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Discover our longings for exploration and discovery via this eclectic luxury travel blog, crafted to inspire the most seasoned of travellers.

The summer pilgrimage

Ancient traditions of overland travel, innate and deep-rooted: pilgrimages, those storied quests-on-foot, have been part of the fabric of humanity for eons. In Mesopotamia, Babylonians travelled to sacred sites in search of divine favour. In Egypt, processions made their way into hieroglyphics, frescoed onto calcareous plaster with natural pigments made from red ochre and lapis lazuli. In Greece, Olympia was a limestone magnet, drawing leather soles and tunics from as far as the Ionian Seas, all paying homage to Zeus with chariots and javelins.

This month, we’re waymarking a more modern type of pilgrimage, made for hikers and backpackers who still hold a candle for rainfall showers, Champagne lunches, and heated pools in the wildflower garden. In place of cairns, you’ll find hand-picked homes along the trails. Where there were tents, it's terrace suites. These are long-distance routes of a rough-luxe variety, where private estates and fine cabins await at days’ end. You see, there’s still a way to gain your fabric patches while embracing the finer things in life. We call it the Summer Pilgrimage.


The Fosse Way

From a golden city townhouse to a utopian Cotswolds estate.

A rural walking trail on the hills of the Cotswolds in England, called The Fosse WayOn the left, a three-story Georgian townhouse; on the right, a white country house with chimneys, hidden behind flower bushes
Margot's Townhouse and The Palladian

One of Britain's great Roman roads, connecting cities from Devon to Lincolnshire, The Fosse Way tracks diagonal for 182 miles; originally a ditch before it was turned into a major thoroughfare transporting troops and foodstuffs, this is thought to have been the western frontier of Roman rule in Iron Age Britain. These days, much of the route has been overlaid with modern roads, but great lengths of original AD 47-50 engineering have been retained as walkable segments, made up of well-trodden trails and rural bridleways.

Our favourite segment falls between Bath and the heart of the Cotswolds. Spend a few days in Margot’s Townhouse in Bradford-on-Avon, making good use of its library and carting wine and olives back to its marble countertops, before making tracks to the honeypot city where the Romans built their baths and temples. The medieval market and wool town of Cirencester is 30 miles, around 12 hours, on foot through the likes of North Wraxall (a collection of hamlets on the Gloucestershire, Somerset, and Wiltshire border) and stately Crudwell.

On arrival, continue on to the parish of Ampney Crucis to The Palladian where you’ll find an outdoor heated swimming pool and hot tub. They say to never judge a book by its cover, and this country home makes case in point. While first impressions of this Georgian manor are all about grandeur and opulence, you need only take a peek inside to fall head-over-heels for its pops of colour and light-flooded rooms.

For a taste of The Fosse Way with one home base, try the 5.5-mile circular route from The Studio in Upper Slaughter. Burrowed in a sleepy Cotswolds valley, this pin in the map is oft-voted the prettiest village in England for a reason. Expect every quintessential biscuit tin scene, but without a hint of cliché; think local community, oodles of soul, and perhaps a sighting from the silver screen. You'll pass through Bourton-on-the-Water, known as the ‘Little Venice’ of the Cotswolds; the kind of waterside mirage that run on piccolos and biscotti.


The South West Coast Path

From a maritime fort to a luxe bolthole on the clifftops.

People standing, sitting, and swimming on a white sand beach in Cornwall, backed by an enormous cliffOn the left, a traditional whitewashed fisherman's cottage on the waterfront; on the right, an aerial photo of a large coastal home
The Spyglass and Amaia

England's longest national trail, wiggling for 630 miles from Minehead to Poole Harbour, the South West Coast Path can be completed in a month by walkers on a mission… though, those with a more leisurely pace might allow up to two months. From sloped woodlands to sand beaches, these miles of unbridled exploration connect a quarter of Unique Homestays properties. Amongst them, there’s cob cottages on pebble beaches, seafront homes with Maldives-esque suites, and former artists’ studios that feel more Cali than Cornwall.

In north Devon, a 43-mile segment that we describe as “Jurassic Park meets shortbread tin” connects Kohtalo in Combe Martin, The Brandy Thief in Ilfracombe, Novella in Braunton, and The Creamery, which sits outside of Clovelly. On one hand, there’s cliffs that burst from sapphire seas; on the other, there’s cobblestone townlets so idyllic that even cars are substituted for donkeys. Not to be missed is John’s in nearby Appledore, where rosemary focaccia and pastel de nata are hikers’ handheld lunch of choice.

