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Thursday, 24 April 2014

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Cumbria's woodlands a popular buy

Conservationists and people looking for an idyllic investment are snapping up woodlands in Cumbria.

If you fancy squirrels for neighbours then you could buy Morton Wood for £25,000.

The three-and-a-half acre north Cumbria site is close to the Lake District National Park and boasts Fallican Beck.

A stream runs through six-acre Peel Wood, which is near Bassenthwaite, and that is going for £49,000.

The figures can hardly be deemed small change, but as an investment it’s considerably cheaper than buying property as the average house price in Cumbria is around £143,000.

Dan Watson is northern England manager for Woodlands.co.uk, which has bought and sold woods across the country for the last 20 years.

He said: “Cumbria is popular because it’s such a beautiful area and it has made the woods very desirable.”

Although some decide to buy a piece of the countryside for purely financial reasons, most want the land for its own merits.

For those who want to try conservation projects there are numerous grants to apply for and a variety of organisations to turn to for advice.

The Cumbrian beauty spots are being bought by a mixture of locals and people who hail from further afield.

Mr Watson added: “Some want to travel to their wood so it feels like they are going away somewhere on holiday.

“Some want to be close by so they can regularly use the woods and manage them.”

Once a sale is complete the new owners are left to the peace of their surroundings – as long as they abide by certain rules.

These include a ban on residential or commercial developments, clay pigeon shooting and motor racing.

But there is a fair bit of leeway over how the land can be improved and conserved.

You can plant your own trees, make clearings and build ponds.

Mountain bike tracks prove popular with families, as do treehouses.

The Forestry Commission rules also allow for the equivalent of a skip-full of timber to be cut down every three months – useful for those who use fossil fuel at home.

Owning your own wood is undoubtedly considered a luxury, albeit it an environmentally friendly one.

Over the last few months Mr Watson admits sales have been slightly lower than usual, but not to an extent that the figures have given him cause for concern

He said: “People save up to buy a wood and they will do it regardless of the credit crunch because it’s something they really want to do.”

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