JOURNAL BRITISH TRAVEL
IN WALES WONDER
AUTUMN/WINTER 2022 | ISSUE 13 BRITISHTRAVELJOURNAL.COM £6.75 + TRAVEL NEWS | WILDLIFE | INTERVIEWS | HOTELS | LUXURY BREAKS
WINTER ON TRESCO
Time to be immersed in the wilds of an island winter. In the occasional storm and its seaspray slinging drama. In the wonder of a subtropical garden blooming in the midst of a British winter. In the cosy heart of the island at our newly-refurbished island inn.
Tresco: 28 miles off the Cornish coast. Somewhere else altogether.
JOURNAL BRITISH TRAVEL
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Jessica Way
FEATURES EDITOR Samantha Rutherford
CHIEF SUB-EDITOR Angela Harding
Travel and relaxation merge together seamlessly during the quieter offseason months, enabling the perfect opportunity to embark on your own effortless journey, so why settle for one destination when you could discover an entire region? Our Cymru special shows you how to curate your own Wonder in Wales – an epic adventure through three spectacular counties spanning the country’s west coast (page 48) – before whetting your appetite further with our Gourmet Guide to Wales (page 60).
If you prefer foraging for your food and blending your favourite tipples, then our Black Autumn Magic truffle-hunting experiences (page 34) and Kindred Spirits behind-the-scenes distillery tours (page 26) are idyllic reading. Our gastronomic theme continues with our Star Man, British chef Simon Rogan who chats to us about the importance of field-to-fork dining and the success behind his flagship restaurant L’Enclume, which has just celebrated its 20th anniversary year and been awarded its third Michelin star (page 42).
Discover our natural world, enjoying picturesque walks and beautiful gardens, from a luxurious subtropical Valley of Paradise in a hidden corner of Cornwall (page 70) to Wildlife Walks, spotting water voles, butterflies and four-spotted chasers (page 64).
However you choose to spend your time, I hope this issue inspires your sense of adventure and ignites your passion to delve deeper – and you enjoy a season of intrepid trips filled with incredible moments. Thank you for all your support of British Travel Journal this year – we love hearing from you, so please don’t forget to share or tag your best travel pictures with us.
BritishTravelJournal.com 3 Grove of Narberth, Pembrokeshire © Image Editor's own All rights reserved by Contista Media Ltd. Copyright is either owned by or licenced to Contista Media Ltd, or permitted by the original copyright holder. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is strictly prohibited. While every care is taken prices and details are subject to change and Contista Media Ltd take no responsibility for omissions or errors. Views expressed by authors are not necessarily those of the publisher. CONTISTA MEDIA BritishTravelJournal.com
HEAD OF DIGITAL Adrian Wilkinson
Chantal Haines, Tonwen Jones, Jane Knight, Karyn Noble, Natalie Paris, Charlotte Varela, Karolina Wiercigroch
COVER PHOTO Welcome
–@BritishTravelJournal @BTravelJournal @BritishTravelJournal Published by Unit 6, Basepoint, Andersons Road, Southampton, SO14 5FE 01489 660680 contistamedia.co.uk
Jessica x JESSICA WAY EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
A LUXURIOUS SEVEN BEDROOM SELF-CATERING HAVEN IN SUSSEX www.southdownshouse.co.uk
AUTUMN/WINTER 2022 | ISSUE 13
09 TRAVEL NEWS
This edition’s enticing autumn and winter escapes cater to all tastes, from a palatial Roman villa at The Newt in Somerset to a self-catering bus turned miniature home with Swedish hot tub, or take to the skies with next-level treehouses in The Lakes District.
80 TOP TEN AUTUMN BREAKS
Enjoy the seasonal autumnal beauty in our curated selection of luxury experiences; whether you prefer wild foraging in Abergavenny or apple-pressing and glamping in Cornwall, we have hot tips for all corners of Britain.
88 CAMPERVAN ROAD TRIPS
Why bother with airport queues when you can hit the road in style. We test-drive some of the best British road trips in Yescapa campervans.
98 FOR YOUR JOURNEY
Unwind with our cosy autumnal book recommendations or sharpen the mind with a crossword challenge.
FEATURES 24 UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT: THE FOX AT ODDINGTON
Editor Jessica Way reviews popular Cotswolds hotel, The Fox at Oddington, which has been revamped for maximum indulgence, from the ‘foxylicious’ food to the artistic interiors and private drinking dens.
26 KINDRED SPIRITS
This is our pick of the must-visit distilleries that you should explore on your next road trip (perhaps with a driver!).
34 BLACK AUTUMN MAGIC
We uncover the renaissance of English truffles, with expeditions in Sussex, Dorset, Hampshire and Wiltshire revealing the prized nuggets that grace some of the best restaurants in the country.
48 WONDER IN WALES
Join us on the newly launched Celtic Routes journey through West Wales, an adventure that winds through scenic Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion, dotted with natural wonders and historic landmarks.
48 09 80
The heatwave season might be over but that doesn’t mean our outdoor fun should stop. Beach days, dog walks and wild swims should be activities we enjoy all the year round – and thanks to these thermally lined stylish weatherproof boiler suits they can be, and with effortless style. Say hello to the brand new Wylding suit; the perfect new fashion statement musthave for camping, paddleboarding, sailing, festivals and more!
priced £160 wylding.co.uk
60 YOUR GOURMET GUIDE TO WALES
With a Welsh restaurant nominated as the UK’s best and the World Cheese Awards being hosted in Wales in 2022, now is the time to discover this underrated country’s gourmet delights.
If you’ve wondered where to see wild orchids while wandering in Britain, or the perfect spot to admire peregrine falcons and other natural phenomena, this article from Wildlife Walks author Charlotte Varella will open your eyes.
THE VALLEY OF PARADISE
We take a trip to Cornwall to review the recently refurbished Hotel Meudon, an idyllic escape with its own private beach, high-class dining, and nine acres of exquisite gardens –it’s dog-friendly too.
94 AN EXTRAVAGANT REFURBISHMENT
The £16-million refurbishment of Leeds’ historic site The Queen’s Hotel is a good excuse to learn more about its glamorous heyday and new must-dine destination, the Grand Pacific restaurant.
Subscribe to three issues of British Travel Journal for just £19 and receive the ultimate getaway essential from Noble Isle worth over £20, while stocks last.
Celebrating the 20th anniversary of his three-Michelin-starred restaurant L’Enclume in the Lake District, chef Simon Rogan is a pioneer of field-to-fork dining and a long-time champion of sustainability. He chats to us about his ambitions and his spectacular local ingredients.
Not only do these fragrances smell wonderful, they come as a gorgeous mini-travel collection of 6ml spritzing bottles. Perfect for people who like to wear perfume when they travel.
Priced, three for £80, or six for £150 matiere-premiere.com/en/fragrance/
This is Refreshing. For epic holidays all year round. This is Wales. visitwales.com Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire
‘A knockout.’ Melissa Harrison ‘Quietly courageous.’ Patrick Barkham a profound journey of rediscovery along the rivers of britain learn more available now boutique-retreats.co.uk +44 (0)1872 553 491 enquirie s@ boutique-retreats.co.uk From raising the flag on your own private island to watching the stars over the sea from your hot tub, Boutique Retreats specialise in unique, stylish properties that celebrate their surroundings whilst embracing luxurious living. We know how good getaways should be. STYLISH RETREATS IN THE UK’S HOTTEST LOCATIONS
As the nights draw in, be sure you have a late summer or autumnal escape to look forward to. Here we provide some inspiration
Text by Jane Knight
SELF-CATERING AND GLAMPING
EXCLUSIVE USE HOTEL NEWS
ATTRACTIONS AND EVENTS
from page 10 from page 16
from page 20 from page 22
Pictured from top Olea, p18; Roman Villa, p10; The Balcony Studio, p17; Hillside Hangouts, p21; Kinetic Glasshouse at Woolbeding Gardens, p23
Roman Villa at The Newt
It already has magnificent gardens, a deer park, and a wealth of on-site activities, from bee safaris to cider tasting. Now The Newt, one of Britain’s hottest hotels, has opened a palatial Roman villa on its estate, reimagined next door to the original villa ruins found there. Visit the superb interactive museum before wandering through Villa Ventorum, with working Roman baths and formal dining room with frescoes of The Three Graces and intricate mosaics on the floor. You can sample authentic Roman food outside but we recommend eating in one of the excellent hotel restaurants instead. Rooms with breakfast and activities from £495. ◆
It’s the ultimate treat for foodies – the chance to enjoy a private meal cooked by Lime Wood’s Angela Hartnett and Luke Holder. Using produce from artisan suppliers that aren’t big enough to cater for usual hotel quantities, the duo will chat to guests seated at a kitchen table as they cook. It costs £3,000 for ten people. ◆
The clue’s in the name: this Leicester-based hotel adjacent to the Tigers’ rugby stadium could be straight out of New York's Brooklyn borough, just like its sister property in Manchester. The 191 rooms are done out in a dark palette, while the in-room service menu includes pillow fights. From £90, B&B. ◆
The wind and waves create a mesmerising drama off the North Cornwall coast in autumn and winter, with 30-foot swells and 60mph winds. Watch it from two new Ocean View Suites that have just been unveiled at this seaside hotel, and which are part of an ongoing renovation programme. Blending antique furniture with new fabrics, the two-bedroom suites are a bold mix of colour, pattern and texture. Sleeping four, they are reasonably priced, from £395 a night. If the weather is kind, hit the beach, but if a storm is raging, the spa is the place to go, along with the six Aqua Club pools. ◆
Como Metropolitan Residences
Experience what it’s like to stay in the heart of Mayfair in these upgraded contemporary chic apartments, with living and dining areas and separate kitchens as well as private patios. Two- and three-bedroom apartments with access to the hotel’s facilities cost from £1,995.
Whether or not it’s the world’s first hotel to fully account for its entire carbon footprint, this 'homtel' (a hotel with the comforts of home) does show that you can have sustainability with style. A heat pump, solar panels and greenery on the roof rub shoulders with colourful Arts-&-Crafts-inspired bedrooms, all with kitchenettes. From £129. ◆
SURREY TO OXFORDSHIRE
The Relais Henley
Move out of the fast lane on a two-night ‘Slow-cation’ package, combining a night on a boat and another at The Relais Henley. Board a luxury hybrid river cruiser at Runneymede, Surrey, where the skipper will do all the hard work while you sip Champagne. Enjoy a picnic at Windsor, followed by an optional on-deck dinner beneath the stars before mooring at Marlow. The next day, before disembarking at Henleyon-Thames, take a private rowing lesson with a member of the world-famous Leander Club. Then check into a riverside room at The Relais Henley, with dinner in The Clipper Restaurant.
Two nights from £3,995 per couple. ◆
Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons
Take the kids for an autumnal escape at Raymond Blanc’s luxurious hotel, where they can follow a trail of vegetable characters as they explore before dinner. Two meals for children under 12 are included in the price, as well as seven-course seasonal dinners for parents. From £1,805 for four in the same room. ◆
Old Ferry Inn
It might sound ancient but this pub with 11 rooms has just had a swish makeover, transforming it into an even more comfortable base from which to explore the area. On your return, try the vodka, gin and rum distilled on-site – you can buy bottles at the new artisanal shop. From £125, with breakfast. ◆
one of the best hotels in the country
CRAIG, TRAVEL EDITOR, THE TIMES AND SUNDAY TIMES
Raffles at the OWO
Follow in the footsteps of statespeople and spies, from Winston Churchill to Ian Fleming, at the historic Old War Office (OWO), which is due to open this winter as a Raffles hotel in the landmark Grade-II*-listed former Whitehall building. The building’s classic Edwardian architecture has been reshaped to create 120 rooms and 85 residences, while restoring historic elements such as hand-laid mosaic floors, oak panelling, and a magnificent marble staircase. Eat on the rooftop terrace or in Mauro Colagreco’s restaurant. London’s first Guerlain spa will span four floors, and you can swim in the striking 20-metre pool. Prices yet to be set. ◆
Fort Road Hotel
Watch the sunsets Turner called "the loveliest in all Europe" from the roof terrace of this hip new seafront hotel, featuring artwork by Tracey Emin, among others. The restaurant in the 14-room property includes dishes inspired by historic female food writers. Rooms from £145. fortroadhotel.com
Sunday sleepovers at Armathwaite Hall
Slip slowly into autumn on a Pride of Britain sleep sojourn at this Lake District hotel. The Sunday night Pillow Package includes a guided mindfulness experience, relaxing massage and seasonal dinner. A herbal infusion should lull you into the land of nod before breakfast and a Pilates class or refreshing swim the next day. From £340pp. ◆
One to watch
Self-Catering and Glamping
Still not convinced by glamping? Take a look at the egg-shaped baths in the three safari-style tents here and imagine yourself sipping a glass of bubbles as you gaze down at the lake. Each lodge sleeps up to six people, and while you’re technically under canvas, they come with all the creature comforts, including White Company linen on the beds, plenty of hot running water and a fully equipped kitchen. You can book inlodge spa treatments, too. Go fishing, boating or birdwatching, then cook an evening BBQ, toast marshmallows or soak in the wood-fired hot tub. From £750 for four nights. ◆
The Boathouse, Sandridge Barton
Enjoy a boozy break when you visit Sharpham Wine’s new home at Sandridge Barton and stay in this two-bedroom boathouse on the banks of the River Dart. Follow walking trails through the estate and discover your favourite wine during a tasting before retreating to the waterside home with a bottle or two. From £825 for three nights. ◆
Taking treehouses to a new level, Another Place’s architectdesigned suite comes with two double bedrooms with spectacular views across Ullswater and the fells. As well as a bathroom, there’s an outdoor bath on the outdoor deck so you can truly soak in the scenery. Also new are six shepherd huts with stargazing roofs. Treehouse from £625, shepherd huts from £425. ◆
THE LAKE DISTRICT
Nuthatch, the sleeper bus
Stayed in a shepherd's hut and want to move on from tents? Take a look at this bus, a 1960s Bedford Panoramic that has been cleverly converted into a miniature home. A cosy double bed is at the back, with a wood-burning stove nearby. Kids can sleep on the sofa bed in the kitchen/dining area, with a wooden floor, oak worktops, a cooker and a fridge. Electricity comes courtesy of solar panels on the roof, and there’s a Swedish wood-fired hot tub to wallow in under the stars as well as a separate bathroom. From £120 a night to Hideaway members (£17 a year). ◆
Tapnell Farm Group
If you want to visit this island farm and enjoy the activities on offer but don’t want to stay in the heart of the action, check out the Piglets, four upcycled animal arcs at sister farm East Afton. From £200 for two nights.
