When we were kids, they were our Himalayas. Green and pretzeled, teaching lessons in vantage points and wind direction, in hogweed and lightspeed: come spring, they were the cleverest part of the continent. Wild hillocks that sent us beetling about in all directions. Cantering up, rolling down, all grass knee’d and pollinated! In winter, they became glaciers; alpine meadows where we’d patrol for The Yeti and haul homemade sleds "up, up, up" for just a few downhill seconds of bobsleighdom. The rivers were lava, and the ledges were crevasses, and there were always cheese sandwiches in the hamper (no crusts). They’re still there, you know, those hills.


Aria in the Quantock Hills

On the left, a cubic architectural home in Somerset´s hills; on the right, a trail in the Quan

This Quantock bunker is a place to be busy. Busy gobbling brunch in the walled garden and making bubble bath beards. Busy waving at the steam locomotive, taking the torch to crème brûlée, and sipping hot toddies around the giant olive tree at dusk. All around Aria, Somerset’s enchanted hills burst with trails that pass by wild ponies and carpets of wild thyme.

Come here for: an architectural oddity in an AONB, where leaping stags might flash across your route.


Gaia Farmhouse in the Lake District

Gaia Farmhouse nestled in the green landscape in the Lake District

Gaia Farmhouse is one of those places you catch a glimpse of in the distance; the kind that makes you cross your fingers and toes in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, that one’s yours. So here’s to a chapter in the Lakes, to toe-dipping in the beck, to roaming in the footsteps of the poetic Romantics, then retreating behind glass and stone to take bearish tears of butter-anointed loaves.

Come here for: an antidote to country humdrum, with all the promise of a Swallows and Amazons adventure.


Celestia in Bannau Brycheiniog

On the left, Celestia in the Brecon Beacons; on the right, a sheep on Pen Y Fan

In the beating heart of the Welsh countryside, this once-forgotten longhouse disguises itself as a low-level cloud in a landscape that’s been depicted in many a gallery-hanging oil painting. Here in Bannau Brycheiniog (the Brecon Beacons), there are remnants of glacial landforms, apple orchards, and steep escarpments that keep hill-walkers on their toes.

Come here for: an aesthete’s take on Cambrian living, a stroll from one of Britain’s few ‘Lost Rainforests’


Under the Yew Tree in the Cotswolds

Under the Yew Tree, a luxury cottage surrounded by fields in the Cotswolds

Where juvenile pancake plants and gothic iron chandeliers unite under one roof, Under the Yew Tree is a lesson in era-spanning balance. Inside, it’s all soft-monastic (if it’s not comfortable or useful, it’s not here); outside, it’s coddled by foxgloves and sweet peas. And beyond the boundaries, there's a landscape of rolling hills that has inspired monks and artists alike.

Come here for: a chance to kneel at the altar of monkish modernity, with daily pilgrimages to the Syde Hills.


Usonia in the Scottish Borders

On the left, modernist property Usonia; on the right, a trail up the Eildon Hills in Scotland

Small-space living gets a modernist upgrade at Usonia, an architectural outpost in the Scottish Borders that’s just about as close as you’ll get to a treehouse on solid ground. You’ll find it swaddled by spruce trees at the foot of the Eildon Hills, a triple-peaked hummock with views to the lyrically-named Moorfoots, Lammermuirs, and Upper Tweeddales. Grab a fiddle.

Come here for: a New York loft meets nature retreat, with St. Cuthbert’s Way on the doorstep.


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