Whether or not you’ve read Arthur Ransome’s books about the Swallows and Amazons, any holiday splashing around on rivers and lakes will bring out the adventurous child in you. So now spring has arrived and we turn our heads to the best of the British outdoors, here at Unique Home Stays we’ve selected some of our favourite places to stay that offer a side order of family adventures on lakes, lochs and rivers. Choose from sedate fishing trips to adrenaline-fuelled water sports, and when you’ve finished getting wet and wild come inside to grown-up luxuries and sumptuous accommodation.
THE GLASSHOUSE, Cotswolds
Indulgent comfort meets the Swallows and Amazons lifestyle when you choose to stay in this luxury waterside eco-home nudging the lush green landscape of the Cotswolds
Splashing around: Launch your private kayak on tranquil waters teeming with trout and crayfish, and spot resident otters and bank-side deer as you glide across the water. From your lakeside setting you can also learn to sail or try your hand at fly-fishing.
Staying dry: Enjoy a touch of the Hamptons in this eco-chic abode with a glass-front and huge wooden veranda overhanging the serene lakeside. Come inside to minimalist décor, a Jacuzzi spa bath, a massage and the culinary creations of a private chef.
Basics: Sleeps up to 8, self-catering with a private chef available
Cost: From £3,000 to £4,000 per week; 3-night weekends from £2,250 to £2,625 (2-night stays are also available)
THE LAKE HOUSE, Cirencester, Gloucestershire
Escape to an exclusive weekend getaway decked out for lakeside relaxation and adventure within an hour of London
Splashing around: Get wet, go wild or recline on your private decking overlooking the lake. Included in the rental of your luxury pad is access to a private fishing boat and unlimited dinghy sailing and windsurfing on one of the largest lakes in the Cotswolds. And that’s not all: you can take a high-speed splash on water-skis (at an extra cost), or there’s the likes of tennis, volleyball, croquet and golf.
Staying dry: Back inside Swallows and Amazons meets James Bond, with ultra sleek interior décor, lake views, five-star mod cons and a quirky fourth bedroom accessed by a ships ladder. Take a stroll to the glitzy new spa to ease aches and pains, chill out on the deck with a sundowner and call in a private chef to whip up a gourmet feast.
Basics: Sleeps 8 (ideally 6 adults + 2 children), self-catering with a private chef available
Cost: From £815 to £1,125 per 3-night weekend (no weekly stays available)
BUTTERFLY HOUSE, Nr Sherbourne, Dorset
Make yourself at home in a plush country estate with easy access to sailing and fishing
Splashing around: Despite being surrounded by rolling green countryside, your country residence is just half an hour from the treasures of the Dorset coastline and on the doorstep of the Sutton Bingham Reservoir. So don your sailing togs or grab your fishing rods, and set out to feel the wind in your sails or cast a line to snag fresh catch for dinner.
Staying dry: Luxuries extraordinaire await back at your palatial country house adorned with high-spec interiors. Rinse off the chill of watery adventures under a power shower, toast your toes by the log-burner and relax on purple velvet sofas in the state-of-the-art cinema room. With a branch of the finest local deli at the entrance to the estate, there’s everything you need for a home-cooked or catered feast in your designer Poggenpohl kitchen.
Basics: Sleeps 10 adults + 4 children (self-catering with local caterers available)
Cost: From £4,250 per week; 3-night weekends from £3,000
THE MANOR, Nr Warminster, Wiltshire
There’s no scrimping on regal style in this Grade II listed Cotswolds Manor set in 100 acres with its own private lake
Splashing around: With woodland walks, a private lake and a hilltop shepherd’s hut (ideal for children’s adventures) in your 100-acres of land, here you don’t even have to leave the property to dip a toe in the Swallows and Amazons lifestyle. However, if you want to take a river adventure a step further, hire a boat from Bradford on Avon and cruise the waterways to the Kennet and Avon canal.
