Lake District National Park
England's largest National Park covers 2362 square kilometres. It is home to Scafell Pike - its highest mountain as well as Wastwater England’s deepest lake at 243 feet. It also boasts thriving communities like Keswick and Bowness-on-Windermere and offers 26 miles of coastline and estuaries.
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Greta Bridge Cottages, Cumbria
Next to the River Greta on the fringe of Keswick and just a short walk from the centre of this lovely market town sit gold award winning five star Greta Bridge Cottages.
Many walks start directly from the door step of these two properties including: Latrigg, Catbells and Skiddaw. On Derwent water there is a regular launch service stopping at several beauty spots around the lake and for those wanting to get active sailing, canoeing and mountain biking are all available. In fact it’s possible not to use a car all week here!
A seven-night stay in sleeps six Howrah’s Cottage starts from £645 or a stay in sleeps four Praiano Cottage starts from £575. (www.premiercottages.co.uk, 01228 562788)
Goodies Farmhouse, Firbank, Cumbria
Set in an idyllic, tranquil location in Cumbria, Goodies Farmhouse offers wonderful mountain walks straight from the door. The property is close to the villages of Kirkby Lonsdale and Dent with cobbled streets, antique shops and interesting art galleries. The nearest lakes are Windermere and Ullswater and all the activities of the Lake District are on the doorstep including: lake sailing on Ullswater, rowing on Grasmere, easy climbing up Cat Bells by Derwentwater, and GoApe Tree Top Adventures in Grisedale Forest.
There are two properties at Goodies Farmhouse; the main farmhouse, which sleeps six and Bluebell, an idyllic small cottage, which sleeps two. Seven-night stays start from £1,200 and £495 respectively.
(www.premiercottages.co.uk ,01539 621087).
Northumberland National Park
Northumberland National Park is England’s northernmost national park. It covers an area of more than 1,030 square kilometres (400 sq mi) between the Scottish border in the north to just south of Hadrian's Wall, and it is one of the least populated and least visited of the National Parks
It’s also home to Northumberland International Dark Sky Park. At nearly 1,500 square kilometres, it’s Europe’s largest area of protected night sky. Due to its pristine skies it was awarded gold tier designation by the International Dark Sky Association, making it officially the best place in England for people to go to enjoy the heavens.
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The Retreat, Cheviot Holiday Cottages, Northumberland
The award-winning Cheviot Holiday Cottages are set in the tranquil Breamish valley in the heart of the Northumbrian countryside perfectly situated for walks in the Northumberland National Park.
Formerly a stable block, The Retreat Cheviot’s detached romantic bolthole for two comes complete with its own private five-metre swimming spa pool with adjustable current and twin Jacuzzi inside the cottage. Other luxuries include an en-suite double ended bath and rain shower that’s perfect for those lazy weekends plus a hotel style duvet and pillow menu.
The property exudes first class design and craftsmanship and features a Harmon-Kardon home entertainment and sound system with wall and ceiling speakers throughout, and large screen TV’s in bedroom, lounge and Living kitchen.
A week’s stay for two costs from £1690 (www.premiercottages.co.uk, 01665 578236)
Britain's first National Park is a land of contrasts: dramatic heather moorland hills and rock edges in the north, limestone dales and rivers in the south. The Park is 550 square miles and has nearly 200 miles of open access land for walkers to enjoy and 34 miles of family friendly trails that are great for cycling and riding as well as walking.
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Ollerbrook Cottages, Peak District
Ollerbrook Cottages features two charming cottages sleeping five and three plus cots in the heart of the Peak District National Park. They are perfect for romantic breaks; get togethers with friends and for walkers and climbers. The Pennine Way starts at the pub across the meadows and many other activities can be enjoyed nearby including: mountain biking, pony trekking and fishing.
