Way back when, pre kids, we used to go on mini-breaks fairly regularly. Normally in the winter, around late November. Mostly to a cottage but sometimes to a hotel. The idea was to go on blustery hikes during the day, then at night hunker down (apart from the odd trip to a cosy pub nearby) eat cheese, drink wine. And generally to ‘reconnect’. If you’re in a relationship you don’t need me to tell you that connecting, spending time together doing fun stuff that you both enjoy – well, it’s pretty crucial to your happiness.
Swinton Park is a 17th Century castle-turned hotel in Masham, North Yorkshire. As I hope you can tell from my video, we just had the BEST time. This place is a real gem.
Set in simply breathtaking surroundings that beg to be explored on foot; an AA 3 Rosette, sublime restaurant that makes the most of the local produce and on site biodiverse gardens; friendly, approachable staff who genuinely love working there; the biggest, comfiest beds and deep roll top baths (oh, and oodles of White Company products to lavish yourself with); a brilliant spa with chatty and skilled therapists who will massage away your woes; a well-stocked bar complete with passionate and charismatic bar manager Sofia who will get you trying way more cocktails that you probably intended to… you get the picture – it’s the type of place where it’s pretty impossible to not have a fabulous time.
Adam and I took a special shine to the wild beauty of the walled gardens. The gardener at Swinton believes in biodiversity (which essentially means letting things be to some extent) which is something we both really appreciate. The gardens have a really special atmosphere and I loved taking pictures there. (There is also falconry, clay pigeon shooting, and a cookery school to enjoy – but we didn’t have time to see everything!)
But it doesn’t end there. I can’t let you go without telling you all about Swinton Bivouac (the cafe is pictured, below). It’s a glamping site that is on the estate – a long walk away though. This place is a real find, and I will definitely be making a return visit with the kids, and friends too. An affordable, friendly haven (the staff are all so, so lovely – especially George in the cafe and Brenda who looks after the shacks, not to mention the cockerpoo, Toby), they are open all year round with accommodation in the shape of yurts and shacks. The on site, licensed cafe has a great menu of homemade treats with an emphasis on local produce, and also features an outdoor pizza oven and large BBQ area. It’s the type of place you have in your mind’s eye and spend hours searching for online. Well, the search is off: this is the perfect place to holiday with friends and the kids too.
Hopefully my video and this handful of images, taken mainly on the circular 6 mile walk we did from the Castle around the estate, conveys just an ounce of the potential fun to be had at this awesome hotel.
Go once, and you WILL go back. I guarantee.
|It was a misty couple of days at Swinton Park|
|The biodiverse walled garden|
|Swinton Bivouac cafe|
|In the woodland directly behind the Castle|
|An atmospheric bridge on the estate|
|There were pheasant everywhere!|
|A sun dial in the magnificent walled gardens|