Jane Austen’s Literary Trail
If you’re a fan of the great lady why not spend a few days visiting the stately homes which had starring roles in the film adaptations?
Split your week between Cheshire and Bristol and explore:
Lyme Park, Cheshire - Lyme Park is a Tudor house transformed into an Italianate palace, famous for its role as ‘Pemberley’, Darcy’s home, in the BBC’s 'Pride and Prejudice'. Jennifer Ehle’s Lizzy was shocked by the approach of the wet clad figure of Mr Darcy, played by Colin Firth, post-dip in the lake. The scene cemented Colin Firth's sex symbol status and turned Lyme Park into one of TV's most iconic backdrops
Montacute House, Somerset - Montacute most recently wowed cinema audiences as Johnny Depp's 'den of iniquity' in 'The Libertine'. Ten years earlier it took on a more refined role in 'Sense and Sensibility'. The Oscar winning film starred Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet as sisters Elinor and Marianne. Our hearts went out when the inconsolable Marianne got caught in the rain, trying to escape the heartbreak of Willoughby's rejection. The garden she passed through was at Montacute.
Stourhead Landsacpe Garden, Wiltshire - The 2005 production of 'Pride & Prejudice' features the 18th-century landscaped garden, Stourhead, and one of its enchanting temples. The Temple of Apollo, set above the tranquil lake, was used as the location for Darcy’s first and futile proposal to Lizzy. Afterwards an offended Lizzy makes her exit across the Palladian Bridge. But thankfully, as we all know, the final outcome is joyous when love prevails.
Lacock Village, Wiltshire - Lacock, a wonderfully preserved village dating from the 13th century, played the village of 'Meryton' in the BBC’s 'Pride and Prejudice'. Here the Bennet girls, in particular Lydia and Kitty ‘whose minds were more vacant than their sisters’, shopped for bonnets, sought the latest tittle-tattle from their Aunt Philips, and hoped to attract the attentions of the officers - in particular a certain Mr Wickham.
You’ll find more information about all of the National Trust properties on www.nationaltrust.org.uk
We suggest 2 nights at the Cottons Hotel, Cheshire and 5 nights at the Aztec Hotel, Bristol – approx travelling time between the hotels – 2hrs 30 mins – distance 150 miles.
World Heritage Trail
Visit 3 of the UK’s most stunning natural settings – the Lake District, Stonehenge and the New Forest.
The Lake District National Park – spectacular at any time of year with endless views and unrivalled scenery including the highest mountain, Scafell Pike and the deepest lake, Wastwater.
Stonehenge – the most famous megalithic site in the world.
The New Forest – a unique landscape of woodland, heath and ancient villages that has been shaped by man and nature since the Bronze Age.
We suggest 2 nights at North Lakes Hotel, Penrith, 3 nights at the Aztec Hotel Bristol (so you can visit the historic City of Bath as well) and 2 nights at the Solent Hotel, Fareham
A northern Foodie Trail
Our Chefs are committed to sourcing local produce and we’re happy to share some of our favourites with you.
The Lancashire Cheese Walks – staying at the Millstone at Mellor, plus you can visit Bury’s Famous Market (and supplier of Black Pudding) and Huntley’s Farm produced ice creams in Samlesbury.
Sweet tooth – head to Cumbria, home to the world renowned Sticky Toffee Pudding and The Toffee Shop in Penrith – staying at the North Lakes in Penrith
Lishman’s of Ilkley (fantastic sausages) and Bleikers Family Smokehouse in Glasshouses – both favourite suppliers to the Shire chefs and within easy reach of Thorpe Park in Leeds
We suggest 2 nights in Mellor at the Millstone, 3 nights at Thorpe Park in Leeds and 2 nights at North Lakes in Penrith
On your bike
Pack your wheels and plan a week in the fresh air exploring - with 4 star beds and fantastic food to look forward to each night. We’ll even prepare a picnic for you each day.
Coniston, Cumbria – pedal power is a great way to explore this stunning part of the Lakes, but if it’s more action adventure that you seek, then Whinlatter and Grizedale Forest are the places to head to.
Northamptonshire – with 15 cycle routes including the Bluebell Line, Brampton Valley Way and Nene Valley Way you’ll be spoilt for choice.
We recommend 3 nights at the North Lakes, Penrith and 4 nights at the Kettering Park, Northamptonshire.
Culture in Cumbria
A chance to see some fabulous countryside and explore our heritage as well on a 3 or 4 day stay.
• Dove Cottage and The Wordsworth Museum
• Blackwell, one of the most important surviving arts and crafts house from the turn of the century
• Brantwood – the home of John Ruskin
• Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery
• High Head Sculpture valley
• Hutton in the Forest historic house
All can easily be reached from either North Lakes Hotel and Spa, or The Inn at Keswick – or why not spend 2 nights at each!
A real safari
Head out and explore some of the nation’s favourite zoo’s – staying with Shire Hotels along the route.
Stay at Kettering Park Hotel and Spa for Woburn Abbey, Drayton Manor, Whipsnade and West Midlands Safari Parl.
Stay at Cottons Hotel and Spa for Chester Zoo - the Dinosaurs Bite Back in 2012
Stay at Aztec Hotel and Spa for Bristol Zoo Gardens – 175 years and still going strong
We recommend one night in each hotel and then an extra couple of nights at the end just to relax and enjoy the spa. Don’t forget children stay free at each of these hotels too – so a great treat for all the family as Mum & Dad ( or grandparents) have some quiet time too in their own room.
Summer Homes and Gardens
Whether it’s to marvel at how they used to manage or find inspiration for your own stately pile, spend a few days visiting some of the beautiful period houses open to the public.
Cottesbrooke Hall & Gardens, Kelmarsh Hall, Althorp House and Boughton House – easily reached from The Kettering Park Hotel and Spa.
Tatton Park, Arley House , Dunham Massey and Lyme Park Gardens - on the doorstep for Cottons Hotel and Spa.
Dyrham Park and historic Bath – close to the Aztec Hotel and Spa, Bristol
One hundred years on from the most famous disaster – visit the £28m Titanic museum with a climb aboard replica of the doomed liner. And then head further back in time with the HMS Victory, HMS Warrior and the Mary Rose Museum.
There’s more than enough to keep all the family occupied for at least 3 days - and we recommend staying at The Solent Hotel and Spa throughout.
Family Break in Cheshire
Whatever the weather there’s always something to do in our wonderful county – some of our favourites are:
Museum of science and industry
From the world’s first industrial city to 24 hour party capital, MOSI takes you on a journey through Manchester’s heritage with sights, sounds and even smells! You can see what it was like to work in a cotton mill during the textile demonstrations and see the stars of the nights sky in the planetarium…
Birds of prey at Fryers
A visit to Gauntlet gives you the chance to see a wide range of birds from Eagles, Hawks and Falcons to Vultures, Kites and Owls. They also have many more unusual species such as Caracaras, Seriemas and Storks. There are regular flying displays , vulture feeding and meet and greet presentations.
Gauntlet and Fryers are situated next to Cottons Hotel & Spa on the A50.
If you’re planning a family day out in Cheshire, then a visit to Beeston Castle fits the bill perfectly. This ‘Castle of the Rock’ is famous for its spectacular views, which take in no less than eight countries on a clear day. There are beautiful woodlands to explore around the castle with wildlife trails for the children to follow.