Revealed! The best place to live in Britain


Thinking about an escape to the country? The town of Skipton in North Yorkshire would be your best bet - as The Sunday Times has just named it the top of its Best Places to Live in Britain guide.

Judges praised the town for its "big-hearted, buzzy life in a small town", its perfect combination of top-class schools, low crime rates, affordable and attractive homes, and beautiful surrounding countryside.

From the 101 places on the list, The Sunday Times editors highlighted four top places to live, and Newnham in Cambridge came a close second for offering "country living and convenience, all within walking distance of a John Lewis".

Monmouth, near the border between Wales and England, was named for its "scholarly rural charms" and came in third, while the seaside town of Falmouth rounded up the top four as it is "being transformed from a fishing town into a year-round cultural hub".

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The Sunday Times supplement home editor Helen Davies said the selection was made through lots of "hard data", including statistics on crime rates, house prices, school performances, but that it was also about people's opinions and "gut instincts".

She added: "We judged them on their merits. Is there a wide range of property for sale? Are the schools still topping the local league tables? Has development tipped it too far over into a clone town? Can you pop to the shops for a organic sourdough and espresso without incurring a parking ticket - or, indeed, without taking the car at all?"

Ms Davies said: "The four places we have selected demonstrate the range of fantastic places there are to live across Britain.

"Skipton is a worthy winner for this year but each place featured deserves its spot on the list."

The paper added that the remaining 97 locations are not ranked, but ordered alphabetically according to region.

Times subscribers can see the full list here:

Britain's most picturesque villages
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Revealed! The best place to live in Britain

This charming fishing village in the pretty East Neuk of Fife has cobbled streets that tumble down to the miniature harbour, which is sheltered by cliffs and surrounded by attractive fishing cottages. The 13th-century St Mary's Church is known as one of Scotland's most beautiful ancient churches. Crail Museum, Crail Pottery and the Jerdan Gallery are other top places to visit in the village and in July the Crail Festival takes place with events including sandcastle-making competitions, concerts and Scottish Opera workshops. 

With its beautiful stone houses dating back hundreds of years and constructed in the typical Cotswold style, Castle Combe is known as one of Britain's prettiest villages. Its history of being an important centre for the wool industry with spinsters and weavers living in the cottages add to its charm and the idyllic village has even attracted Hollywood producers who have chosen it as a setting for films like War Horse, Stardust and Doctor Doolittle. Stop to take photos of the Town Bridge, which was once made of wood and reconstructed in the 18th century, eat traditional pub food and drink real ale at the historic White Hart pub and check out the Market Cross monument, which is the centrepiece of the village.

Designed by architect Clough William Ellis in 1912 in the style of a Cornish village to please the Baron of Cushendun's Penzance-born wife, Cushendun is a quaint coastal village located at the mouth of Northern Ireland's River Dun. The lovely village nestled at the foot of the stunning Glendun, one of the nine Glens of Antrim, has inspired writers and artists from all over the world, who come to admire the whitewashed cottages, the village square with its craft shops and tea rooms and its wonderful sandy beach.

The chocolate-box village of Polperro in South East Cornwall is characterised by its narrow winding streets, tiny fishermen's cottages and picturesque harbour. The village is free of traffic, although there's a tram for you to make a stylish arrival, before wandering the streets and browsing the locally-made handicrafts in the boutiques. Polperro is famous for its seafood, so enjoying a fresh crab sandwich from one of the cafes while sitting on the harbour is a must. Follow the coastal footpaths that fan out from the village and take you to the many beaches that are often empty, even during summer.

Snowdonia's most beautiful village Beddgelert is surrounded by epic scenery and located close to the delightful Glaslyn Gorge. The small unspoilt village boasts stone-built houses, inns and hotels with two rivers, the Glaslyn and the Colwyn, meeting at a bridge in the centre. Visit the Sygun Copper Mine to explore its winding tunnels and colourful chambers, and stop at St Mary's Church to marvel at its medieval features. Beddgelert was the setting for children's character Rupert Bear where author and illustrator Alfred Bestall wrote some of his stories from his cottage in the village.

