IF YOU love the lanes of Devon, but fear you can only visit once in a while, in summer, when they’re clogged with other seekers after clotted cream scones, then worry no more.
There is a little corner of Staffordshire that could easily double for that often over-idealised county – but minus the madding crowd.
To the west of Eccleshall there is a stretch of country, criss-crossed by shady lanes and pretty by-paths, far from busy main roads, where the landscape is gently rolling; where the fields are small and hedgerows are neat; where walkers will find a pleasing mix of little wooded valleys, small lakes and streams, lush meadows and hilly rises which reward the rambler with sweeping pastoral panoramas hardly matched in any other English county.
“It’s so quiet here,” says Manchester-born Louise Baker, who is reluctantly selling Redgreet Farm, her home of three years. The farm attracted her initially because if offered ample storage space for her furniture business.
Redgreet Farm is tucked away, near the tiny hamlet of Sugnall, a couple of miles to the west of Eccleshall.
“Sometimes you just stop and listen to the silence. All you can hear is the birds,” says Louise.
Indeed, Louise admits that before coming to Redgreet Farm, she could barely tell a coot from a corncrake. Now her shelves are adorned with several bird books which are regularly referred to when unusual avian visitors alight on the lake which lies in front of the house.
“We often get rare birds coming to the lake. We have a resident black swan, and other visiting swans, geese and wildfowl. We’ve even had oystercatchers,” she says.
The farm is being sold as a whole, or in two lots. The house and grounds, which run to a beefy 8.5 acres, are situated off a small lane which runs down from the nearby Sugnall walled garden, part of Sugnall Hall, just along the B-road from Eccleshall.
“I’ve really grown to appreciate the seclusion here,” says Louise, “but my husband’s job has taken him to the south coast, and it’s not practical for him to commute.
“With my work and three children to look after, the house and land is just too much for me. I have to find somewhere more manageable, but it’s going to be a real wrench to leave.”
But, she says, Redgreet Farm would be ideal for a large, busy family. The house is relatively modern, but based on a much older building. There are three bedrooms. There has been planning consent for an extension to provide a fourth bedroom which, although now lapsed, could be an option for potential buyers.
The main house has been adapted to make the very best of the outstanding views across the beautiful countryside. And inside, the house contains some surprises - a large games room and an indoor swimming pool, plus a spacious sun room on the side of the property.
The other lot, being sold by agents Savills, runs to around 80 acres of farmland.
“I imagine one of the attractions of living here would have to be the absolute peace and quiet,” says Louise. “But we are only two miles down the road from Eccleshall, and the motorway is just beyond.
“I can be in Manchester, to visit my mum, in under two hours, That’s how convenient it is.”