If unsure, head south-west
South west UK street journey shouldn’t be one thing I imagined I’d sort into Google when it got here to planning a vacation. Consider the liberty and thrills of the open street and what springs to thoughts is Route 66 within the U.S, or Bolivia’s Dying Road, or Eire’s Wild Atlantic Means. It isn’t the M4, by way of M25, however nonetheless, right here we’re.
Because of an unprecedented heatwave, the UK in 2018 was dubbed a ‘staycation nation’, with greater than half of us selecting to vacation on house turf. With childhood reminiscences of draughty caravans and taking shelter from the rain beneath the closest pier or wind-breaker, I’m eager to see if I can mix good old style nostalgia with my now barely extra refined grownup tastes (my tenting days are formally over). And so we’re off on a south west UK street journey.
Sometimes, the Lake District or the Cotswolds are my go-to for a rural mini-break – strolling, pubs, cottages, bliss – however I’m decided to get the most effective of all worlds and absorb as a lot of this lovely nook of the nation as one can in 5 nights. So my husband and I pack up the automotive, strap in our three-year-old, and hit the street with just one ill-advised cease at Chieveley providers (limp ham sandwich, anybody?), earlier than arriving on the outskirts of Tub.
The primary rule of the south west UK street journey is far the identical as for any street journey – roughly pre-plan your route prematurely and ebook forward when you’ve got your eye on a specific lodge, nevertheless it additionally pays to comply with your nostril and see what cute B&Bs or quirky lodging you may stumble throughout en route. Particularly, we’re going seeking boutique lodgings, gourmand meals and Nice British seashores. All while concurrently avoiding visitors jams and holding the child entertained. Want us luck.
The place to remain in Tub
First cease: Wiltshire’s Lucknam Park Lodge and Spa, in Colerne, Chippenham (rooms begin from £295 per night time), simply 20 minutes drive from the historic metropolis of Tub. Sitting majestically on the finish of a mile-long, driveway, lined with 4 hundred lime and beech timber planted in 1927, is the eighteenth century important home. The three-year-old referred to as it when he stated ‘Wow, look at that castle!’ Set in 500 acres of listed parkland and boasting an equestrian centre, luxurious spa (all polished wooden, marble and glass) and probably the most lovely English nation rose gardens to get misplaced in, it does really feel as if we fell down a rabbit gap and ended up in some sort of wonderland.
For dinner, for those who’re after an unforgettable foodie expertise, government chef Hywel Jones has held a Michelin star on the on-site restaurant Hywel Jones by Lucknam Park. Frankly, it appeared far too elegant for us to tie a crisp white serviette round my son’s neck whereas he requested for ‘tomato pasta’ however I virtually really feel I might advocate it on odor alone. As an alternative, we dined within the extra casual Brasserie the place the straightforward, seasonal dishes are all locally-sourced and ridiculously tasty. The fillet of Stokes Marsh Farm Beef (£32) was insanely tender and attractive, whereas the Cornish day boat fish (on our go to, cod) was recent and agency, served with crushed peas and tartare sauce (priced day by day). I hear the tomato pasta was good too.
The suites are consistent with a rustic manor lodge – heavy baroque curtains, four-poster beds and free-standing tub tubs. The place has an air of previous English formality about it that makes it really feel like a deal with simply to wander the corridors and gardens. For the grown-ups, the spa is properly value a go to – after the lengthy drive I deal with myself to a 90-minute ESPA Aware Therapeutic massage (£157), which was a shocking mixture of guided visualisation, respiration methods and full-body therapeutic massage, concentrating on the shoulders and ft. I do not know the way it works – there was some point out of heat rose quartz crystals – however it undoubtedly works.
For teenagers, there’s an outside playground and a hideout stacked with practice units, dressing-up bins, a mini library, store and Publish Workplace that would hold them occupied for hours. This place doesn’t flaunt itself as a ‘family spa’ as a result of on the floor it feels rather more elegant and refined than that, however they do cleverly and quietly make certain the whims of all relations are catered to. It’s an actual hidden gem for these of us who don’t need to compromise on a bit of slice of luxurious even with small individuals in tow.
‘We sit on the rocks eating vinegar-soaked chips straight from the paper’
However all good issues should come to an finish and earlier than we all know it we’re loaded again into the automotive and heading south in the direction of Devon. Subsequent cease: the seaside. Don’t head to this a part of the world with out stopping off to stroll the South West Coastal Path from Beer to Branscombe for unspoilt views of the Jurassic Coast, and simply half an hour alongside the coast from West Bay, the place Broadchurch was filmed. We don’t have time (or sturdy sufficient boots) to absorb this beautiful spot this time round, so we go old-school with a visit to the pebble seashore of Sidmouth. The salty air and barely pale spherical the sides seafront cafes and B&Bs deliver that completely satisfied dose of nostalgia, whereas the russet clay-edged cliffs are as dramatic as they’re lovely. We hit the sunshine jackpot and sit on the rocks consuming chips sodden with vinegar straight from the paper. Bliss.
