Pick a pretty bargain in Bedfordshire
Look north for rural charm and value. By
LONDON leavers increasingly look to Bedfordshire for their perfect village home. The towns of Luton and Milton Keynes aren’t going to win any beauty contests but the train links are superb, and some of the surrounding villages are as lovely as any you’ll find in costlier Surrey or Sussex.
Nine miles south-east of Bedford. The commute: the village is three-anda-half miles from the market town of Biggleswade, from where you can be at King’s Cross in just over 40 minutes. An annual season ticket starts at £4,680. Plus points? A traditional, lovely little village in open farmland, with a green surrounded by thatched cottages, and a cricket pitch. Property prices: about £350,000 for a three-bedroom mid-terrace cottage, and from £800,000 for a four- or fivebedroom house in an acre or two. And the downsides? More hamlet than village, Ickwell’s light on amenities, though there’s a pub at neighbouring Northill, just in staggering distance. Northill has a primary school rated “good” by Ofsted, but the watchdog rates the other local primary, in Upper Caldecote village, “inadequate”.
Where is it? In the valley of the River Flit, between Bedford and Luton. The commute: Flitwick station is four miles away, with 61-minute trains to Blackfriars. An annual season ticket
this four-bedroom detached house, below, in High Street, Clophill is for sale through Orchards (01525 625038) costs from £4,188. Or drive 29 miles to Milton Keynes for 37-minute Euston trains — season tickets from £4,904. Plus points: charming, characterful Clophill offers thatched cottages and more substantial family houses, mainly along the High Street. There are 600year-old church ruins, a post office, three pubs and a village primary school, St Mary’s VA CofE Lower School, which is rated “outstanding” by Ofsted. Property prices: £400,000 for a threebedroom Victorian semi-detached cottage, and £750,000-£850,000 for a five- or six-bedroom period house. And the downsides? Clophill’s split over plans to develop a nearby disused quarry with 90 homes and a nature reserve. The A6 dissects Clophill but it’s handy for trips to Luton or Bedford.
Where is it? On the fringes of Bedford, two miles from the station. The commute: Bedford has trains to King’s Cross from 39 minutes. An annual season ticket starts at £4,528. Plus points: community spirit, from hand bell ringers to cricketers. There’s a local pub, The Three Tuns, and St James’s Church of England VA Lower School gets a “good” Ofsted rating. Property prices: £325,000-£350,000 for a two-bedroom cottage; £750,000£850,000 for a four-bedroom period house. A manor house with land will cost £1.5 million to £2 million. And the downsides? No shops, but Bedford is near. Housebuilding threatens to merge the village into Bedford suburbs, and traffic’s getting heavier.
£1.5 million: a five-bedroom detached house, above, at Biddenham Turn, Biddenham, for sale through Michael Graham (01234 969025)