An area of East Lancashire, renowned for its scenic views and gourmet eateries, has been named as one of the best places to live in the North West.

The Sunday Times has unveiled its annual Best Places to Live guide and the Ribble Valley has been included in the guide.

While Stockport has been named as the overall best place to live in the region, six other locations, the Ribble Valley included, are featured in the comprehensive guide.

In previous years, the area has been named the happiest and healthiest places to live in the UK.

According to the guide, the Ribble Valley made the list thanks to its “glorious countryside” and “gourmet reputation”.

The guide said: “There’s a reason this hearty corner of Lancashire has previously been named both the happiest and the healthiest place in the UK.

"It has glorious countryside, excellent schools, community-minded locals and a well-deserved gourmet reputation, thanks to its local produce and stellar roster of gastropubs.”

The area is known for its scenic beauty, which is said to have inspired Middle-Earth in J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’ novels.

This includes the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Gisburn Forest and picture-postcard perfect villages and hamlets dotted throughout the countryside.

It’s also bursting with culture, with Clitheroe Castle and Whalley Abbey among the landmarks you can visit.

The area is also known for being home to a host of top restaurants, renowned around the country for their culinary excellence, such as Northcote in Langho and The Inn at Whitewell.

There are also the Parkers Arms in Newton-in-Bowland, Artisan Ribble Valley in Billington, The Three Fishes in Mitton and many more.

Helen Davies, editorial projects director and Best Places to Live editor, said: “This guide is a celebration of towns, cities and villages that are each a fantastic place to live in 2024, from Dunkeld to Knutsford, Falmouth to Leeds.

"Wherever you are on the property ladder, there will be somewhere to suit you.  

“These are all places where you can feel grounded as well as upwardly mobile: they have a mature sense of community, lively, supportive high streets and an eye to the future, whether that is eco-friendly measures, transport and regeneration, or imaginative inclusion of new housing.” 

Other North West locations to be included in the guide were the North West's winner, Stockport, plus Prestwich, both in Greater Manchester, the Cheshire locations of Knutsford and Christleton, Kendal in Cumbria, and Sefton Park in Liverpool.

The overall winner is North Berwick in East Lothian, Scotland, a mecca for golfers and at the heart of the Golf Coast, home to some of the oldest and best known golf courses in the world including North Berwick itself and also the town's Glen course, as well as Gullane, Muirfield, Musselburgh and the Renaissance Club, and just up the road from Edinburgh.

The Sunday Times’ expert judges have visited all the locations and assessed factors from schools to transport, broadband speeds to culture, as well as access to green spaces and the health of the high street. 

The chosen locations come in all shapes and sizes, from the tiny Scottish island of Kerrera and the remote Welsh village of Presteigne to big, lively cities such as Belfast, Leeds and Liverpool. 

There are more new entries than ever before in this year’s guide and no place for previous winners such as York and Bristol - the judges looked for improving locations with a strong sense of community rather than famous names with high house prices. 

View the full list of The Sunday Times Best Places to Live visit the website at: 

“What makes our guide unique is that we actually visit all the places we choose and talk to locals to find out what life is really like there,” Helen said.

“That means we can see what people really love about the places they live. That might be fast commutes and high-achieving schools but also clean water to swim in, lively town centres with useful shops, the possibility of earning a living and being part of a friendly community.  

“We do consider affordability, though high house prices are no barrier to inclusion - as long as they provide value for money. Different people may be looking for different things, but what all our best places have in common is that people love living in them and are proud to call them home.” 

The guide has again been sponsored by the mortgage lender Halifax, which has provided an average house price for each location.