The properties are surrounded on all sides by stunning scenery with walks for all abilities and tastes. The Vale of Edale Valley also offers many easy valley walks. Nearby are Castles and stately homes, as well as Peak District Towns such as Bakewell and Buxton. A week’s stay for three costs from £555 and for five from £640. (www.premiercottages.co.uk, 01433 670083)
Littonfields Barn, Derbyshire
Littonfields Barn offers spacious, luxury accommodation for up to 12 with a games barn equipped with table football, a pool table, Wendy House and a selection of toys and games for all ages.
The property is located on a family farm in the heart of the Peak District, and is home to a wonderful range of wildlife including: brown hares, partridges, pheasants and buzzards.
Cressbrook Dale, National Nature Reserve is adjacent to the farm with its fabulous scenery, abundant flowers, and miles of wonderful walks. Also nearby is market town of Bakewell, the birthplace of the delicious Bakewell Pudding, available to buy from the Bakewell Pudding Shop where guests can even have a go at making one. A week’s stay for twelve costs from £1775, fwww.premiercottages.co.uk, 01298 871738)
From rolling hills to bustling market towns, the South Downs National Park covers 1,600km2 of diverse and inspirational landscape with a rich tapestry of wildlife and unspoiled countryside.
England's newest National Park it stretches for 140 kilometres (87 mi) from Winchester in the west to Eastbourne in the east through the counties of Hampshire, West Sussex and East Sussex. The South Downs Way spans the entire length of the park and is the only National Trail that lies wholly within a national park.
Wallops Wood, Hampshire
Perched on a ridge in the South Downs National Park, Wallops Wood Cottages are in a tranquil location close to the wilds of nature with stunning views across the Meon Valley and Isle of Wight. The six four star cottages boast a tasteful blend of contemporary style and modern comforts.
Guests staying here can enjoy walks direct from the doorstep. Guests are also provided with a Field Studies Council laminated guide to features of the South Downs as well as the local OS map and lots of walking books and for dog owners there are seven laminated dog-walks and suggestions of dog-friendly pubs in the welcome basket provided.
Wallops Wood’s sleeps six property Glenside is great for a cosy winter escape.
A week’s stay for six starts from £795.] (www.premiercottages.co.uk, 01489 878888).
The New Forest includes one of the largest remaining tracts of unenclosed pastureland, heathland and forest in the south east of England. The area has many quiet country lanes, perfect for cycling, as well as over 100 miles of way-marked cycle tracks across the Crown Lands of the Forest.
Ivy Roost Cottage, The New Forest – a 400 year old cottage with a roof terrace in the thatch
Ivy Roost Cottage is a historic thatched property in the heart of the New Forest, offering spacious, luxurious accommodation for up to nine guests. Lovingly restored and recently modernised the original 400-year-old cottage features low oak beams and an inglenook fireplace. There is also an extension that offers spacious communal living areas including a double height open plan living room and an unusual roof terrace built into the thatched roof where guests can enjoy the views across the forest and of the ponies for which it is famous.
Set within a beautiful landscaped garden, the cottage boasts an outdoor hot tub and pretty terrace under a rose-clad pergola for dining al fresco on warm evenings. It’s is just a few miles from Lymington and the coast, and within five minutes of the Isle of Wight ferry for day trips. Prices start from £1250 for up to nine guests. (www.premiercottages.co.uk, 07788 871609).
Exmoor National Park
Exmoor is one of the best locations for walking in Europe with over 1000km of footpaths and bridleways. It also has road cycling good enough to host the Tour of Britain and of course wild red deer and the iconic Exmoor ponies. Exmoor National Park is also a designated International Dark Sky Reserve.
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Nestled in the peaceful valley of Hawkcombe within the Exmoor National Park, is this beautifully restored 19th Century working Watermill Originally a corn-mill, it later supplied the village of Porlock with electricity for its street lights.
Lovingly restored and luxuriously furnished with antiques, the Watermill’s original features such as the stable door, waterwheel and its mechanisms make for a truly memorable stay.
Surrounded by an acre of terraced gardens featuring a waterfall and river frontage, there is much to admire at the watermill. With the ancient Hawkcombe woods on the doorstep, couples can enjoy woodland strolls and spot deer and wild ponies in the wilds of Exmoor.