A 30-mile segment in north Cornwall connects four wildly different coastal properties. First is Northcott Beach House, a clifftop clinger bringing a hint of the American south to the pebble shores of Bude. Then Aphrodite, set between the mystical villages of Boscastle and Tintagel, a coastal trinket that has the whole seaside as its backyard. From here, walkers might take the scenic route to The Rocket Store, where hasselback potatoes and clotted cream chocolate pots reward the outward expedition. Gypsea Rocks in Trebarwith Strand and Salterton in Trelights round out the route — one an old Cornish toll house that feels like a summer base camp, the other a Victorian manor with an Upper East Side bathroom suite and courtyard pool, within strolling distance of the mussels and burrata of Port Isaac.

On Cornwall’s south coast, a 45-mile segment stitches together a collection of properties that perch and nestle on coveted shorelines. Begin in Gorran Haven with a stay at The Spyglass or Infinity — one a beachfront fort-turned-cottage, the other a modern clifftop pad — then lace up for a full day of hiking to Polperro, where a zig-zagging path leads up to "foot-access-only" Raffia. The next stage is shorter, eastwards to Looe where Amaia awaits with a private beach; modestly concealed by palms, this is a slice of California cool on a quiet stretch of the Cornish coast. The final stage is to Whitsand Bay, and a myriad of maritime homes; there’s Serpentine, the almost invisible eco-hideout that made it to the pages of Vogue, or any number of sleep-twos to suit couples (or to give breathing space to the hiking party), from Atlanta to Aurora, Seaglass to Suki, Orlagh to The Edge.


The Kerry Way

From a mountain cottage to a home in Kerry´s ‘Little Nest’.

A countryside image of grassland, shrubs, and distant mountains on the Iveragh Peninsula in Ireland, near the Kerry WayOn the left, a white cottage with a red roof is positioned on a hill, looking onto a lake; on the right, a raised house with a terrace and a glass front sits within its large grounds, full of trees and backed by hills
Lost Cottage and Sienna

One of Ireland's longest and best-maintained walking trails, The Kerry Way (not to be confused for the Ring of Kerry) is a circular, 132-mile route that navigates the Iveragh Peninsula in southwestern Ireland. Following ancient paths, old coach roads, and mountain tracks that have been in use for centuries — travelled by farmers, shepherds, and traders — this route is rich in culture and heritage.

For a sampling of the trail, begin with a few nights in Glenbeigh, staying at Lost Cottage in the remote lakeside townland of Treangarriv. From here, step onto the Kerry Way straight from the doorstep, and head southwest to Limehouse Cottage. On the edge of Coomasaharn Lake, and hemmed in by the sandstone and siltstone mountain range of Macgillycuddy's Reeks, this might just be the most surprising home in the region. Outwardly, it’s all whitewashed and traditional; inside, it’s a medley of pea green and mustard, with a glass extension overlooking the lake and a carved stone garden tub made for long, lavender soaks.

It’s a long way to Kenmare — though, not quite as long as Tipperary. Almost 30 miles away, diagonally across the peninsula, Sienna sits in a wild portion of Ireland that's one of only three gold tier Dark Sky Reserves on Earth. From natural inlets to temperate rainforests, there’s something encyclopaedic about the landscapes beyond the window. Wrapped in pine and fir, there’s plenty of places to play “Pass the Pint” in celebration of miles walked, plus a hot tub and hammock to soothe weary limbs. Otherwise, find a window seat in one of the rambunctious pubs on the Wild Atlantic Way, where Guinness – locally referred to as  “the black stuff", "Irish Champagne” or "a pint of plain" – is always on tap.


Feeling inspired? Read about the big five wilderness homes for safari on home soil, discover the homes that feel at the ends of the Earth, or browse the full collection of luxury homes in the UK and Ireland.

Properties featured in this article: Northcott Beach House, Aphrodite, Orlagh, Infinity, Gypsea Rocks, Serpentine, Raffia, The Edge, Atlanta, The Palladian, The Brandy Thief, Suki, The Creamery, Seaglass, Amaia, Aurora, The Spyglass, Novella, Margot´s Townhouse, Salterton, The Studio, Lost Cottage, Sienna, Limehouse Cottage, Kohtalo

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