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Best Places
21-30 The Sunday Times
15 Mar 2015 10:47:17
21 Harrogate, North Yorkshire
More solid gold than Yorkshire brass, this upmarket spa town has come a long way from its days as a genteel coach-trip destination for the blue-rinse brigade. Shopaholics flock to the upmarket stores, which include Oka, Jo Malone and Rigby & Peller. The annual international festivals attract a host of stellar literary and musical names (Jo Nesbo is headlining this year) and a new £10m arthouse cinema complex is set to open next year.
Harrogate claims to be the only mainland postcode in the country without a Tesco, but residents are far from starving — there’s a Waitrose; Fodders, a farm shop and cafe; the upmarket deli Weetons; and a branch of Cook, which sells posh frozen meals for when you’re simply too frazzled to rustle up a coq au vin. If the expansive greenery of the Stray — 200 acres of open grassland — isn’t enough to blow the cobwebs away, hop in the Beemer and you’ll be in the rugged beauty of the Yorkshire Dales in no time. Tiger parents have their pick of schools, and the rail line to Leeds and York was this month named one of the top-priority routes in the north of England to be electrified to grow the region’s economy. If approved, the number of services would double and journey times be reduced by 15 minutes.
Average price £306,773 ▲ 3.42%; Why we love it You can buy everything from basil tea to Botox.
22 Hay-on-Wye, Powys
There can’t be many visitors to the Hay literary festival who haven’t fantasised about abandoning the greasy pole and opting for the good life in this most beautiful part of the world. One important point that you need to grasp is that when the circus leaves town, Hay’s population dwindles to less than 2,000. And you can forget any ideas of opening your own bookshop. They have reduced in number from about 40 to a couple of dozen — killed off by the Kindle and Amazon.

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