If it’s chocolate field west-country that you simply’re after, take a street journey stop-off in Laycock – the picturesque village the place they filmed scenes from Harry Potter (Laycock Abbey doubled up as a few of the Hogwarts interiors) and 1995’s Satisfaction and Prejudice with Colin Firth. We cease for tea and scones (naturally) on the Nationwide Belief Stables Cafe earlier than wandering round and marvelling on the Sylvanian Households-like proportions of the native bakery, faculty and churchyard.
A foodie discover in Devon
Now, when you’re conversant in The Pig lodge chain, you’ll know precisely why I needed to ensure we stopped off in no less than one Pig lodge whereas we’re on this neck of the woods, so we ebook in to The Pig at Combe, Devon. Plot all of the Pig inns on a map and also you’ll see they have been designed with townies like me in thoughts, as all are inside a motorway hop from London. There are Pigs within the New Forest, close to Tub, in Dorset, Somerset and Southampton, in addition to this one in Devon, and two extra scheduled for opening in Sussex and Kent in 2019 (watch this area) they usually have all bottled that magical components of casual rustic décor, garden-to-plate eating (unfussy however distinctive) and ridiculously Instagrammable interiors. Briefly, The Pig is my completely happy place.
The welcome, as all the time, is heat from the minute you push open the heavy picket double doorways. Rows of (admittedly spotless) Hunter wellies line the hallway, a roaring hearth has been lit within the cocktail bar despite the fact that it’s solely September (tip: The Pig is for all times, not only for Christmas, however autumn and winter are when this place actually comes into its personal for max hygge).
The lodge itself is in an Elizabethan manor atop the luxurious, rolling Devonshire hills and framed by monumental cedar timber. The flooring are reclaimed wooden and framed taxidermy strains the partitions alongside heavy, lovely vintage furnishings. The Pig chain was based by hospitality supremo and one of many UK’s most celebrated hoteliers, Robin Hutson (who additionally based the Lodge du Vin chain and was a board member for Soho Home Group) who, alongside together with his inside designer spouse Judy – who clearly has an distinctive eye and has superbly mixed the brand new with the previous. They supply their antiques in rural France and close by Honiton.
The place to eat in Devon
Nothing is off-kilter style-wise. It’s no marvel that The Pig has performed host to Kate Moss, Alexa Chung, Man Ritchie et al. Now although, they’re internet hosting my husband and I with our tiny tearaway – who they charmingly serve a sorbet dessert full with a biscuit emblazoned together with his identify. Day made. For us, it’s the signature ham hock eggs to start out (it’s crucial that you simply attempt them at any Pig) adopted by Devonshire Partridge ravioli in a purple wine sauce for me (£9) and Buckhouse Farm Lamb with salt baked celeriac (£18.50), that the sommelier pairs with some of the scrumptious (and lightest) Malbecs I’ve tasted. The meals is exceptionally good worth.
One of the best continues to be to return although as a result of tonight we’re bedding down in The Horsebox (£290 per night time), a transformed secure full together with his n hers sinks, a freestanding tub and miniature SMEG fridge. It’s an actual deal with and an exquisite various to your common lodge room. As all the time, the Pig isn’t a simple place to wave goodbye to.
From one pig to a different, we head east in the direction of Romsey in Hampshire and to Paulton’s Household Theme Park – residence of Peppa Pig World (tickets begin from £29.25 when booked prematurely on-line). Disclaimer: theme parks will not be my concept of rest however alas, they’re a part of the parenting deal and I’m as delighted as I’m stunned to find that this place is an utter pleasure. It’s clear, and calm (observe: we went outdoors of faculty holidays which I can’t advocate sufficient), and genuinely extra enjoyable than you possibly can shake a vibrant pink piglet at. If Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig are a a lot underrated comedy double-act (which, for what it’s value, I feel they’re) then this technicolour journey land on the sting of the New Forest is equally value greater than a wry smile. It has over 70 rides and points of interest (together with Misplaced Kingdom dinosaur park and the mini zoo in Little Africa, in addition to Peppa Pig World), however as a result of it’s vastly unfold out and damaged up with fairly gardens, picnic areas and a zoo, it feels much less frenetic and a lot extra charming than your common theme park. We eat scorching canine, journey in Grandpa Pig’s boat, cease by Grampy Rabbit’s Crusing Membership, and usually stay our greatest life till the park closes. Who knew?
