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Go glamping this weekend

Make the most of spring’s arrival with a new season lodge, Shepherd’s hut or quirky cabin – it’s camping, but weather-proofed for fresh evenings.


Swinton Bivouac, Yorkshire

Sitting in 20,000 acres, Swinton Bivouac is a cluster of handcrafted, gingerbread house-cute log cabins hidden on the edge of the woods, with incredible views.

Inside natural wooden floors, hand-made beds, antique rocking chairs and wood-burning stoves add to the up-cycled, eclectic vibe. As well as a small kitchenette, each shack comes with a flushing toilet and shower, and will sleep seven.

Bivouac Shack 1
There is a fab café, shop, and play area, and Bivouac guests can use the facilities at nearby Swinton Park – so you can combine a day walking in the dales with a massage in the spa or a posh meal.
Seven-night stays from £100 per person. 01765 535020, www.thebivouac.co.uk


Ges the Horsebox, Surrey

Down a quiet country lane, in the middle of an idyllic woodland meadow, it’s hard to believe that Ges, a lovingly-restored and converted 1970s horse truck, is not much more than an hour’s drive from central London. Inside there’s a king-size cabin bed, a sofa bed and a bright retro interior. And if you need the bathroom, the neighbouring pony trailer, Baby Ges, houses a hot shower and compost loo. A basket and blankets are provided so that you can pack a picnic and explore the bluebell woods.

From £135 per night (sleeps four), www.canopyandstars.co.uk/ges 0117 204 7830


The Sherwood Hideaway at Thoresby, Nottinghamshire

These rustic-chic wooden lodges, that sleep four, are hidden deep in Sherwood Forest but are contemporary and sleekly designed – from Mulberry and Designer’s Guild soft furnishings, to the state-of-the-art TV, iPod dock and wifi, to the fully-stocked kitchen, to the private hot tub. Yes, you get your own forest-view hot tub. David, the on-site concierge back at the reception lodge, can arrange bikes and advise on cycling and walking trails in the forest – which looks stunning at this time of year as the trees burst into life and bluebells abound.

From £25 per person per night. 01623 824594, www.sherwoodhideaway.com


The Boat Shed at Ardanaiseig, Argyll

On the shores of the appropriately-named Loch Awe, the Ardanaiseig Hotel’s new Boat Shed combines contemporary architecture with splendid isolation – the glass-walled front looks on to the islands in the middle of Loch Awe and the snow-capped Ben Cruachan beyond. In spring the lake mist clears to offer truly spectacular views of the woods and mountains, reflected in the water. The one-bedroom bolthole, perched on the water’s edge is modern, romantic, and has all of the hotel’s five-star trappings on tap, too.

From £330 per night. 01866 988450, www.ardanaiseig.com


Bluebells Nest at The Dandelion Hideaway, Leiccestershire

Nestled on the edge of the National Forest in Leicestershire, The Dandelion Hideaway has six canvas cottages dotted around the 250-acre farm and its woodland, arable and grassland. This may be “glamping” but you get all the creature comforts you could hope for, including proper beds, en-suite bathrooms with roll-top baths, a living area with a sofa, and a farmhouse kitchen complete with a dining table and a wood-burning stove.

If you want isolation then opt for Bluebells Nest, a treehouse that sits by the wood and is perfect for two. Pre-order one of Sharon’s farmhouse suppers that will be bubbling on the stove when you arrive.

Canvas cottages sleep up to six, from £700 a week, www.coolrentalguide.com.

The Shepherd’s Hut Retreat, Somerset

Circling a lake and nestled among trees turning golden brown, you’ll find four secluded, romantic shepherd’s huts, each with a private deck and fire pit. Inside, they’re surprisingly spacious, fitting in a double bed, fully-equipped kitchen and a bathroom – they even have electric heating and are insulated against spring nights.

From £90 a night (sleeps two). 07813 393164, www.theshepherdshutretreat.co.uk

Badger Gypsy Caravan, Mid Wales

What could be more nostalgic than a stay in a traditional bow-top gypsy wagon? It even comes with its own kitchen and bathroom, housed in the next-door shepherd’s hut. What’s more, it sits on a 200-acre, organic farm in the Upper Wye Valley, surrounded by walking trails, cycle routes, the river Wye and Cambrian mountains, making it the ultimate, escape-it-all, back-to-nature break.

