Isle of Wight
Sitting on the edge of Newtown national nature reserve, Shalfleet Manor Estate is in a top spot for birdwatching, canoeing and walks around the Newtown estuary. The 17th-century Grade-II listed manor and separate outbuilding conversions have been recently renovated, and share the heated outdoor pool (May-September), tennis courts and gardens. The heritage colour palette keeps spaces light, while a large restored oak fireplace in the main house adds a touch of drama. A mooring on the nearby river is also available to guests. No more than a 35-minute drive to anywhere on the Isle of Wight, it makes a good base to explore the many bays and beaches, sea-view eateries and activities from sailing to fossil-hunting.
Cottages sleep 2-14 (+ cots), dog-friendly, from £352 a week, bluechipholidays.co.uk/shalfleet-barn and bluechipholidays.co.uk/shalfleet-manor
The Stables and the Coach House are two modern cottages in the grounds of 17th-century Trewan Hall, with access to a shared heated pool (under a dome in cold weather, usually closed in winter), onsite shop and various entertainment in the barn, including local bands and choirs. The 36-acre woodland estate is a 20-minute drive from Newquay and Padstow, 10 minutes from the sandy beach of Mawgan Porth and five minutes from the village of St Columb Major, which has several pubs, restaurants and a medieval “hurling the silver ball” contest on Shrove Tuesday.
•Each cottage sleeps 4 (+ cot), dog-friendly, seven nights from £347, trewan-hall.co.uk
Family-focused Tredethick Farm in the lower Fowey valley has eight cottages, most with woodburners and all with access to an indoor heated pool, outdoor hot tub and playrooms. It also has a menagerie of animals, with feeding sessions each weekday morning and bottle-feeding lambs in spring. Bikes are available for riding trails in the surrounding woods and coast, or looping up to Colliford Lake on Bodmin Moor. Nearby Fowey has dinner options including Havener’s Bar & Grill on the quayside, where sailing and canoeing trips are also on offer.
•Cottages sleep 4-6 (+ cot), from £650 a week, tredethick.com
Once the stables and outbuildings of Grade II-listed Corffe House, a former rectory in Tawstock, these nine cottagesshare a large heated indoor pool, seasonal tennis court, all-weather barbecue hut, play areas and five-acres of land. Tuesday evenings see Piccolo Pizza Co serving suppers from the woodfired oven in the cottage courtyard. Barnstaple (a 10-minute drive) has a 1930s cinema and one of Britain’s largest indoor markets; Exmoor national park and the sandy beaches of Woolacombe, Saunton, Croyde and Westward Ho! are all 20-30 minutes by car.
•Cottages sleeping 4-10, from £275 a week, corffe.co.uk
Close to the south Devon coast, the six Fingals Apart cottages have shared use of a sauna and heated indoor pool in a conservatory, plus seasonal croquet and tennis courts. The largest is the Barn, sleeping six, with heavy oak trusses and an open living space with grand piano. The riverside villages of Dittisham and Cornworthy are a five-minute drive, with a few pubs and shops, or reach Dartmouth in 20 minutes, where the steam railway and boats run to Totnes and Paignton (round robin day trip from £26). The famous Blackpool Sands beach (20-minutes by car) offers kayaking and paddleboarding, and nearby walking routes include the circular Dart Valley Trail (nine miles) and the South West Coast Path.
• Cottages sleeping 2-6 (+ 2 cots), dog-friendly, from £490 a week, fingalsapart.co.uk
Crossroads Cottage in Frogham village in the heart of New Forest national park has a private, heated spa-style pooland walking routes and horse riding on the doorstep. For cosy nights in, there’s an inglenook fireplace with woodburner, and a bright conservatory leads out to a garden with carp pond and sun loungers. The sandy beaches of Highcliffe, Boscombe and Bournemouth are 30 minutes away by car, and the towns of Fordingbridge (10 minutes) and Ringwood (20 minutes) have options for afternoon tea and pub grub.
•Sleeps 5, from £731 a week, newforestcottages.co.uk
Lavender Hill, near Taunton, is a 15-minute drive from the Quantock Hills, England’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (designated in 1956), with walking trails around heathland, woodlandand the Bristol Channel’s Jurassic coast, plus plenty of country pubs. All of the cottages here have private outdoor hot tubs as well as shared use of a heated indoor pool. Properties include 17th-century Cherry Tree Farmhouse (sleeps 10 + cots), with a large garden and play area; Cornflower Cottage (sleeps 4), a converted Grade II-listed barn; and two treehouse-style homes.