The New Forest’s greatest tub? In all probability
Our subsequent mattress for the night time is one thing of a singular discovery deep within the coronary heart of the New Forest. Lime Wooden Lodge and Spa, set in a Regency Period nation property in Hampshire, surrounded by fields has been some of the elegant nation home inns within the UK because it opened in 2009 (and London people, it’s solely an hour and half away). However the concept of this journey is to attempt one thing new and, final spring, Lime Wooden opened their very first Lake Cabin (costs begin at£1,150 per night time), set away from the primary lodge, sitting in stilts over the water with it’s personal personal veranda overlooking the lake, it’s a hideaway like no different. A wooden and glass dice, it virtually disappears between the timber however, as soon as inside, it has the texture of an eighteenth century searching lodge. Bottle inexperienced velvet sofas, wooden paneled cabinets, graphic flooring tiles, gold toilet fixtures and bamboo chandeliers, it’s a remarkably peaceable (and classy) place to get up in. And the perfect bit? A 6ft free-standing tin tub out on the deck, overlooking the lake for an uninterrupted al fresco dip. There are gimmicks, after which there are stylish touches that take a spot from distinctive to ridiculously particular. That’s the way it feels to spend the night time within the Lake Cabin.
We couldn’t depart Lime Wooden with out testing the restaurant, Hartnett, Holder and Co (Angela Hartnett and Lime Wooden’s Luke Holder – there’s additionally a cookery faculty for aspiring Masterchefs). Our seashore picnic of soggy chips a distant reminiscence and maybe getting carried away with our new ludicrously luxe environment, my husband and I order the tasting menu with paired wines as a result of we’re feeling fancy. In contrast to some tasting menus that may really feel like an assault on the senses and depart you awake with indigestion till the early hours, this was a exceptional gourmand feat. The 5 programs (£95 per individual, with paired wines – particular point out to go sommelier Chris whose ardour for wine might surly be surpassed by none) ranged from marinated burrata with fennel, to salt baked bream with truffle clams, and venison with celeriac and pickled walnuts. It was an beautiful meal. What a particular place.
‘We make sandcastles and look across to the Isle of Wight’
However it’s time to return to get again within the automotive, and again right down to earth – high-quality eating and fancy formality is nice, however the British seaside is looking and so for our final night time, we make a beeline for the normal, sleepy coastal village of Milford-On-Sea. The solar is out, as is the tide, so we head for the seashore which has views all the best way throughout to the Isle of Wight. We make sandcastles and eat ice cream after which the heavens open – as a result of its the UK in September – so we dash to the closest café to baton down the hatches with ham, egg, chips and a mug of builder’s tea. Proving that pleasure doesn’t all the time come within the form of a Michelin star.
Come dusk, we verify in to Grade II listed The Seashore Home (a part of the Corridor and Woodhouse household). Inbuilt 1897 for Alexander Siemens, the person who created the world’s first public electrical energy provide, and was previously often known as Westover Corridor, it’s now an enthralling B&B that has hearteningly retained a lot of its unique wood-pannelled partitions, parquet flooring and artwork deco home windows with an epic sea-view. There’s one thing to be stated for taking the quiet path and through a stroll alongside the ocean wall we see hardly another individuals. It’s like having the shoreline to your self. We’re staying within the nautical-themed Lancelot room (£160-£175 per night time B&B relying on the season), its all seashells and seashore hut-pastel partitions and it has a splendidly homely vibe. ‘I could quite happily retire here,’ I inform my husband between mouthfuls of Badger Beer Battered Fish and Chips (£13.25). And I imply it.
Subsequent cease: residence. And as street journeys go, this has been a memorable one. It seems you’ll be able to actually mix rustic allure with epic fabulousness for those who do your analysis. I had no concept that the foodie scene cornered initially by Rick Stein in Cornwall had unfold to the encompassing areas, quietly serving up a feast on their very own phrases, turning Devon, Dorset and Hampshire into gourmand locations in their very own rights. Throughout our street journey, I found a route the place ‘family-friendly’ doesn’t need to imply slicing corners and sacrificing that little style of luxurious. It meant not having to decide on between a spa break, a romantic getaway, a seashore journey or a rustic ramble as a result of you possibly can have the lot. And nonetheless throw in a household of cartoon pigs to maintain everybody glad. It is probably not Route 66 however, for me, the south west has all of it, virtually in your doorstep.