Embrace the season
Many of us would like winter to be over by the time February rolls around. When it is cold and dark outside it can be all too tempting to spend the winter in hibernation longing for the return of the summer sun. However, we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the virtues and unassuming beauty of the winter months. Stretching right into March, winter, with its crisp changeable weather, muted earthy landscapes – freed from the crowds of high-season holiday makers – and snow-dusted hills, is an enchanting time to visit the North of England and the South of Scotland.
Come rain or shine, there is plenty to do on a winter holiday: embrace the season, wrap up warm and set off on long walks across moorland or on spirited hikes in the hills. Pull on your wellies and raincoats and splash through muddy puddles on wet walks. Gather the brood embark on exciting adventures along Hadrian’s Wall, to nearby castles and historic sites. Or, if you don’t want to venture far due to grey skies and high winds, duck into the local pub for a slap-up lunch.
Of course, winter holidays are all the more rewarding when you have a cosy C&C base to return to after a cold day spent exploring the British countryside. With huge bathtubs, AGAs and roaring fires, our country pads have all the right ingredients for a warming winter stay. Whether you’re looking for a half term adventure, romantic getaway or simply fancy a few days away with friends and the dog, here are some of our top picks for blustery months of February and March…
Enviably positioned in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales with sweeping views over the scenic pastoral landscape and friendly local sheep as neighbours, Heatherdene is abundant in rural charm. Located on Wainwright’s ‘Coast to Coast’ trail, near the Pennine Way, there is a glut of walking trails and cycle paths to explore from the doorstep. Well-equipped to house muddy boots and wet coats after your winter wanders, Heatherdene has a large utility room fitted with wooden bench, where you can hang and store your outdoor equipment before heading into the sitting room to warm up next to the fire with a pot of tea.
Honeystone House, Wall
Hewn from local honey-coloured stone, Honeystone House is a quintessential English house that blends chic interiors such as designer wallpapers and Willam Yeoward fabrics with family comforts including a light-filled kitchen complete with an AGA, large open fireplaces and huge bathtubs. Set in 9.5 acres of landscaped garden and woodland, there is lots to explore within the grounds. However, if long walks, outdoor pursuits and visits to historic sites are your thing then you needn’t stray far from the house with Hadrian’s Wall country, Wallington Hall and the River North Tyne is just a few miles away.
Old Granary House, Hexham
Set in the midst of Hadrian’s Wall country, where the River North Tyne meanders its way through undulating Northumbrian countryside towards nearby Hexham, four bedroomed Old Granary House is the perfect family home from home for a half term adventure. Combining stylish interiors with rural seclusion and easy access to a wealth of walks, bike rides and Hadrian’s Wall sites – including Chesters Roman Fort and Vindola Fort and museum – the handsome stone house claims a host of activities on its doorstep.
The Barn at Reedsford, Wooler
Ideal for two, The Barn at Reedsford is perfect for a getaway spent walking, cycling for stargazing in the beautiful Northumberland National Park – a designated dark sky area which hosts an annual Dark Skies Festival in February. Despite its rural position, this pretty barn conversion is within an easy distance of Wooler and Cornhill on Tweed, if you’d prefer to escape the winter winds and enjoy the shops and gastronomic delights of the local towns. Or, simply snuggle down on the sofa next to the wood burning stove and enjoy the views over the hillside – or starry night skies – though the large grey sliding doors.
The Granary at West Moneylaws, Cornhill-on-Tweed
Forming part of a converted Mill and Threshing Barn, this characterful one-bedroom duplex is set on the England-Scotland border is a great place for winter explorations in North Northumberland and the Scottish Borders. Spend days walking or biking in the nearby Cheviot Hills, fishing in the River Tweed, or visiting historic castles at Norham, Ford and Etal before whipping up a romantic supper in the well-equipped kitchen. With its open-planning living space, stunning views, king-sized bed, a large walk-in shower The Granary at West Moneylaws is an ideal retreat for couples.
Dryburgh Steading Four, St. Boswells
For a winter escape packed with fishing and muddy walks along the sheltered banks of the River Tweed, look no further than Dryburgh Steading Four. Sleeping four, this meticulously renovated farm steading boasts fantastic bedroom views over the mighty river and sits at the end of a no-through lane, offers a tranquil rural escape. Great for families, or even large groups – Dryburgh Steading Four is one among several other properties on the estate, which can be booked alongside it – there is plenty within walking distance of the property including quaint St. Boswells, which is home to the award-winning Mainstreet Trading and the excellent Blue Coo Bistro at the Buccleuch Arms.
