Moving to Marlow, Bourne End, Wooburn Green, Flackwell Heath, Beaconsfield?!(22 Posts)
We're planning a move out of London to find a lovely family home where we hope to spend the next 20 years! We want to live near my work in High Wycombe but haven't warmed to High Wycombe itself. So as the title suggests we are considering all the nice areas nearby!
We're looking for an area with a strong sense of community, where we can really feel part of things, enjoy nearby countryside, have parks to take the children, good schools, but also local amenities/shops too (yes, we want it all!). Also, my husband needs to be within 2 miles of a train station to London.
Can anyone tell me about the surrounding areas, such as those in the title. In particular we love Marlow and Bourne End due to their river side location but know so little about them!
Thanks in advance!
Hi, we moved to Beaconsfield last November, we have a 16m old toddler. It's a lovely town, lots of nice places to eat and country pubs nearby, there is a children's playground in the old town and one in Seer Green which we've discovered so far, some childrens playgroups/classes which go on in the local community centres. Really good local schools both grammar and private. Nearby to Odds farm, Burnham Beeches etc which are nice for days out. Station is in the new town and goes to Marylebone. We live near the old town so station is 20min walk/5min cycle or car drop off. It's right on the a40 so easy to drive into London. High Wycombe very easy to get to either by train or car. It doesn't have the river like Marlow/Bourne End but both of these towns are within a 15-20min drive and we often go to Marlow for a day out.
Marlow is a lovely town- the village shopping is great, riverside is lovely, and they have a good children's park and playground there too, and also close to Henley on Thames which we often visit. To be honest it would have been our first choice to live in Marlow over Beaconsfield but because hubby works in Canary Wharf and we often go into London to see family/friends etc we decided Marlow would be too far out for us.
Hope this helps! Whichever you go for, the others on your list will be within easy reach.
Before deciding anything, study the train timetable thoroughly! Beaconsfield, Gerrards Cross & HW are all on the "fast" line to Marylebone but obviously the further out you are, the longer it takes. There are also bizarre intervals in the timetable and, after a certain time at night, the trains go to HW more frequently than they do to GC. They're recently re-done the car park at HW station so parking there is no longer a problem. If you were to live in Bourne End or Cookham, you could get the train from there direct to Paddington until a certain time at night.
In terms of Marlow/Bourne End/Wooburn Green, Marlow is definitely the "hub" where the most baby & children's activities take place & where there are more shops. There are 4 primary schools in Marlow itself (Spinfield being excellent, Foxes Piece generally seems to be one to avoid although its just had a much better Ofsted & the other two being "good") whereas in BE & WG there is only the one primary school. Also, I think that the different villages are in different catchment areas for secondary schools.
All of them are nice places to live with lots of young families & lots going on. You may well find that its the house that determines where you live. Having previously lived in London where there were streets and streets of more or less identical houses, it took me a while to get used to such varied housing stock here. Two houses next door to each other or opposite each other can be completely different.
Hi - just seen this. I pretty much agree with all said above.
I think it'll be the trains that dictate to a certain degree. I believe Bourne End has a direct train into London in the morning - otherwise you have to go to Maidenhead and change although it's a pretty quick connection. Schools can be a bit of a deal..there are a number of horror stories of parents who just can't get siblings all into the same school. The most sought after is the C of E in Wooburn although there is The Meadows which isn't held in such high esteem - but I don't know what the reality is! Then you have Claytons in Bourne End - plus Juniper Hil in Flackwell Heath. There is also an infant's in Little Marlow.
DD1 goes to one of the above schools and we have very little hope of getting DD2 in because we're out of catchment
Have you thought of hoping over the river to maybe Cookham or Maidenhead? Might be easier for the train.
Sorry, I've just seen I have replies to this! I'm new to Mumsnet and thought I'd get an email when people replied.
Thanks so much all of you for your replies. They are really helpful.
