Top places to live in Buckinghamshire Olney
With its literary history, riverside location and Georgian architecture, Olney is an underrated gem of a town hidden in the North Bucks countryside. Part of our Top 200 Places to Live series.
Sat equidistant (circa 11 miles) from Bedford, Northampton and Milton Keynes, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Olney might just blend in with the new town feel of the region. But you’d be wrong. It’s a beautifully preserved Georgian market town that boasts an indie-loving high street, a farmers’ market every first Sunday of the month and a stellar food and drink offering.
You’re a little spoilt for choice to be honest. Stop off for a coffee at Gabriella’s Cucina Italiania, an Italian deli and coffee bar run by cake queen Gabriella (we dare you not to drool over the desserts). Then wander down to the highly rated Cherry Tree pub and restaurant that boasts its own wood-fired pizza oven and serves beautiful Mediterranean-inspired food from 8am. Then finish off with a well-deserved afternoon tea in the award-winning Olney Pancake Parlour (named in honour of the town’s yearly pancake race in February).
If you’re in the market for quirky, one-of-a-kind items, you’re in the right place. Vintage shops and antique stores are in abundance (My Little Vintage, The Antiques Centre, Leo Antiques & Interiors, Afterglow) while Boo Gallery is home to gorgeous handmade jewellery and Love Lana stocks an incredible range of men’s, women’s and home fragrances. For designer gear, hop in the car for 45 minutes to luxury outdoor designer outlet Bicester Village with 160+ boutiques and restaurants.
Castle Ashby is the ancestral home of the 7th Marquess of Northampton and its grounds are open year-round. Bring a picnic and enjoy the elegant Italianate gardens and orangery, and then walk it off in the arboretum. Olney’s Cowper and Newton museum celebrates the Rev. John Newton who wrote the hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ while living in the parish in the 1700s. Fancy something a little more remote? Salcey Forest is an ancient woodland managed by the Forestry Commission and great for family walks and bike rides. In nearby Milton Keynes there’s cool, contemporary MK Gallery which offers interesting exhibitions as well as it’s own cinema, and Willen Lake – an amazing recreational park with acres and acres of walking, watersports, tree top adventuring and a trendy new café.
AVERAGE HOUSE PRICE
£425,491. As you’d expect, detached houses are most expensive at £529,823, followed by semi-detached at £373,479 and terraced at £353,975.
Ousedale School was opened in 2007 as a secondary satellite school for the town and has a good-to-excellent Ofsted rating. Olney Infant Academy and Middle School look after younger children. Good senior independents nearby include Thornton College, a lovely through-school for girls in rural MK, and Bedford School for boys and Bedford Girls school to the east.
BEST KEPT SECRET
The Arches Theatre – a quirky outdoor theatre space formed from four disused railway arches which hosts a series of personages and concerts in the summer months.
58 miles. The closest station is Milton Keynes (about 15 minutes) with the fasted train to London taking 33 minutes. Season tickets fro £5,528. By car it’s 1 hr 25 minutes.
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