The Balcony Studio
The balcony in question juts over the sea defence walls at St Ives harbour, making this one-bedroom cottage the perfect romantic bolthole for either summer sea views or storm watching. The beamed master bedroom features glass panels that look down into the large spa bathroom, with its giant bathtub and couples’ shower. From £175 a night. ◆
BritishTravelJournal.com 17 ISLE OF WIGHT
Ceol Mor Highland Lodges
These two new insulated wooden lodges are perfectly placed for anyone wanting to go Highlands hiking and biking or to take distillery tours. Cookery experiences for the kids are on offer, too. Three nights for a family of four from £375.
Talk about your quintessential chocolate-box thatched cottage. Less than two hours' drive from London, Olea comes with roses climbing up its golden stone walls, and pretty lead-lined windows. With its wooden floor, vaulted ceiling and exposed stone walls, the sitting room is the perfect place to curl up after a day exploring nearby Arundel, the South Downs National Park and Wittering beaches. There’s a rustic kitchen, complete with stone floors and a 17th-century monk’s bench and a pretty courtyard garden. The master bedroom is on the ground floor, with an extra room on the mezzanine level.
Three-night weekends cost from £734. ◆
Bert’s Kitchen Garden
A thriving eco-campsite on North Wales’s littlevisited Llyn Peninsula, Bert’s now has a brace of huts for those who prefer to camp in comfort. Clad in reclaimed wood, each has a king-sized bed and marble-tiled shower room; they are just a short stroll from the kitchen garden restaurant.
A night for two costs from £175. ◆
Follow our socials: Discover the carefully curated collection of privately owned hotels and experience the best places to eat, stay and unwind within the British Isles. Call FREEPHONE: 0800 089 3929 Book online: www.prideofbritainhotels.com Pride of Britain Hotels Visit our website for the latest news and offers. Inspiring Destinations. - BoveyCastle, Dartmoor
Exclusive Use SUSSEX
South Downs House
This recently renovated 20th-century house comes with stunning South Downs views and sits on four acres of woodland and grounds. The seven beautifully furnished bedrooms with Crittall windows share six bathrooms. There’s space for everyone to sit down together as well as a modern kitchen for home-cooked extravaganzas, although caterers can also be arranged. A heated outdoor pool is available, as well as croquet, badminton and giant Jenga. Take a tour of the nearby Ridgeview Vineyard (two bottles of its sparkling wine are included in the welcome hamper). A week for 14 costs from £7,000, or £4,000 for a weekend. ◆
Just a 35-minute walk from the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, this characterful family home comes with its own cinema room, games room with snooker table, and large garden featuring a giant chess set. There is room for 14 adults and two children in the seven upstairs bedrooms, with a week’s rental costing from £2,506. ◆
Coppet Hall Lodge
The Pembrokeshire Coast Path passes just outside this light, airy cottage, with the golden sands of the beach in front and woodland behind. There’s space for six guests but bigger groups can also book nearby White Cottage, sleeping another four people. Coppet Hall Lodge from £1,225 a week, White Cottage from £828. ◆ ruralretreats.co.uk
With its seafood restaurants and cafes, delicious local wine and the Camel Trail Cycle Way, Padstow is a delightful place to visit any time of the year. Now it’s even better, with this high-end rental for 24 guests in a former 18th-century manor house, set in the adjacent hamlet of St Issey. Expect Cornish slate, original beams and historic fireplaces in a cool mix of cottage and contemporary styles. There is plenty of space for everyone, with five reception areas and 12 bedrooms. In the grounds there’s a wood-fired hot tub, garden rooms and even an outdoor kitchen.
A week costs from £4,500. ◆
Penrhiw Priory, St Davids
Now available for exclusive hire only, this 19th-century priory features modern interiors decorated with contemporary artworks. As well as six bedrooms in the main building, there are another two in the original coach house. From £1,230 a night for 16.
Elsker, Hillside Hangouts
New to the Farncombe estate, with its Dormy House and Fish hotels, this eight-bedroom house has its own library, games room, and outdoor swimming pool. Book a private chef, cook for yourselves or eat in one of the hotel restaurants. Outdoor activities include archery and axe throwing. A week for 16 costs from £9,510. ◆
Attractions and Events
ESSEX AND HAMPSHIRE
New stretches of England Coast Path
Walkers can now make their way along an 85-mile route in Essex and a 52-mile route in Hampshire after two new paths were opened by Natural England. In Essex, the new stretch runs from Tilbury to Wallasea Island, via Southend-on-Sea, and takes in varied landscapes of salt marsh and vast grasslands. The Hampshire stretch – the first in the county – takes walkers along the Solent coast, with its unspoiled countryside, busy marinas, industrial heritage, historic castles and wildlife conservation sites, connecting the popular beach at Calshot Spit to the nautical town of Gosport, and then on to the busy city of Portsmouth. Once complete, the 2,700-mile-long England Coast Path, will be the longest, continuous coastal walking route in the world. ◆
As well as taking the waters in Bath, you should also be able to swim in one of Britain’s oldest lidos from the end of this summer. Built in 1815, the site first opened as a river-fed pool, and experienced a colourful history from Victorian times to its 1970s heyday. ◆
The Rover Social
Calling all Land Rover families and fans – Loseley Park is hosting a one-day event on 25 September. Try your hand at clay-pigeon shooting, visit the classic car paddock and experience some guided off-roading on the estate in your own vehicle. Food and drink is available and a DJ will provide the day’s soundtrack. ◆ theroversocial.com
Road trips with PetsPyjamas
Take the legwork out of organising a multi-stop break with Fido by picking one of the nine road trips curated by PetsPyjamas. All feature hotels that provide a warm welcome for four-legged friends plus places to stop and see en route.
Kinetic Glasshouse at Woolbeding Gardens
Explore the remarkable kinetic glasshouse and Silk Route garden at the National Trust’s Woolbeding Estate in West Sussex. The glasshouse, inspired by Victorian ornamental terrariums, opens its ‘sepals’ on warm days to create a large space in the shape of a crown. Designed by Heatherwick Studio, it takes four minutes to open using a hydraulic mechanism. In colder weather, the structure remains closed in the shape of a ten-sided pyramid. It is the focal point of a new garden that shows how much the ancient Silk Route has influenced English gardens of today, with silk exchanged for plants such as rosemary, lavender and fennel. ◆
Following an £8 million transformation, the house and studio of Victorian artist Lord Frederick Leighton, is due to open on 15 October. For the first time, guests will be able to see Leighton’s Winter Studio and to view a contemporary 11-metre mural enveloping the curved walls of a new helical staircase, as well as the house’s opulent interiors. ◆
SPOTLIGHT under the
Carole Bamford’s latest project, The Fox at Oddington, was destined to amass attention during its 16-month revamp – and just three weeks after opening, not only had all the most influential travel journalists been there already for the full tour of the Grade-II-listed property, but the locals are now turning out in their droves, visiting night after night – and the atmosphere is electric.
I’m dining in the Saddle Room restaurant feeling decadent with a glass of Rouge de Léoube, about to take another mouthful of succulent Chateaubriand steak sourced from a local Wiltshire farm, Stokes Marsh, when I see a familiar face: Ewan Grant, General Manager from nearby sister hotel The Wild Rabbit in Kingham. He's lending a
hand to the new team and we joke about the food being more than just delicious, agreeing its ‘foxylicious,’ as per the signage sketched into the beams framing the open-plan kitchen.
The owners of Daylesford Organic Farm must have known this six-bedroom 16th-century traditional inn would be oh-so-welcomed into their Cotswolds family – and we all know foxes thrive in the presence of rabbits, but I'm keen to ask Ewan about how the two pubs rub along together.
He explained that The Fox has a more laid-back countrypub vibe, welcoming locals and visitors to drop in anytime, while The Wild Rabbit is fine dining with an à la carte menu. And, with a complimentary chauffeur service offered to hotel guests to take them between venues, I am tempted to
One of the hottest hotel openings of the year, The Fox at Oddington may be small but Jessica Way discovers its extensive renovation retains its stylishly cute Cotswolds charm – just with a few more foxy notches
by Jessica Way
book at least one more night here – it’s the weekend, after all. Then I remember I can’t, they are fully booked. We stayed in The Den – a sumptuous dog-friendly suite, where our Spanador knew she had hit the jackpot, making herself at home in the sitting room with floor-to-ceiling windows.
It’s not so bad for us either: a four-poster bed, a roll-top bathtub, Bamford toiletries, a minibar, and a private terrace. We even have private access to the pretty walled garden, complete with converted horsebox serving cocktails. Following dinner we sit there, sipping a 'Punchy Fox' or two and playing cards until sundown.
And while the Daylesford team didn’t need to be cunning, they have certainly been crafty – bringing in a team of incredibly skilled locals to apply centuries-old techniques using sustainable materials (from reclaimed timber to sheep’s wool from their own organic farm as the insulation). The gardeners have been creative too – beautiful wildflowers cover the restaurant roof, hedges have been shaped into foxes and a large tree trunk has been sawn into a rustic bike
rack. Aesthetics touch on nature, with Hugo Guinness prints hanging on the walls, and on the floor of our suite there is beautifully decorated leaf-inspired painted artwork. Further artistic flair pays tribute to the area's equestrian heritage, with reclaimed stone water troughs as sinks, stable doors restored as partitions, and grand portraits of thoroughbreds and lines of vintage rosettes hanging in The Tackroom (the more cosy bar area with inglenook fireplace, low beams and antique furniture).
Daylesford Organic Farm, an ultra-trendy wellness hang-out and foodie destination, is just one mile down the road; it's where guests have access (and a 10% discount) to the cookery school, garden tours and floristry workshops, as well as Bamford Wellness Spa’s treatments and classes. Scan the QR code on the back of the bedroom door – or simply follow the woodland footpath past St Nicholas’s church and over the railway bridge. It's a match made in heaven as well as Cotswold stone.
Jessica Way was a guest of the Fox at Oddington, which has B&B doubles from £225, thefoxatoddington.com
‘We even have private access to the pretty walled garden... we sit there, sipping a 'Punchy Fox' or two and playing cards until sundown’
KINDRED SPIRITS meet the maker
Situated on the Albury Estate in the heart of the Surrey Hills, the distillery sits adjacent to its namesake, The Silent Pool, a tranquil body of water that dates back to The Ice Age. Distilled from 24 different botanicals, which are collected where possible from the local area, Silent Pool Gin uses Bosnian juniper berries, liquorice root, cassia bark, orris, and bergamot, alongside honey sourced from a neighbouring beekeeper in its secret recipe. The distillers work closely with local farms and fruit producers in the area and uses their leftover fruit to make limited edition small batch gins including blackberry and damson gin, apricot aperitivo, and greengage gin.
From heritage distilleries to family makers and new crafters, Britain is brimming with master blenders and unique spirits that are raising the bar. With creativity, legacy and sustainability at their core, these distilleries are well worth hitting the road for...
Text by Chantal Haines
The Silent Pool distillery tour takes visitors around the renovated barns that now house the bespoke copper stills, down to the banks of the Silent Pool, and culminates in a tasting of the award-winning Silent Pool gins, and a number of the small batch range of gins, cordials and aperitivos.
In 2021 Silent Pool launched Green Man Woodland gin – the first spirit in the world to be sold in a paper bottle. Ethical in ethos and production, Silent Pool reuses, recycles and reduces waste wherever it can. The company ditched polylaminate capsules in 2018, replacing them with bottles and stoppers made of glass, capped with tin. To keep fuel miles to a minimum, Silent Pool’s original still is fired by wellseasoned local hardwood supplied from the Albury Estate, and Silent Pool’s Rye Grain Vodka is filtered using locally made charcoal.
The Henley Distillery
A recent addition to the UK distillery family, The Henley Distillery was founded in 2021 by 28-year-old Master Distiller Jacob Wilson. Headquartered from a restored threshing barn just outside Henley-on-Thames, its smallbatch, single-shot sipping gins have already bagged a number of industry accolades. One of only a handful of distilleries in the UK owned and run by a Master Distiller, The Henley Distillery is one to watch. The range includes the multiple award-winning Henley Gin Classic Dry – giving a contemporary twist on a London Dry; and The Henley Gin Oriental Spiced – a complex blend of rich spices inspired by the Silk Road. Visitors can try their hand at making their own gin at The Henley Distillery’s new, fully immersive gin school. Guests see the distillery in action, learn about the history of gin and, of course, taste several of the gins made at the distillery. As the finale, guests have the opportunity to create a bottle of their very own bespoke gin under Jacob's guidance using their own mini copper still and choosing from a library of over 100 botanicals.
Located on the Isle of Man, The Fynoderee Distillery, is dedicated to the production of premium spirits with genuine Manx roots and heritage. The blends feature Manx-grown and hand-foraged botanicals and are distilled, bottled and served at the distillery in Ramsey. The name Fynoderee hails from an ancient Manx folklore tale, based in Glen Auldyn in the north of the island – the very place where the last Manx juniper tree was reputed to have grown and where juniper is now being reintroduced. The distillery has plans to launch public tours soon, so watch this space.
to know: In 2022, Silver Circle Distillery branded one of its vodkas Vodka For Ukraine and donates all profits from the sale of these bottles to the DEC Ukraine
Silver Circle Distillery
Founded by Nina and Joe Howden in June 2019, the most easterly distillery in Wales has a craft spirit range, which includes the award-winning Silver Circle Aquavit, Wye Valley Gin, and Black Garlic Vodka, and its Botanical Vodka No.1 in the Monmouthshire village of Catbrook. The distillery has recently opened a new tasting room and shop in the heart of Chepstow,
providing the perfect place to savour the fine range of Silver Circle’s spirits.
The shop offers Make Your Own Gin Experiences for up to eight people once a week (Saturdays), as well as tutored tasting sessions for up to 12 people. Alternatively, guests can enjoy the shop’s gin taster board (featuring Wye Valley Gin, Gunga Gin, and Silver Circle’s Catbrook Honey Gin), a cocktail taster board (featuring three of Silver Circle’s small batch, ready-to-drink cocktails) and the Aquavit Taster Board (featuring a taster of Silver Circle Aquavit along with two miniature aquavit cocktails).
