5th June 2024

Reading time


A Road Less Travelled

Every summer the population of the West Country swells as second home owners and holiday makers rush to make the most of its unparalleled natural beauty.

This is fine for those who like being in the thick of things, but suboptimal for those who are looking for a more authentic experience or are searching for peace and quiet on their summer sojourns.

Happily there are still some comparatively peaceful and unspoiled options for West Country buyers – if you know where to look.

These are Black Brick’s pick of the best of the best places to find some tranquil downtime and enjoy the real West Country:

Best for getting away from it all: Zennor.

You have to journey almost to the very tip of Cornwall to reach this beautiful village but the effort will be repaid with long coastal walks, secluded beaches, and miles and miles of open country studded with ancient stone circles and tin mines.

Zennor is where the writer D H Lawrence and his German wife Frida stayed during World War One, and where he worked on Women in Love. Lawrence described the local landscape in his novel, admiring its “peacock mingled colours” and the sunshine-hues of the local gorse bushes.

The village has a general store, an ice cream parlour, and a pub, The Tinners Arms, which serves one of the best crab sandwiches in Cornwall. And if you do want a little more action St Ives, with its art galleries, shops, and restaurants, is five miles away.

Most of the property in and around Zennor is of the traditional, stone-built variety, but finding something to buy may be a challenge because homes rarely come up for sale.

When they do they offer considerable value for money compared to less geographically -distant options. A fine granite farmhouse could be yours for around £800,000 or a historic cottage in the village for around £600,000.

Best for all mod cons: Ashburton

This historic market town is blessed with the perfect betwixt and between location.

It is set on the southern fringes of Dartmoor, making a great choice for those who like walking, cycling, horse riding, or country sports.

It is also less than 20 miles to the sandy beaches of south Devon, and only a circa half hour drive to Plymouth or Exeter for fast trains to London.

Ashburton’s town centre, with its pastel painted shops and houses, is not only charming but offers a good range of independent shops, cafes, restaurants, and bars on the doorstep (its cluster of antique and vintage stores are particularly worth a browse).

Community spirit here is strong and Ashburton hosts regular events including a food and drink festival in September, a music and arts festival, and a summer carnival. The Ashburton Arts Centre has a busy calendar featuring contemporary art, music, and poetry.

Property wise you can opt for a substantial house with land on the outskirts of town, priced from circa £1m.

In town there are some dreamily beautiful Georgian townhouses, priced from around £800,000 to £1m. Extremely sweet two to three bedroom cottages are around the £350,000 to £400,000 mark.

Best for sailors and surfers: Feock and Devoran.

Close to the mouth of the River Fal these two waterfront villages are amongst the unsung gems of the south Cornwall coastline.

Buyers love them for their looks – homes set into the hillside above the water – and also for the great sailing opportunities to be had on the Carrick Roads. The villages are also perfect for those who love walking and cycling, as well as beach life.

Bissoe cycle trail has a direct route to the north coast village of Portreath. Falmouth’s three wonderful beaches are a short drive away.

There is also plenty to do in the area with landmarks like Pendennis Castle, the Lost Gardens of Heligan, as well as major towns nearby like Truro and Falmouth. Transport links are, by Cornwall standards, good – trains from Falmouth to London Paddington take around five hours.

There is a tremendously wide range of property to choose from in these two villages, led by Restronguet Point, a 700 metre long spit of land near Feock laid out with large detached homes surrounded by tropical gardens and with direct water access, each priced at up to £4m.

Alternatively you could pick out a historic family house with four bedrooms and water views from around £1m in either village, or a compact terraced cottage with plenty of character for around £400,000 to £600,000.

Best for easy access to London: Sherborne, Dorset.

Good looking, well resourced, and accessible, Sherborne is the perfect place to dip a toe into life in the West Country.

Its medieval streets are filled with interesting independent shops, plus cafes, restaurants, and pubs. The cultural life is strong with an annual classical and jazz music festival, several art galleries, and arts centre The Sherborne staging regular art and design exhibitions. Sherborne’s schools (notably its two eponymous boarding schools) are outstanding.

Little wonder it was named the best place to live in the South West by the Sunday Times earlier this year, with the newspaper citing its “community-centred, cultured” vibe as a reason to move there.

It is a workable solution for hybrid workers who want to get out of town too. Trains to London Waterloo take just over two hours, while Dorset’s lovely Jurassic coast is a half hour drive away.

Property in Sherborne ranges from brand new to historic. Expect to pay in the region of £1m to £1.2m for a substantial detached family house on the outskirts of town, or a Georgian townhouse in the centre of town. Smaller Georgian cottages are priced at £700,000 to £800,000 and you could buy a two bedroom bolthole apartment for around £300,000.

Best for a mix of country and coast: Veryan.

If you want to enjoy Cornwall’s Roseland Heritage Coast, with its fishing villages, pretty coves, and lovely countryside, then this low key village is the perfect staging post.

Less famous than the nearby coastal villages of Portloe and Portscatho, Veryan is a couple of miles inland, encircled by farmland, and this has protected it from the attentions of many holidaymakers.

Amenities are on the light side. There is a village pub, The New Inn, but not much else going on, although there are plenty of restaurants and cafes along the coast, and a good range of shops in Mevagissey, ten miles away.

Veryan’s most famous homes are the thatched round-houses built by the local vicar in the 19th century and now mostly rented out as holiday homes. For buyers there are semi-rural period country houses with an acre or two, priced at around £1.7m to £2m, and traditional cottages priced at around £500,000 to £600,000.

We’re ready when you are


We’re ready when you are

We would be delighted to hear from you to discuss your own property requirements. For a non-obligatory consultation, please contact us.

We have an unrivalled track record

We come highly recommended

We come highly recommended.