty, un­spoilt lit­tle town still re­tains a few of the ar­cades and sea­side shops ‘that add to its charm,’ he con­tin­ues—but ‘Wells has re­ally grown up, with su­perb bistros and galleries’.

Dur­ing the sum­mer, a minia­ture steam train takes hol­i­day­mak­ers from the port to the sweep­ing sandy beach that’s bor­dered by pine trees, dunes and colour­ful beach huts. Fish­er­men’s cot­tages can still be found for less than £400,000 and prices for Ge­or­gian town houses near The But­t­lands, a green

ringed by trees, start at closer to £1 mil­lion.

In neigh­bour­ing Suf­folk, South­wold and Alde­burgh com­mand some of the high­est coastal prices in the coun­try. Han­nah Cooper, a part­ner at Strutt & Parker in Ip­swich (01473 214841), sug­gests look­ing fur­ther south—to Felixs­towe. The Ed­war­dian town has had a rather down-at-heel rep­u­ta­tion (Wal­lis Simp­son awaited her di­vorce there), but this is be­gin­ning to change.

Although Old Felixs­towe, a cou­ple of miles north of the town, is some way from reach­ing ‘the South­wold level of de­sir­abil­ity, it is very pic­turesque,’ says Mrs Cooper. ‘Ferry Café does in­cred­i­ble seafood and it’s great for chil­dren,’ with crab­bing and boat trips on the river. ‘We’re get­ting more and more buy­ers con­sid­er­ing it for a sec­ond home,’ she re­veals.

A Martello tower, re­cently on with Strutt & Parker, at­tracted ‘con­sid­er­able in­ter­est’ at £750,000 and ar­chi­tect-de­signed houses with coastal views can com­mand up to £700,000.

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