£265 for two nights (sleeps two) – book for October and they are currently offering a 20 per cent discount. www.underthethatch.co.uk


Lord Stones, North York Moors

Named after the Bronze-sage standing stones that top the hillside, Lord Stones is a gorgeous, glamorous campsite like no other. For starters, it sits in a stunning private country estate on the ruggedly-beautiful North York Moors. Then there’s the fact that there’s a fine-dining restaurant run by top chef Michael Chase, formerly of the Michelin-starred Star at Harome, which serves the estate’s own Belted Galloway beef on the menu, plus a lovely café and an artisan farm shop on site.

There are five, new bespoke “glamping pods”, which are stylish timber cabins that sleep four and come fully equipped with a double bed and a sofa bed, a bathroom, kitchenette and a wood-burning stove. There’s even an outdoor deck with a BBQ, lanterns and seats so that you can enjoy the best of the camping experience with the comfort of a proper night’s sleep and running water.

Glamping pods from £33.50 per person per night. 01642 778482, www.lordstones.com


High Cross Camping Coach, Dorset

If you can’t afford the Orient Express, try out the next best thing – this antique London Brighton & South Coast Railway carriage gleams as if it has just rolled out of the station for the first time. Climb aboard, and into another era – the rich mahogany panelling takes you back in time to the glory days of rail travel. All the original fittings remain – authentic luggage racks, rounded windows, leather straps and brasswork – although the carriage has been converted to house a fully-equipped kitchen and bathroom, while the long bench seat in the main saloon transforms into a double bed and an antique French stove keeps it cosy on chilly nights. The accompanying “living van” houses two single beds (great for kids or extra guests).

From £85 per night (sleeps four), www.canopyandstars.co.uk/campingcoach


Apple Tree Yurts, East Sussex

This newly-opened ash, chestnut, cotton and canvas yurt, sitting in a beautiful apple orchard, is furnished in rustic style – think soft sheepskins, a handmade double bed and wood-burner for warmth. The outside barbeque and fire pit make for a fabulous night under the stars – baked apples, anyone?

From £117.50 a night (sleeps five), www.pitchup.com

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This article first appeared in Metro on 27 April 2015

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    Grab your Barbour jacket, pull on your Hunter boots and get outdoors for a bracing winter walk – and you can reward yourself with amazing grub and a gorgeous room for the night at the end of it There's nothing more exhilarating on a frosty, clear winter's day than a…
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10 of the best welly weekends

Grab your Barbour jacket, pull on your Hunter boots and get outdoors for a bracing winter walk – and you can reward yourself with amazing grub and a gorgeous room for the night at the end of it

There’s nothing more exhilarating on a frosty, clear winter’s day than a country walk over fields and hills, and given you can burn up to 400 calories an hour on a good hike, it’s little wonder the likes of Jessica Biel, Matthew Mcconaughey and Reece Witherspoon are fans. Aside from the amazing views, fresh air and vitamin D, our favourite walks include a welcoming inn at the end, with a roaring fire and delicious dinner. So pack your wellies, kids and dog, and make a weekend of it, as we’ve found the best places to enjoy a rural, rambling escape.


The Milk House, Sissinghurst

This rustic-chic pub and restaurant with rooms is brilliantly located just across the fields from Sissinghurst Castle in Kent (it’s a pleasing 30-minute ramble away). Welly boots and dogs are practically uniform at this timber-framed building. All exposed beams and open fireplaces, there’s a lounge-y bar with comfy leather sofas and a more formal 9though still relaxed) dining room with a menu that sources 80 per cent of its produce from within a 20-mile radius. The four bedrooms are a tribute to Farrow and Ball and the local theme continue with a range of bath products from Kent, too.

Doubles from £90, www.themilkhouse.co.uk


Woolley Grange, Wiltshire

This homely small manor hotel welcomes families and dogs – if you haven’t brought your boots, you can borrow one of the many pairs lined up in the entrance hall. And if you haven’t brought your dog, you can even borrow the resident King Charles Spaniel puppy Rex and take him for a stroll around the grounds or over the fields down (or down the lane if you’re pushing a buggy) to Bradford on Avon, or head even further a-field to Ilford Manor which is surrounded by hanging woodlands and then walk back along the river.
Rooms at Woolley are eclectic and homely, combining antique furniture with modern design, while the relaxed lounges are the perfect place to warm up with a hot chocolate after a long walk.

