Suggestions for where to take a 4-month "family sabbatical" outside of London?

(54 Posts)
eversomuch Sun 26-Jan-14 20:42:40

Hmm, can't find a category where this fits exactly, so hope it's ok to post here.

Changes in our work and housing situations mean DH and I are considering possibly taking four to six months off this spring and summer, relocating within the UK somewhere cheap but lovely and just spending time with each other and our two DC (3 and 1) and maybe finding time to do some creative projects before returning to London in the autumn.

Any suggestions as to locations we might want to consider in England or maybe Wales? We're looking for places that would offer a lovely quality of life (with lots on offer for the kids and great access to nature), low cost of living and decent public transport links. Not needing a car would be a plus. Good chance of avoiding a wet, cold summer would also be great. smile

JiltedJohnsJulie Sun 26-Jan-14 21:18:08

How about Anglesey? It seemed ok for William and Kate smile

BoffinMum Sun 26-Jan-14 21:21:56

Northamptonshire is unfashionable but beautiful in parts. Rutland, Derbyshire and South Lincolnshire might also be worth considering. Montgomery in Wales is pretty, and there are parts of Norfolk and Suffolk where you might find a bolt hole as well.

GuybrushThreepwoodMP Sun 26-Jan-14 21:27:10

That sounds lovely! Are you looking for somewhere quite rural then? Norfolk broads or North Yorkshire? I'd probably head to the west coast of Ireland or the outer Hebrides if it were me!

Raleighton Sun 26-Jan-14 21:31:07

why limit it to the UK?

Best1sWest Sun 26-Jan-14 21:32:29

Avoid Wales if you want good public transport links. Otherwise it is great.

eversomuch Sun 26-Jan-14 21:49:58

We've only ever lived in London since moving to the UK and haven't traveled around here all that much, so your suggestions are all appreciated.

Rural would be fine but not absolutely necessary. And I don't think we want anything extremely remote. A nice small town or small city would probably do.

We're not really considering going abroad right now as we may need to pop in and out of London occasionally, and it's a good chance for us to experience life in another part of the country before DC start school ... but feel free to try to convince me otherwise. smile

Raleighton Sun 26-Jan-14 21:54:58

Why not do a road trip in a campervan across Europe or USA?

surgicalwidow Sun 26-Jan-14 22:04:32

West Cork or Connemara (Galway) in Ireland - both beautiful rural places with lots of property available to rent and huge amounts of creative / cultural activity going on; think art, music and literary festivals, especially over the summer, art galleries, craft centres…. Would love 4 months to spend in either place!

Middleagedmotheroftwo Sun 26-Jan-14 22:17:32

Lots of nice small towns in north wilts. Rural, but not remote. 15 mins from Swindon (crap) but only 40 mins from Bath or Bristol (lovely) and one hour from London.
I'm thinking Purton, Royal Wootton Bassett, Malmesbury, Cricklade, Marlborough.

Stripytop Sun 26-Jan-14 22:24:05

I would rent a house within walking distance of Kynance Cove or somewhere along the Helford River - both on the Lizard Peninsula.

nldm1 Sun 26-Jan-14 23:33:42

I'd advise steering clear of Cornwall on the grounds that it's often damp, public transport is mostly rubbish and it's really not cheap to live down here (especially as you would be here over the tourist season) Granted, there are cheaper options, but they come at a price. Horrible housing or area etc.
That being said, it is an amazing part of the country with a lot to offer if you're aware of what to expect. As you can imagine, you have beaches, woods, historical monuments and as many walks as you could ever want. The local flora and fauna can be an amazing education for children.
Personally, I wouldn't want to live anywhere else, but like I said, you need to be aware of the reality so that you don't feel let down....that's probably true of most places though.

gretagrape Mon 27-Jan-14 07:35:18

Well, it might not seem like much of an adventure but I loved it when I lived in Bedfordshire as you aren't too far from anywhere but still feel like you can get away from it all. What I liked is that the villages there are 'alive' and working so you get a real sense of community and friendship, rather than a lot of counties where a village consists of 1 tiny shop if you are lucky so there's nothing to bring people together.

eversomuch Mon 27-Jan-14 12:56:12

This is great, thanks. Specific towns and villages are really appreciated, so I can look them up and see what sort of short-term properties are available.

We've been to the west of Ireland and Connamara -- really lovely.

Raleighton Would love to do a big road trip someday when the kids are bigger, but this particular adventure is more about taking it easy, regrouping as a family and not having to do too much planning or moving around. We are tired and lazy! smile

Will definitely start checking out these suggestions!

mrscog Mon 27-Jan-14 20:29:30

Worcestershire is lovely - Evesham area, or West of Worcester - Martley, Ombersley, Hallow, Malvern also a fantastic town - lovely park and naice Waitrose. Avoid the northern Birmingham commuter belt towns - Kidderminster, Bromsgrove and Redditch - nothing wrong with them but not exactly 'sabbatical' territory!