We visited Marlow, BE, WG and Cookham this weekend and had a great time. We have absolutely fallen for Marlow and hoping to rent there soon as we accepted an offer on our London home last week. Renting will allow us to get a feel for the area and also explore the places nearby before buying. We also want to check husband's commute from Marlow, he's even considering cycling to High Wycombe as Marylebone is the preferred London station over Paddington due to where he works. We actually don't have children yet (waiting to settle somewhere first!) but immediately we could tell just how family friendly Marlow was.
We also loved Cookham's village feel. Couldn't quite get our heads round BE as it wasn't what we imagined. Perhaps it was because we visited Marlow first but we imagined the river would be more a part of the high street like it is in Marlow. It took us a while to find the river in BE!
Thanks for mentioning Beaconsfield too. We visited there at the end of last year. It was a pouring wet day so we didn't stay long and couldn't see a playground. We also felt the walk between the old and new town was rather long with the very busy road, but maybe that's because it was so wet and horrible, we were drowned by the time we reached the old town and just wanted to get back on the train! Might go back again and explore it a bit more on anicer day!
Yet to visit Flackwell Heath, we'll need to do that next time.
We will have to seriously consider schools when we are looking to buy as we want to settle somewhere for the long term. Any more advice much appreciated on this.
So excited about moving, will update you when we make the big move. Hopefully in the next 8 weeks or so if all goes well with the sale of our London home.
Thanks so much again! Any more advice much appreciated!
Central Marlow is just fab, lived there for a long time, it's got such a great vibe and v family friendly. Some excellent schools - Spinfield is the primary a lot of people fight for, but others good. There is the grammar system at secondary level and the co-ed William Borlase Grammar is v well regarded (again a fight for places). I don't know what the non grammar schools are like - you do have to consider what you would do/how you'd feel about your child not passing.
We had to move back to London from Marlow for work reasons (sob!). But if I were in your shoes and looking to put down long term roots there, think very carefully about where you buy so if you do have children you can hopefully stay put in your home and not have the hassle and heartache of trying to relocate into the right catchment area (which might only be a few streets away!).
Central Marlow is expensive but that's because it's lovely!
The transport links into London are it's Achilles Heel IMO if you are needing to commute into London daily.
Have you considered the Chalfonts, Great Missenden and the areas around Amersham? Underground and overground train services available.
It is worth looking in detail at the rail network, what trains, type and how many stop where, until when, in the evening . This can help you make a really informed decision about where to move to, especially if it's a long term commitment to living a reasonable distance outside London and commuting in.
Its hard not to fall in love with Marlow!
You say your DH is considering cycling from Marlow to HW. Has he seen the road? Is he pretty fit? There's a massive hill between Marlow & HW so he'd have a steep uphill both ways. The road out of Marlow that he'd take on a bike is a country lane with a 60 mile speed limit and most people go at that speed. Then there's Handycross roundabout to negotiate which is a pretty major roundabout which, after 3 years, I'm still slightly nervous of going around in a 4x4! I'd definitely get him to do a test ride - preferably in the dark to fake winter circumstances - before deciding if that is an option.
The school places for this years primary starters have just been decided and, as it seems to be a bumper year, there are a lot of upset parents as, whilst they live in the Foxes Piece catchment, they expected to get one of the other schools but have ended up with Foxes Piece. Apparently the Spinfield catchment was something like 0.3 miles, Sandygate was less than a mile & Burford was limited to Marlow Bottom residents. There should be more about it on the Bucks CC website.
It may be worth re-visiting Beaconsfield. Yes, its divided but it offers many more shops etc than Marlow. Remember you'll actually be living here & not just visiting for a day. Marlow has lots of lovely gift shops, some boutique clothes stores & a lot of older yummy mummy shops (Phase Eight, Mint Velvet etc) but no where where you can dash in & pick up a pair of tights or some pants. A lot of DD's clothes have ended up coming from M&Co, a shop I hadn't previously ever shopped in, as the only other children's shop is JoJo Maman which is too expensive when your child has suddenly grown an inch and you need new vests, jeans & T-shirts & you need them now! Its a lovely high street to browse but, when I need to go shopping, I always go to HW or Reading.