Doubles from £120, www.woolleygrangehotel.co.uk


The Lord Crewe Arms, County Durham

With properly hearty, country food – think shins, hocks, and shanks of meat – Simon Hick’s modern British menu is as robust and humble as this 12th-century former Abbots Priory. Delightfully understated, but in a very stylish way, this pub with 12 bedrooms is warm and welcoming – grab an armchair in the enormous inglenook and settle in with the weekend papers and a pint of Lord Crewe Brew before heading out to the hills. The pub sits at one of the highest points on the North Pennine Hills and is surrounded by heather-clad walks, but fishing and shooting are also available if you really want to give your Barbour a workout.

Doubles from £105, www.lordcrewearmsblanchland.co.uk


Askham Hall, Cumbria

Askham Hall makes a very glamorous home from home – owner Charlie Lowther and his wife Juno have renovated and transformed his family home, a Grade I-listed manor house, complete with a medieval tower, to create a 13-room hip-yet-unpretentious hotel with history. The rooms are relaxed yet grand; a winning cocktail of antique beds, dinner-plate showers and jaw-dropping Lake District views. Sitting in the middle OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAof the 70,000-acre Lowther Estate, you’re literally surrounded by walks, from challenging fell climbs to a gentler walk across the estate to the George and Dragon pub in Clifton where most of the food is sourced from the estate itself, or a potter around the Hall’s romatic gardens and woodland and into Askham village.

Doubles from £150, www.askhamhall.co.uk.


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The Wild Rabbit, Kingham

Since opening last summer this immaculate pub with rooms, owned by Lady Bamford (the brains behind nearby Daylesford Organic), has recently won Michelin Pub of the Year. Behind its alluring honey-hued Cotswold stone walls and sage green paint, the handcrafted interior has antique furniture, stripped walls and open fires – while the menu stocks artisan ales and wine from small vineyards. Expect thoroughly stylish, and seasonal, food such as pot roast partridge or cacao nib crusted venison with girolles, celeriac and figs. While this may be the poshest pub in Britain, it is also surrounded by fields and farms – dogs are most welcome (they even provide dog beds for free). There are walking maps to borrow and you can hoof it over the fields north to Daylesford Organic to visit the spa, farm shop and restaurant there. Chipping Norton, Burford and Stow on the Wold are all close by.

Doubles from £135, www.thewildrabbit.co.uk

Bar area and dining room, Bel and the Dragon, Churt, Surrey BelDragon_churt3

Bel and the Dragon Churt, Surrey

Less than an hour from London, but a welly’s throw from the National Trust-owned Devil’s Punch Bowl – an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty offering incredible views, this fabulously-restored country inn has 14 bedrooms, a restaurant and bar – complete with a cosy lounge with an open fireplace and an inviting sofa. The new pizza oven and chalk-topped tables are proving a huge hit with families, while the josper grill (for the juiciest steaks) and wine served by the magnum – you just drink what you can – keep grown-ups more than satisfied.

Doubles from £95, www.belandthedragon-churt.co.uk


Ockendon Manor, Sussex

Surrounded by the South Downs National Park, this Elizabethan Manor House welcomes guests with a roaring log fire and a cosy, wood-panelled bar. Set in nine acres, and with the South Downs Way, Wakehurst Place and Sheffield Park all on the doorstep, you’ll be spoilt for choice for walks. And at the hotel, you can spoil yourself in the state-of-the-art spa and at the Michelin-starred restaurant.

Doubles from £179, www.hshotels.co.uk/ockenden-manor-hotel-and-spa


The Gunton Arms, Norfolk

You can’t get much more rural than a 1,000-acre deer park, which is where you’ll find this eccentric-yet-unpretentious pub and B&B owned by an art dealer and interior designer. The buzzy restaurant and bar, headed up by chef Simon Tattersall, who worked with Mark Hix, attracts north Norfolk’s finest, from muddy booted walkers and farmers to artists and landowners alike, who come to watch Tattersall cook over a vast 16th-century open fireplace. As you’d expect from a deer park close to Cromer – venison, crab and seafood abound. Just the thing after a misty country walk.

Doubles from £95, www.theguntonarms.co.uk


The Grove, Pembrokeshire

Between the Pembrokeshire Coast Path and the Preseli Hills, the boutique Grove hotel, and its award-winning restaurant makes a chic retreat after a wild winter walk. Nab one of the fire-side seats in the lounge a snuggle up with a spicy glass of red wine and a great book. Book the Winter Warmer package and the hotel will pack you off in the morning with a walker’s hamper containing a flask of traditional Welsh cawl and tasty bites to keep you warm and toasty on your walk. Then head back to a roaring log fire, a soothing bath with a box of Wickedly Welsh chocolates and a full body massage courtesy of The Grove’s In Room Spa before delicious candlelit meal beside the fire in our award-winning restaurant (£200 per person per night).

