In the latest of our series leading to Friday's launch of The Birmingham Post's new property magazine, Emma Pinch looks at life in appealing Worcestershire

Its hills inspired Elgar while its lush valleys provide the country with salad, flowers and pure spring water.

Worcestershire is cheaper than Warwickshire, but the prettiness of its countryside and picture-perfect stone villages more than rival those of its neighbour.

The county is awash with high-performing schools too.

They include the world-renowned Malvern College, Malvern School, Bromsgrove School, Worcester Royal Grammar and Kings School, to name just a handful. The top places to live in the county are Broadway, WR12, with the average home there costing #316,852; Martley, WR6, where it is #307,857; and Inkberrow, WR7, where a house will set you back an average #300,042.

Its cathedral city, Worcester, is home to a premiership rugby side, a scenic county cricket ground and nestles on the banks of the River Severn, providing residents with excellent leisure facilities.

And its seems its attractions are not going unnoticed.

Knight Frank estate agents estimated that 38 per cent of people buying property in the county are coming from other regions, with ten per cent coming from London.

"It is a bit more rural here and you get more for your money than in Warwickshire," said Will Kerton, a partner at Knight Frank in Stratford. "If you are living in Warwickshire you are closer to Warwick Parkway and the M40 and a bit closer to London. Birmingham is still a very big influence on Worcestershire. People who move out of London, working in a big law firm say, have roots here and want to stay south of Birmingham to get to friends in London."

Others were not from the area but retained fond memories of it for other reasons.

"Some people have links to Malvern via the schools and when deciding where to settle, remember how nice it was.

"If your office can be your home and you have to go all over the county, you are right in the heart of England.

"People who hop out of London towards Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds still see that is expensive, and a lot have not heard Worcestershire."


For sale: Orchard House, 4a Pepper Street, Inkberrow, WR7. #430,000.

Orchard House comprises a reception hall, a cloakroom, a sitting room with Inglenook fireplace, a dining room, study, fitted breakfast kitchen and a utility room. Upstairs there is a master bedroom with en-suite, three further bedrooms. Outside there is a gravel driveway, double garage and well-stocked garden.

Allan Morris, Worcester.

Inspiration for The Archers

Legend has it that the handsome village of Inkberrow provided the inspiration for The Archers' home, Ambridge.

Three miles west of Alcester, Inkberrow lies on the edge of the Lenches and the pretty vale of Evesham.

To the north is unspoiled Worcestershire countryside. Houses line the A422, the road which runs through the village, with some new properties being constructed by developer Laing Homes. It is also close to the M5 and the M42.


Life in picturesque Cotswold spot

Hundreds of tourists descend on this honey-coloured Cotswold village every weekend to drink in the leisurely pace of a bygone age.

Situated 30 miles from Birmingham and just over five miles from Evesham, Broadway has the distinction of being the only Cotswold village in Worcestershire.

Founded after the Norman conquest, it has adapted to its status as a quaint attraction and the High Street now bristles with tea shops and antique emporiums, ideal for weekend browsing.

The main street was an ancient "ridgeway" and the main road from Worcester to London. Recently the first supermarket moved into Broadway in the form of upmarket grocer Budgens, joining the post office, butcher, two banks, churches, library and health centre.

Developers too are cashing in on the pretty village's mass appeal, building a new housing estate on the site of the old Gordon Russells furniture factory. The estate will see the creation of 72 homes, quite a dramatic change for a community of only 3,000.

Jacqueline LeMaitre, headteacher of St Mary RC Primary School in Leamington Road, said its appeal was

For sale: Collin House, Broadway, WR12, #920,000

This idyllic Grade II listed stone cottage boasts five bedrooms and five bathrooms. It also has a cellar, a kitchen/breakfast room and a large conservatory, along with a sitting room and dining room. Attractive internal features include flagstone floors, oak floors, ceiling timbers, open fireplaces, leaded window panes and an Aga. Entry to the property comes via electronic gates. Overlooking its lawn and herbaceous borders is a sun terrace, ideal for dining al fresco.

Knight Frank Stratford that the village was simply a great place to grow up, with known and trusted faces all about.

Built in 1878, her school has 78 children from Broadway and the surrounding

area. "You kind of take it for granted when you see it every day," she said. "You forget there are tourists and you have to step back and look at why they are here. It is such a beautiful and unique place."


For sale: Lower Bank Cottage, Martley, WR6. #565,000

This house boasts a reception hall, three reception rooms and a kitchen/breakfast room plus utility cupboard, a cloakroom.

Upstairs there are four bedrooms a family bathroom, an en suite shower room and a traditional barn with the potential for conversion.

It also has a private courtyard, well-tended gardens and a paddock. In all, the grounds total 0.94 acres. Knight Frank Worcester

City access amid the rolling hills

This beautiful village is surrounded by the rolling countryside of the Teme Valley and the Ankerdine hills, but still enjoys good access to Worcester, which lies about seven miles to the east, and the rest of the Midlands.

One of the big draws to Martley is the presence of Chantry School, a high-performing state school. It has a mixture of new and old buildings and boasts a post office, a pub a garage, a convenience store and a church and is 15 miles from junction 5 of the M5.