JiltedJohnsJulie Mon 27-Jan-14 20:38:34

How about Chester? Lovely town in itself and easy access to North Wales, the Wirral, Manchester, Liverpool, Cheshire, Shropshire and North Staffordshire. Also has great transport links smile

lotsofcheese Mon 27-Jan-14 20:46:00

Would you consider Scotland? The Outer Hebrides are beautiful, so is Perthshire/Highlands, as well as East Lothian & East Neuk of Fife.

specialsubject Tue 28-Jan-14 17:47:58

Shropshire - 3 hours from London, loads to see and do and nobody here (so don't tell anyone...)

6 months is the minimum on a standard let BUT you'll need to provide all the furniture etc. Shorter than this is a challenge although can be done. PM me if you want a couple of reliable short-let recommendations - I lived in one of them.

Lagoonablue Tue 28-Jan-14 17:50:45

Northumberland. Beaches, hills, sparsely populated but near some nice towns and lots of castles.

ReticulatingSplines Tue 28-Jan-14 17:53:36

Aberdeenshire. The quality of life is second only to the SE of England. Inverurie, Banff, Huntly, Stonehaven.

gruffalosmile Tue 28-Jan-14 17:55:47

Lake District?

capercaillie Tue 28-Jan-14 17:56:57

I would head to Scotland - probably somewhere coastal. Oban, Fort William, Inverness or Ullapool could be good bases. It depends on whether you like outdoor activities although all of those places would have some other stuff going on. The advantage would be proximity to lots of great places, fantastic beaches etc

I would say the lakes - Keswick, Windermere if you want towns or to Northumberland - Alnwick or berwick. Although you might need a car in northumberland

bakingaddict Tue 28-Jan-14 18:08:11

I would go Dorset only a few hours out of London and it seems to have good transport. When we do a UK holiday Dorset is normally our choice and you have the New Forest too. We live in London and dont have a car so its important for us to get to different places easily

Personally I would head to the Hebrides but what about York? Don't need a car. Loads to do, nice parks etc. Easy access to London and trains and buses to the coast.

HappyHugs Tue 28-Jan-14 23:26:15

Check out the Mournes in Co. Down (lots of little fishing villages, beautiful scenery, chilled out in the extreme yet loads of family outings available) and get a flavour of Northern Ireland.

DrNick Tue 28-Jan-14 23:27:11

the north
lake district or the Dales

DrNick Tue 28-Jan-14 23:27:33

dorest isnt different enough

dont go to herefordshire or shropshire they are DIRE

Icedfinger Wed 29-Jan-14 06:27:52

Suffolk- maybe Woodbridge, Southwold or Aldeburgh. Beautiful coastlines, gorgeous scenery, lots of artsy creative things happening. Only an hour and a bit to London if you need to get back.

TamerB Wed 29-Jan-14 06:43:57

I think I would try Somerset, lots of lovely small places and near Bath.

LtEveDallas Wed 29-Jan-14 06:45:09

I loved Shrewsbury when we lived there. Plenty to do, lots of 'green', easy access to N Wales/Chester/Brum and good train links across the country.

We are moving to Worcestershire this year because we also like the Bewdley, Stourport, Omberdsly, Kinver area.

My sis lives in the Cotswolds and wouldn't go anywhere else. Beautiful, but pricey Burford, Bibury, Preston, Ciren.

If I was to do something like this I'd go for a seaside town - something completely different from my life in London and where it's easy to entertain little kids.

sassytheFIRST Wed 29-Jan-14 06:48:21

Lteve! Was only thinking about your move the other day - which of the towns did you go with in the end, can you say?
Happy to meet up with you once you get here if you'd like smile

Maisycat Wed 29-Jan-14 07:00:28

We did this when my daughter was tiny many years ago, saved up escaped London and high pressured jobs and ended up in Northern France for 4 months (in theory) the trouble was we ended up staying for 12 years...!

Second Chester. Very walkable town. So handsome with the Rows and the Roman ruins and the Canal. Then easy enough to hop on buses or trains for Wales/Manchester/Liverpool/beaches on the Wirral. " hours train from London.

What about Edinburgh? Doesn't exactly guarantee you a rain free sabbatical, but it is stunning, walkable again, Castle, museums a-plenty, great food, and then you could hire a car now and again to strike out into the stunning Scottish scenery.

LtEveDallas Wed 29-Jan-14 07:09:18

Hi Sassy. Well in the end we went for neither! We have bought in Hartlebury because it was the only place where the primary school could fit her in. ALL the other schools said they were full shock

I love the house we have bought, everything seems to be going through OK, survey this week and looking at exchange by the end March although I don't expect us to move in until end June.

