Ten self-catering escapes for spring
by Dinah Hatch (January 2014)
Half-term holidays can drag pretty endlessly if you’ve nothing planned – as well I know, being a mum of two young children who need running like terriers every day and are climbing the walls after more than a few hours stuck in the house. The answer? Plan a week away somewhere different - but with the flexibility of your own facilities so you’re not a slave to hotel restaurant opening times and prices. Britain’s Finest has some amazing self-catering properties on its books, with giant gardens, loads of outdoor space and plenty of attractions nearby should rain stop play. Here’s ten of our favourite for inspiration…
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Portland House, near Chatsworth House, Derwent Valley World Heritage Site, Matlock Bath
Live like a lord…My Country Houses. Let’s kick off with some high luxury – and the chance to book your very own country pile. My Country Houses has two wonderful Peak District homes to take over, the enormous 19th century, 12-bedroom Portland House which sits in a dramatic gorge of the Derwent River famously known as the Little Switzerland of England, and grade II listed manor Elton Old Hall, close to the stunning Chatsworth estate and sleeping 14 people. Both are top of the range pads with optional extras like catering and butler service, are close to Michelin gastro and CAMRA pubs and will organise any number of outdoor activities to suit.
Old Manor Farmhouse, Swanton Hill, Old Manor Farmhouse, The Hill, Swanton Abbott, Norwich
Mine host…With all sorts of design awards under its belt, the two-bedroom Hoste Barn, built in 1650 on the north Norfolk coast, is a real treat for a family of four or two couples. Outside, a pretty knot garden, tennis court and masses of wild summer flowers paint a picture of renovated perfection that continues indoors as you peruse the sociable oak and granite kitchen, master bedroom beneath the 50-foot vaulted original timber framed roof and the gorgeous living room with focal Dru letterbox gas fire. Underfloor heating throughout, widescreen TV and cinema surround sounds plus computerised lighting system mean rainy days are just an excuse to enjoy the luxury. Pets and horses are welcome, there’s loads and loads of outdoor space and you’ve the Broads and the seaside on your doorstep.
Gone fishing… One for anglers, Stretton Lakes in rural Rutland offers four waterside log cabins all with their own hot tubs. The course fishing lakes are stocked with Mirror, Common and Ghost Carp, Rudd, Trench and Bream – but there is so much more here, even if you never pick up a rod. Apart from the myriad of wildlife in the woodland right by your lodge, you have sailing and birdwatching (there are 20 hides at the Anglian Water Bird Watching Centre) plus Oakham nearby and the award-winning Michelin-starred Olive Branch restaurant a mere half mile away in Clipsham.
Tregathenan, Sithney, Helston
Get off my land…Fancy 20 acres of private grounds all to yourself for a week? And surfing, sailing, diving and golfing on your doorstep? Tregadjack Barn, a converted slate barn three miles north of Cornwall’s Helston and not much further to the nearby coast, sits down a quiet lane and sleeps four people. It has just lovely views across farmland next to the Travarno Estate and Gardens and it’s a hop skip and a jump to the Lost Gardens of Heligan, Trebah, The Eden Project, Gelndurgan and Trelissick. St Ives, Penzance and Truro are all within a 20 minute drive too. Inside expect a large but cosy lounge with beamed ceiling and log burner, a fabulous farmhouse kitchen with aga, a master bedroom with freestanding roll top bath and gorgeous second twin room with exposed walls and chandeliers.
Temple Guiting, Cheltenham
Worship at the Temple…Before you read any further, we should warn you that you will almost certainly never want to go home once you have holidayed at 15th century Temple Guiting Manor and Barns in the Cotswolds. Its classic stone buildings, intricately designed gardens and uber-classy Tatler-esque interiors are incredibly relaxing – and there’s loads of space for friends and family with the manor and barns sleeping 22 in total (but you can rent the barns or the manor separately). The estate is set among 14.5 acres, has a tennis court, two hot tubs, elevated gardens overlooking the River Windrush, its own lake and even a veg patch to potter about. Rural heaven.
Pigeon House, Hampron, Dorchester
Let’s go mad in Dorset…Crunch along the mile-long drive lined with lime trees and grazing sheep to reach rambling Dove House, which sits within 1,000 acres of Dorset farmland and woods, interwoven with walks and cycle paths. The house , which sleeps 13 in seven en-suite bedrooms, is made for large family and friend gatherings, with a beautiful, huge and very social kitchen/dining room in painted oak with white stone tops plus three ovens, a six-burner hob and two dishwashers. This leads into a south-facing patio and garden. Oh, and did we mention there’s an indoor swimming pool, kids play area, tennis court, badminton and croquet facilities, games room, visiting spa therapist, open fires (all fuel included) and pre-ordered home cooked meals if you can’t be bothered to toil in the kitchen? Happy holidays….
Cherry on the cake…For a holiday based around Castle Howard, history-soaked York and the beaches in and around Scarborough, Cherrygarth Cottages in Slingsby comprises of two very sweet holiday homes sleeping eight and four. Each cottage has a quiet, south facing courtyard with patio and BBQ and there are great leisure facilities including a sauna, gym and games room. Within, you’ve exposed brick walls, soaring beams, cosy seating areas around wood burners and very chic décor with the largest (the Hay Barn) boasting a great separate dining room seating 12. You’re close to Captain Cook territory in Whitby, walking trails aplenty across Ryedale and national pub of the year, The Star at Harome.
Mains of Panholes, Blackford, Auchterarder
Its tee-time…Panhole’s two luxury cottages in Auchterarder, Perthshire, have been created out of a 200-year-old barn close to the world famous Gleneagles Hotel (golfer alert!) and comprise Barn Cottage, sleeping four, and Roundhouse Barn sleeping eight. There are farmlands, rivers, mountains and hills wherever you look from this lovely conversion, birds of prey swooping overhead and wild deer roaming the fields. Look out for migrating geese as you sit in the garden. Nearby, you’ve fishing at Orchil Loch Trout Fishery, boat trips on Loch Lomond, wonderful bike and walking trails through the Trossachs National Park plus many munros for serious hikers. Outdoorsy types couldn’t ask for more.
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