Let me know if you have any more questions.
Thanks so much for all your comments.
A little update - we're still waiting on our sale going through but hope to have moved into rented accomodation in 4-6 weeks or so.
We visited Marlow again on Saturday and still love it, but we also went a bit further along and visited Henley too. Now we're so confused as we absolutely love Henley!! Does anyone know anything about Henley? We love that it has a bigger centre and seems to have so much to do and offers really lovely walks along the river etc. It's made us realise that we couldn't live anywhere smaller, which rules out Bourne End, Cookham, Flackwell Heath and Wooburn Green.
We're avoiding anywhere North of High Wycombe, such as Gt Missenden, Amersham etc for a few reasons. Firstly, I work in the very south of High Wycombe and colleagues tell me the commute from the North side is a nightmare, even a colleague who lives in High Wycombe can take 30mins to drive to work. We're also very put off by the plans for HS2. We want a bit of escapism so not sure we want a high speed rail and 20 years of building works ahead of us...
So we're now thinking it's between Marlow and Henley. What are your thoughts? We have studied the train timetables in detail for my husband's commute and they are comparable (since it's the same mainline train to Paddington in most cases, just the little branch line at the start that differs). It is a bit annoying to change trains but we think the area far outweighs the slightly inconvenient travel. I guess renting in the area will highlight if it's not do-able and we will buy elsewhere.
What are your thoughts on schools? Henley is outside of the Grammer school system which I thought would be a plus, but I don't know what the primary and secondary schools are like in Henley? We won't consider private schools for various reasons, so it needs to be state schools in either area.
Any general comments to compare Marlow and Henley would be fab!
We still have to re-visit Beaconsfield, that's on the to-do list. But I think we'll choses Marlow/Henley over it as we just love the idea of living near the river as we are very outdoorsy people and it reminds me of back home in Scotland!
Thanks so much in advance!
Hi the whole area is great, we live in wooburn and my oys go to The Meadows, it did have a reputation, but is a great little school celebrating it's 100th year this year. Key stage 2 results are brilliant this year and under a new head it is an up and coming school. The children are always impeccably polite when you visit and the teaching staff are fantastic.
I am a little late responding to your post but was very interested in everything everyone said about Marlow... it really is so lovely! We are about to move to Marlow Bottom from London - like you we were undecided about where to move to and had many days out before deciding Marlow would be a great place to live - we did vaguely know the area before. My husband works in Acton and will be driving down the M40 every day so initially we felt it was a little too far but we (well he) decided the sacrifice would be worth it. Our plan has now come together.... almost and we complete on our house next week.
We were hoping to get my little girl into Burford School but amazingly have been offered Spinfield instead - which is a double edged sword as I really wanted to live near the school community but we felt we couldn't turn Spinfield down as it has a great reputation and in the grand scheme of things is still only 3 miles drive away (well 1 as the crow flies if we can find a way through the woods somehow?). Just fingers crossed now that my little boy gets in next year - not sure what we will do if he ends up at a different school!?
Good luck with your decision - and you are very wise to make sure you are settled somewhere you want to be before starting a family! It will make life a lot less stressful in the long run believe me!
Do you have any updates? we are also thinking of moving to that area. Do you prefer Henly to Marlow? Are the house prices reasonable ?
Thanks for all your responses. I'm pleased to say that we moved to Marlow 3 weeks ago and absolutely love it! We are renting just now as couldn't face buying straight away after the stress of selling our London home. It also puts us in a good position as a chain-free buyer which I guess helps a little.