A week’s stay for up to four guest starts from £535. For more information visit www.premiercottages.co.uk or call the owner on 01474 879810.
Rainsbury House, Somerset – with its own artist studio
Rainsbury House is a little piece of heaven nestling in 16 acres of hills and woodland in a secluded corner of Exmoor on the edge of Wimbleball Lake. The picturesque Haddeo River runs through Rainsbury’s land and wild Exmoor ponies and deer run free in the woods and moorland and buzzards soar overhead. The location is ideal for exploring the wild beauty of the Moor, as well as the stunning North Devon Coast and the Quantock and Blackdown Hills.
The house has its very own art studio that guests can book. The studio has been renovated from the original 250-year-old farmhouse and provides a large open-plan space with plenty of natural daylight and a separate kitchen area and toilet. The studio has under floor heating to keep artists cosy in winter. It also has ‘daylight’ halogen lights with dimmer controls to provide a variety of lighting options. Artist’s easels are also available.
A week’s stay for up to 13 guests in the interlinked Barn and Barn Owl Cottage costs from £2075, with a three-night weekend break or a four-night midweek break costing from £1660. The Barn sleeps 8 and Barn Owl Cottage sleeps 5. These stunning four-star Gold properties can be booked as one or separately for smaller groups. A seven-night stay in the Barn costs from £1375 or £1100 for a three or a four-night break. Barn Owl Cottage costs £700 for seven nights and £560 for three or four-night breaks. Professional art tutors can be hired on request. (www.premiercottages.co.uk, 01398 371595).
Dartmoor National Park
Dartmoor National Park is the largest and wildest area of open country in south England with picture perfect villages, great woodland, high granite tors and vast areas of rolling moorland.
The moor is home to many of Britain’s globally threatened species including: greater horseshoe bat, blue ground beetle, bog hoverfly, dormouse and rare butterflies.
The rolling hills and rocky outcrops of the park's landscape have provided inspiration for many works of fiction, most famously the setting for Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes mystery, Hound of the Baskervilles.
Photo credit: Getty
The Tithe Barn, Dartmoor
Situated within the Dartmoor National Park, the five-star gold award Tithe Barn has been lovingly restored having been neglected as a partial ruin since a fire in the 1980s. Nestled in four acres of pasture and orchards with country views, the Grade II property combines rustic chic with modern comforts, and boasts an open-plan lounge, under-floor heating and three en-suite double bedrooms.
The historic stannary town of Ashburton is nearby and the River Dart valley offers memorable riverside walks through pretty woodland. This gorgeous property is the ideal base to explore the coastal paths and beaches of the South Hams and South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. A week’s stay for six guests costs from £1050. (www.premiercottages.co.uk 01364 654689).
Snowdonia National Park
Snowdonia National Park is 2,130 square kilometres and home to an extensive network of trails, over 100 lakes and craggy peaks like Cadair Idris and Tryfan.
As well as being the largest National Park in Wales, Snowdonia has the highest mountain in England and Wales, and the largest natural lake in Wales. It also has a wealth of picturesque villages like Betws y Coed and Beddgelert. The park's historic Snowdon Mountain Railway climbs to the summit of Mount Snowdon, offering views across the sea to Ireland.
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Dysynni and Craig y Deryn in Wales
Dysynni and Craig y Deryn are two cosy cottages converted from a former 17th century cow byre and hay loft, in the tranquil Dysynni Valley, at the south of the Snowdonia National Park. The cottages are just three miles from the sea and six miles from the old fishing village of Aberdyfi, with views across to Cadair Idris, the second highest mountain in Wales.
Each has an open plan downstairs living area, with Welsh slate floors and modern kitchen, dining area and lounge with log burning stove.
They are ideally situated for bird watching – Craig y Deryn (Bird Rock) is nearby and offers the only inland nesting site for cormorants, while the protected large area of reed beds is home to a myriad wildlife. Barn owls and a pair of buzzards also nest on the property, and two flocks of Canada geese are often seen feeding in the adjacent fields.
