Is Alnwick one of the best places to live in the Northeast of England?

The historic market town of Alnwick is located in the Northeast County of Northumberland in the wider Alnwick district, 34 miles north from Newcastle-upon-Tyne and 32 miles from Berwick-upon-Tweed, the northernmost town in England. 

According to the Sunday Times in 2020, Alnwick was voted the best place to live in the North of England – high praise indeed. Although of course it has stiff competition from the likes of seaside village Alnmouth (also highly rated by the Sunday Times) and Which?consumer magazine’s pick for the top UK seaside destination in 2021 – Bamburgh. 

So, what exactly does Alnwick have to offer to put it in the rankings of the best places to live in the Northeast of England? Read on to find out! 

Fans of a certain young wizard or the aristocratic Crawley family will certainly recognise the stunningstructure of Alnwick Castle, which looms large over the town and dates back to the 11th century. The Castle is still home to the Percy Family, it’s owners since the 13thcentury, and today the Castle is open to the public to explore. The Castle also hosts many community eventssuch as the “Scoring the Hales” football match which takes place on Shrove Tuesday and the Alnwick Castle Tournament which is a medieval jousting competition. 

Northumberland’s impressive heritage can be explored more widely in Alnwick and surrounding areas via theRatcheugh Observatory, the Aln Valley Railway, theBailiffgate Museum & Gallery and Edlingham Castle, amongst many others. In fact, Northumberland itself has the most castles of any English county.

Outdoor lovers will also enjoy the scenic splendour of the Northumberland coast and countryside which is right on Alnwick’s doorstep. The Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is only a few minutes’ drive to the east and the 405 square mile Northumberland National Park is only around 15 miles away to the west for the best in cycling, hiking and fishing. Alnwick itself is home to Alnwick Garden, Swansfield Park and Hulne Park amongst others. 

Despite its northeast location, Alnwick is actually pretty well connected thanks to its proximity to the A1 from London to Edinburgh and the coastal A1068 that runs to Seaton Burn in North Tyneside. Nearby Alnmouth train station is only 10 minutes’ drive from Alnwick and offers regular rail services on the East Coast Main Line fromLondon King’s Cross to Edinburgh Waverley. There are also frequent bus services from Alnwick to the surrounding towns and villages and long-distance coach services to Berwick, London and Glasgow with Newcastle Airport only 45 minutes away for international travel. 

Bucking the trend of ailing high streets across the Northeast and the wider UK, Alnwick is home to plenty of big-name favourites in the town centre and at Willowburn Retail Park, plus charming independent retailers, cosy pubs and tempting eateries. The famous Barter Books, Alnwick Deli, and family friendly The Plough are all popular with locals, as are the regular markets in the market square on Thursdays and Saturdays selling plenty of local produce, crafts and homewares.  

Families also appreciate the three different primary schools (Swansfield Park Primary School, St Michael’s Church of England Primary School and St Paul’s Catholic Primary School) and The Duchess’s Community High School which are available locally. Swansfield Park Primary School has received an impressive ‘outstanding’ rating from Ofsted and all others have been rated ‘good.’

When it comes to value for money, Alnwick also ticks the box, with properties in the town selling for a very affordable average price of £237,533 over the last 12 months. This is on par with Northumberland as a whole at £232,182 and certainly more reasonable than both Alnmouth at £340,333 and Bamburgh at £626,000, not to mention pricey Darras Hall (£639,159), the most expensive area in Northumberland currently. 

Homebuyers are spoilt for choice in terms of the types of property on offer too. There are plenty of characterful period properties in the centre of town alongside spacious Edwardian family homes and modern, new build developments on the outskirts of town. You can pick up a terraced or semi-detached property for around £190,000 and £210,000, respectively. Spacious, detached properties, of which there are many in Northumberland and the wider Northeast, can be found for around £327,000.

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