Doubles from £165, www.thegrove-narberth.co.uk


The Gurnard’s Head, Cornwall

There can be few more rugged or wild corners of Britain than the Zennor peninsula in Cornwall, and after a bracing walk, through cow fields, out to the tip of Zennor Point, you’ll be more than ready for a pint of real ale by the fire in the bar. This is pub-grub at its best and most local, from the ham hock terrine to the venison stew, even the soda bread with locally-churned butter is lip-smackingly good. Rooms are cosy but charming, with brilliant beds – you’ll feel so at home that you won’t want to leave. Dogs are welcome and wellies are practically obligatory round these parts.

Doubles from £110 – or book the fantastically good value Winter Escape: £130 a couple for dinner, bed and breakfast, Sunday to Thursday. www.gurnardshead.co.uk


This article appeared in Metro on 26 January






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New Year’s where?…

Party your way in to 2015 at one of these pads, that range from palatial to pretty and grand to groovy…


The Cob, nr Bude, Devon

Family-friendly needn’t mean design deadzone, as this barn conversion by award-winning architects Feilden Fowles proves. The light-filled, vast open-plan space is perfect for entertaining as the kitchen diner and living space are comfortably entwined. And when you crash you can expect king size beds and REN toiletries for added luxury. Kids will love the bunk beds, the trampoline and the chickens to chase outside. For Christmas and New Year the house will be festively decorated and a welcome pack of essentials is provided, with everything you’ll need for a New Year’s Day fry-up.

The cosy log burner makes the living room a great place to watch the wildlife in the surrounding countryside and there are countless walks on your doorstep – including a New Year’s Day wander along the beach at Bude perhaps? Or to the Old Smithy pub in Welcombe

Sleeps nine, £1750 for four nights from 29 December, www.venn-farm.co.ukthe-cob-holsworthy-devon-conde-nast-traveller-2sept14-nicholas-yarsley_960x1440


The Tower, Selkirk, Scotland

Have the run of your own 16th-century castle surrounded by rolling hills on the Scottish Borders. This ancient tower has been brought right up to date with sumptuous modern interiors and king-size handmade Duxiana beds and ensuite bedrooms.

The great hall has a huge stone fireplace with an openfire, while there’s a further sitting room, bar and games room (complete with piano, table tennis and board games). IN the kitchen and dining room, you can grapple with the AGA, or pre-book to have a chef come and cook for you.

A stone’s throw from Bowhill House and Country Estate, there are outdoor pursuits – think horse-riding, clay pigeon shooting, trout fishing – a woodland adventure playground and walks with a tea room (or bar) at the end of them.

This being a tower, you can expect lots of spiral staircases over four floors – perhaps not one for the very young, old, or inebriated!

Sleeps 11, £5,810 for seven nights from 29 December, www.thebigdomain.com

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The Medieval Barn, Brecon Beacons

Just outside Hay on Wye, this gorgeous oak-beamed barn conversion blends old and new to stunning effect. The huge dining table, hewn from a single tree trunk, is an impressive place to party, while the handmade kitchen is a chef’s dream. The five, cool-country bedrooms have views that stretch across the Black Mountains and Wye Valley.

If you’re in need of a New Year’s hangover cure, head to the River Café just down the road for a lazy brunch, or even brave the Brecon Beacons National Park on foot, bicycle or horse back.

Sleeps 10, £3800 for seven days from 29 December, www.sugarandloaf.com


Restormel Cottage, Cornwall

Sitting within the heart of the Duchy of Cornwall’s historic estate at the head of the Fowey valley, just one mile from the pretty town of Lostwithiel, this picture-perfect 400-year-old cottage surrounded by woodland walks is impeccably furnished with slate floors, period furniture, welsh woollen blankets and logs from the estate for the open fire. Board games and DVDs are supplied for rainy days, and you get access to the indoor swimming pool and other leisure facilities at Restormel Manor. There’s even complimentary fishing on the river Fowey. But then, we’d expect nothing less than the best from HRH Prince Charles.

Sleeps five, £1,300 for seven nights from 29 December, www.duchyofcornwallholidaycottages.co.uk

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Montpellier Town House, Cheltenham

This regal, four-storey Regency house in the centre of Cheltenham sets a grand, over-the-top Victoriana atmosphere for a decadent New Year do. It’s quirky and eclectic inside, with glam antique and period furniture – a portrait of a young Queen Elizabeth oversees the proceedings in the dining room, chesterfields abound in the drawing room, while the kitchen is state of the art and the bedrooms are nothing short of opulent.