The ethically minded brand sells 50cl refill cans for its Wye Valley Gin, while walk-in customers at the Silver Circle Tasting Room in Chepstow can bring back their empty Wye Valley Gin bottle for a refill. Hospitality customers can buy the gin at trade prices in reusable 5L ‘jerrycans’ to refill their original bottle for use on the bar – saving on seven glass bottles entering the recycling stream.
The female-founded Nc’nean Distillery sits on the wild and captivating Morvern peninsular, on the beautiful west coast of Scotland. After leaving her job in London in 2013, Annabel Thomas spent four years raising funds and building the distillery from the ground up. Located a stone's throw away from the tranquil Sound of Mull and surrounded by lush green hills, Nc'Nean was created to
change the way the world thinks about whisky from Scotland. Annabel's predominantly female-led team aim to create light and delicious spirits that can exist in harmony with the planet (NcNean is the UK’s first whisky distillery verified as having net zero carbon emissions from its own operations.) Nc’nean's core expression, a smooth and elegant Organic Single Malt Scotch Whisky has flavours of citrus, peach, apricot and spice, while its Botanical Spirit is flavoured with ten locally grown botanicals and provides a refreshing alternative for gin lovers. Nc’nean is known for quietly rebelling against the ‘rules’ of traditional Scotch. The distillery uses longer mashing times and experiments with different yeasts not commonly associated with whisky making. The team also age their spirits in interesting casks, including Tokaji and Tequila, to bring creative flavours to their special releases. Visitors can tour Nc’nean Monday to Friday while sampling Nc’nean’s fine spirits, alongside different cask samples that make up their signature recipe.
Colwith Farm Distillery
Cornwall’s only single estate distillery is founded on five generations of farming and produces awardwinning vodka and gin. Unlike distilleries that buy in mass-produced ethanol, Colwith makes everything from scratch, using potatoes grown on their family farm to create their Aval Dor (Cornish for potato) spirits sustainably. Colwith Farm Distillery’s Aval Dor Original Vodka is the first British vodka ever to win a Platinum Medal at The San Francisco World Spirits Competition (SFWSC). Its range of gins use a variety of botanicals, including fresh lemon balm, rosemary and bay leaves picked from the family’s grandmother's garden. This summer, Colwith has launched the UK’s first plough-to-bottle vodka school, where guests can make their own bespoke vodka from Cornish potatoes. Guests are invited to craft, blend and fill their own 70cl flavoured Cornish vodka to take home using a blend of botanicals bespoke to their taste. Alongside its vodka school, Colwith also offers gin experiences, tutored tastings and distillery tours.
Heart of Suffolk Distillery
Launched by husband-and-wife team Martyn and Karen Luke in 2018, the Heart of Suffolk Distillery is based in Finbows Yard, Bacton.
The family business distils small batches of a London Dry style gin with nine carefully chosen hand crushed botanicals to create a modern and refreshing taste. Their signature tipple is named to honour Betty, Karen’s mother, who shared the same love and enjoyment of a good quality gin. Each batch of around 70 bottles is hand signed and numbered by master distiller Martyn.
The Heart of Suffolk Distillery is open to the public and offers a relaxed experience for those wanting to enjoy a sample and purchase a bottle of the handcrafted gin.
Hattiers sources aged rums from around the world, blending them in Devon as part of a family business. The UK's first B Corp certified rum – an award for high social and environmental performance – Hattiers has been plastic-free from day one and has a carbon negative workforce. The brand produces Eminence Blended Aged White Rum, Egremont Premium Reserve Rum and its Resolute Navy Strength Rum, and in 2022 founder Philip Everett-Lyons began offering guided distillery tours of the South Devon-based facility. Guests can explore Hattiers blending room, learn about the impact of oak and cask aging and discover how they blend their three premium rums. Eminence is a light–medium bodied, dry blended aged white rum. Egremont is a blend of four cask-aged rums hand-picked from across the Caribbean and Central America and gently paired with pure soft spring water from the hills of Dartmoor. And finally, Resolute is a blended aged Navy Strength rum, made using rums from Barbados, Australia, Guyana and Jamaica. hattiers.com
Henstone Distillery by train
Something a little different for gin, whisky, vodka and bourbon lovers – this year visitors will be able to enjoy a train ride and a tipple, thanks to the opening of a new rail link on the volunteer-operated Cambrian Heritage Railways, which will connect Oswestry town centre to Henstone distillery on the outskirts of the charming North Shropshire town. The 15-minute journey takes visitors to one of Shropshire’s most lauded small-batch producers where Henstone’s range of award-winning gins, whisky, charcoal-filtered vodka and Old Dog Corn Liquor is made.
Isle of Barra
Husband-and-wife team Michael and Katie Morrison sought to open the first legal distillery on the Isle of Barra and founded the Isle of Barra Distillers in 2017. Its Atlantic Gin is infused with a key botanical – carrageen seaweed, which the brand is now famed for. In 2022, the distillery launched its first Island Dark Rum – strong, bold and rustic, much like the rocky east coastline, with a finish as smooth as the fine golden sands found on the west side of the island.
For its Island Dark Rum, the Isle of Barra Distillers again use botanical, carrageen seaweed, handharvested from the shores of Barra. The carrageen is infused alongside coconut, cardamon, cloves, lemon and orange peel.
The most westerly distillery in Scotland, the Isle of Barra Distillers creates vital employment opportunities for the local community on the island and aims to help the remote island’s fragile infrastructure flourish.
AUTUMN MAGIC black
Following a renaissance of foraging and wild foods, our native truffles are on the path from a little-known curiosity to an exciting ingredient, sought after by top chefs around the country. From truffle-hunting experiences in the woods of Sussex and Wiltshire to mouth-watering dishes served in snug country pubs, the English truffle season has a truly intoxicating aroma
Text by Karolina Wiercigroch
Grab the dogs!” Melissa shouts and starts sprinting. She navigates between rows of thin beeches, their rusty leaves shimmering in the low October sun, and is the first one to reach the spot where two very excited Cocker Spaniels are sniffing the ground. They’re ready to dig but, this time, Melissa is faster. She gently shifts the dogs away and starts breaking the damp ground. Soon, she’s presenting a handful of round, plum-sized balls, coal-black and warty. Their scent is lightly floral, sweet and nutty, with earthy undertones of raw beetroot. Truffles. Not in the hills of Piedmont, not in the Périgord region of southwest France. Melissa Waddingham has been hunting for these delicacies in the grounds of Sussex for the last 15 years.
The world’s most celebrated fungi, white truffles — tuber magnatum — often associated with the Italian town of Alba, are found in the limestone-rich soils all the way between Italy and the Black Sea, with some exceptional ones hunted in the forests of Croatian Istria, Southern Hungary and Serbia. Black winter truffles – tuber melanosporum –sometimes called after the French region of Périgord, are native to eastern Spain, southern France and northern and central Italy. Today, most of black winters are farmed in truffle orchards worldwide, and
the Australian inverted seasons satiate European markets in the summer. And while the two species – magnatum and melanosporum – are unanimously prized in the culinary world, they are just the tip of the truffle iceberg. “People think only Italy and France grow truffles, but we have around 38 species here in the UK,” says Melissa. The ones important from a gourmet perspective, black summer and black autumn, are in fact biologically the same species (tuber aestivum), though are often described as two distinct kinds. Summer truffles, usually found between April and September, have a paler inside and a vanishingly light aroma. Black autumns, also called Burgundy, mature in hilly forests between September and December. Firm to touch, with a marbled, milk-chocolate-coloured interior, they hold a much stronger aroma of flowers, boiled sweetcorn and toasted hazelnuts. As with wine, the terroir plays a significant role in their flavour; the same truffle will develop a different smell in various soils, regions and weather conditions.
“There’s nothing like driving back from a hunt with a kilo of truffles in my bag," Melissa smiles. "Their aroma is an instant mood enhancer.” She always whiffs the soil after taking out the
“There’s nothing like driving back from a hunt with a kilo of truffles in my bag”
PREVIOUS PAGE LEFT TO RIGHT: MELISSA WADDINGHAM FOUNDER OF TRUFFLE AND MUSHROOM HUNTER; TRUFFLE DOG TRAINING WITH THE ENGLISH TRUFFLE COMPANY; TRUFFLE HUNTING WITH WILTSHIRE TRUFFLES
THIS PAGE: GRATED TRUFFLES AT ETCH. RESTAURANT IN HOVE; TRUFFLE DOG TRAINING WITH THE ENGLISH TRUFFLE COMPANY; HARRIET MANSEL, HEAD CHEF AT ROBIN WYLDE NEXT PAGE: ZAK FROST, FOUNDER OF WILTSHIRE TRUFFLES
truffles, taking in the smell that resembles a freshly opened tin of sweetcorn. Straight out of the ground, the truffles hold a rather mild scent, which develops over time. To Melissa, pleasant hints of white spirit and a very light diesel start appearing after a couple of days. An experienced forager with a forestry degree, Melissa provides hands-on truffle experiences in the Sussex forests. Sometimes, she feeds participants luscious truffle creations, like baked apples with truffle-infused cream and honey, or a hot celeriac soup with freshly gathered truffles grated on top. At home, she whips up truffle frozen yoghurts, shaves truffles over warm bread-andbutter puddings or cures egg yolks in homemade truffle salt “I’m half-French, I love cooking.”
Melissa hunts with two Working Cocker Spaniels, Ela and Aesti. Pigs — the original truffle-hunting companions — were swapped for dogs by the 1700s, as their love for truffles can be as passionate as the one of human gourmands. Stopping pigs from eating truffles is hard, stories of nine-fingered hunters teach us, and most dogs are happy to work for treats. “My girls actually really enjoy truffles!” Melissa laughs. “And I let them have an occasional one.” After all, this is how truffles replicate; unlike mushrooms, which use wind to spread their spores, truffles depend on animals to dig them, eat them and disperse their spores by defecating beneath a different tree. This is where the intoxicating smell comes in handy — a truffle is found when its aroma can be detected by squirrels, foxes, deers or boars. Human sense of smell is not strong enough, which is why we usually need help.
Truffles grow on roots of certain kinds of trees, like oak or silver birch, forming a symbiotic relationship with their hosts. Unable to make their own food through photosynthesis, truffles share resources with the tree. The truffles 'feed' the tree
with water and micronutrients harvested from the soil in exchange for sugars, produced by the tree from sunlight. Truffles like rich, alkaline soils, chalky or lime-rich. “It’s the dog who finds truffles, but first, the human has to find the right place to go look for them. I spent many weeks studying maps and woods to identify the right terrain," says James Feaver, who still still remembers his first successful truffle hunt. “I was grinning like a Cheshire cat for several days.” The English Truffle Company sells wild truffles hunted by James, mostly to individual buyers who wish to wow their friends at a dinner party or enjoy a luxurious egg scramble for Christmas breakfast. On top of that, James runs truffle-hunting experiences in Dorset, Wiltshire and Hampshire. “The location is secret, I usually share it the night before — people enjoy the thrill of secrecy.” James skilfully excavates the first subterranean treats of the hunt and then everyone gets a go. He encourages people to get down and smell the ground ("You know you’ve had a good day when you go home with mud all over your face"). The woodland endeavours are followed
by an afternoon tea and a sample of a simple truffle dish, like truffle-infused scrambled eggs. James shaves some of the truffles found on the day, only hours out of the ground, making it the freshest truffle dish most people have ever tasted. “I don’t actually eat that many truffles,” he chuckles when I ask about his favourite truffle recipes. “My partner hates them. She needs the car windows down if we drive somewhere after I’d been hunting, the truffle smell gives her a headache.” James recommends starting with classic, simple dishes, like eggs, buttery risottos or creamy pastas — you can’t go wrong with fat, which is known to be a potent flavour carrier. The first account of English truffles comes from 1693 and the last truffle hunter of the previous millennium, Alfred Collins, retired in the 1930s. Following the recent renaissance of foraging and wild foods, British chefs became increasingly passionate about using local truffles. Harriet Mansel, the head chef at Robin Wylde, a restaurant serving seasonal, local produce in a former pottery shop in Lyme Regis in Dorset, sources her
ingredients from the West Country or forages them herself along the local coastline, hedgerows, moors and fields. "It's on my radar to try and figure out how and where to forage local truffles. Last time we had them on the menu it was a classic autumnal feel; celeriac velouté with chestnut mushrooms and truffles. It’s important we use British truffles, we would never import them.”
Steven Edwards, the winner of 2013 MasterChef: The Professionals, gets to celebrate British produce in his weekly tasting menus at etch. in Hove. He pairs truffles with mushroom, venison, celeriac and Tunworth cheese, as well as creating truffle puddings, like chocolate fondant with truffle ice cream. His black fragrant fungi always come from Wiltshire: "We get our truffles from Wiltshire Truffles, where we have highly regarded and trustworthy suppliers in Zak Frost and his wife Nina. We love promoting great British produce and are very happy with the quality.” Zak, best known for the black autumn truffles he hunts personally in a secret location in Wiltshire, also imports aromatic beauties directly from trusted hunters abroad. Wiltshire Truffles supplies some of the best restaurants in the country, including Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck and Frog by Adam Handling. To try Zak’s truffles in a countryside setting in Wiltshire, head to The Red Lion Freehouse in East Chisenbury, a family-run restaurant in a whitewashed, thatchedroofed building of an 18th-century village pub.
Zak’s truffles come to the menu in autumn, where he starts hunting for them.
Today, Zak supplies home chefs with fresh truffles from a new online shop, making it possible to celebrate the English truffle season from the comfort of your own home.
Truffle and Mushroom Hunter hosts truffle hunts and mushroom forays in Sussex. Melissa is planning to launch a UK Truffle Hound Championships and a truffle festival in November: truffleandmushroomhunter.com
The English Truffle Company sells fresh truffles and runs truffle-hunting experience days in Dorset, Wiltshire and Hampshire throughout the season: englishtruffles.co.uk
Wiltshire Truffles supplies almost all of the UK’s leading restaurants, as well as offering a new online shop for home users. They sell fresh truffles and their own luxurious truffle juice, used in Michelin-starred kitchens and now available for creative home chefs: wiltshiretruffles.com/shop
IMAGES © JUSTIN DE SOUZA (ETCH) MATT AUSTIN (ROBIN WYLDE) NICKY WOODS PHOTOGRAPHY / SAMUEL CURTIS HENNESSY (THE ENGLISH TRUFFLE COMPANY) SAM FROST PHOTOGRAPHY (WILTSHIRE TRUFFLES) SIMON DACK (TRUFFLE AND MUSHROOM HUNTER)
‘Wiltshire Truffles supplies some of the best restaurants in the country, including Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck and Frog by Adam Handling’
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MAMMA MIA! THE PARTY
London’s premier dining experience
Created by ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus, MAMMA MIA! THE PARTY is a unique and magical experience in a class of its own, bringing all ABBA’s hits to life more vividly than ever before: over the course of four glittering hours, guests can immerse themselves in a spectacular musical extravaganza, a four-course Greek feast and an ABBA disco, all in one unforgettable evening of dancing, dining and singing!