Would be great to meet up.

(Sorry for hijack OP)

uggmum Wed 29-Jan-14 07:13:10

How about the isle of Wight. Great beaches and wild life. Plenty to do and very child friendly.

Bunbaker Wed 29-Jan-14 07:17:07

"dont go to herefordshire or shropshire they are DIRE"

What is so dire about Shropshire? We had a fabulous holiday there a few years ago and loved it. Granted, we had a car, but we had so many things to see and do that we struggled to fit it all in.

I second the suggestion of York - lots to see and do, access to loads of places on public transport and easy access to London. Or how about Leeds for the same reasons? Our part of South Yorkshire is very pretty (edge of Pennines) and we have a regular train service which is only hourly, but, again you would benefit more from the use of a car.

If you go to Northumberland you would be better to stay somewhere like Morpeth as it has a railway station and regular bus links to all sorts of places. Although having a car would be better.

JanePurdy Wed 29-Jan-14 08:20:33

I would go to a Scottish Island - totally different, community life, sea. Orkney has the festival in the summer (St Magnus?). But doesn't tick the box for access to London.

So failing that I would think about York. Lots of stuff to do - museums, historic places, nice cafés but also the coast, the Dales, fast train to London.

mrscog Wed 29-Jan-14 09:21:55

LtEve/Sassy - I'm not a million miles from Hartlebury - maybe we could have a MnMeet up to celebrate your move once it's done!

LtEveDallas Wed 29-Jan-14 09:49:03

A summer meet-up would be great and you can both give me the low down on the area - Coming in blind is pretty scary!

Aberdeen has lots of daily, hour long flights to London cause of the oil industry. Smaller towns in Aberdeenshire like Stonehaven or Inverurie have lots of shops, good transport links and very family friendly.

plantsitter Wed 29-Jan-14 10:54:28

What a lovely idea! I would go to the Isle of Wight of I were doing this.

Chances of avoiding a cold, wet summer are v slim in uk though sorry! !

eversomuch Wed 29-Jan-14 14:29:09

Wow! This thread really gained speed overnight! Thank you, everyone, for the suggestions.

We've spent quite a bit of time in Scotland, which we love -- and I LOVE Edinburgh -- and we've holidayed on the Isle of Wight and been to Shrewsbury in Shropshire (loved them, too). We'd really like some place new to experience this time.

Have thought about York and other points northward but are worried that it would be too cold in the summer, even if it isn't constantly raining.

I know our chances of having as gorgeous a summer as last year as probably quite slim anywhere in the UK, though...

Dorset and Suffolk sound like good candidates, maybe Worcestershire, too. Is there any place specific in/near the New Forest that's recommended?

Any thoughts on Kent or Sussex and toward the southeast coast?

lotsofcheese Wed 29-Jan-14 14:56:38

Jersey is beautiful & child-friendly, with easy access to France - but pricey....

Stripedgingercat Thu 30-Jan-14 14:08:34

Have you thought about Norfolk?

specialsubject Thu 30-Jan-14 20:48:21

glad to see DrNick thinks Shropshire is dire - would hate to deprive his village of its idiot.

Bunbaker Thu 30-Jan-14 20:49:23

specialsubject grin

DoItTooJulia Thu 30-Jan-14 20:58:43

Lichfield is well connected transport wise, small cathedral city with a village feel and on the edge of lots of places, including some countryside! Perfect!

DrNick Thu 30-Jan-14 21:53:02

Snigger. Think they have plenty already

Alfiecat Thu 30-Jan-14 22:00:45

How about Cardiff? Two hours to London on the train, near loads of beaches and lots to see and do.

Middleagedmotheroftwo Fri 31-Jan-14 13:53:40

Oooh Cardiff is nice too!!

caroline12345 Thu 13-Mar-14 08:54:50

Hi there we have a house in Polperro, a cute fishing village in Cornwall which is available for sublet right now as we are O/S. Its great for our 21 month old - there is a cot in the main bedroom good for your one year old and a second room with child's bed perfect for the three year old, lots of toys, books etc. Pedestrian area in the village safe for kids etc. Contact

TurnOffTheTv Thu 13-Mar-14 09:03:18

Durham! Small city, loads to do, you have the lakes/Yorkshire/Northumberland all within 90 mins and Newcastle if you want something more exciting. Three hours on the train back to London.

MrsSparkles Fri 14-Mar-14 19:19:42

I love Kent (but then I do live there smile). Whitstable, Deal have loads going on. Broadstairs and Margate - have beautiful sandy beaches which are great for kids.

It also seems to have its own microclimate, so quite often when it's wet and miserable across the UK it misses them out.

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