Guest Post: 5 Great British Countryside Escapes

2013 looks set to be a year where the world goes gaga for everything British. After last summer’s Diamond Jubilee and Olympic Games made Brits more patriotic and visitors from abroad more curious about what it would be like to visit the country, the British hospitality industry saw more and more clients choosing to stay at their establishments rather than visit foreign soil. But while London is a fantastic holiday destination for those who thrive on the hustle and bustle of city life, escaping into the tranquillity of the Great British countryside is becoming ever more popular. After all, what could be more relaxing than recharging your batteries at a quiet hotel or guest house nestled among tranquil fields and woodland?

Here are five unique places to escape to and experience rural Britain at its best.

1) Manor House Stables, Lincoln

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Image credit: Manor House Stables

Catering for short breaks of 3 days or more, Manor House Stables is a cosy and eco-friendly converted stable block set in the Lincolnshire countryside.

The Stables are owned by outgoing hostess Sherry Forbes, a marine biologist originally from America who has created a home away from home that incorporates solar panels, a wood pellet boiler, welcome hampers full of organic and vegan goodies and more, elements that have seen Sherry win a gold award from the Green Tourism Business Scheme. She even runs a range of courses and workshops in crafts from chocolate and bread making, to creative writing and knitting; perfect for anyone wanting to escape their daily life and return home in possession of a brand new skill.

Stays at Manor House Stables cost from £300 for three nights.

What to do during your stay…

  • Sherry’s chocolate making course teaches you to craft mouth-watering chocolates and truffles in just one day.
  • From walking, cycling and golfing to bird watching and angling, the gently rolling countryside surrounding Manor House Stables is perfect for those who love exploring and adventuring.
  • Historic Lincoln Cathedral isn’t just a beautiful place to wander round and admire, but runs a range of events throughout the year.

2) The Lavender Patch, Derby

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Image credit: Conde Nast Traveller

Set against a backdrop of vibrant lavender, The Lavender Patch is perfect for those who want to escape to the countryside and take things easy this year. It’s a true country retreat, located close to the Peak District and including rooms that incorporate wood burning stoves, exposed oak beams and antique chairs to make you feel right at home.

And all the lavender out front doesn’t go to waste – owner Sally Hibberts keeps a little shop stocked with lavender shortbread, lavender and orange cake, handmade soaps and more so guests can still enjoy a taste of the Great British countryside once they return home.

Stays at the Lavender Patch cost from £58 per night for single occupancy.

What to do during your stay…

  • Pick your own lavender from Sally’s half acre patch during the summer months.
  • Horse ride around the sweeping moors and quiet lanes of the beautiful Peak District, whether you’re a novice or fully fledged rider.
  • Twycross Zoo is the perfect day out for children and adults alike, with animal feeds throughout the day and immersion exhibits that allow you to experience wildlife and climates from every corner of the globe.

3) The Gunton Arms, Norfolk

gunton-arms
Image credit: The Gunton Arms

While it may look like The Gunton Arms is just a standard country pub and guest house from the outside, the interior tells a different story.

Modern art in the form of Tracy Emin plates and even a Paula Rego adorn the walls, while Persian rugs and Iranian upholstery give the rooms a warm and welcoming atmosphere that’s enough to make you not want to leave the premises. You should though, because the Gunton Arms is located in none other than a 1000 acre deer park, lending a cosy, isolated country atmosphere to this already welcoming retreat.

Stays at the Gunton Arms cost from £95 per night for a double room.

What to do during your stay…

  • Enjoy a hearty meal in the Gunton Arms’ restaurant. The fillet steak comes highly recommended.
  • Walk around the grounds to take in the free roaming deer herds. You could even take your four legged friend with you as the Gunton Arms is a dog friendly premises. Just make sure you keep them on a lead!
  • Norfolk Castle is both a museum and art gallery, housing everything from authentic Viking treasures to natural history galleries that’ll capture the imagination of both children and adults.

4) Old Country House, Worcestershire

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Image credit: The Weekenders

Nothing says ‘countryside retreat’ more than a rustic country house complete with a ramshackle yard, vibrant garden borders and an old cider house. In other words, the Old Country House in Worcestershire.

This is a proper old fashioned bed and breakfast that doesn’t strive for ‘boutique’ status. It’s comfortable in a world steeped in history, nostalgia, hand sewn patchwork cushions and quaint painted tables, and hopes you will be too. It even houses shelves populated by books and grounds managed to benefit wildlife to help guests feel as relaxed and rejuvenated as possible.

Stays at the Old Country House cost from £35 per night for single occupancy.

What to do during your stay…

  • Take time to admire the garden that owner Ella keeps looking so pristine and idyllic.
  • Visit the wilds of the Malvern Hills where you can walk, bike ride, horse ride, hand glide, fish and more.
  • Tiltridge Vineyard offers a tranquil escape for fans of crisp, fragrant wines. Don’t miss out on a free tasting in their shop!

5) The Cottage in the Wood, Cumbria

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Image credit: the Cottage in the Wood

For those who want to truly immerse themselves in the British countryside in 2013, The Cottage in the Wood is the perfect retreat. The converted coaching house is hidden away in Britain’s only true mountain forest – the Whinlatter Forest – and is surrounded on all sides by the scent of pine, the sound of birdsong and even babbling brooks. In other words, all the hallmarks of a quality rural escape.

But perhaps one of its greatest features is the choice of rooms available. Given the cottages out of the way location each level of the premises brings with it a completely different view, which is why the owners decided to split their rooms into ‘Treetops’, ‘Mountain View’, ‘Garden’ and ‘Cottage’ rooms. Either way, you’re guaranteed to wake up to a beautiful vista each morning.

Stays at the Cottage in the Wood cost from £110 per night.

What to do during your stay…

  • Tour the Honister slate mine before visiting the gift shop and treating yourself to home and garden wares made from genuine slate.
  • Venture into the Whinlatter Forest from April to August to see the Lake District Osprey Projects nesting ospreys. You might even catch a glimpse of them hunting over the lake.
  • Visit Keswick town centre for a range of historic buildings, quaint shops and traditional country pubs.

It’s easy to see why so many people are choosing the Great British countryside as their next holiday destination. Not just reserved for the country bumpkins among us, city dwellers are now discovering that it’s the perfect place to retreat, unwind and, you never know, maybe even get a little bit inspired to try something new.

But what about you? Do you have any recommendations for fantastic country retreats on British soil?

Michelle Pegg enjoys the finer things in life; namely red wine, dining out and travelling to new places. Aside from being a keen blogger she is also the Assurance & Compliance Manager at www.hilden.co.uk – suppliers of linen to the UK hospitality industry.