MAMMA MIA! THE PARTY is set in a taverna on the beautiful Greek island of Skopelos, where most exteriors of the first MAMMA MIA! film were shot. Nikos and his wife Kate run this exotic and wonderful restaurant together with their family and friends. Told through dialogue and timeless ABBA songs, a warm, romantic and funny story evolves and unfolds during the evening, ending with a 1970s disco, where audience members are welcome to stay to sing and dance to ABBA recordings.
Food is at the heart of the experience and a menu has been created that collects the finest Greece has to offer, made from the
best, freshest ingredients. Guests are served a traditional mezze followed by iconic Greek salad of fresh cherry tomatoes, cucumber and feta. For the main course, confit lamb shoulder and slowcooked beef are served with roasted garlic potatoes, courgettes, peperonata, romesco and aromatic jus.
For vegetarian and vegan guests, there is roasted cauliflower with a lemon-herb dressing and stuffed tomato with lentil ragout. A sumptuous Greek lemon cake served with confit orange skin and citrus yoghurt is the perfect end to this delicious meal. Vegan guests are served traditional loukoumades, delicious dough balls accompanied by a sweet fig jam. ◆
Bookings are open now until Sunday 26 February 2023. Showing at The O2, Peninsula Square, London SE10 0DX, ticket prices from £99 to include admission, a four-course set meal and welcome drink. Platinum Package and VIP Upgrades also available; mammamiatheparty.co.uk
BritishTravelJournal.com 41 SPECIAL FEATURE
meet the chef
This year, Simon Rogan’s L’Enclume celebrated its 20th anniversary and became one of only eight restaurants in the UK and 135 restaurants worldwide to receive three Michelin stars. Here, the world-renowned pioneer of field-to-fork dining tells Chantal Haines about the toil, the soil and the ambition it took to get there
Text by Chantal Haines
In February 2022, Simon Rogan’s flagship restaurant
L’Enclume was awarded its third Michelin star – an incredible feat for any restaurant, but for this Lake District enclave, which has blazed its own trail in field-to-fork dining, sustainable growing and hyperlocal produce, it is all the more extraordinary.
Set in the picturesque Lake District village of Cartmel, L’Enclume is the first restaurant in the north of England to lay claim to three stars, and the prestigious award has come at a pivotal time for Rogan. “It’s L’Enclume’s 20th anniversary this year. It’s every chef’s ambition to get three stars so to succeed on the 20th anniversary is pretty special. We're all over the moon about it,” he says.
“I would have hoped it could have been a bit quicker,” Rogan quips. “But no, in all honesty, I don't really care when we got it – we have achieved what I set out to do 20 years ago and that’s a fantastic feeling.”
As a young chef he undertook an apprenticeship for around four and half years at Rhinefield House in the New Forest getting a first-rate classical grounding in cookery, and spent eight years on and off working
with Jean-Christophe Novelli – a chef he still notes as his biggest inspiration. Rogan also undertook stints working at The Maltster’s Arms in Devon (then owned by Keith Floyd) and stage placements under other era-defining chefs, including Marco Pierre White and John BurtonRace, before going out on his own and opening his debut restaurant, L’Enclume.
A Lake District love affair
L’Enclume, and Rogan’s multiple offshoot outposts, are riding high now, but when he first set up in Cartmel two decades ago, organic produce and kitchen gardens were all but scoffed at, and fine dining was centered resolutely in London or the south, at least.
“In the early years, it was a bit of a struggle. We didn't really have many customers during the week, maybe getting to the teens around the weekends. And it was even more of a risk with the product we wanted to provide – I had developed an interest very early on in my cookery journey with foraging. While working at Rhinefield House we would always go out foraging to pick mushrooms
and wild herbs and I had always wanted to revisit that.
“I was also heavily influenced by the work of a chef called Marc Veyrat in the Alps who uses a lot of herbs, flowers and roots in his cookery. I wanted to really look at our surroundings and what the larder was around the restaurant and really connect our cooking to the area and create a destination restaurant.”
“I wanted to work for myself and be in control of my own destiny. The honest reason I chose this particular area and this particular restaurant was basically you got more for your money. It would have cost me a lot of money in either borrowings or taking on an investor to get something as good in the south and we were always very clear – we didn’t want to have to answer to anyone.”
Thankfully, word did spread and the restaurant, situated in a former 13th-century blacksmith’s workshop in Cartmel, began to attract customers from all around the UK.
“We started attracting people from London, the south east, and the major cities around the UK. I had learnt from Novelli that PR is part of the game and we began to get into the papers and the nationals. And the rest is history, really."
Farm to fork
Rogan uses hyperlocal and seasonal ingredients in his tasting menu at L’Enclume and is recognised as one of the pioneers of the farm-to-fork movement.
“When we first opened, organic produce was extortionate, so we couldn't afford to buy all organic ingredients, but we bought a few items and I asked a local farmer to grow some herbs and produce. To cut a long story short, the farm went to rack and ruin and we offered to take it over.
“The first thing we started growing was radishes –because I was so frustrated I couldn’t get the perfect radish when it's one of the simplest things you can grow. In those days the standard of produce we would buy in could be pretty poor, so that pushed us into growing a
lot more. We got pretty good at it and radishes turned to carrots and turnips, which turned to leeks and lettuces and cabbages and kale, and before we knew it we were growing everything. Then as the restaurants got busier and busier, we needed to grow our farming operation to cope with that level of trade.
In 2009, Rogan set up Our Farm, his 12-acre growing site in the Cartmel Valley. It is here where Simon and his team work throughout the year to grow vegetables, herbs, fruits and flowers, and trial innovative farming and growing methods.
“It was originally an open field site that had no growing on it before, and we've created everything from scratch. It was all very pretty in the beginning, with lovely ornamental paths and nice, neat rows of perfectly manicured beans and squash, but now there's none of that! Every centimetre of ground is taken up for growing. I always envisioned that we would have a growing operation of some sorts but I
didn't really forsee how extensive that would become. It’s become a bit of a monster but we are very proud of it.”
The son of a market greengrocer, Rogan says that though a fussy eater when a youngster, his exposure to ingredients from an early age – when his father would come home every evening with a box of the day's best freshest produce – first sparked an interest in seasonal fare and foraging.
The ingredients used in his restaurants come from Our Farm as well as trusted, long-standing suppliers, enabling Rogan to deliver on his intense commitment to fresh, local and seasonal produce and a truly traceable dining experience.
“Most importantly it's the right thing to do. If you've got the opportunity to grow your own and limit your carbon footprint and look after your environment and the people around you then it's a no brainer, right?
“And the quality and the creativity that comes with that is really special – we don't like to waste anything, we like to use every part of an ingredient so that really drives your ingenuity.”
“Most importantly it's the right thing to do. If you've got the opportunity to grow your own and limit your carbon footprint and look after your environment and the people around you then it's a no brainer, right?”
At Our Farm, Rogan and his team grow a mind-boggling array of unusual and exciting ingredients – all produced organically, to their exacting specifications – such as Japanese wineberries, elkhorn fern and buck’s-horn plantain. And with harvest to plate often taking place in less than an hour, the quality and freshness sets his dishes apart from the competition.
“Using every part of that plant – the root, the stem, the leaf, the flower, the fruit – gives us that connection to our surroundings that's so important these days. Customers really appreciate that connection to the surroundings now.”
Together with a handful of other chefs, Rogan has turned zero-waste dining into a high-calibre offering.
“Dishes like our brined cabbage have become synonymous with L'Enclume's style
and ethos,” Rogan says. “It’s cookery that really that makes the vegetables sing and lets them be at the forefront of the dish rather than animal proteins. For our simple cabbage dish we treat it like a piece of meat and give the cabbage the same care and attention as we would a prime cut. We brine it in dill, then roast it over Chinese charcoal and serve it with a fermented mushroom sauce, truffle puree, and a horseradish mousse over the top and lots of grated truffle – so very tasty and lots of layers of flavour. And you know, if you eat something like that you'll wonder why you would ever want to eat meat again.”
Michelin and more
As one would expect, L’Enclume’s meteoric success has created opportunities for expansion. In 2008, Rogan opened his neighbourhood restaurant, Rogan & Co,
FIRST PAGE: SIMON ROGAN COLLECTING HIS ORGANIC INGREDIENTS FROM CARTMEL FARM PREVIOUS PAGE: ORGANIC PRODUCE GROWING AT CARTMEL FARM THIS PAGE: L’ENCLUME RESTAURANT IN THE LAKE DISTRICT; CARROT CRAB TART WITH BUTTERMILK ROSES; RAW MILK ICE CREAM PEACH SWEET CICELY; CARTMEL FARM
which is situated in an 14th-century building beside the River Eea in Cartmel and received a Michelin star in 2019.
Rogan also runs Aulis Cartmel, a development kitchen and chef's table, and operates 16 bespoke bedrooms and suites around the village. In 2019 Rogan branched out further, opening Roganic Hong Kong, which received its first Michelin star within ten months of opening.
In 2021, Simon's efforts towards sustainability were recognised with the newly introduced Michelin Green Star, awarded to both L'Enclume and Roganic Hong Kong.
Aulis London, his eight-seat chef’s table in Soho, offers a dynamic, interactive dining experience with a 13-course tasting experience cooked in front of the guests. “People absolutely love it,” Rogan explains. "And it's probably been the inspiration for a lot of other chef’s tables around the UK, to be honest. If you're a foodie it's the greatest table you can get because you're face to face with the guys that know everything about the dish, its story, its execution and the reason for its existence.”
Winning the coveted third Michelin star and passing the 20th anniversary milestone has given the chef–owner cause for reflection.
“When we set out, I was always clear on the accolades I wanted to achieve but I also wanted to be someone that sort of made a difference. During the '80s and the '90s you had the Roux brothers, then Marco [Pierre White], John Burton-Race and so on, and if I could achieve half of what they did I’d be happy.
“It was always my ambition that when I hang up my apron people might turn around and say, ‘well, that guy really made a difference’. And I'm very humbled to see a lot of guys that worked for me go out now and have their own success – that's what I wanted to do – I wanted to spawn a whole new generation of people that were going to go off and do even greater things.
“That drives me as well, to get better and push forward. Because when I see our guys have their own success and I see things sprung from the L’Enclume philosophy it motivates me to stay at the forefront. I kind of think, ‘Ok, catch me again if you can’.”
And what of the next 20 years? “We carry on! I always thought, come the third star I'd feel like I had had my innings, but if anything, I feel invigorated. So, I guess there’s still life in the old dog yet.”
“It was always my ambition that when I hang up my apron people might turn around and say, ‘well, that guy really made a difference’.”
WONDER IN WALES
Follow in the footsteps of the ancient Celts on an adventure of a lifetime in West Wales. Celtic Routes is an epic journey through the scenic counties of Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion. Feel enthralled by the wonders of our natural world – a region rich with wildlife, mountains and waterfalls. Feel inspired by the ancient castles and historic landmarks, and come alive exploring miles of pristine golden sand and spectacular vistas...
Text by Jessica Way
Celtic Routes is a newly launched touring route designed to inspire intrepid travellers to experience West Wales and Ireland's Ancient East under their own steam, be that a day exploring one of the towns, a long weekend discovering a stretch of coastline, or a week-long action-packed holiday.
The Celtic Routes website (celticroutes.info) is designed with a diverse range of immersive experiences to make it easy for you to become the curator of your own Celtic Routes experience.
Naturally, some of these places are more well-known, but many of them take you off the beaten track on roads less travelled – helping you delve closer to the Celtic Spirit, exploring the outstanding land and seascapes, rugged mountains and ancient standing stones. Here are just some of the highlights of my own magical journey.
Carmarthenshire Day One
Our first Celtic Moment was at Pendine Sands, where we stopped to visit the Cambrian Ice Cream Parlour. Taking a short stroll along the Wales Coast Path, we enjoyed our coffee and ice-creams while admiring the long stretch of beach from a dizzying height.
The vast stretch of sand is home to numerous land speed records and so it came as no surprise to watch thrill-seekers and racing land-yachts below – an activity involving sitting in a three-wheeled go-cart powered by wind through the use of a sail – travelling at speed just inches above the sand.
The areas you can drive cars on the beach are limited now, but Pendine Sands still holds a special place in the heart of many racing-car enthusiasts (the world record
was broken here) – with plenty of petrolhead memorabilia adorning the walls in the cafes and bistros. Next year (May 2023) the beach will hold the tenth-year anniversary of the award-winning Hot Rod Races event – the world’s fastest and most exciting beach-racing competition.
You could easily spend a few days here, feeling the wind in your hair on an invigorating horse ride along the beach perhaps, or hiring a sea kayak or paddle board from Chad and Olly’s Beach Hut.
In the afternoon we made our way to the delightfully peaceful town of Laugharne, synonymous with poet Dylan Thomas. Set in a picturesque location on the estuary where the River Taf flows into Carmarthen Bay, the views might even be familiar from your TV screen (the location was chosen for the filming of Keeping Faith, a BBC drama series starring Eve Myles). We parked and checked-in at Brown’s Hotel before wandering
through the centre of Laugharne. Just behind the hotel is SeaView, a pretty pale-yellow house where Dylan and wife Caitlin once lived, now a B&B.
There’s a great community spirit to Laugharne, quaint gift shops, lively pubs and a local chippy –Castle Fish Bar, offering cockles harvested from Carmarthen Bay. In the centre of Laugharne is the Grist, marked by a Celtic Cross, where Methodist leader John Wesley is said to have preached to the townsfolk. (The name reflects the fact that a former grist mill was located here.)
