Dinah Hatch

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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…
My Country Houses - 5* Historic Party Houses

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.

Stretton Lakes

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.

Temple Guiting Manor & Barns

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.

Dove House & Swallows

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….

Cherrygarth Cottages

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.

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