Whitewashed houses, courtyards and cobbled alleyways make up this picture-perfect village in the Lake District. As the centre of Hawkshead is closed to traffic, it's ideal for exploring by foot and discovering the boutiques, historic teashops and inns dotted throughout the village. Hawkshead is a great base for a hill-walking holiday in Cumbria and offers unspoilt charm and stunning views around every corner. Poet William Wordsworth and children's author Beatrix Potter were fans of the village's narrow streets and ancient architecture. Don't miss the Beatrix Potter Gallery, delicious cupcakes at boutique and cafe Poppi Red and a walk to the spectacular Tarn Hows.

Set in the southern Highlands of Scotland, Comrie is a beautiful village, which lies on the banks of the pebbly River Earn. The White Church is the focal point of the village and at the end of Comrie's small square you'll find a striking building portraying Scottish Baronial architecture, designed by architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Nearby you'll find the deep freshwater pool Linn a' chullaich, which is used for wild swimming in the summer, the picturesque Glen Artney, which was immortalised in Sir Walter Scott's poem The Lady of the Lake, and the Sput Rolla waterfall.

The charming Cotswold village of Bibury is home to the picturesque Arlington Row with its row of cottages that that date back to 1380, the attractive Bibury Trout Farm and the pretty River Coln. William Morris once described Bibury as 'the most beautiful village in England' and it is said to be one of the most stunning areas of the Cotswolds with one of the best things to do here spending lazy summer afternoons walking among the honey-coloured stone buildings. Be sure to visit Arlington Mill, the Church of St Mary and Bibury Post Office too.

Betws-y-Coed is set in a spectacular valley in the Snowdonia National Park and is surrounded by magnificent mountains and woodland. The quaint village is home to many bridges, cafes and tourist shops. The Motor Museum has a collection of over 30 vintage cars and Pont-y-Pair (Bridge of the Cauldron) was built in 1468 and is buffeted by foaming water after heavy rain falls. Some of the activities you can enjoy in the area include going on an underground adventure in the abandoned mines of Snowdonia, canyoning and rock climbing.

This model village in the North Pennines lies beneath magnificent fells, close to deep woods and the Derwent Reservoir. There are many listed buildings in Blanchland, the historic Abbey to which the village owes its original existence and even an honesty box in the car parks with all proceeds supporting the Blanchland's charitable activities. Places to visit include the Post Office, The Blanchland Deli and Gallery Upstairs before you stop for afternoon tea at The White Monk Tea Rooms.

The pretty village of Great Ayton stands at the unofficial gateway to the North York Moors and is perched on the banks of the River Levern. The village can trace its origins back to neolithic times and used to survive on its linen, leather, beer and mining industries. Now it's most famous as the childhood home of the explorer Captain James Cook and for its proximity to the Roseberry Topping mountain, which is carpeted in bluebells every spring.
A remote, single line of houses make up the tiny fishing village of Crovie. The village curls itself around the base of the cliffs that form the east side of Gamrie Bay and boasts uninterrupted views of the wild Scottish coastline. Adding to Crovie's charm is the complete lack of vehicles, the road is simply too narrow to accommodate them!
The brightly-painted, picture-postcard village of Tobermory in Mull is surrounded by high woodland-fringed hills and was built as a fishing port in the 18th century. There is reputedly the wreck of a Spanish galleon somewhere in the mud at the bottom of the bay and wildlife lovers can spot whales dolphins and basking sharks off the coastline.
Dunster is set into the sweeping hills and valleys of Exmoor National Park and the cobbled, medieval village has over 200 listed buildings, including the National Trust’s 11th century Dunster Castle and the Old Yarn Market, which was a focal point for the old Exmoor wool and cloth trade. Visitors should head to Dunster for the Candlelight festival in December where
a Lantern Lighting Procession is led by the spectacularly costumed stiltwalkers from Syrcus Circus to form a river if light through the village.
Despite its inauspicious namesake, the village of Lower Slaughter is actually named after the Old English name for a wet land 'slough' or 'slothre' (Old English for muddy place). This impossibly pretty village sits beside the little Eye stream and is known for its unspoilt, traditional limestone cottages and spectacular converted mill. Copse Hill Road in Lower Slaughter was even named the most romantic street in Britain in a poll for Google Street View in 2011.

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