Staying dry: Step back in time in this historic residence once owned by the Duke of Somerset. On dry (and lush) land in your exclusive estate, there’s a tennis court, trampoline and croquet lawn, and whatever the weather there’s plenty of room for basketball, hockey and a kick-around in the large barn. In the plush folds of the manor house there’s a roaring fire to come home to – the perfect setting to relax and play board games.
Basics: Sleeps 14, self-catering (local caterers available)
Cost: From £5,500 per week; 3-night weekends from £3,000
ZEATH MILL, Polzeath, Cornwall
Experience the fusion of coastal and country living with adventures aplenty on the doorstep
Splashing around: Close to the Camel Estuary and the wild North Cornish coast, there is plenty of opportunity to make a splash when you stay at Zeath Mill. Meander along the coat path to Rock, from where you can enjoy sailing, water-skiing and kayaking on the Camel Estuary, or hop on the ferry over to Padstow for a fishing trip and to tuck into local seafood with a divine watery view.
Staying dry: Inside your contemporary abode nautical themes continue to adorn your open-plan living space, with quirky features such as wooden oars doubling up as a stair rail. King-size bedrooms, oak and slate floors, truckle beds for the kids and an additional glass-fronted barn studio, add up to a comfy, well-equipped pad for soggy, sandy adventurers to return to.
Basics: Sleeps 10-12, self-catering (home-cooked meals available)
Cost: From £1,800-£3,500 per week; 3-night weekends from £1,350 (low-season only)
SCOTTISH HIDEAWAY, Argyll, Scotland
Made for groups that want a location steeped in adventure and romance, this isolated hideaway boasts views to the spit of ocean between Scottish mainland and the Isle of Jura.
Splashing around: The landscape here is enough to blow you away even before you’ve immersed yourself in it. Get closer to watery wilderness on a ferry ride to the islands, try your hand at sailing or cast a line in the hope of catching your supper.
Staying dry: Understated luxury sets the tone of the interior, with the likes of a piano, roaring fires and roll-top baths housed amidst neutral hues of wood and slate. Deckchairs, rugs and boulders provide perches from which to gawp at the landscape and with no TV (although you can get wireless internet access), don’t forget to pack the art of conversation and some good books.
Basics: 11 (self-catering)
Cost: From £3,000 per week; mid-week breaks from £1,500
MINSTRELS MANOR, Hay-on-Wye, Wales
A 15th century Hall House overlooking the Black Mountains and the Wye Valley
Splashing around: The lush Wye Valley is home to the meandering River Wye – a beautiful location for kayaking, wild river swimming and fishing. If you simply want to take it all in and keep your feet dry, pack up a picnic and head for the riverbank.
Staying dry: Where better to soak away aches and pains from the day’s adventures than in a huge circular bath made from a traditional wine vat. In the rest of the house you can kick back in eccentric luxury, enjoying open fires and spacious rooms boasting stunning views, original artworks and sumptuous furnishings.
Basics: Sleeps 12, self-catering
Cost: From £3,500 per week; 2/3 nights from £1,500/£1,750
THE OLD BAKEHOUSE, Tuckenhay, South Devon
A wonderful contemporary holiday home nestled on the tranquil banks of the River Dart
Splashing around: Spill from the house onto your private platform overlapping the calm waters below. Launch your kayak and explore the creeks and wildlife of some of the most beautiful waterways in in UK, dangle your toes over the side or drop the crabbing lines for the catch of the day! Follow your nose up river to the buzzy nautical town of Dartmouth via water and return, at high tide of course, to your private landing right at your door.
Staying dry: A luxurious home awaits from the lastest mood lighting systems, surround sound and underfloor heating to the very sleek designer kitchen complete with Meile coffee machine and state of the art cooker. Relax in open plan living whilst the water laps right to the windows, wonderful river views from the outdoor hot tub await to ease the days excursions.
Basics: Sleeps 10 -12, self-catering
Cost: From £2150 per week, 2/3 nights from £1505
It's not too late for an Easter Break so pack your bags and bundle the kids into the car ....and check out our homes available this Easter.
For more information contact Sarah Stanley, Sarah Milligan or Lucy Thompson
Tel: +44(0)1637 881183