Does your family want to escape the city? Move to the beautiful market town of Saffron Walden
PUBLISHED: 10:27 18 October 2018 | UPDATED: 11:10 08 November 2018
© CountryCollection - Homer Sykes / Alamy Stock Photo
Saffron Walden, a picturesque town surrounded by the stunning countryside of Essex and Cambridgeshire, has plenty to offer those looking to buy a home outside London. As well as many local attractions, it is within easy commuting distance of the capital, combining the best aspects of urban and rural life.
Many of us dream of escaping the hustle and bustle of the big city as we grow older, and moving somewhere where the pace of life is a little more relaxed.
Raising a family in the countryside, where children have more chances to explore nature, is usually part of this aspiration, but we also want to choose a town that has a vibrant cultural scene, good schools and an active business community. The demands of work, though, often mean we need to choose a place that’s still within easy reach of the office.
Saffron Walden, just 20 miles south of Cambridge and 50 miles north of London, ticks all these boxes. Within easy commuting distance of big cities by car or train, but set in the stunning countryside of north Essex and home to an enviable array of independent businesses, it’s the perfect place to raise a young family. Below are just five of the reasons to move.
Commuting made easy
By car, Saffron Walden to north London is just over an hour, while driving to Cambridge will take you around 40 minutes. Many people doing the commute, particularly to London, opt instead for train travel. Audley End is Saffron Walden’s nearest train station, a few miles down the road, with an annual season ticket to London terminals coming in at £4,536.
Four trains run an hour at peak times, stopping at Tottenham Hale before arriving at London Liverpool Street, with the journey taking between 50 minutes and one hour ten depending on the train taken.
Saffron Walden is also just a half hour drive from Stansted Airport, so those required to travel internationally for work are ideally located.
A cultural hub
Saffron Walden has a thriving town centre, packed with independent cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants. Popular options include Café Coucou, Bicicletta – a bike shop-cum-café serving locally roasted coffee and homemade cakes – and gastropub The Fighting Cocks (in nearby Audley End). New additions such as over-21s tapas bar The Market House have added to an already vibrant scene.
Culturally, the town is also well served. Not only is it full of historically important buildings – including the remains of a Norman castle – the town also boasts a dedicated museum and three art galleries.
Jacobean mansion Audley End House, meanwhile, regularly hosts concerts and drama productions in its impressive grounds.
There are a range of excellent choices when it comes to education in Saffron Walden and the surrounding area, whether you’re looking for a primary or secondary school – state or independent.
Radwinter C of E Primary School was rated Good this year by Ofsted, as was Saffron Walden’s RA Butler Academy – a state infant and junior school. The independent prep school Dame Bradbury’s, in the centre of Saffron Walden, is also very well regarded, and had its quality of achievement and learning judged “exceptional” in a 2014 Integrated Inspection Report.
Saffron Walden Country High School, a state co-educational secondary with attached sixth form, achieved the highest rating of Outstanding in its most recent Ofsted Report (2012).
A scenic setting
Living somewhere with clean air and plenty of green spaces isn’t just relaxing; it’s also good for you. A 2015 study by King’s College London found that the levels of air pollution in the capital are leading to the premature deaths of nearly 9,500 people a year. So it really does make sense to escape the smog.
Saffron Walden’s vast common, which contains a turf maze dating back to at least the 17th century, means that even in the centre of town you will feel the calming effects of nature, while a short walk will soon take you into a deeply rural, scenic landscape of fields, rivers and woods.
And if you’re keen to live a greener lifestyle, homes in a new housing development, The Limes, are now available. Situated in the peaceful village of Radwinter, just a few miles east of Saffron Walden, the development features 35 properties of between two/three and five bedrooms.
Each home has been individually designed to incorporate unique external features, some of which are inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement, such as pitched roofs and ornamental tile work. These ensure a traditional but varied collection of homes in keeping with the local area.
Developer Enterprise Residential Development Limited is also committed to building modern homes that are sustainable for the future, and exceed the minimum standard for low carbon emission housing.
More space for less
Properties on the new Radwinter development are priced between £399,999 for a two to three-bedroom house and go up to £895,000 for a five-bed. This stands in stark contrast to house prices in London, and means young couples who own an apartment in the capital can easily upgrade to a spacious house and garden in which to raise their family.