personal finance

Let’s move to Sedbergh, Cumbria: lovely in its isolation


What’s going for it? Being an introvert, it’s the lonely spots that attract me most. Sedbergh is only 15 twisty-turny minutes up the steep western escarpment of the Yorkshire Dales from the M6, a little longer from Kendal, but high up, all alone in the fells, it might be halfway to the moon. Bald moors, big skies and Alfred Wainwright’s beloved Howgill Fells loom all about, and there’s not much bar sheep, the Wensleydale Creamery and the odd village or teeny town between you and the other side of the UK. Bliss. I don’t think I’ve ever been lonelier, in a good way, than waiting on the platform at Garsdale station with only crows for company. Still, Sedbergh itself is a convivial spot, despite its isolation, and utterly unpretentious in the way only this part of the world can be – home to doughty shops, hardy people and excellent pubs where hikers battle farmers for space at the bar. And, as one of three of Britain’s “book towns” (with Wigtown and Hay-on-Wye), filled with bookshops, writing retreats and poetry festivals, even the most taciturn hermit is never short of a conversation opener, even if it’s just your take on the latest Jack Reacher plot twist.

The case against… When the wind blows, Sedbergh gets blown away. The lonely spots aren’t for everyone.

Well connected? Trains: the nearest station is a 20-minute drive away (give or take the odd stray sheep) at Garsdale, with trains on the scenic line to Settle (25 mins), Skipton (just under an hour) and Leeds (an hour and a half) one way, and Carlisle the other (just over an hour). Trains from Kendal connect to Windermere (17 mins), Lancaster (25 mins) Preston (45 mins) and beyond. Driving: the bright lights of Kendal are 25 minutes away, the M6 is 15 minutes, and Lancaster, the seaside or the Lakes are reachable in 45 mins.

Schools Primaries: Sedbergh and Dent Church of England are both “good”, according to Ofsted. Secondaries: Settlebeck is “good”. Or there’s the independent Sedbergh School.

Hang out at… The Three Hares cafe, bistro and bakery: Japan in the Dales by way of Germany, and more brilliant than it sounds. The owners’ new Black Bull hotel in the town is splendid, too.

Where to buy Anywhere you like, just so long as it’s made from stone, raw or whitewashed. Well, OK, there’s the odd bit of brickwork or render… but think cottages, townhouses and Victorian villas, and farms or barns. There are some lovely farming villages beyond, such as Garsdale or Dent, for those who like it even more remote. Detacheds and townhouses, £280,000-£800,000. Semis, £140,000-£375,000. Terraces and cottages, £115,000-£250,000. Flats, £80,000-£220,000. Rentals: not a lot.

Bargain of the week A fabulous four-bedroom, two reception room, 17th-century listed whitewashed stone house, not far from Garsdale, £425,000 with thwestateagents.co.uk.

From the streets

Greg Stephenson “There’s lots to like and not much to dislike… it may be hidden away but it’s hugely handy for the M6 – five miles, and West Coast mainline 10 miles.”

Laura Rosenzweig “A real, down-to-earth place full of down-to-earth people who help each other. And we’re surrounded by some of the most beautiful and least-visited landscape in the Dales – the Howgills. Downside: the nearest bank is now 10 miles away. Thank goodness we still have a Post Office.”

Live in Sedbergh? Join the debate below

Do you live in Coventry? Do you have a favourite haunt or a pet hate? If so, email lets.move@theguardian.com by Tuesday 21 January.



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