CASTLE CARY This is long-haul commuting, but people do it. Parking at the station is easy, and you can pick up the trains pelting back and forth to the Devon seaside. Castle Cary sits on the last few ripples of the Mendips before the relentless flatlands of the Somerset Levels. The town owes much of its prosperity to agriculture and the horse-hair weaving trade. There is still a weaver in the town, though the hair is now imported from China. The remains of the old motte-and-bailey castle that gave the town its name are still here. A small market is held on Tuesdays and a farmer’s market once a month.
The mellow, golden local stone is what makes people fall in love with the place. There are a few traditional shops, good private schools nearby, a thatched hotel called The George and a notable rectory just outside at Ansford, which was once the home of the Reverend James Woodforde, author of Diary of A Country Parson. New developments have arrived to the north and more are in the pipeline. A two-bedroom flat can be bought for around £140,000, a three-bedroom terrace house for around £200,000, while a four-bedroom period house and garden will cost £400,000 to £500,000.
Commuters necessarily have to live very close to the station because of the length of the journey. A clutch of places within a five-mile belt include the stone villages of North and South Cadbury, and Yarlington, which is a good agricultural working village with a mix of modern and old houses, priced very similarly to those in Castle Cary. To the north-west is Ditcheat, also a good working village. This is dairy country – rich, green and undulating – where much of the milk goes to butter and cheese-making factories.