Simon Smith: Town or country - North Devon has it all

North Devon Gazette

Although mainly a rural area, newcomers to North Devon, and indeed those already resident who are moving home, still have a choice to make – town or country?

Many of those who move to our wonderful part of the world will be coming from much larger conurbations, towns or cities, and the thought of being plunged into a world of no streetlighting to illuminate the often muddy lames, not to mention a 40-minute round trip for a pint of milk or a Sunday newspaper, is daunting to say the least.

On the other hand, it is the rugged and rural nature of our area that is often the attraction of moving to North Devon in the first place.

So what are the pros and cons?

Well, to take a random example, someone moving from, let’s say, Birmingham to Ilfracombe will find that, compared to living in a major city with it’s glittering malls and row upon row of restaurants and bars that they now have a far more slender palette of options to choose from.

A High Street of mainly local businesses and, certainly out of season, a range of dining options that could easily be exhausted by a busy couple of months of birthday dinners and anniversaries.

They would no doubt notice the lack of services such as Uber, and would in turn rediscover the joys of having to book a minicab several days in advance if you want a guaranteed booking, a pleasure most city dwellers lost touch with a decade or so ago.

On the other hand, they would trade those delights of soft living for the pleasures of having the sea within walking distance, access to one of the most dramatic sections of coastline in the North Devon area and, of course, a lifetime's supply of freshly made fudge virtually on the doorstep.

Not to mention the views, which can be truly stunning, and because of it’s interesting topography, there surely cannot be many towns in the UK where such a high proportion of houses have the benefit of the delightful views, the roads being stacked above one another offering a vista of sea above the opposite rooftops.

They would still have a cinema, a theatre and would be able to enjoy a Sunday stroll around the harbour while they’re landlocked Brummie bretheren were a long way from a lungful of salty sea air.   Â

And what if our fictional family of relocators opted for a cottage in the country?

Then the differences become even more stark, and especially so at different times of the year.

A common pattern for home movers was that visitors would holiday in North Devon, enjoy the rolling countryside as it basks in the sunshine of the summer months, become seduced by the bucolic splendour and relocate, with rural tranquility and access to said rolling countryside high up on the priority list.

For some, the rural idyll of their dreams is fulfilled and more by their first taste of country living, while for others, the realities of learning to live with oil fired central heating, or gas that arrives in bottles on the back of a lorry instead of piped seamlessly and silently into their homes takes a bit of getting used to, as does the delights of septic tanks, which often boggle the minds of townsfolk taking the plunge (not literally) into rural living.

Throw in patchy if not downright non existent phone signal and the fact that most of that glorious countryside that you drive through is in fact a privately owned factory floor for the production of foodstuffs and not and oversized public park means that opportunities to gambol are far less than was imagined.

On the plus side of course, awakening to the sound of birdsong and the inhalation of fresh country air makes all those sleepless nights worrying whether the septic tank is about to overflow worthwhile.Â

The great thing is that, town or country, beach or bistro, North Devon has it all.