03 Sep 2018

There are those who will only live in a city and expect to be able to walk to work or, at the very least, have a bus stop practically outside their door or Metro station nearby.

There are others who prefer to live in the ‘burbs, where neat gardens are as close to nature as they want to get and city life is still a short taxi ride away.

And then, there are those who live in Rothbury. You’ll easily recognise them from their relaxed demeanour and smiles of contentment.

If you don’t know Northumberland, you really need to put that right. You probably know the delights of the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales, with beautiful mountains, walking paths and moorland aplenty although idyllic spots such as Alnwick and Morpeth are better-kept secrets and, as a result, are less busy and inevitably less spoilt they still attract day trippers to their Castles, Gardens and Wizardry.

The market town of Rothbury sits equidistant from the two on the edge of the Simonside Hills. It has an open outlook over valleys and hills, with the fresh, energising air of the countryside. Yet as a long-established market town, the friendly centre bustles with independent shops and cafes.

Instead of lugging the weekly shop to the car from a supermarket hangar, residents of Rothbury are walking the short distance from the mouth-watering Thompsons Café to the deli, the bakers and then to the butchers, and the florist. And instead of buying mass-produced goods in clingfilm, they chat with the butcher to get inspiration and cooking advice.

There is a problem, however, as one of the numerous pubs and restaurants may entice you in on the way home. Modern English, Italian, Indian or fish and chips anyone?

Luckily, the good people of Rothbury can walk off extra calories merely by coming out their front door to access the many local walks and hikes in the Northumberland hills or along the river Coquet. Or they can drive a mere 5 minutes to walk in the grounds of historic Cragside House. Now owned by the National Trust this was the residence of Lord Armstrong and is a grand Victorian residence that was once lit by Hydroelectricity and features expansive grounds which can be seen from Cragside Gardens.

Or for the very brave, grab your goggles and, in a 40-minute drive, strike out for a swim at Druridge Bay. (On second thoughts, maybe an ice cream and a walk along the beach is a better idea for at least 9 months of the year).

Ah but then Sunday night rolls around and those who hold down city jobs have to return to the “real” world of work.

Unless you live in Rothbury that is.

For anyone living in the North East, Newcastle is the major employment hub but you don’t have to live in a city to work in one. The average city commute may be around forty minutes but that could be stuck in traffic from the busy suburbs, or on a crowded bus or train to get to the centre. Those who commute from Rothbury to Newcastle, start the day waving to neighbours in their small but friendly community and end the working day exactly the same way, it takes a bit longer to get home, but what a place to come home to.

For a commute of around an hour to Newcastle, they get good local schools and lifelong friendships for their kids; they get to wake up in one of the most beautiful areas of the country, well served with local eateries, fantastic independent shops and local entertainment. Best of all, they enjoy advantageous house prices, allowing added space and amenities over those who crowd closer to the city.

What’s an hour’s commute worth to you?