A well-kept secret home swap
Our title refers not only to the house - in a little road which even local people often don't know about - but also to the whole county of Northumberland, which always amazes first-time visitors with its range of unspoilt scenery.
Our 3-bedroom semi-detached house is in the market town of Hexham, about 20 miles from Newcastle. The house dates from 1914, but when we moved in two years ago we completely re-designed the interior to make a modern environment that respected the original features. The house is less than a mile from the town centre, at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac where we park our car. Our rear garden is much bigger than the Hexham average; like the smaller front garden it is designed for easy maintenance, but with a particular eye on design as well as plants and grasses.
The three bedrooms are upstairs, one of them en-suite. There is a separate bathroom (= shower, etc) as well as a downstairs toilet. The newly created kitchen (approx 7 metres by 3.5 metres) includes a seating area which leads out on to a patio, and is fully equipped with new units and goods, including a double-oven range and large fridge-freezer. The main living room (c. 8m x 3.5 m) is also large enough to accommodate a variety of activities. Broadband with all-inclusive UK phone calls, wi-fi and Freeview tv is provided.
About the location
Hexham is the centre of the Tynedale district, and is famous for its ancient abbey. The town has many other attractions, including a theatre and a community-owned cinema showing latest releases and live theatre/opera screenings; a leisure centre (ten-pin bowling and swimming pool); two golf courses (one of them 9-hole); and a racecourse. There are a number of small local shops of interest, as well as a Waitrose and a 24-hour Tesco just a mile from our house. In addition, the fortnightly Farmers' Market is a regular on our calendar.
Hadrian's Wall is just three or four miles away at its nearest point, and attracts many walkers (during summer time a local bus runs from Hexham, stopping at various points near the Wall, to allow hikers to complete different sections). There are several archaeological sites and visitor centres. To the north of the Wall is the Northumberland National Park, while to the south of Hexham lies the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Slightly further afield, Durham (south) and the Scottish border (north) are each less than an hour by car, while it takes only about 90 minutes to reach the centre of the Lake District, with its spectacular views and fell-walking. Hexham is on the main railway line from Carlisle to Newcastle, and there are also several buses each hour to Newcastle. The train ride from Newcastle to London is just on 3 hours, with Edinburgh 1.5 hours.
We came to live in Hexham because of the quality of life and the perfect mix of stunning rural scenery within easy reach of a major city. Three years on we are still delighted with our choice.
Conditions of home exchange
- Non smokers only
- No pets allowed
- No small children
- Washer / Drier
- Car exchange offered
- Shopping facilities
- Local restaurants
- Good public transport
Closest airport: Newcastle International
Nearest city: Newcastle
Property type: House
Location type: Urban