Crossing the bridge over the River Coran is when the stunning panorama comes into focus –glistening waters and a shimmering harbourside lined with colourful old fishing boats and the 'brown as owls' castle, where Dylan would write away high up in the ramparts, majestically perched on the headland above.
There are birds wading on the water edge, and blankets of green headland from the Gower Peninsula in the distance – it's a wonderful moment to pause and catch your breath.
At low tide we were able to follow the coastal trail all the way to the best-loved attraction in Laugharne: Dylan Thomas Boathouse, where Dylan lived with Caitlin and their three children, Aeronwy, Llewellyn and Colm.
‘Taking a short stroll along the Wales Coast Path, we enjoyed our coffee and ice-creams while admiring the long stretch of beach from a dizzying height.’
The house is now a visitor museum, shop and tea room, and contains Thomas memorabilia and some of the original furniture, including Dylan's father's desk. You can also take a tour of the Writing Shed perched above the Boathouse where Dylan wrote much of his poetry and also his famous radio drama, Under Milk Wood.
You might also enjoy: The Dylan Thomas Birthday Walk: a 2-mile route to the edge of Sir John’s hill – the same walk Dylan famously took on his 30th birthday – with a series of benches inscribed with lines from Poem in October, and information panels telling the history of the area.
Where we stayed: Brown’s Hotel
We couldn’t have asked for a more welcoming, cosy and atmospheric boutique hotel for our first night in Wales. It is easy to see why Brown's was Dylan’s favourite too – he drank there most nights, playing shove halfpenny, darts and skittles, and even called in for tea and breakfast most mornings. In fact, he was there so often that he would even give the hotel phone
number out as his own. The hotel is clearly proud of their literary legend, with his poems and quotes adorning the walls. Brown’s is today owned by Nigel Short, who also runs Penderyn Whisky, so the bar is always well stocked. The restaurant –Dexter’s at Browns – is named after the breed of cattle which makes up the hotel's own herd, which is reared on nearby Llywn Farm. (Prices from £95 for one night; browns.wales.)
We headed to Colby Woodland Garden for our weekly dose of Parkrun – a 5km running event that takes place at 9am every Saturday across hundreds of locations in the UK. Set in a tranquil secret valley, this hidden woodland garden has a rich industrial past and is owned by the National Trust, and makes a lovely day out.
In search of some more Welsh history, our next visit was to Dinefwr Estate and Castle just outside Llandeilo, where Lord Rhys once held court and influenced decisions about Wales. You need to allow around two to three hours to explore this stunning 800-acre estate. It’s a beautiful walk through bluebell woods to get to the castle, where your effort is rewarded by 360-degree views overlooking the Tywi Valley and open countryside from the castle walls. Be prepared before you set off though, as there are no refreshments.
FIRST PAGE: BOAT TRIP TO SKOMER ISLAND TO SEE PUFFINS PREVIOUS PAGE LEFT TO RIGHT: CARMARTHENSHIRE COAST; JESSICA ON THE COAST PATH AT PENDINE SANDS; SEAVIEW, THE FORMER HOME OF POET DYLAN THOMAS CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: DYLAN THOMAS' WRITING SHED; VIEWS FROM DINEFWR CASTLE; MAP OF JESSICA'S JOURNEY NEXT PAGE: PRETTY MARKET TOWN OF LLANDEILO; JESSICA SITS ON A ROCK AT AMROTH; NEWTON HOUSE
Illustration by Tonwen Jones
Back in the estate, surrounded by a National Nature Reserve, we spent just over an hour exploring the wonderful 18th-century Newton House and reading more about the history of Dinefwr. Here you can join a guided tour, watch the roaming deer from the fountain garden – where often there is live music – and don’t miss the binoculars in the upstairs stone balcony orangery for a better view of the does, stags and their fawns.
We spent the rest of the afternoon pottering about in the colourful, picturesque market town of Llandeilo, scattered with an array of small independent shops, galleries and cafes. We chatted to ceramic artist Ann Goodfellow, owner of Ivy House as we marvelled over the work of local artists, and enjoyed Welsh coffee cakes at DIOD’s, where there is a relaxed Scandi-Welsh vibe.
On our way back to Brown’s we stopped in Carmarthen and enjoyed dinner at The Warren, where the chef has recently been awarded Chef of the Year from The Food Awards Wales for his honest and wholesome food.
You might also enjoy: Aberglasney Gardens, with a unique cloister garden and formal walled gardens dating back to Elizabethan times – you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d wandered onto the set of a period drama.
The sun was shining so we decided to make our way to the stunning wide, south-facing, uncrowded blue-flag beach of Amroth. Driving through the quaint village evoked the first of many “would you live here?” tests, to which "yes" was the unanimous reply. We went for a blissful dip in the sea and relaxed for a while on the uncrowded beach.
The New Inn, a 16th-century pub with coastal views serving home-made food and local fresh fish was the perfect spot for lunch and to watch the windsurfers. We spent the afternoon at Minwear Woods where we took a peaceful Sunday afternoon stroll. There are a selection of walking trails – we chose the 1.5 mile Minwear Walk, taking around an hour.
You might also enjoy: Walking the Pembrokeshire Coast Path (Amroth marks the southern start), or during low tide walking 3 miles from Amroth to Saundersfoot.
Where we stayed: The Grove, Narberth
The Grove is one of the most luxurious hotels in Wales, nestled in the heart of Pembrokeshire with views to the Preseli Hills. Stay in the elegant house or one of its charming cottages and enjoy sitting outside in the manicured lawns by the pretty flower borders and meandering stream. Inside is equally as exquisite; bedrooms are luxurious havens with original features and full of character. There are two restaurants: the finedining Fernery, which has been awarded three coveted AA Rosettes, and the more relaxed and informal Artisan Rooms. For guests in need of pampering there are deep cast-iron baths and in-room massages. One mile down the road, the market town of Narberth is full of interesting independent shops, including Ultracomida – one of the best delis in the country, with a small dining area at the back it's a delightful spot for a continental lunch. (Prices from £245 per night, prideofbritainhotels.com.)
Just as we thought the beaches in Wales couldn’t be any more beautiful, we discovered Barafundle Bay – pristine golden sand and crystal-clear waters, backed by dunes and pine trees. It could be easily mistaken for the Caribbean.
Owned by the National Trust, Barafundle Bay is only accessible by foot (it's a half-mile walk from the car park over Stackpole Head). This secluded location certainly adds to its charm – it’s easy to imagine you’re the only person in the world here; being off-the-beaten-track, it's not unusual to have the beach all to yourself. It comes as no surprise that Barafundle has been voted many, many times as one of the best beaches in Britain and the world.
Next we explored Carew Castle and Tide Mill, an enormous stone castle in a picturesque location next to the mill pond that powers the tide mill, once a powerful stronghold and a grand Elizabeth mansion. The tour guides here are brilliant, full of fascinating anecdotes and little-known facts. In the afternoon
we headed to Tenby ambling the busy streets, gift shopping, eating ice-creams and admiring the pastel-coloured buildings and three glorious beaches – there's also no shortage of restaurants, cafes and pubs to refuel.
You might also enjoy: Taking a boat ride to Caldey Island to see the Cistercian monastery. The monks make and sell their own lavender perfume and shortbread and you can purchase their own postage stamps and currency in the post office.
From Marloes Sands on the West Pembrokeshire Coast, we hiked along the coast path to Martin’s Haven, taking a short detour inland to Runwayskiln coastal kitchen for a delicious alfresco lunch, and arriving at Martin’s Haven just in time for our boat trip to Skomer, Skokholm and Grassholm islands. As a Site of Special Scientific Interest, this trio of neighbouring islands is a haven for spotting many fascinating species, including puffins, razorbills, gannets, guillemots, manx shearwaters, grey seals, dolphins, whales and porpoises – another unmissable experience.
You might also enjoy: Continuing further along the coast path from Martin’s Haven, with St Bride’s Bay to your left, and stunning views of the Solva Coast, St Davids Peninsula and Ramsey Island.
‘It’s easy to imagine you’re the only person in the world here; being off-the-beaten-track, it's not unusual to have the beach all to yourself’
Where we stayed: Twr y Felin Hotel, St Davids
A former windmill and Wales' first modern art hotel, featuring contemporary design throughout, Twr y Felin Hotel is decorated from floor to ceiling with colourful abstract artwork – chosen to evoke the Pembrokeshire landscape. The creativity doesn’t end there either, the chefs in award-winning two Rosette restaurant Blas are renowned for their flair in the kitchen – with guests and non-guests dining there alike.
Bedrooms are luxurious and uncomplicated, with private terraces and balconies. More time and I would have opted for one of their complementary therapy experiences: Qi Gong Meditation or Reiki. They also offer a range of natural holistic treatments in their calming treatment room, as well as yoga and coastal foraging. (Prices from £180 per night for two sharing, twryfelinhotel.com.)
From the hotel it is a short stroll into St Davids, Britain's smallest city, where you will find plenty of cafes, pubs and the Cathedral. The city has a trendy ‘surf’ vibe, with a mixture of independent shops – including unsunghero with its underground skate cave, funky custom-made boards and Steve the barista serving excellent coffee – or for the more well-known stores there's Crew Clothing, Joules and FatFace.
If you enjoy the water and being outdoors you have come to the right place – with TYF adventures (they have a booking office in the high street) at the heart of the action – coasteering, kayaking, surfing, climbing, wild swimming – you name it.
The trendy new place to be is Grain, a lively restaurant in the heart of the town serving stonebaked pizzas and award-winning Pembrokeshire craft beer. Or, head to the National Park Visitor Centre and Landscape Gallery located opposite the hotel, which provides all the information you could possibly need for exploring the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.
Twr y Felin also makes a perfect base for exploring the Preseli Hills. For the most epic 360-degree views – on a clear day reaching as far as Snowdonia and Ireland – head to the hill top of Foel Drygarn. Then, from the village of Mynachlogddu head towards the Bluestones Monument (where some of the stones from Stonehenge originated), to Carn Bica then follow the path down to Bedd Arthur (Arthur’s Grave) a small stone circle claimed by local folklore to be the final resting place of King Arthur. You might also enjoy: Jumping off the harbour wall in high-tide in the village of Solva – for views there's the Gribbin coastal walk, or head to The Royal George Inn for a hearty and well-earned pub meal.
‘For the most epic 360-degree views – on a clear day reaching as far as Snowdonia and Ireland – head to the hill top of Foel Drygarn’
Ceredigion Day Seven
The coast is an absolute must-see in this region of West Wales. Cardigan Bay is home to Europe's largest pod of Bottlenose Dolphins, and many of Ceredigion beaches are secluded coves that can only be reached on foot or by boat. One of our absolute favourites is National Trust’s hidden cove, Mwnt – picture postcard perfect with a little whitewashed chapel and several steps down to the shore. Aberporth, once an important village for herring fishing, is another wonderful beach. We stopped here and walked the coast path (one mile) to Tresaith, named after the River Saith, which cascades as a waterfall over the cliffs to the beach. Another National Trust beauty, Penbryn can only be reached by meandering through some woods. Our beach crawl concluded at Llangrannog, where we enjoyed homemade food and sea views at The Pentre Arms.
Where we stayed: Penbontbren Holiday Cottages
Pretty in pale pink, the 1800’s chocolate-box farmhouse Y Ffermdy, was where we stayed; a self-catering cottage sleeping seven with its own three-acre garden.
Low-beamed ceilings, a huge inglenook and exposed stone walls, and antique furniture gives it a snug and homely feel. Stacked with books and board games, there’s a conservatory and the choice of two sumptuous sitting rooms to unwind in, as you play or read.
Hosts Richard and Kathryn (who moved to Wales acquiring their business during lockdown) were extremely welcoming and helpful with information, including providing map print outs, about the local area.
On the farm there are also six luxurious B&B suites (5 star), including the Garden Suite, with its own private terrace. (Prices from £572 for four nights and £1,001 for a week, rarehideaways.co.uk.)
IMAGES JESSICA'S OWN © VISITWALES/DREW BUCKLEY/SHUTTERSTOCK
PREVIOUS PAGE LEFT TO RIGHT: VIEW OF BARAFUNDLE BAY; PUFFINS ON SKOMER ISLAND; PRESELI HILLS AND ARTHUR'S GRAVE; TYF ADVENTURE HIRE, ST DAVIDS; LEFT TO RIGHT: ST. CRANNOG’S STATUE, LLANGRANNOG; ABERAERON; VIEW OF THE CAMBRIAN MOUNTAINS FROM DEVIL'S BRIDGE FALLS
We spent our last morning in New Quay where we enjoyed breakfast while dolphin spotting. We spent some time exploring the walled garden and farmyard lake at National Trust’s Llanerchaeron, an elegant Georgian villa, designed by architect John Nash in 1790, before making our way to the colourful town of nearby Aberaeron.
After mooching around the harbour and independent craft shops we stumbled upon The Hive by the waterside, serving fresh fish and seafood. I recommend their homemade honey ice cream (there’s a Turkish Delight version too).
You can't tick Ceredigion off your bucket list without seeing the beautiful Cambrian Mountains and taking a visit to the world-famous tourist attraction Devil's Bridge Falls. We choose the 45-minute nature trail walk with views of the 300ft Mynach waterfall. If you are a keen hiker then don’t miss the Pumlumon trails too, with more spectacular landscapes and climbs to the peak of the Pumlumon Mountain.
Travelling through these three incredible counties there is excitement and intrigue at every turn along with a tremendously Croeso Cynnes Cymreig, (warm Welsh welcome), so whichever Celtic experiences you pick along your journey you can’t go far wrong. From lush rolling countryside and dramatic mountain ranges to the many idyllic unspoilt beaches, Celtic Routes delivers an adventure from start to finish. Memories are made on this route and the Celtic Spirit is infectious.
Find out more
Jessica was hosted by Celtic Routes, a cross Irish Sea tourism partnership comprising the coastal communities of Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire, Wicklow, Wexford and Waterford. These regions have joined forces to deliver a selection of curated travel experiences in order to encourage visitors to Ireland and Wales to discover the Celtic Spirit by offering a number of immersive and authentic Celtic experiences. To find out more visit celticroutes.info and also take a look at visitwales.com to help plan your trip.
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‘You can't tick Ceredigion off your bucket list without seeing the beautiful Cambrian Mountains... and Devil's Bridge Falls’
Your Gourmet Guide to Wales
With Wales hosting the World Cheese Awards in November and one of its Welsh restaurants being voted the best in the UK, this is the country’s time to shine on the epicurean stage. Intrigued, Karyn Noble enjoys a gastronomic tour. Here are some of her highlights...
