BIGGLESWADE is a town of yellow brick houses and market-gardening set on the River Ivel, which was once just navigable from the sea. Greene King had a brewery here, which may explain why there are so many pubs. There is a busy market on Saturdays and the cappuccino age has brought coffee and tapas bars. The shops have enjoyed a town centre makeover, yet people still tend to go to Cambridge for major purchases. Proximity to the A1 (where there is a Sainsbury) means that Stevenage is also easily accessible. One of the more highly regarded streets is London Road, where large four-bedroom houses can be bought for £269,000 upwards. It is a busy road and seems to have less appeal for incomers than it does for people moving locally.
Those in search of the rural idyll must go west to Ickwell Green, whose village green has a cricket club and a maypole on it and is fringed with colour-washed, brick and tiled cottages. Houses for sale here are as rare as hen’s teeth and agents are wary about quoting prices because they are all so individual. Old Warden is even more picturesque, having been preserved by the Shuttleworth Estate. The cottages are thatched, with gingerbread trimmings and chimneypots, and very few of them ever reach the open market. But its very presence is a magnet to the area, attracting people to the neighbouring villages. The Shuttleworth Collection of historic aircraft is a major attraction to visitors, especially on flying days. Northill, the third village in the cluster, is not quite so rarefied. The occasional modern house has crept in beside the older cottages around the pub and the duck pond. A two-bedroom thatched semi will cost around £200,000. There are stables in the area and it is fairly horsey.
Potton, to the north-east, is the size of a small town, with a population of over 5,000. Its market square is much admired, though the only way to live in it would be to buy a flat over one of the shops. The likely price for a two-bedroom cottage is £135,000. Otherwise property in the town tends to be cheaper than Biggleswade or Sandy.