Rural communities, fresh air, friendly folk, a slower pace of life and cosy little boozers are just some of the reasons many of us love countryside living.
A panel on The Sunday Times has been researching the 50 best places to live in rural Britain, taking into account hard data on house prices, schools, crime rates and transport links.
But they’ve also considered other important factors, such as the local pub and if you’ll get clobbered for parking tickets on every corner.
So here are the winning communities – from remote hamlets to bustling market towns.
1. Aberaeron, Ceredigion, Wales
A Georgian harbour, brightly painted houses, great schools, this Welsh seaside town is also a dining hotspot and is particularly famed for its local honey ice cream.
2. Aberdovey, Gwynedd, Wales
Watersports, good beaches, fisherman’s cottages and Snowdonia make beautiful Aberdovey a happy place to live and its house prices make it a popular spot for second-homers and retirees.
3. Alresford, Hampshire
A steam railway, plenty of history and independent shops aplenty make this buzzing market town incredibly family friendly.
4. Bamburgh, Northumberland
Dubbed the “Northumberland Riviera” Bamburgh boasts award-winning beaches, renowned WI pub quizzes, fabulous food and is David Attenborough’s favourite nature spot in the UK.
5. Bampton, Oxfordshire
Not only the setting for Downton Abbey’s “village” picturesque Bampton is proud of its market square, creamy stone cottages, excellent butcher, good schools and cracking pubs.
6. Banchory, Aberdeenshire
A handsome Victorian seaside town, Banchory offers skiing, climbing, two splendid castles, wonderful waterfall walks and one of the best state schools in Scotland.
7. Barnard Castle, Co Durham
A gentle market town with good school and a bustling community centre with a wealth of art events, are just some of the reasons Barnard Castle made the list. And artist Turner liked it too.
8. Blackawton, Devon
Surrounded by farmland, Blackawton’s village centre has a pub, a fancy restaurant, a pretty church, a lovely primary school, a post office run by volunteers, and spectacular views from its hilly streets.
9. Blakeney, Norfolk
A slower pace of life by the sea is embraced in Blakeney with its calming inns, tearooms, shops and delis along with an old harbour where children fish for crabs while the older folk hang out at the shingle and sand spit to spot rare birds and plants.
10. Bledlow, Buckinghamshire
One of the prettiest villages in south Bucks with old thatched houses, a dog friendly pub and a bustling community which throws itself into cricket and other activities. And London’s only a commute away.
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