We spent a long time thinking about Marlow vs Henley, but in the end chose Marlow as it does seem better suited for young families, fab schools, we love Higginson Park (Henley doesn't seem to have an equivalent?), and it's a much better commute for me as work is only 3 miles away. My husband is commuting every day to London and door-to-door it's only 1 hour 15 mins to his office which isn't bad, in fact it's only 15 mins longer than when we lived in London! We're hoping to find a house to buy soon, in fact we viewed a property after being in Marlow for only 2 days as we love it so much!
Thanks again for all your help! :-) xx
SofieR - No house prices aren't reasonable I'm afraid! In fact they aren't far off prices in the area of London that we have just moved from. I guess it depends what you are looking for and there are different areas in both towns which are more desirable than others (watch catchment areas though), but generally Marlow and Henley are incredibly expensive. But you're paying for the lovely area and to me it really is worth it. You get a lot more for your money in Marlow Bottom so we may end up looking there (bit far from the train station though), but for now we're holding out to see what properties come on to the market in Marlow, and hoping for a miracle!
Hi - we are looking at making the same move out of London and would really love to hear if you are still happy with Marlow and if you are happy that you moved out or miss London.... Did you manage to find a house?
Hi Scottishgirl85 - wondering how you are finding Marlow? We are moving there in a few months from London with 2 little children! Pretty nervous making the move having been in London for so long and leaving friends and all life familiar behind us but excited to starting a new adventure out of London :+)
Can anyone please recommend a lovely preschool for our 3 year old? Moving from a small montesorri in London which she loves so want to find something as lovely and nurturing for her happiness and love for school to continue! Any ideas - we're going to be living in central marlow. Thanks so much :+)
I'm not aware of any Montessori's in Marlow itself which is a shame, but there is one in Cookham and one near Frieth I believe. Kingfisher and Stepping Stones are great pre schools. As far as primary's go, there are no bad ones IMO. I chose Foxes Piece as it is a nurturing school and this ethos really shows in the children. My two that are there are thriving and love it. I am aware of the bad hype that surrounds it but I know many parents who were allocated FP last year much to their disappointment and now they wouldn't dream of sending their children anywhere else! They also have a very welcoming PTA which is a great way to get to know people.
Coming from London to Marlow shouldn't be too horrifying! It's a vibrant town with lots to do for all ages tied with the river location and beautiful countryside. Trains to London are not the best but it is 'do able' and only 1.25 hrs. House prices are high but the standard of living is equally high.
Good luck with your move!
We are also looking to move to the Marlow area and I work in Canary Wharf so I am interested in any opinions on the commute. My initial thoughts are to drive to Maidenhead so I can take the fast train from there as I really want to keep my commute time to a max of 90 mins door to desk each way. I am also trying to research schools in the area as although we don't have any mini me's yet we hope to in e not too distant future and want to buy a property that will work for us for the long term so would love any tips on other useful websites etc.
I can second Kingfishers preschool, lovely caring environment. And miconachdi I agree - although my children are not school age yet I've only heard negative things about Foxes Piece from people who don't have children there (and I guess don't know much about it?), and the ones I have spoken to who do have children there, seem very happy with it!
Hi there, having the same issue you mentioned on your thread, curious to know which town you moved to and your reviews on Marlow over Beaconsfield.
Hi all, found this thread randomly and thought i'd pass on my thoughts. We moved to Marlow a couple of years ago from central London and we love it. Initially we missed the abundance of restaurants and clubs but as we had just had a baby we wouldn't have gone to them anyway!
Marlow really is wonderful and it's so easy to get in and out of London. Where we are (Temple, just outside of Marlow) is bliss. We have fields behind us, the river 5 mins walk away, amazing walks and bike rides, marlow high street 5 mins drive away and we can be into London in half an hour.
Really the best thing you can do is come out for the day. Make a trip of it!
Trust me, you'll love it!
Not sure if anyone is still checking in here!?! I'm about to move to Marlow with my nearly 10 month old. I don't know anyone in the area apart from my parents and their friends. Does anyone have any info on groups/meets etc? Thanks!