Set on seven hundred acres of unspoiled estate land in the very heart of the Scottish Borders, the Granary is an elegant and effortlessly stylish barn conversation that makes for a superb rural escape full of walking, cycling, riding and field sports. An idyllic spot for groups and families alike, the Granary has four en-suite bedrooms, a generous light-filled living space that gives way to outstanding views of the surrounding countryside and Cheviot Hills beyond, ample space for two dogs. Stabling can also be provided for guests interested in bringing their horse with them to make the most of the fabulous local rides.
Bothy At Redheugh, Newcastleton
Surrounded by the rolling hills of the Liddesdale Valley, the Bothy at Redheugh is a charming stone hideaway that delivers a sense of total, blissful seclusion. Sensitively restored, interiors are airy with a double-height sitting room and a cosy snug tucked away on a mezzanine level, while large south-facing windows with views over the sweeping countryside incite a sense of adventure – and there is lots to explore including the foreboding ruins of Hermitage Castle, the nearby Kielder Nature Reserve and Northumberland National Park, both of which are brimming with wildlife and boast breath-taking starry skies.
The Mill, Selkirk
As characterful as it is charming, The Mill is an outstanding conversion of a 19th century threshing mill. Redeveloped to an extremely high standard, the lofty interiors ooze comfort and warmth at every turn with roaring open fires, a cosy snug set into the eaves and a sauna to beat the winter chill. Outside, a nearby pond perfect for time spend dabbling for frogs and other wildlife with your children, while the captivating surrounds of the Yarrow Valley offer plenty of walking and cycling opportunities. Activities such as tennis lessons, water sports, cookery demonstrations and beauty treatments can be arranged to keep the whole gang entertained whatever the weather!
The Sheepcote, Pentland Hills
Sure to tempt both couples and families into muddy boots and fresh country air, The Sheep Cote sits on a working farm and enjoys dramatic far-reaching views across the vast heather covered hillsides of the Pentland Hills Regional Park – a popular walking and biking destination with a huge number of waymarked walks. Set off from the characterful stone cottage on a circular 2-3 hour yomp to the top of West Kip hill, or, opt for a shorter route to Caps Law if the wet winter weather threatens to roll in. If it does, fresh contemporary country interiors filled with deep squishy sofas, warm wooden floorboards, soft natural textures, and a log burner will serve as the perfect antidote.
East Lodge at Ashiestiel, Clovenfords
Famed for its scenic landscapes and sporting pursuits East Lodge at Ashiestiel is a wonderfully cosy base for a winter holiday full of walking, cycling and fishing in the upper Tweed. Sleeping four in two calming bedrooms, the single storey gate house is comfortably furnished with antiques, soft throws and tartans and tweeds. Sitting in a glorious position above the River Tweed bounded by lush woodland there is a vast array of meandering forest paths, drove roads, waymarked trails and muddy cycling paths to scout out, or if golf if your outdoor activity of choice, there is the championship golf course at Cardona, which sits in a breath-taking spot in the rolling Border hills.
Chauffeur’s Flat, Selkirk
Forest walks, countryside trails and stunning views over the Ettrick Valley can all be found at Chauffeur’s Flat, a three-bed apartment set in historic Bowhill House – the country home of the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch. Surrounded by estate gardens and ancient woodland, a stay at Chauffeur’s flat is as tranquil as it is scenic. Indulge in the peace and quiet or get stuck into the many actives on that offer on or near the estate including good value fishing on the estate or at local freshwater lochs, golf at The Woll in Ashkirk and pony treks across the moors. Bowhill House with its magnificent private art collection is a treasure trove to explore if it’s too cold to spend your time outdoors.
Rowchester West Lodge, Greenlaw, Duns
Enchanting Rowchester West Lodge is meticulously restored former Victorian gate lodge. Set in a peaceful, rural location a stay here is full of pastoral delights including spotting the local deer, foxes, pheasants and owls, long muddy walks across rolling farmland or up the Cheviot Hills and relaxed moments breathing in some of the UK’s purest air. Well-positioned for exploring the wider Borders region with the famous East Coast Beaches, River Tweed and Lammermuir Hills all within a 45-minute drive from, there is much to do and see nearby. However, with sumptuous interiors, cosy reading nooks and a warming wood burning stove, we wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t want to venture far.