Do you live in the best place in Britain?
A new survey of the UK's loveliest locales in The Sunday Times sees Warwickshire trending. But you knew that already right? So does your neighbourhood make the list?
The Sunday Times published its annual Best Places To Live list last weekend and three Warwickshire towns made the top 10 of the Midlands category, as well as Harborne in Birmingham. Well, tell us something we don’t know, right?! The overall winner was Edale in Derbyshire.
Local knowledge and seeking out the fun stuff is Muddy’s speciality, so here’s our take on those hotspots, with some suggestions in case you want to go have a nosey this weekend. And if you’re lucky enough to live in one of the winning locales, let us know if you’ve been overrun by over-excited Sunday Times readers!
The 3 Warwickshire towns included in The Sunday Times 2019 Best Places To Live list are:
Kenilworth has always been an attractive historic town with its romantic castle ruins, once home to Robert Dudley whose relationship with Elizabeth has been explored in books, on TV and in film, including Elizabeth starring Cate Blanchett and Joseph Fiennes. As a local journalist, I once covered a slightly surreal Tudor feast imitating the one for Elizabeth I’s royal visit painstakingly recreated by London food design studio Bompas & Parr in the Elizabethan gardens. You can now climb to the top of the 18m high tower to see Elizabeth’s previously derelict private chamber after English Heritage built an impressive new staircase. Nearly a year ago the town’s train station re-opened vastly improving connections to Coventry, Birmingham and London. Kenilworth has its own arts festival (September 19-28), a food festival (July 21), a Waitrose and a couple of great indie bookshops (Kenilworth Books & The Tree House Bookshop). Scoff and quaff at Michelin-starred gastropub The Cross, Lil Greens, Harringtons-on-the Hill, Pomeroys Bar & Bistro, The Gallery – an independent bar, music venue and art gallery – The Clarendon and The Almanack. I love the green expanse of Abbey Fields a few minutes’ walk from the town centre with a lake overlooking the castle, great for walks, picnics, the kids play area, tennis and sledging in the snow. Although it’s such a shame to hear the outdoor lido is closing (protests in swimwear, inflatables and goggles ahoy! See the Restore Kenilworth Lido campaign)…Just a couple of miles outside the town is stately Stoneleigh Abbey with its links to Jane Austen, and the highly-recommended Farmers Fayre farm shop and cafe at Stoneleigh Park.
Bordering the Cotswolds, just 8m south of Stratford-upon-Avon, is this quaint but bustling South Warwickshire market town with its characterful high street, mix of traditional and contemporary independent shops, Shipston Proms (June 14 – 29) and Shipston Wool Fair (May 27). There’s the cool hotel Bower House Restaurant and Rooms in a former women’s clothes shop and chic gastropub with rooms, The George Townhouse, named Best Pub in Warwickshire at the National Pub & Bar Awards 2017. Read our review here (and look out for a very special upcoming Reader’s Treat!). On the outskirts of town Cotswolds Distillery, offers tours and tastings, and you can visit Whichford Pottery, a family-business making handmade British flowerpots. Enjoy picturesque surrounding villages, walks in areas of outstanding beauty and take refreshment in a gorgeous country pub like The Fuzzy Duck at Armscote, The Howards Arms, Illmington, The Royal Oak, Whatcote and The Red Lion at Long Compton.
Known for its white-washed Regency period properties, riverside parks and the Old Town’s regenerated Creative Quarter, laid-back Leamington Spa has a burgeoning food scene, an abundance of quirky independent coffee shops and a range of games developers from internationally acclaimed to innovative start-ups. Last year Leamington scooped up SEVEN Muddy Awards from across Warwickshire – Best Cafe Coffee Architects; Best Beauty Salon, Esque; Best Bar Fizzy Moon, Best Florist Sarah Horne, Best pub The Fat Pug, Best Fitness Instructor Mari-Carmen Fitness and Best Wine Merchant Leamington Wine Company, plus Best Farm Shop/Deli Hilltop Farm Shop just outside in the village of Hunningham.