Chill with the lambs
arm stays in England have come a long way with a new generation of rural retreats offering top notch farm and cottage accommodation, tasty home-grown produce, even spa treatments. Whether you're after a romantic, converted barn-for-two, or grand farmhouse for the entire family, there's plenty to choose from...
Boasting spectacular sea views across open countryside to Widemouth Bay and Bude, this seaside retreat is made up of 11 self-catering holiday cottages. If you're looking for a romantic getaway, go for one of the cosy barn conversions-for-two. If it's a full-on family farm stay you're planning, opt for one of the larger properties sleeping up to eight. All have access to the communal play area with trampoline and swings, and you can also order holistic treatments and suppers cooked by a local chef.
This 12th century farm, surrounded by rolling South Hams hills, has been lovingly converted into 10 luxury holiday cottages, each with its own character. Sleeping between two and 11, they are the epitome of luxury farm accommodation – think fully-equipped kitchens, mosaic-tiled bathrooms, flat-screen televisions, smart leather sofas and private gardens. There are also tennis courts, an indoor pool, games barn, fishing lake and – best of all – a fenced area where children can meet the resident goats and pigs.
Utterly peaceful, yet just ten minutes' drive from Canterbury, this 18th century, modernised farmhouse makes for a perfect base for exploring the “Garden of England”. Enjoy a B&B break in one of the three en-suite double bedrooms in the main house, filled with books, plump cushions and original art (one room can accommodate an extra two children). Or, opt for a B&B or self-catering stay in the Orchard Pickers Cottage, with one double, shower room, kitchen and woodburning stove.
Not only does this 17th century farm boast a stunning setting and distinctive “spinning gallery”, but it was once owned by Beatrix Potter and featured in the movie Miss Potter starring Renée Zellweger – no surprises then that it's one of the most photographed places in the Lake District. It is elegant farm accommodation at its best, with three bedrooms featuring oak panelled walls, bespoke beds and fabulous period decor. Kick back in the lounge in front of the open fire with a complimentary port or sherry, and enjoy a hearty breakfast served in a room furnished by Beatrix Potter herself.
In need of some R&R? Set on a farm on the summit of a hill, between the coast and the Cheviots (the views are stunning), these 15 self catering holiday cottages each sleep between two and six. Some are conversions, some are new-built in farmhouse style, and all feature picture-window lounges, original paintings, lots of books and big TVs. While the kids explore the communal games room and adventure playground, parents can unwind in the spa with its heated indoor pool, gym, sauna and pamper-tastic beauty treatments. Perfect.
Located in 200 acres of sprawling Warwickshire countryside, this Grade II listed farmhouse makes for a great away-from-it-all retreat. Full of character, with beamed ceilings, creaky sloping floors and roaring log fires, it has five en-suite bedrooms – three in the new barn conversion (two doubles, one twin), with splendid woodland views, and two in the farmhouse (one double, one family room sleeping four). Or, opt for the self-catering Oakwood Cottage, set in its own garden and sleeping four.
Just a stone's throw from the sandy beaches at Holkham, with endless Norfolk countryside right on its doorstep, this elegant flint barn conversion makes for a wonderful farm stay for a family or group of friends. Featuring polished wood floors, beamed ceilings and exposed brickwork, it has four bedrooms (two doubles, two twins), a kitchen/dining room and spacious lounge with woodburner. After a day at the beach, kick back with a sundowner in the pretty landscaped garden.
Located on Pear Tree Farm, just 10 miles from York, these cottages have serious wow factor. Formerly a dairy farm, there are five cottages in all, converted from the old milking parlour, hay barn, stable, granary and milk dairy/calf rearing house, sleeping either four or six. One boasts a free standing bath on a lit, raised platform, while another has elegant Indian stone flooring and another a secluded patio with a hammock – perfect for lazy summer days. Head to the Carpenters Arms, 200 yards away, for top notch pub grub.
Farm holidays don't get more stunning than this. Set in a private garden behind Windley Hall, it used to be a cheese factory – now it is a beautiful Grade II listed conversion for up to eight people, with four en suite bedrooms (three doubles, one twin). It's full of charm, with ancient oak cross-beams, plush but homely furnishings and a log burner in the lounge, which is located at the top of a Blanc de Bierges spiral staircase. The large private garden is the icing on the cake.
Hear that? That is the sound of utter tranquillity – which is just what this traditional working sheep farm, 1,200ft above sea level, offers. With sweeping views over the Cheshire Plain to the Welsh mountains, it offers five cosy B&B en suite bedrooms, plus two self-catering holiday cottages in tastefully converted stone barns, sleeping four and six. After a day's ramble through the hills, warm up with tea and cake in the farm's charming tea shop.