Prices start from £330 for a seven-night stay in Dysynni, based on two sharing. (www.premiercottages.co.uk 01654 710913).
Brecon Beacons National Park: Woodpecker Lodge, near Llandovery
In April 2017, it will it be 60 years since the Brecon Beacons was designated one of the UK's 15 National Parks and, rumour has it, filming will take place there during the year for the latest Jurassic World film (due for release in 2018). Less than an hour from Wales' capital city, the Brecon Beacons is home to a mix of mountains and moorland, standing stones, castles, waterfalls and wildlife. As well as mountains to climb, there’s a huge range of outdoor activities to try - mountain biking, horse riding, abseiling, paragliding, rafting and more. The region is also one of the UK's four International Dark Skies Reserves and part of the National Park is a UNESCO Global Geopark, protecting and showcasing its geology, archaeology and history.
Woodpecker Lodge, a four bedroom modern eco-house near Llandovery is an ideal base from which to explore all that the Brecon Beacons has to offer. The house sleeps up to eight and, with its elegant curved walls and tall windows offering glimpses of the surrounding woods, offers an idyllic rural retreat for a family or small group. The house itself is built to the highest eco specifications and the surrounding gardens and pond are a haven for wildlife.
Three night stays are available until the end of March, costing £403 for three nights, based on eight sharing on self-catering basis. For more information visit www.qualitycottages.co.uk or call 01348 837 871.
Snowdonia National Park: Bwthyn Mair, near Portmeirion
Surrounded by ancient oak woodlands, a small meadow separates Bwthyn Mair from a tranquil lake. This 17th century cottage, in a hamlet not far from Portmeirion, has such thick stone walls that there’s no TV signal so it’s a welcome retreat for anyone looking for a break from modern life. The cottage is a converted tavern that’s Grade II listed and comes full of original features like exposed beams, a stone staircase and bedrooms separated by original elm wood panels. Upstairs is a telescope too - Snowdonia was named last year as the UK’s newest International Dark Skies Reserve and limited light pollution here makes it a great spot for star gazing, particularly on a crisp winter’s night.
Visitors can explore the local area wandering along one of the many nature trails through the nearby woods and valley, enjoy a spot of river, sea or coarse fishing, or take to the lake in the cottage’s own boat. There are two pubs within easy walking distance and the surrounding hills are a fantastic outdoor playground with mountain biking, zip lining, hiking and more.
A seven-night stay before the end of March will cost from £515, based on up to four sharing on self-catering basis. Short breaks are not available at this cottage. For more information visit www.qualitycottages.co.uk or call 01348 837 871EndFragment
Tyn Y Coed Cottage, Brecon Beacons
A truly peaceful retreat situated in the Brecon Beacons National Park Tyn Y Coed Cottage has its own grounds surrounded by mature woodland and lush green fields. Built of Welsh stone, the cottage features exposed wooden beams, inglenook fireplace and a large wood burning stove.
This is the ultimate retreat for tranquility and relaxation. Sit and relax in the gardens to the sound of birdsong and the trickle of water from the nearby stream. The nearest neighbour is over 1.7 miles away so seclusion is guaranteed. The cottage is the ultimate base camp for an adventure in the Brecon Beacons National Park and is close to famous waterfalls, lakes and mountains as well as being a truly peaceful retreat. Prices for a week’s stay start from £450 for up to six guests. (www.premiercottages.co.uk, 07738 103837)
Pembrokeshire Coast National Park
The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park is a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts and a taste of its fascinating past can be seen in its prehistoric tombs, Celtic crosses, Norman Castles and medieval churches.
It was designated as a National Park primarily because of its spectacular coastline and features a varied landscape of rugged cliffs, sandy beaches, wooded estuaries and wild inland hills, covering a total area of 629 km2. .
Seaview Cottage, Pembrokeshire
Just a two-minute walk to the Coastal Path leading to the National Trust’s secluded Ceibwr Bay near Cardigan, Seaview Cottage is a perfect place to get away from it all with uninterrupted views of Cardigan Bay and the Pembrokeshire Coastline. The cottage offers stylish accommodation for up to ten guests with plenty of modern comforts and a log burner in the living room for chilly evenings. There is also a hot tub on the patio that’s perfect for star gazing.
