10 Hotels for Great Spring Country Walks
by Adrian Mourby (February 2015)
Not all countries have great country hotels. I’ve travelled in parts of Eastern Europe and the Balkans where you always aim to get to a city by nightfall because rural accommodation is very basic. But in Britain we’re very fortunate that so many old country houses have been turned into excellent hotels. In fact if your idea of a weekend away is a long walk followed by a slap-up meal and comfy bed then in Britain you’re spoiled for choice. So get out there this spring and celebrate the changing seasons with my selection of hotels for Easter. Many of them have ancient oak-panelling and huge smoking fireplaces, but there are also a few new hotels out there catering for the insatiable British appetite for stomping along the seacoast or over hills. Who cares about a spot of rain?
Showing below are all 4 records in "10 Hotels for Great Spring Country Walks"
Trip Lane, Linton, Wetherby
Wood Hall was built in the eighteenth century as a retreat for the Vavasour family who were Catholic courtiers in the time of Elizabeth I. Their line came to an end in 1826 when the last baronet died without children. The hall then became a school and a Carmelite monastery was built in the grounds. Now Wood Hall is a hotel and very keen to get its guests out enjoying this tranquil spot. They even provide walking leaflets in the lobby. The 40-minute Riverside Walk takes the picturesque River Wharfe while the Limekiln Woods Walk runs as far at the nearby village of Sicklinghall, which has an ideal pub for lunch. The hotel’s concierge knows these routes very well and often sets walkers a challenge. If they can find what he describes while out walking they’ll get a sweet from him on their return.
Port Appin, Appin
Airds is a small but extremely cozy hotel on the west coast of Scotland overlooking the ferry crossing to Lismore Island. A decanter of Whisky Mac (a traditional cocktail of whisky and ginger wine) awaits every guest and there are always drinks and canapés in the two drawing rooms Airds’ famous seven-course gourmet dinner in the modern restaurant extension. The next morning you’ll feel in need of a stroll, particularly after a generous helping of breakfast. Follow the road down to Port Appin, the tiny whitewashed dock from which a ferry still runs across to Lismore. From here you can continue all the way out to the headland of the small peninsula on which Port Appin sits before turning inland in the direction of Cliff Cottage and arriving at the back of the hotel through the woods. It’s a two-mile walk that has wonderful views across Loch Linhe. Be sure to take your camera.
Northampton Road, Weston-on-the-Green, Bicester
The Manor is an Elizabethan country house that is enjoying a lot of interest at the moment because it was once owned by Sir Henry Norreys, one of the characters in TV’s Wolf Hall. In the seventeenth century it became the home of the Earls of Abingdon and more recently a country house hotel with an excellent five-course tasting menu that can be enjoyed in the oak-panelled Baron’s Hall. Afterwards there are 25 bedrooms to choose from, including some with four-poster beds and all with decanters of complementary sherry. As Weston on the Green sits on the Oxfordshire Way, there are plenty of scenic walks from the hotel itself even if the landscape is fairly low and occasionally muddy. For a rewarding 14-mile stretch leave the Manor and head west to Bletchingdon. Then cross the A34 and take the footpath to Islip. At Wheatley follow signs to Waterperry Gardens for a well-deserved afternoon tea before your return
Dartmoor National Park, North Bovey, Dartmoor
Dartmoor National Park is a superb place for country walks with impressive views from its 160 outcrops known as tors. Once the railways made Devon more accessible in the nineteenth century, a number of fine country houses were constricted in this isolated rural landscape. One of the most impressive of these is Bovey Castle, built for second Viscount Hambleden in 1907 and turned into a hotel operated by Great Western Railways in 1930. Today this mock-Jacobean mansion offers guests the best of both worlds – country walks and fine dining or, as the hotel itself put it, “Hunter wellies at 8am and Manolo Blahniks for dinner”. There’s a lovely walk from Bovey Castle to Castle Drogo, a very different kind of country seat. This one, now owned by the National Trust, was the last stately home to be built in England. It was completed in 1930 to a radical design in granite by Sir Edwin Lutyens. From Bovey take Adley Lane north past Cleave Wood and through Easton before climbing up to Castle Drogo. It’s a beautiful two-hour walk with a National Trust Café when you arrive. Then on the way back think about dinner in Bovey Castle’s recently reopened and newly-renamed Great Western Restaurant.
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