Exterior of Thorns Hall, Sedbergh

Our favourite country houses

Reading time: 4 - 7 minutes

We're proud to own and manage 16 UK country houses, including cosy Victorian manors, elegant Georgian mansions, converted granaries and farmhouses, lakeside hideaways, and more – all just a skip away from some of the UK’s best-loved national parks or National Landscapes and within easy reach of postcard-pretty villages, big-name attractions, and well-trodden trails. We asked the team at HF Holidays to reveal their favourite country house – and why. 

David Harrington

David Harrington, CEO of HF Holidays

My favourite house is Alltshellach, in the Scottish Highlands around Glen Coe. It has special memories for me as this is the first and only house where I’ve led guests. Back in the 1980s, I was asked to be a host for a group (so no actual walk leading) and then later that year to support guests on a self-guided holiday. On a few days I led some walks that met the needs of all the guests. 

I was familiar with the high-level walks in Glen Coe and Ben Nevis but was surprised by the interesting lower-level walks such as Lost Valley, Glen Nevis, and Kentallen. 

The views from the house over the loch and the 4,000ft mountains of Glen Coe are superb. The house retains a Scottish appeal, especially the bar where after a day’s walking you can partake in a wee dram. My favourite mountain, however, is Buachaille Etive Mor, which guards the entrance to Glen Coe. 

Wendy Turner

Wendy Turner, Senior UK Product Manager

I’ve visited all but two of our country houses. Which one I love most and why is probably down to where I’ve visited the most recently. All the country houses are in such fantastic locations it’s impossible not to love them all. The locations are always my ‘why’.  

My current top pick is Nether Grange in Alnmouth where you cross the road and you’re straight onto a beautiful wide expanse of beach. Once 5pm comes, you have the place virtually to yourself, with only a handful of dog walkers. There’s easy access to some of the best visitor attractions and it’s only a short journey to escape to the wilds of the Cheviot Hills. This is a cracker of a base for any adventure.  

Kevin Delaney

Kevin Delaney, Health & Safety Manager

I haven’t managed to visit all our country houses yet, but I’m making my way around and I have to say it’s very difficult to choose a favourite. They are all very different and have their own qualities. 

Monk Coniston is surrounded by natural beauty and affords fantastic views of the lake. Nature walks within the grounds lead up to the old tower, where in the past the house owners would sit and take in the views of the lake. There’s also an old vegetable patch on the raised area of the grounds, complete with the original potting houses. The original steel pipes are still there, too, which would run hot water through the manual hand pump (also still in place) to warm the rooms and feed the growing fruit and vegetables.  

Chris Flecknoe

Chris Flecknoe, HF Holidays Leader

Whilst not the grandest of our country houses, Chy Morvah is, for me, a very happy place. The Cornish sunshine and renowned St Ives’ light (which has inspired so many artists), pour into the lounge and dining room and lift the spirits. The garden is delightful, with enough space for a putting course and a swimming pool, plus a small ‘secret garden’ by a pond where one can sit in peace and enjoy a little quiet reflection. 

From Chy Morvah it’s only a short walk into the town of St Ives, with its art galleries, shops, museum, beautiful beaches, and boat trips - and general sense of bonhomie. Walking along the Cornish coastal path never fails to inspire, whatever the weather, and provides memorable vistas. And there are so many places to visit, including Minack Theatre, Eden Project, the Lost Gardens of Heligan, and the National Trust properties. A week at Chy Morvah is never long enough for both guests and leaders. 

Sue Taylor

Sue Taylor, Hotel Operations Co-ordinator

My favourite country house is the Grade II-listed Harrington House in Bourton-on-the-Water. I always stay self-guided here so I can enjoy the mixture of pretty villages and shops plus the gentle walking the surrounding areas offer. 

I love wandering around the backstreets and alleys of the village, taking in their beauty and history while discovering the pretty little cottages tucked away. If you want to get more steps in and escape the crowds, I suggest the gentle walk out the village to the quaint villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter. 

This is an easy signposted walk from the house along the River Windrush, crossing the main road and following the footpath signs on reasonably flat terrain taking in the views of the sheep pastures. It’s only about a mile, and if you start from Lower Slaughter, you’ll end near Lords of the Manor where you can stop for a cup of coffee. Across the way, you’ll find the traditional Slaughters Country Inn, which is well-known for its local produce and log fires in the winter. There’s also a very pretty 13th century church nearby called St Marys Church, which is well worth a look. 

This area of the Cotswolds is quintessential England at its best, and it always refreshes my senses before it’s time to head back home again. 

Mary Bragg

Mary Bragg, UK Product Manager

I’ve visited Glencoe, Alnmouth, Abingworth, Bourton, Church Stretton, Dovedale, Malhamdale, Sedbergh, Coniston, and Derwent Bank since I’ve been with HF Holidays.  

Of the houses visited, Derwent Bank is my favourite. Despite it only being a 45-minute drive from where I live, it feels like a completely different world when you pull into the driveway.  

The décor inside is fresh, modern, and even a little quirky in places, whilst somehow managing to retain a lovely country charm. Maps and pictures on the wall, give insight into the history of the house and the walks that have been led from there over the years.  

The orangery is bright and airy with stunning views down to Derwentwater and when you go outside there’s even more to inspire. The gardens are incredibly well maintained and boast a more formal garden as well as a large lawn area which leads down to the lake. In the summer the colours (and smells) are beautiful and act as a breathtaking frame for the landscape which surrounds the house.  

Another reason I love Derwent Bank is its proximity to some of the most iconic walks the Lake District has to offer. With both Cat Bells and Skiddaw accessible by foot from the door, you’re never short of options for adventure. If you’re after a gentler day, then a stroll into Keswick takes 30 minutes and there are so many wonderful independent shops and cafés to explore.   

Helen Muncie

Helen Muncie, Yield & Commercial Manager

I love the garden rooms at Derwent Bank in the Lake District, where I can watch the birds while having my first morning cuppa. Then I enjoy walking down to the jetty where I can take some time for peaceful contemplation and to admire the stunning scenery. It’s amazing how many walks there are from the door. 

All destinations featured are included in our carefully-curated itineraries. We offer a fabulous selection of holidays all of which promise excellent walking and hiking opportunities. Please note, all itineraries are subject to change.

Published 1st March 2024