A week’s stay for ten costs from 1095.( www.premiercottages.co.uk 01239 881691).
The Gardeners Cottages, Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park
Peaceful and secluded, The Gardeners Cottages lie within wooded grounds on the shores of Loch Lomond, within the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park. Three original 1860’s cottages have been superbly restored to be warm, comfortable and full of character. They are set against the wall of a magnificent Victorian walled garden. The cottages look out onto an enclosed area of lawn, trees and shrubs, where rabbits and squirrels can be seen playing, and in spring, families of ducks wander in on expeditions from the loch. Guests can enjoy the formal garden or, through an old gate, there is a wild flower area with summer house and putting green. The cottages are perfectly placed for holidaymakers who enjoy golf, walking, cycling and water sports.
The breath-taking scenery of the surrounding heather-covered mountains makes this place so special. Loch Lomond, immortalised in the traditional Scottish Song "The Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond" , is one of the most beautiful lochs in Scotland.
Prices vary depending on the cottage booked. For “Linnhe Cottage” which sleeps up to five people, the price is £492 for seven nights. Short stays are also available, with a minimum stay of two nights.
For more information, go to www.embracescotland.co.uk
Cardross Estate, Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park
The rural peace and tranquility of the exquisite Cardross Estate make the self-catering cottages in the estate’s grounds an ideal place to unwind. The estate grounds include historic parkland where sheep and cattle graze down to the edge of the River Forth and fishing is available for guests. Arnvicar, one of several places to stay in the estate, forms part of a former traditional Scottish farm steading. There is an enclosed garden and a south facing courtyard with an adjacent games and leisure room. Pets welcome
The Cardross Estate is situated on the fringe of the Scottish Highlands and border of the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park. The famous Trossachs were immortalised by Sir Walter Scott, closely associated with Rob Roy MacGregor and affiliated with many exciting periods of Scottish History. There are numerous local attractions for visitors including Stirling Castle, The Wallace Monument, Sir Walter Scott Steamer on Loch Katrine, Monro bagging on Ben Lomond and climbing on Ben A’an and Ben Venue, fishing, Osprey viewing in Aberfoyle and Red Kite viewing at Argaty.
Prices vary depending on the cottage booked. For “Arnvicar” which sleeps up to eight people, the price is £125 per night. Short stays are also available, with a minimum stay of two nights.
For more information, go to www.embracescotland.co.uk
Pembrokeshire Coast National Park: Summer Cottage, St David's
Equidistant from St David's and Whitesands Beach and located on the side of an ancient pilgrim's road from St David's Cathedral to the headland, Summer Cottage dates back to the 1700s. It has recently been renovated to offer charming accommodation for up to four, plus a dog, in a wonderful location for exploring the south western corner of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. From the shuttered windows of this traditional whitewashed cottage, there are views over the rooftops of Britain's smallest city, as well as to Carn Llidi and the coast. There are two comfortable en-suite bedrooms upstairs and downstairs the well-equipped kitchen/diner leads out to the patio and enclosed garden, with a cosy lounge complete with log burner.
Whitesands, perhaps the finest of Pembrokeshire's many Blue Flag beaches, is only a mile away along a footpath and is popular for swimming, surfing and watersports, as well as dog walks on the beach (October to April only). Another short walk up the lane from the cottage leads to the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, which runs in either direction along the clifftops to small coves and less accessible beaches as well as some of the National Park's most spectacular scenery. For those wishing to venture further afield there are boat trips available from nearby St Justinian's to Ramsey Island which is home to fantastic wildlife, while St David's, with its historic Cathedral, ruined Bishop's Palace and array of independent shops, restaurants and friendly pubs is within easy reach too, as are many pretty coastal towns and villages.
Three night stays are available until the end of March, costing from £357 for three nights, based on four sharing on self-catering basis. For more information visit www.qualitycottages.co.uk or call 01348 837 871.
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