Set in the outstanding natural beauty of the Cotswolds, The Lakes is the name of a unique and exclusive property development which offers luxurious living without ostentation.
Sitting in a private 650 acre estate of clear water lakes and natural woodland, the homes are positioned so that each has an optimum view over the water. The marketing of the properties is aimed at city dwellers who desire a second home situated away from the hustle and bustle of their working lives. Some of the properties can also be rented, as we discovered on our weekend stay.
The entrance is guarded by friendly ex-Ghurkhas, and large wooden electric gates give an instant feel of exclusivity. As we arrived late on a dim November evening, there was little to see until we were shown to our temporary residence by Guy, The Lakes own concierge.
From the exterior, the homes look like giant Jenga blocks, and so do not prepare you for the fantastic interior.
We were immediately impressed, as the house offers beautiful interior décor coupled with comfort and warmth. Designed by Jade Jagger, the interiors are finished to a very high specification and the soft furnishings are well thought through: contemporary and quirky. The tones of the furniture and décor work in harmony. As the rooms are all very angular, the items of furniture are chosen to have their own interesting form and personality, and provide comfort. Our boys particularly loved the circular cell chair.
The open plan down stairs room is fun on the eye and invites curiosity. All the mod cons are there too, (fridge, cooker, washing machine, Sky TV, DVD player etc). The three bedrooms are decorated in a contemporary style, yet avoid minimalism by clever use of natural soft furnishings such as leather headboards in soothing shades and patterns, and oversized lamps with ambient light. Every room has a fantastic view of the lake.
The house boasts two bathrooms and a further shower room. These are chic in a minimalist way, but lack the wow factor of the other rooms. The attention to detail, finish and sourcing of materials is faultless.
Staff are extremely courteous and attentive without being intrusive: a homemade shepherd`s pie and side dishes were even thoughtfully provided upon our arrival. There is a sense of community created that must be fantastic for the families that come down at weekends and stay for the summer. We were even invited to a barbecue at the fishing hut the following evening, which was a good opportunity to mix with others.
It was fantastic to throw open the curtains the next morning and see the mists of a grey November morning rising off the beautiful lake.
The a pre-arranged Saturday morning tour gave us greater insight into the vision that is the project, revealing alternative interiors, a clubhouse, and a gym. We also saw the scope of the site, with a planned 150 houses. Despite the fact that some of them are 3 stories high, the homes remain unobtrusive, tucked away amongst mature trees and wooden facades that blend in to the surrounding woodland.
A sailing lesson was pencilled in for our Saturday morning but had to be cancelled as it was migrating season for certain wild fowl. This is testament to the `green` approach The Lakes has – not just its own environment, but also beyond.
Saturday afternoon took us to the nearest town, Cirencester. There were some great coffee shops to sample, and an impressive ancient Abbey. As usual when you drive through the Cotswolds, getting anywhere is a pleasure as the views and scenery are consistently gorgeous.
On Sunday morning I felt the need to burn off Saturday`s calories. I had the option of using the bikes they had lent us, or going next door to the gym, but being a keen jogger I slipped my running shoes on and trotted round the lakes. It was good to have a range of different terrains, track, grass, soil and a bit of road which makes a run more interesting. Meanwhile, the boys played on the six-a-side football pitch where they made some friends with some of the younger residents.
It has been widely reported that the purchasing of second homes can have detrimental effects to the local communities. This is the case in many Devon and Cornish villages where second homes lie unoccupied for 48 weeks of the year. The Lakes, however can not be tarred with the same brush. When the homes are unoccupied, their emptiness can not be observed by the outside world as it is a secluded environment, and the less people there are only adds to its tranquillity. Buying a home here will not cause harm to the local property market as the Lakes is a separate being, yet one that actively encourages residents to buy local produce, eat locally, and interact with the outstanding local area. The project has been well thought through, providing employment for the maintenance and management, and using local sports coaches and instructors to run events.
The final verdict on the Lakes was succinctly put by our seven year old son – `It`s awesome here- can we move in?` I couldn`t have said it better myself.
Disclosure: For this blog post we were able to gain access to a sample product or service.
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