A welcome hamper and Molton Brown toiletries come as standard and you can request a chef, a beauty therapist or have meals dropped off to make your New Year even more sublime.

An apartment around the corner is also available if you want to house another five guests.

Sleeps nine, £8940 for seven nights from 29 December, www.stayinmontpellier.co.uk

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The Cabin at Bliss Blakeney, Norfolk

Set in two acres of unspoilt north Norfolk coastline, you can stare out to sea from this cool and quirky hideaway.

There are four bedroom suites, each with a shower room and the master bedroom has a freestanding bath, and a big living, dining, kitchen space with an open fire and sliding doors that open out onto a private garden. For the festive season it will be decked out with a tree and decorations, too.

New guests are greeted by a “brown bag” full of local artisan food to get the holiday started. Holkham Hall and estate, and its famous gastropub the Victoria Inn, are a short drive away, as are the pretty market towns of Burnham Market and Holt, which has a fishmonger and butcher – just in case you need to stock up for your NYE feast.

Sleeps eight, £3,475 for seven nights from 26 December, www.blissblakeney.co.uk


The White Cabin, Winchelsea, East Sussex

This shabby-chic beach house has a laid-back Scandi feel with white-washed interiors, vintage furniture and a retro decor, especially at Christmas time when the wood-burning fire and rustic styling lends itself to mulled wine and mince pies.

The kitchen has a reclaimed wooded table that will easily seat ten and a smart Smeg oven. But you can also order meals to be dropped off (all you need to do it is heat them up), or hire a chef to cook for you.

It’s just a short stroll from the beach, down a quiet lane so you won’t have to worry about your dodgy karaoke, and the pub is a mere five minutes stagger away!

Sleeps 10, £1875 for seven days from 28 December, www.kateandtoms.com

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Natural Retreats, Yorkshire

These sleek, contemporary wooden-and-glass eco-lodges tucked away in the Yorkshire Dales are just five minutes from the market town of Richmond and offer the ultimate bolthole for walkers and active families, with a concierge (ideal for booking one of the many amazing gastro pubs in the area and advising on walks), private chefs, babysitters and beauty therapists on hand to meet your every need.

Sleeps six. £1307 for three nights from 29 December, www.naturalretreats.com

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Cotswold View Manor, Broadway, Cotswolds

Tucked away on the 400-acre Farnconbe Estate in the Vale of Evesham, this manor house comes with the facilities and service of the fabulous Dormy House Hotel, which also sits on the estate.

So you’ll get swanky rooms and service, a house manager to sort out any activities, food or cocktail requirements, full use of the award-winning Green House spa, gym and pool at Dormy House – the perfect place for a New Year’s Day detox – and a personal chef. Yes, really. Live the life of a lottery winner for one night, at least.

Sleeps 16, £10,000 for two nights (incudes chef, house manager and use of spa), www.thewowhousecompany.com

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Highbury Hill, London

Fancy living it up in an Islington townhouse? This artfully restored five-bedroom home is offered as a stylish holiday rental, with an iPhone loaded with local tips and maps and a personal welcome.
There’s a fab local deli, Da Mario, around the corner to stock up on party food, as well as the Euphorium bakery and Ottolenghi nearby. Or you might want to head out for cocktails at 69 Colebrooke Row or to a gig at Union Chapel – it’s all in walking distance. Be warned – the Emirates Stadium is also in spitting distance, which will either be a draw, or something you might want to ignore.

Sleeps 7-8, £3,090 for five nights from 29 December, www.onefinestay.com

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Cornucopia, Petworth, West Sussex

Once your guests have picked their jaws up from the floor – this place is gobsmackingly extravagant and beautiful – you can play lord and lady of the manor at this magnificent country house estate, which comes with its own swimming pool and hot tub, gym, bowling alley, games room, cinema – with its own “chill-out kitchen for ice-cream and popcorn, tennis court and not forgetting the picturesque lake, complete with rowing boats.

There are seven super-king double bedrooms, all en-suite of course, a very grand sitting room and another, les grand one, plus a fabulous kitchen and dining room.

Naturally, among such splendid surroundings, it would be depressing have to lower yourself to cooking, so book the in-house chef to do it for you, or to pack a picnic for a country walk in the South Downs. It’s a stay you’ll never forget, although you may need to take out a small mortgage to afford it!

Sleeps 14, £40,000 for seven nights from 29 December, www.uniquehomestays.com