In Wales you will find an abundance of incredible seafood to match the views. Whether you have a penchant for unique restaurants with rooms, a little poetic history with your puddings, clifftop dining and imbibing from Britain’s only coastal national park, or quietly impressive lakeside retreats, Wales will surprise and enthral you in equal measures.
For too long Wales has hidden in the shadows of its more popular neighbours. But now we’re outing its most impressive dining destinations, along with tips for where to stay, and don’t-miss highlights while enjoying your foodtravel tour.
The first Welsh restaurant deemed the UK’s best at the National Restaurant Awards (2022), the twoMichelin-starred Ynyshir in the Dyfi Valley is much more than a dining destination. It’s a ‘90s’-electronicmusic-soundtracked extravaganza in a house that was once Queen Victoria’s. Expect a 5.5-hour feast of 30 indulgent courses from chef Gareth Ward, including local crab and lobster and Japanese Wagyu beef cooked on open fire. ynyshir.co.uk
Where to Stay: There are three fully-furnished luxury tipis at Ynyshir, as well as eight hotel bedrooms.
Don’t Miss: In-the-know locals love the homemade Welsh minted lamb pies at Tynycornel Hotel on Tal-y-Llyn, an exquisitely peaceful lakeside spot, 30 minutes’ drive north. It also has rooms, if Ynshir is fully booked.
Food critic Tom Parker-Bowles declared it could be his favourite restaurant of 2020, and Asador 44 lives up to the hype; you could easily find yourself believing you’re dining in Northern Spain rather than Wales’ capital Cardiff, with the restaurant’s huge Parilla grill and cuts of ex-dairy Asturias beef displayed in glassfronted fridges. It also has one of the UK’s finest Spanish red wine lists, and there are further excellent Spanish drinking experiences to be had at its sister Bar 44 around the corner, especially if you are a sherry connoisseur. asador44.co.uk
Where to Stay: Open since June 2022, Parador 44 (upstairs from Asador 44) is Cardiff’s first food-focused luxury hotel, with nine boutique rooms and the Gonzaléz Byass guest lounge and pantry that’s abundant with Spanish treats (not to mention complimentary PX-Sherry-soaked Welsh cakes), which can be enjoyed on the terrace. Or for five-star luxury right on Cardiff Bay, and floor-to-ceiling water views, voco St Davids Cardiff has a peaceful perspective.
Don’t Miss: A warm Welsh cake fresh from the traditional cast-iron griddle at Fabulous Welshcakes is a perfect snack before (and after!) exploring Cardiff Castle.
TheWalnut Tree Inn
Near the English border, two miles east of Abergavenny is Michelinstarred The Walnut Tree, with chef Shaun Hill overseeing operations since 2008. His 50+ year career as a chef is obvious and his creations are seemingly simple yet with a sophisticated understanding of flavour, enjoyed in an artwork-filled dining room that has an extremely loyal following for its local produce and relaxed ambience
Where to Stay: The Walnut Tree has two extraordinary self-catering cottages (part of the Caradog Cottage collection) that are a pretty garden stroll from its restaurant, where you can soak in a clawfoot bath and watch the cows in a meadow next door.
Don’t Miss: One of the highest-profile food events in Britain, The Abergavenny Food Festival, occurs each September, and is held across six different venues, including Abergavenny Castle.
St Davids Gin & Kitchen
In Britain’s smallest city of St Davids you’ll find this ode to sustainability and ethical eating, a lively restaurant in a vibrant-blue building run by a family of farmers who champion local Pembrokeshire produce. Along with Solva lobster and local oysters, you must try their gin, with botanicals foraged from the peninsula. stdavidskitchen.co.uk
Where to Stay: Twr Y Felin (a 9-minute walk from St Davids Gin & Kitchen) is Wales’ first contemporary art hotel, and has a highly acclaimed restaurant, Blas (below) Don’t Miss: Blas Restaurant, dark and moody, holds 3AA Rosettes and a flair for capturing both flavour and ‘art on a plate’.
Cliff Restaurant, St Brides Spa Hotel
Enjoy dramatic panoramic views across Saundersfoot Bay with panfried local cod with shellfish bisque and mussels, or perhaps some Welsh laverbread (seaweed) with your poached eggs and mushrooms at breakfast. stbridesspahotel.com
Where to Stay: St Brides Spa Hotel has unbeatable views from its 34-degree heated infinity pool, or for some poetic history, Browns Hotel in Laugharne, Carmarthenshire, frequented by Dylan Thomas, has 14 boutique rooms (some with double rolltop baths), and a self-contained Dylan’s Den (for seven guests).
Don’t Miss: Tenby is a picturesque paradise of pastel houses, 13th-century stone walls and classic seaside resort tranquillity and grandeur.
Take a bite at one of Wales’ foodie events
DiningRobertson Room, Palé Hall
Awarded Wales’ first Green Michelin star in 2021, the Henry Robertson Dining Room combines sustainability with sublime surroundings in the five-star Palé Hall country house located on the edge of Snowdonia. Choose from five-or eight-course menus celebrating Welsh seasonality with Japanese and Middle-Eastern influences from head chef Gareth Stevenson. palehall.co.uk
Hall or Portmeirion (below) have luxurious accommodation, where no attention to detail or extravagance is overlooked. Don’t Miss: Portmeirion – 50 minutes’ drive east of Palé Hall in Gwynedd, North Wales – is beyond magical: a 130-acre, pastel-coloured Italianate fairy land, with a 2 AA rosette finedining restaurant.
Where to Stay: Palé
The Big Cheese
It's hard to resist a festival called The Big Cheese, which makes its comeback in 2023, or for those who can't wait there's a smaller festival taking place this September, called the Little Cheese. Expect huge food halls to explore, street food areas, cookery demos, music events and all the medieval activities and hijinks that a setting in the town of Caerphilly demands. (Little Cheese, 3-4 September 2022, The Big Cheese, 2-3 September 2023)
The Conwy Honey Fair
The Conwy Honey Fair is said to be one of Britain’s oldest food festivals, dating back over 700 years. The Royal Charter of Edward 1st dictates that it must happen on the same date every year – 13th September – unless that date falls on a Sunday, in which case, it moves to the Monday after. At the fair, you can expect to see honey, honeyrelated products, beekeeping stalls, preserves, sweet treats and other produce and crafts.
Narberth Food Festival
With food stalls, cookery demonstrations, music, street theatre and activities, this is the perfect Pembrokeshire day out. (24–25 September)
For more information, see Visit Wales: visitwales.com/food
The natural world became an escape – even a lifeline – for so many of us over the course of the past two years. So, too, did our allotted daily walks; one precious hour to forget about everything else and relish streets, lanes and parks now echoing with birdsong rather than car horns. Walks and wildlife go hand in hand.
When I tell someone I’m from the North of England, I’m often met by one of two responses: a quizzical, almost pitying look, or a question about whether I spend time in the Peak District or the Lake District.
There is so much more to the North than mist, mizzle and the paths most trodden. Just off the M6 motorway and a stone’s throw from the city of Preston in Lancashire, there is a hidden oasis.
Brockholes Nature Reserve is a lush retreat into wilderness, where snipe feed on the edges of sparkling lakes, hobbies snatch dragonflies from mid-air and stoats scamper sneakily through the shelter of flower-rich grassland.
Imagine my surprise when, after pausing on the footpath to take a sip from my water bottle, a whole family of rambunctious stoats dove out of the grass on one side and tumbled into the cover of the other.
From its highest peaks to its urban centres, Britain is a wildlife wonderland where orchids reclaim defunct quarries, peregrine falcons nest on church towers, and lion’s mane jellyfish trail flowing tentacles just off our shores. Book author Charlotte Varela tells us more...
Text by Charlotte Varela
Continue up the M6 and you’ll find yourself en-route to South Walney Nature Reserve in Cumbria. It might not have the craggy skyline of the Lakes proper, but it has a raw wildness of a different kind. A rambling, windswept, salty demeanour that echoes with the sounds of seabirds and wading birds.
As summer melts into autumn, grayling butterflies bask cryptically in the sunshine and eider ducks, along with their young, prepare to vacate the shore; heading out to sea before migratory curlew move in.
The Midlands is a region of contrasts. Pockets of atmospheric ancient woodland stand defiantly in landscapes moulded by mining; otters wind lithely through urban rivers and canals; and woods, valleys and fields roll towards a stunning coastline. Bridleways, footpaths, trails and tracks wind across the landscape, often connecting up neighbouring nature reserves. It’s the perfect excuse for a whole day – even a whole weekend – of exploring on foot.
Take Derbyshire’s Wye Valley Reserves. Here, three nature reserves – Miller’s Dale Quarry, Priestcliffe Lees and Chee Dale –stretch for almost four miles, connected by the Monsal Trail. I stepped out of the car with the intention of visiting just one of these wild places, but the Wye Valley soon drew me along with irresistible gifts. A dark green fritillary butterfly darted around old spoil heaps. Harebells, so delicate they could have been painted onto the grass in watercolour, nodded gently in the breeze. Then, before I retraced my steps to the car, my eye caught the jaunty bobbing of a dipper on a rock in the River Wye.
PREVIOUS PAGE LEFT TO RIGHT: DIPPER (CINCLUS CINCLUS); COMMON FROG (RANA TEMPORARIA); EUROPEAN STOAT (MUSTELA ERMINEA) CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: GRASS SNAKE; WATER VOLE; FOUR-SPOTTED CHASER (LIBELLULA QUADRIMACULATA) DRAGONFLY NEXT PAGE LEFT TO RIGHT: WOODCOCK (SCOLOPAX RUSTICOLA); YELLOWHAMMER (EMBERIZA CITRINELLA)
Whitacre Heath, too, forms a vital part of a connected natural landscape – this time, the Tame Valley Wetlands in Warwickshire.
Pools upon wet woodland upon wet grassland attracts not just the who’s who of the bird world, but frogs and toads, which in turn entice their archnemesis: the grass snake.
If heaven is a place on earth, that place must be the South West. It would be rude not to dip your toes into the brilliant blue waters of Lulworth Cove, or gently probe for weird and wonderful rockpool creatures in Padstow. But life doesn’t stop at the coast; it thrives inland, too.
Nestled in Gloucestershire’s leg of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), you’ll find Greystones Farm, a nature reserve that can be visited time and again and yet still surprise you. My heart thrills whenever I visit a wildlife-friendly farm – Greystones being a particularly heartening example of nature and farming working hand in hand. In late summer, the meadows beam with the colours of great burnet, devil’s-bit scabious and meadowsweet.
The banks of the River Eye, left to flourish, give water voles a sheltered run to their favourite diving spots – listen for a ‘plop’ as they enter the water.
If you really can’t tear yourself away from the coast, there is always Windmill Farm in
‘My heart thrills whenever I visit a wildlife-friendly farm – Greystones being a particularly heartening example of nature and farming working hand in hand’
Cornwall. I’d go so far as to say this nature reserve is the highlight of the Lizard Peninsula, with a mosaic of arable crops, heathland and boggy patches sustaining marsh fritillary butterflies, swallows and woodcock. There is even a 17th-century windmill – once the hideout of one of Cornwall’s most notorious gangs – to connect you to the local history.
SOUTH EAST AND LONDON
The South East of England has a special kind of magic, and not always in the way you’d expect. The celebrated white cliffs and purple heathlands overshadow overlooked gems that shine just as brightly when handed the spotlight.
Tring Reservoirs (plural – four reservoirs in fact) form one of the best birdwatching spots in the South of England. Visiting them all to look for reed warblers, sedge warblers and teal will take around five hours, but if you’re pushed for time, head to Wilstone Reservoir. It hosts a fantastic heronry, and as the waters recede on the mudflats in autumn, you’ll find a hidden treasure: the rare plant, mudwort.
Even London safeguards green escapes from the hustle and bustle. Camley Street Natural Park is a hop, skip and a jump from St Pancras and King’s Cross, yet transports you to another place entirely. A place where bees and butterflies fight for the best seat at the nectar buffet, fungi hide in the cool wood, and floating reedbeds help to
prevent canal pollution. Plus, there’s a café – we all know the best walks end with cake.
I’ve barely scraped the surface of Britain’s wildlife walks, but that in itself is a comfort. There will always be a new adventure or something to discover, even at a nature reserve you were sure you’d investigated from top to bottom. Keep exploring. Keep walking.
Wildlife Walks: Get back to nature at more than 475 of the UK's best wild places
WildlifeWalksis a companion to your discovery of nature across the UK. Charlotte Varela has created a definitive guide to Britain's stunning natural heritage, including woods, heaths, moors and wetlands all owned and managed by the unique network of Wildlife Trusts. With details about everything you could need to plan a walk at each nature reserve, plus hundreds of beautiful photographs, you’re guaranteed to find your next happy place.
Charlotte Varela is the author of Wildlife Walks: Get back to nature at more than 475 of the UK's best wild places, published by Bloomsbury Wildlife and out now (paperback: £16.99).
WALKS ON THE WILD SIDE
When was the last time you went for a walk? A proper walk. Not plodding along, head down, but casting your eyes over every surface, breathing in deep lungfulls of fresh air, and most importantly, pausing to just listen and enjoy becoming a part of the landscape to the wildlife around you. Here are some more wild spots not to be missed from around the UK:
Brownsea Island, Dorset
Among the best birdwatching spots in the South West, a breathtaking retreat for people and a haven for red squirrels.
The Isles of Scilly
An enchanting archipelago, home to dizzyingly diverse plant, animal and birdlife, from seabirds and dwarf pansies on the cliffs to dolphins in the crystal-clear ocean.
Sandwich and Pegwell Bay, Kent
One of the best places in the UK to see migrating birds, such as nightingales, cuckoos, sanderlings and waxwings.
Cley and Salthouse Marshes, Norfolk
The oldest Wildlife Trust nature reserve and one of the best birdwatching spots in the UK.
Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire
A spectacular stretch of unspoilt coastline, with sweeping views out to sea and a dazzling diversity of life.
Moseley Bog, Birmingham
The childhood playground of J. R. R. Tolkien, where fungi fill the woods in autumn and Bronze Age burnt mounds allude to a fascinating social history.
Wigan Flashes, Lancashire
Lakes formed from mining subsidence form part of a wild mosaic of reedbed, fen, grassland and woodland. Look out for rare willow tits.