•Cottages sleeping 2-10, dog-friendly, from £395 a week, lavenderhillholidays.co.uk
A good base for exploring the beautiful Suffolk coast, Wheat Barn in Bawdsey is a converted farm building a mile from the sea with views over meadows to the Deben estuary. The cottagehas an open-plan living space with exposed beams and high ceilings, shared use of the heated outdoor pool (April-October) and tennis courts. Nearby Bawdsey Quay has a narrow sandy beach, and further north are thecoastal towns of Southwold and Aldeburgh – famous for its fish and chips.
•Sleeps up to 8, dog-friendly, from £460 a week for 4 people/£695 a week for 8, suffolkcottageholidays.com
Bromholm Priory in Bacton was once a popular site of pilgrimage, the ruins now just a few minutes walk away from Pilgrims Cottages. Originally the abbey’s farm buildings in the 16th century, the four holiday homes include a converted barn, stables and forge, a thatched cottage and a larger Grade II-listedhouse. They share a heated indoor pool, sauna, gardens and play areas with giant chess set. Nearby Bacton beach is a good place to spot grey seals and pups, a common sight along this coast. There’s a beachside cafe, chippie and village pub close by, or it’s a 25-minute drive to Cromer for its famous crab.
• Cottages sleep 4-6, dog-friendly, from £507 a week, norfolkcottages.co.uk
There are plenty of hiking, biking and wild swimming opportunities within easy reach of Mirefoot, a collection of five modern cottages in the village of Burneside, north of Kendal. Each includes an open fire or woodburner, private patio, and shared gardens, heated indoor pool, hot tub, sauna, gym and treatment rooms (on request). Windermere is a 15- minute drive, and Kendal, gateway to the Lakes, is 15 minutes the other way, with 18th-century wool trade yards to explore, plus shops, pubs and restaurants, and the Brewery Arts Club for live music, film and exhibitions.
•Cottages sleep 2-4, dog-friendly, from £995 a week, mirefoot.co.uk
The heated outdoor pool (May-September) at TheGrove is set in two acres of grounds with views across the Towy estuary and surrounding countryside. The three cottages, built in the 1700s, all have private terraces. Close by, Llansteffan has a couple of pubs, a village shop and the ruins of a 12th-century castle overlooking a golden sandy beach. Carmarthen old town (a 15-minute drive)has independent restaurants and shops; and Laugharne (30 minutes) is home to poet Dylan Thomas’s boathouse, with tea room, a favourite stop-off for walkers on the Wales Coast Path.
• Cottages sleep 4-8, dog-friendly, from £441 a week, grovebarnllansteffan.co.uk
The Beach Huts, an open-plan eco-cottage, is not actually on the beach but in Oving, six miles inland. The name refers to the jaunty facade which looks a row of colourful wooden huts. The property has a private terrace with barbecue and brand new heated indoor pool (May-November), plus shared access to the tennis court (lessons available). The village has a couple of pubs, and walkers will enjoy the nearby South Downs pational park. Chichester, known for its theatre, cathedral and ancient wall walk, is 10-minutes drive away, and the long sandy beach at West Wittering is worth the drive (25 minutes).
•Sleeps 4 (+ cot), from £520 a week, thebeachhutsholidays.com
Helping to fund the onsite rescue centre for exotic animals, the Deepdean the Cockerel holiday home is a converted 17th-century barn with many original features, on a working farm in the Forest of Dean. It has shared access to 60 acres of woodland, country gardens and a heated outdoor pool. Guests can also meet and greet the 30 species of animal here, including alpacas, zebras and meerkats. The peaceful valley location is a 10-minute drive to Ross-on-Wye, for vintage shops, restaurants and canoeing.
•Sleeps 4 (+ cot), from £939 a week holidaycottages.co.uk
Chocolate box-pretty cottage the Barn at Sopps Farm in West Tytherley is well placed for walks in the New Forest (20 minutes by car) and fly fishing on the Test and the Dun. The thatched-roof property has an open fire, heavy drapes and stag motifs throughout. Its well-manicured garden was inspired by Highgrove House, Prince Charles’ country home, and has a seasonal outdoor pool (heated and private), pagoda and lily pond. Salisbury is less than half an hour by car, and there are pubs and local shops in the quaint nearby towns of Stockbridge and Romsey, former home of Lord Palmerston and Florence Nightingale.
