While this might not be the best place to bag yourself that grand mansion, or chic apartment, you’ve been longing for, it is a good spot for just about every kind of other buyer. In the centre, you’ll find terrific terraces, a lot of which back to the late 60s and boast lovely stony, stuffed character and original features. Head to the outskirts for your bigger builds with posh price tags, quiet gated communities and quaint courtyards. Local estate agents, Bennett Richmond and Foster Maddison, can help you find your dream home.
Lanchester lies just eight miles shy of Durham and five miles from Consett and your nearest railway station is Chester-le-Street. Buses from nearby Low Town Farm bus station will get shoppers on the right track to Stanley, Gateshead and buzzy Newcastle – just remember to bring your latest read, or favourite tunes, for the hour-plus journey. Things are a lot easier by car; the A691 will get you to Sunderland, the Toon and other parts of Tyneside in less than 40 minutes (just be aware of busy roads on the A1), while a car-ride to Durham takes only 15 minutes. If you need somewhere to rest your head, then look no further than The Old Post Office – a luxury B&B right on the village front street that offers large, comfortable accommodation and serves up fresh, local produce (great brekkies). It’s owned by the folk who launched Philleas Fog.
Avid shoppers are advised to head to the streets of Durham and Newcastle for big names and lots of choice, but if you’re quite partial to the odd nick-nack, a designer pair of frames or even a dreamy gown or two, there are still a few gems to be found on Lanchester’s pretty front street. Pick up bits and bobs for your humble abode at Country Homes & Gifts, before sitting down for a cuppa and a slice of cake in the upstairs tea room, nose about The Village Green for cute cards, stationary and more, check out Wades Opticians’ range of fabulous frames and make an appointment at Lanchester Bridal to try on a selection of their dreamy designer dresses. Get Ahead Hats has a fabulous new showroom, filled with hot headwear, fascinators and accessorises for any upcoming summer weddings or soirees, and Westlands Dental is the go-to private practice in the area for keeping local smiles in check.
This dot of a place has everything villagers need to keep their larders well-stocked and their bellies full. Fancy eating out? Book a table at Yannis for a taste of Greece. The family restaurant, ran by a fun-loving Crete-born bunch, serves up authentic, homemade-style Greek cuisine five days a week and its bang-for-your-buck three-course menus go down a treat – especially at the weekend when it’s always packed. If Italian is more your thing, pop in to Ravello Ristorante – they do pizza and pasta very well indeed and their ever-changing specials boards taste great too. Crinnions of Lanchester is also a must-visit – settle in at its restaurant and cafe, or check out the butchers and deli. It’s also worth mentioning that Lanchester really is the place to be for foodies to forage for farm shop delights and fresh, locally-grown essentials. A visit here isn’t complete without dashing over to nearby Knitsley Farm Shop – a charming, rustic place filled to the brim with mouthwatering produce – think hot, straight-from-the-oven loaves and baps, indulgent pastries, cakes and scones, fresh eggs, vibrant veg and all kinds of meat. Viennese cafe, Kaffeehaus Amadeus, is where you need to be for great quality coffee and a naughty slice of strudel. Pick up your booze from cool wine shop, The Pip Stop, or grab a pint at The Black Bull Inn – a favourite among locals.
Lanchester is a gateway to Weardale, a renowned walking region providing keen strollers hundreds of miles of public footpaths, former industrial railway lines and quiet country lanes to explore. Great for peaceful family walks along the riverside and a strenuous bit of hill-walking and long-distance trail braving, if that’s your thing. A short and simple stroll around the village’s All Saints Parish Church – which lies right in the centre – is a very nice thing indeed.
Rebecca Gowland is owner of Muchas Loves, a specialist children’s clothing and craft store.
Three good things about living here: The close-knit community vibe, the fact that there’s plenty of free, community-led events going on and the sweet little shops you’ll find as you walk the streets.
Three places you take visitors: The restaurants are great around here; good value for money, they’re family-ran and the food is top-notch.
An ‘in the know’ secret: It’s a really good place for booze! You’d be surprised at how busy the pubs get in the evenings – particularly at the weekend. It’s a sleepy town during the day, but by night it comes alive.