Loch of the Lowes, Perth and Kinross
Loch of the Lowes is famous for its breeding ospreys, and their eyrie sits just 150m from the nature reserve’s viewing hide.
IMAGES © ANDY ROUSE/2020VISION / ROSS HODDINOTT/2020VISION / TERRY WHITTAKER/2020VISION / DANNY GREEN/2020VISION / MARK HAMBLIN/2020VISION / CHRIS GOMERSALL/2020VISION
Set in subtropical gardens down a quiet country lane in a hidden corner of Cornwall, and recently re-modernised under new ownership, Hotel Meudon is a rare holiday gem with its own secluded beach, high-class cuisine and breathtaking beauty
Text by Jessica Way
It is impossible not to fall in love with Hotel Meudon upon arrival – it evokes your senses; the sweet smells, popping colour and blissful ambient sounds from the unrivalled subtropical garden transcend you into another world entirely.
The glamour and tranquillity of Meudon doesn’t end there, inside you become enthralled by its eccentric charm – full of character preserved in time and never lost. The lounge-like reception area is beautifully decorated with vintage furniture, including Nelson designed pendants and Santa & Cole floor lights. With jazz music reverberating from the Drawing Room you could easily believe you've timewarped back to the 1960s when the elegant bijou hotel first opened – and was celebrated as the most modern hotel in Cornwall – by Harry Pilgrim.
We were greeted by affable staff who took our luggage – it was too early to check-in to our room so they warmly suggested taking an early-afternoon wander down to Bream Cove, a secluded private bay nestled at the bottom
of their garden. Beach towels in arms and feeling as though we didn’t have a care in the world, we meandered through the picturesque meadow of giant rhododendrons, mimosas, gunneras, camellias, Jurassic-looking tree ferns and other plant-hunter finds from around the world.
It's a fascinating stroll, the giant rhubarbs make you feel as though you’ve entered the film set for Honey I Shrunk The Kids – each leaf reaches up to seven feet tall and stretches over, creating huge green canopies fanning out from tall, thick, spiky trunks, while the 10-metre-tall magnolia fill the valley with colour.
It is the Quakers we must thank initially for this nineacre paradise, Falmouth’s famous Fox family who owned the property back in the early 1800s. Their passion for exotic gardens set the tone and initial vision for this tropical splendour, with later generations adding their own mark. During the beginning of lockdown, new proprietors Kingfisher Resorts acquired the hotel from the Pilgrim family, who had owned the hotel for over 60 years.
The gardens might be Meudon’s jewel in the crown but the private beach cove is their best-kept-secret and the new owners have been quick off the mark to fine-tune guest experiences there – from opening The Bream Box, offering barista-style coffee and a tempting range of pastries, treats and snacks (home-made chocolate brownies are delicious!) to introducing snorkelling, stand-up-paddleboarding and kayaking with local resident Dan of Little Wolf Adventures, who describes himself as part-man, part-fish!
You also can’t beat a wild swim at Bream Cove – the crystalclear calm waters lure you in. At low tide it is possible to scramble over the rock pools to the sandy beach at Gatamala Cove and walkers can enjoy the four-mile circular walk along the South West Coast Path to Rosemullion Head and the Helford Estuary.
Feeling fabulously refreshed after our sea swim, we made our way back through Meudon Woods to the hotel where we were shown to our Large Sea View with Balcony room by General Manager, Samantha Banks. Why ‘Meudon,’ I asked? Sam
explained that the name Meudon was taken from a nearby farmhouse which had been nicknamed 'Mowi do Non' by the Napoleonic prisoners of war who built it after their home village near Paris. This became shortened to Meudon. Then, under the new ownership ‘Meudon Hotel’ has been given a fresh modern twist and a subtle repositioning to ‘Hotel Meudon’.
And it is not only the hotel name that has been tastefully remodelled. The sympathetic refurbishments have enhanced its '60s heyday – the original furniture has been given a new lease of life, including the Ercol chairs and tables on the bridge and a fabulous glass coffee table in the drawing room. Even the chairs in the bedrooms are the
‘The gardens might be Meudon’s jewel in the crown but the private beach cove is their best-kept-secret...’
original 1960s Parker Knoll Froxfields, restored and reupholstered.
Besides the many belongings lovingly kept and restored there are some lovely modern design features too, including new bathrooms and glass balconies, while the Cornish toiletries, hanging clay tiles on the walls designed with a Cornwall crest and the beautiful bold artwork from local artist Nicola Bealing nod towards a sense of place and Cornish provenance.
On the way to dinner in the hotel’s awardwinning Restaurant Meudon, we spot menus hanging on the walls from some of the world’s top dining establishments – including a signed menu from El Bulli.
A bright-yellow sea bream with red human ankles and feet – specially commissioned from artist Nicola Bealing – greets you before the maître d' takes you to your table.
Restaurant Meudon has a wonderful aura – you are made to feel special from the moment you walk in. The setting is spectacular, floor-to-ceiling windows allow the natural light to flood through to the opulent décor – think: pine parquet flooring, stylishly refurbished 1960s dining chair originals, glass chandeliers and lighting from Vistosi. Guests are seated with views overlooking the glorious Meudon gardens, and a grapevine flourishing in the conservatory brings the outside in.
I ordered baked Camembert followed by roast south coast cod and morello cherry soufflé for dessert – and savoured every extraordinary mouthful. Menus are inspired by nouvelle cuisine, with fresh fish and seafood, locally farmed meats and seasonal game, complemented by Cornwall’s own natural larder: fresh ingredients grown and foraged in the hotel’s gardens. The chefs exquisite, artistic creations look as incredible as they taste.
Found in the oldest part of the hotel, off the drawing room, Freddie’s speakeasy-style cocktail bar has everything you need for a decadent nightcap, from locally sourced artisan gins to wondrous whiskies – and even their own evening menu with light bites such as charred fennel and orange hummus charred flatbread or Fowey scallop
‘The sympathetic refurbishments have enhanced its '60s heyday – the original furniture has been given a new lease of life’
and crab carpaccio. Rum is my spirit of choice, so I ordered a Rum Mochaccino with Meudon spice and made a toast to a blissful day.
A scrumptious bubble and squeak breakfast the next morning was the fuel needed for a coastal hike to Trebah Gardens. Directions are made easy – on reaching Bream Cove you turn right and head across the Rosemullion headland towards the Helford River. It is a picturesque walk taking you past several beaches: Cows, Porth Saxon and Grebe. Save yourself, though – Trebah, in similar fashion to Hotel Meudon (and for which it could be mistaken as its big sister), is also blessed with its own secluded bay at the bottom of the garden: Polgwidden Cove.
You could easily spend all day exploring the four miles of footpaths through the three wondrous valleys, and 26 acres of exotic blooms and champion trees at Trebah. We chose the river walk that cascades down to Polgwidden Cove, where we enjoyed a locally made Roskilly's ice cream before making our way back to Hotel Meudon along the Carwinion’s footpath through the hotel’s own bamboo plantation.
Rather than making your way inland on the coastal path to reach the gardens, you might like to continue just a little further to Helford Passage and The Ferry Boat Inn. From here you can pop onto the passenger ferry crossing to Helford and the idyllic Helford Creek or simply enjoy the Helford River – a large estuary and popular spot for standup paddleboarding, boating and sailing, linking Falmouth Bay with the eastern side of The Lizard Peninsula. Or take the coast path in the opposite direction,
heading left from Bream Cove towards Falmouth past Maenporth Beach and Stack Point. Once you reach Falmouth’s town beach, overlooked by the impressive Pendennis Castle, you can cross the mouth of the River Fal by ferry to the pretty fishing village of St Mawes, a must-visit spot on the Roseland Peninsula with excellent restaurants, pubs, shops and galleries.
Following a long walk I rewarded myself with a delightful Revitalising Body and Mind massage by Emslie, (a wonderful therapist!) in the hotel's Sanctuary Suite. If you are heading to Meudon for a wellness break you might also enjoy taking part in a private yoga session in the garden or letting off some steam at one of the weekly fitness sessions.
There’s a rather stylish brand-new outdoor bar too, where Dom, Meudon’s top mixologist will shake you up a cocktail of choice. Mine was their signature Cornish twist on a 'Bronx', using local Rosemullion Seafarers Gin, Martini Rubino, Noilly Prat, freshly squeezed orange and dashes of orange bitters – it was (just as Dom had told me it would be) sharp, refreshing and full of citrus zing.
Speaking about Bream Cove, Dom also tells me about the Boxing Day dip – swimmers are welcomed after their plunge by staff with hot water bottles, nibbles and warming mulled wine. It seems this sublime hotel is prepared for every season too.
Hotel Meudon is dog-friendly, (including the garden and beach), rooms cost from £129 per night B&B (based on two people sharing in low season); meudon.co.uk
OPENING PAGE: BREAM COVE PREVIOUS PAGE CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: HOTEL MEUDON; JESSICA AND HER DOG POPPY; THE GARDEN WALK; DRAWING ROOM THIS PAGE: SEA VIEW SUITE; COCKTAILS AT FREDDIE'S BAR; BRAISED BEEF CHEEK WITH BOURGUIGNON GARNISH; DINING ROOM; DRAWING ROOM
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THE LONGSTONE ISLE OF WIGHT
BEHIND THE CURTAIN
Don't miss the biggest performances taking the stage
The magical story of the world’s favourite Nanny arriving on Cherry Tree Lane has been brilliantly adapted from the wonderful stories by PL Travers and the original beloved Walt Disney film, and triumphantly and spectacularly brought to the stage with dazzling choreography, incredible effects and unforgettable songs.
Since its opening in London 18 years ago the award-winning stage version of Mary Poppins, continues to be a smash hit, having just opened in Tokyo earlier this year and Sydney in
May where it has been received wonderfully by critics and audiences alike. The production has been running for over 1,250 performances, spreading Mary Poppins ‘supercalifragilistic’ magic around the globe – and theatre buffs now have the chance to attend the final performance in London’s West End in the new year. ◆
Showing at Prince Edward Theatre, Old Compton Street, Soho, London W1D 4HS, ticket prices from £20; marypoppinsonstage.co.uk
In celebration of the show’s 25th anniversary the latest production of Les Misérables has taken the world by storm continuing to enjoy record-breaking runs in countries including North America, Australia, Japan, Korea, France and Spain – and is now showing in the West End.
After nearly 20 years working on the chain gang Jean Valjean is finally released on parole only to find that the yellow ticket he is required by law to display marks him as an outcast, an undesirable not to be trusted.
As Valjean struggles to make his way in his new life he encounters the Bishop of Digne who gives him a chance to start again. Police Inspector Javert cannot let this man slip away, he is determined to bring Valjean to justice. As Valjean leads a new life under a new name, Javert is constantly looming around the corner and in the meantime revolution is
in the air of Paris. Boublil and Schönberg’s magnificent iconic score of Les Misérables includes the classic songs, I Dreamed a Dream, On My Own, Stars, Bring Him Home, Do You Hear the People Sing?, One Day More, Empty Chairs at Empty Tables, Master Of The House and many more.
Several of its songs have become real life anthems of revolution wherever in the world people are fighting for their freedom. Seen by over 120 million people worldwide in 52 countries and in 22 languages, Les Misérables is undisputedly one of the world’s most popular and contemporary musicals. ◆
Les Misérables is showing at Sondheim Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W1D 6BA, ticket prices from £10.00; lesmis.com
The Phantom of the Opera
The Phantom of the Opera is widely considered one of the most beautiful and spectacular productions in history. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s romantic, haunting and soaring score includes Music of the Night, All I Ask of You, Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again, Masquerade and the iconic title song.
It tells the tale of a disfigured musical genius known only as ‘The Phantom’ who haunts the depths of the Paris Opera House. Mesmerised by the talents and beauty of a young soprano – Christine, the Phantom lures her as his protégé and falls fiercely in love with her. Unaware of Christine’s love for Raoul, the Phantom’s obsession sets the scene for a dramatic
turn of events where jealousy, madness and passions collide. The Phantom of the Opera tickets remain some of the most popular in London after more than 30 years!
The soaring music of this classic production has made it a mainstay of the West End for decades. This production is one that brings people back time and time again. If you’ve never seen it before, what are you waiting for? ◆
The Phantom of the Opera plays at Her Majesty's Theatre, Monday – Saturday 7.30pm with matinees on Saturday & Thursday at 2.30pm. Tickets from £22.50; uk.thephantomoftheopera.com
AUTUMN BREAKS top ten
Wild foraging in Abergavenny
The Angel is an historic inn at the centre of Abergavenny’s foodie-friendly town and a base for foraging walks at the foot of the Black Mountains. Local wild food expert, Adele Nozedar, is the author of the The Hedgerow Handbook and will lead the walks, aiming to equip foragers with the knowledge to help them find and eat their own wild food. On selected dates in October she will help visitors discover autumn berries –including hawthorn, rosehips and sloes – as well as mushrooms and green wild food. Abergavenny is bursting with quality farm shops, cafes and restaurants, while The Angel offers not only hotel rooms but two comfortable cottages and a lodge in the grounds of Abergavenny Castle too.
One night’s B&B at The Angel costs from £167, including a foraging course
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Need inspiration for a short break? We've gathered together ten of the most unique luxury experiences available to try this autumn, from exclusive backstage tours at the opera to guided hikes on the Lake District’s most photogenic fells
Text by Natalie Paris
The Lake District’s best hikes
How can you be sure to see the best of the Lake District’s spectacular landscapes on a short break? Linthwaite House is offering guided, all-day hikes to some of the region’s most photographic spots led by Steve Watts, an experienced fell walker and runner who has an in-depth knowledge of Lakeland life. The hikes are tailored to walkers’ individual interests and abilities and are followed by dinner at the hotel’s
restaurant Henrock afterwards, which is under the guidance of Michelin-starred chef Simon Rogan.
Linthwaite House has far-reaching views over Lake Windermere, and has a small lake within the grounds that is suitable for rowing boats.
A one-night Making Memories package from Linthwaite House costs from £830, based on two sharing, including dinner and a packed lunch and flask
Off-roading in the Yorkshire Dales
Luxury spa hotel The Coniston is offering guests an adventurous way to experience the landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales, by tackling its scenic rough terrain in a Land or Range Rover. The hotel’s specially designed escorted tours will thrill passengers, overcoming both rocks and water in order to access the best viewpoints. The vehicle will be packed with
luxury food and drink for the journey. Choose between a romantic trip to proposal-worthy spots, a relaxing picnic and Prosecco drive or a pies and pints tour that calls in at some of the Dales’ finest pubs. The hotel has 70 bedrooms, plus an outdoor hot tub and rolltop baths for a soak with lake views.