•Sleeps 3 (one room with double and single bed + cot), from £510 a week, mulberrycottages.com
Dumfries & Galloway
Five minutes’ walk from Rigg Bay, a secluded sandy beach, Pavilion Cottage sits within the walled garden of Garlieston House on the Galloway House Estate, former home to the area’s various earls. The cottage has a large garden with a heated outdoor pool (May-September), beyond which there is woodland, an orchard and a paddock for the estate’s rare-breed sheep, ducks and hens. Walks in nearby Galloway Forest Park take in the wild upland regions dotted with lochs, and southern Scotland’s highest mountain, Merrick, at 843 metres. The area also offers some of the best mountain biking in the UK, and two of the 7stanes trail centres are nearby, with routes to suit all abilities. Garlieston has a harbourside pub (five minutes’ drive) and there’s a wider selection of shops and eateries further north in Newton Stewart (30 mins).
• Sleeps 6, from £860, oneoffplaces.co.uk
There are four typical Yorkshire stone cottages (and two yurts) at Uppergate Farm in Hepworth, in the picturesque Holme Valley. The cottages share the use of an indoor heated swimming pool, sauna, steam room, and play areas. The largest, Bray Cottage, has a private hot tub too. Guests can help out on the farm with daily activities such as collecting the free range eggs, and feeding the piglets in summer. The town of Holmfirth (10 minutes drive), filming location of Last of the Summer Wine, has lots of good restaurants, cosy pubs and even a vineyard. There are some great walks nearby including the southern end of the Pennine Way, and through Yorkshire Sculpture Park (25 minutes drive).
•Cottages sleep 2-10, from £400 a week, uppergatefarm.co.uk
Each of the 10 cottages at Haddon Grove Farm in the centre of the Peak District national park come with a log burner, comfy interiors and access to an indoor heated pool and games room. After a day exploring the park, homemade, made-to-order pies and desserts are available, or barbecue packs can be delivered from the local butcher. For stargazers, there are several designated dark sky sites nearby. There is a Monday market in nearby Bakewell, and the thermal spa town of Buxton (20 minutes’ drive) has a heritage trail, some great bars and restaurants and several live music venues, including Buxton Opera House and the Pavilion Arts Centre.
•Cottages sleep 2-10, from £717 a week, some dog-friendly, haddongrovefarmcottages.co.uk
High above the Stour valley, the Grade-II listed Manor Coach House is a fun upside-down cottage conversion, with bedrooms on the ground floor and a spiral staircase leading up to a living area that comes with a record player, vinyl collection and a karaoke machine. The terrace looks out to a large garden with a heated pool (April-November), barbecue area and table tennis table. Cyclists and anglers will enjoy the surrounding Kent countryside, and walkers the North Downs Way. There are a few pubs in the village, Chartham, and Chilham (five minutes’ drive) has a tearoom and farm shop for local produce. Canterbury is a 15-minute drive.
•Sleeps 6 (+cot), dog-friendly, from £649 a week mulberrycottages.com
Former abbey stables, the 12 Bruern Cottages all have open fires, country-house style interiors, private terraces with barbecues (some also have gardens), and guests receive a treat-filled welcome basket. The properties share the use of a heated indoor pool in the sunny conservatory, as well as the sauna, gym, spa room (treatments on request) and large gardens with wisteria tunnel, apple trees and croquet lawn. A two-story wendy house, games cabin and adventure play areas will keep children of all ages entertained. There are several pubs within a few minutes drive south towards Shipton or north to Kingham, and nearby activities include the wildlife park, model village and horse-riding at Bourton Vale (all around a 20 minutes’ drive).
Cottages sleep 2-10, from £672 a week bruern-holiday-cottages.co.uk
Beater’s Cottage, near the tiny village of Maerdy, is surrounded by a 140-acre sheep farm and woodlands, and is a 15-minute drive from Snowdonia national park and Bala, Wales’ largest natural lake. The stone cottage, with woodburner, four-poster bed and games room, has shared use of an indoor heated pool, sauna and tennis court. There is a river just outside for trout fishing (with permits), and several pubs and local shops in the nearest town of Corwen, a few minutes away. The Llangollen Heritage Steam Railway runs from here for 10 miles through the Dee Valley (£16 return), an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, to Llangollen, where canal boat trips stop at Unesco world heritage site of Pontcysyllte, Britain’s largest aqueduct.
•Cottages sleep 8, from £635 a week sykescottages.co.uk
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