One night’s B&B at The Coniston with a picnic and Prosecco tour costs from £228 per person
Metal detecting in Suffolk
Not far from the ancient Anglo Saxon burial site at Sutton Hoo, detectorists are curious as to what else lies beneath the Suffolk soil. Metal detecting tours give visitors a chance to uncover special finds in this area, which is renowned for its important historical and archeological discoveries. Offered by Butley Priory, the gatehouse for a former 12th-century Augustinian monastery, the metal-detecting tours explore pasture and farmland at different sites over three days. Included in the package is a stay at a Grade II-listed Butley Abbey Farmhouse, which is a mile from the filming location of the 2021 Netflix film The Dig. Talks from historians are scheduled each evening and all equipment can be hired at an extra cost.
Three nights metal detecting at Butley Abbey Farmhouse in September costs from £950, allinclusive
5Wild picnics in Perthshire
With rugged hills meeting the eye in all directions, the remote, wooden lunch hut on the Straloch Estate is a dramatic spot for a fresh-air feast. Picnic guests are either driven in a Land Rover up to the solitary hut, which is kitted out in sheepskins and stands in a fold of Perthshire hills, or they can take an hour to walk up there, on paths through heather and gorse. The gourmet pies, soups, sandwiches, brownies and pudding pots, all whipped up by the estate’s chef, can feed up to ten people. The estate offers guests a three-bedroom house and a two-bedroom keeper’s cottage to stay in and, from late September to October it is common to hear the roar of rutting stags. Guided walks and kayaking on the loch are also possible.
Three nights in a Straloch Estate cottage with a wild picnic costs from £180, based on full occupancy, excluding transport and drinks
Watersports in the Scottish Highlands
Adrenaline seekers should consider the water sports available from boutique hotel Airds this autumn. With a focus on white-water rafting in particular, Airds offers a range of craft to tame the river rapids on Scotland’s West Coast. Solo guests can give ‘river bugging’ a go, or a pair of adventurers can try ‘funyakking’ in a small, inflatable kayak. Canyoning, gorge walking and coasteering are all also possible. The sports suit teenagers as well as active adults and the hotel, part of the Relais & Châteaux group, has views that stretch across Loch Linnhe to the Morvern Mountains. For anyone wanting to stay dry, the hotel can also recommend memorable cycling and hiking trips from its doorstep, as well as gardens to visit and whisky tasting in Oban.
A two-night B&B stay at Airds costs from £590 based on two sharing, with water-sports activities priced individually
Apple pressing and glamping in Cornwall
Autumn is harvest time, with apples, plums and gages all ripe and ready for plucking from the boughs at The Fir Hill Estate near Newquay. Guests at this carbon-neutral yurtglamping site are being invited to help with fruit picking in the expanded orchards this season. The owner is keen to try a new cider press also, so guests who would like to make their own apple juice can take their haul to the cider house and create a bottle to take home. The 62-acre historic estate overlooks the Porth Reservoir and has 15 Mongolian-style yurts that are lined with sheep wool felt and come with personal firepits and barbecues. Free entry to The Lost Gardens of Heligan is possible, where the barn fills with rainbow pumpkins at this time of year.
Three nights in a yurt at The Fir Hill Estate costs from £330 based on two sharing until 31 October 2022
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Wye Valley electric biking
Nestled deep in the Forest of Dean, chic boutique hotel Tudor Farmhouse has come up with an ideal way for guests to enjoy autumn displays of colour in the surrounding trees. Electric bikes can be hired at the property to take along various trails nearby. The valley should be a blaze of russet and gold leaves at this time, with views afforded across the River Wye on one trail and the chance to spot peregrine falcons on another. There is also a nine-mile loop suited to families.
Massages are available post-ride, as the hotel has its own shepherd's hut spa cabin. Other opportunities to commune with nature include river swimming, picnics, forest bathing, wildlife safaris and guided stargazing.
A two-night e-bike safari with Tudor Farmhouse costs from £650, with dinner, B&B, a packed ‘power’ lunch and one day e-bike hire
Backstage at the opera
For opera lovers, a private backstage tour of the Royal Opera House hits all the right notes. An exclusive peek behind the scenes is offered by the hotel NoMad London, a smart, culturally sophisticated, boutique property that is located close to the internationally renowned opera house in Covent Garden. Guests will receive two tickets to the opera of their choice, as well as a tour of the Opera House prior to the performance, two cocktails back at the hotel and a signed Royal Opera House Picture Book. Major shows for the autumn season include Salome, Aida, Mayerling and La Boheme. The NoMad has artwork inspired by the Opera House throughout its Grade II-listed building, which used to be Bow Street Magistrates’ Court.
A Night At The Opera, through The NoMad Hotel costs from £525 B&B, with a minimum 30-day booking lead time
A shopping butler in Jersey
Travellers who love collecting beautiful things can benefit from personalised retail therapy on Jersey island. The Club Hotel & Spa has a butler dedicated to shopping who can treat guests to a one-to-one consultation before they even set foot in a boutique. Laura Morel, a qualified stylist, will discuss guests’ individual tastes with them before revealing how to make the most of the island’s tax-free shopping opportunities. She knows where to find the best boutiques and markets, and will have access to exclusive discounts for designer department stores. Once back at the hotel, guests can relax in the world-class spa or try a tasting menu in Michelin-starred restaurant Bohemia.
Two nights at The Club Hotel & Spa costs from £519, based on two sharing, and includes the butler experience (available Friday and Saturday) and a tasting menu for two
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CAMPERVAN road trips
With Yescapa, great British road trips are made easy, and together with our round-up of some of the best, your expedition should be a breeze! Sleep under the stars, be first on the beach, swim in the sea, toast marshmallows over the firepit and travel as and when you please...
east coast villages of Dornoch and Wick to Aultbea, Poolewe and Gairloch on the rugged west coast, where the wild peaks of Loch Maree are found. Finally, the road reaches Bealach na Bà, which loops up and over the Applecross Peninsula for an aweinspiring finish.
A HIGHLAND FLING WITH THE NORTH COAST 500 IN SCOTLAND
Get your fill of fresh air, wide-open spaces and dramatic views on an epic campervan road trip through the Scottish Highlands on the North Coast 500. The road trip on everyone’s must-do list, this circular route features a greatest-hits list of Scottish scenery, stretching across more than 800km of back roads. Skirting the coast from Inverness and the Black Isle, past the seaboard crags of Caithness, Sutherland and Wester Ross, it offers Gothic ruins, rugged fairways, historic castles, shingle-sand beaches, tiny fishing hamlets and peaty whisky distilleries. Along the way, the route builds as it progresses, from the
Hire from Elizabeth. Elizabeth’s midnight blue executive campervan near Glasgow, is a four-berth Toyota Alphard camper. Comfortable and spacious with a fully-equipped kitchen, it’s perfect for creating a romantic meal for two under the stars. Easy to handle – it’s a first-class driving and living experience. Four nights from £676
GETTING OFF GRID AND WILD SWIMMING IN THE LAKE DISTRICT
Take a scenic road trip through the Lake District National Park with its 16 lakes and 214 fells. Highlights include Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), with its ancient woodlands and meadows; Cartmel – home of sticky toffee pudding; Windermere, the largest natural lake in England; Grasmere, at the foot of several impressive fells and once home to William Wordsworth; and the dramatic Langdale Valley.
Hire from Paul. Paul’s luxurious campervan is a Volkswagen T5 based in Brampton, near the Lake District. This spacious four-berth van features a full-width bed, popup-roof bed, night heater, tinted windows, leisure battery, dining table, toilet, full kitchen, and plenty of storage. Four nights from £522
WAKE UP WITH A DIFFERENT VIEW EVERY DAY ON A CAMPERVAN ADVENTURE IN CORNWALL
Enjoy the freedom of the open road with nights spent sleeping under the stars, waking up with breathtaking views of the coast and countryside. There are endless Cornish adventures to choose from – explore the dramatic coastal roads and take in the beaches, surfing and water sports as well as dine on sumptuous cream teas, Cornish pasties and fresh seafood. Discover nearby highlights such as Mousehole, the
Lost Gardens of Heligan, St Michael’s Mount and Land’s End and stay overnight at Gwithian Farm Campsite near St Ives, with stunning views of Hayle Beach (regularly featured as one of the top 10 best UK campsites).
Set off in Dharma for a motor adventure with a difference. Based in Carnkie, just outside of Redruth, Cornwall, this 2015 converted Peugeot Boxer is easy to drive with all the modern comforts from home, including a hot shower system to deal with those days in the surf. A double bed and lovely interiors will evoke a soothing sleep while listening to the lapping waves. Four nights from £522
MEANDER THE COUNTRY LANES OF THE COTSWOLDS FOR A FABULOUS PHOTO TOUR
Take the slow road to the Cotswolds, the heart of England, a couple of hours' drive from London. With 800 square miles to explore, the Cotswolds runs through five counties (Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire). Discover the lesser-known country lanes and travel through timeless scenery amid the rolling countryside. Learn about the history, heritage and the stories behind the people, the places, and the landscape, and make a deeper connection to this wonderful region. Uncover the traditional honey-coloured cottages in the lively market towns of Tetbury, Woodstock and
Winchcombe, a magnet for hikers who wish to walk the Cotswolds Way. This trip will take you along the length and breadth of the boundaries as well as to the highest point of the region, and through its beautiful valleys and vales – the perfect viewpoints for fabulous photo opportunities and fascinating places to wander.
Hire from Christopher. Christopher’s 1989 vintage VW campervan, Freda is a four-berth campervan made for adventure. It includes a kitchenette, a cosy living room area, and an extremely comfortable double bed. There is a bike rack on the back and rooftop storage, the van also comes with a BBQ / firepit, chairs and table and three hammocks.
Four nights from £468
ART, CULTURE AND DRAMATIC SCENERY ON THE SOUTH DOWNS
An exciting new route launched by Sussex Modern (a collaboration of artistic, cultural and wine-making venues) celebrates this region's modern highlights. Create your own route, taking in the county’s galleries, museums, and artists’ houses. Visit Eastbourne’s Towner Art Gallery, which houses a collection of contemporary artworks, including the work of Sussex
born Eric Ravilious (1903–1942), who depicted the Sussex coastline and countryside with the likes of Lighthouses at Newhaven (1935), and Beachy Head (unfinished; c.1939).
Based at the foot of the South Downs in Storrington, this comfortable and fully equipped Converted Peugeot Van is a four-berth with fixed double bed, and a Cabbunk System that can be assembled in the van cab, suitable for two children. Featuring an indoor shower, built-in toilet, and a kitchen with fridge and dinnerware, it is easy to drive with a powerful engine; perfect for exploring the rolling hills of the South Downs. There is lots to explore nearby, including the beautiful Seven Sisters hills, fantastic beaches such as Birling Gap, the Cuckmere Haven estuary with its paddleboarding opportunities, and excellent English wine vineyards such as Rathfinney and Bolney. Don't miss special excursions, such as to Charleston Farm House, historic former home to the Bloomsbury set.
Four nights from £676
ADVENTURE ON THE NORFOLK AND SUFFOLK COAST
Explore the Suffolk and Norfolk coastline, which offers long, wild beaches, picturesque villages, historic buildings, pleasant market towns, and traditional seaside resorts. There are also fantastic opportunities for wildlife spotting, as well as sampling the wonderful local beers and seafood that this part of the country is known for. The drive along the East Anglian coast is approximately 200 miles in length, and with so many places to stop along the way, there's no point rushing. You can do the trip in three to five days, depending on how many locations you want to visit. Norfolk highlights include The Wash – a large bay containing marshes and mud flats that's an important habitat for birds; the Victorian resort of Hunstanton, known for its elegant gardens and distinctive striped cliffs; and the pretty harbour town of Wells-nextthe-Sea, close to Holkham, is a good place to stop off for some fish and chips before making the 20-minute drive to Blakeney Point, an important nature reserve that's home to England's largest seal colony. Suffolk highlights include Lowestoft, the UK's easternmost town and the first place in the country to see the sunrise; charming Southwold which has a restored 190-metre-long Victorian pier that houses a water clock; and RSPB Minsmere Nature Reserve which offers wetlands, woodlands, and beaches to explore on foot. There's an ever-changing array of fauna, including otters, red deer, bitterns, and marsh harriers, to spot throughout the year.
Big Red is a fully equipped 4-berth VW Campervan is a late 2017 T6 High Line, newly converted to a Camper in 2021, based in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. Its 2.0L 150hp TDI engine will efficiently power you up the steepest hills, and the automatic gearbox with cruise control makes motorway miles a pleasure. It features a RIB double bed on the ground floor and a second double bed up top. Big Red also has air conditioning to keep you cool on your drive and an onboard diesel-powered heater to keep you warm during your autumn and winter campervan trips. The twin front passenger seat swivels round to make
comfortable seating for four, and a pop-in table makes for a great indoor dining space. The plush fully fitted kitchen includes a twin burner hob, a sink with onboard water tank, a fridge/freezer and plenty of cupboard space. If your adventure takes you to a campsite, Big Red can be hooked up to 240v mains or if you are wild camping there is a solar panel to charge the powerful leisure battery for the fridge, lighting and music. Four nights from £600
YORKSHIRE COAST FAMILY ROAD TRIP ON ‘ROUTE YC’
A newly launched coastal driving route, Route YC, takes in the beautiful coastline, verdant countryside, nostalgic seaside towns and Northern charm of the Yorkshire Coast. This sequence of coastal loops features six adventure-filled routes, allowing visitors to experience the coast their way, with ideas for hiking, biking, water sports and more. There are also suggestions for towns and beaches – such as Whitby, Bridlington, Scarborough and Filey – to stop at along the way. Experience the stunning natural beauty of the region on a motorhome road trip, taking in highlights such as the birthplace of British surfing in Bridlington, outstanding seafood in Scarborough, coasteering in Thornwick Bay and birdwatching at the RSPB Reserve at Bempton Cliffs.
Hire from Stephen. Stephen’s family-friendly motorhome
from Scarborough, is a luxurious six-berth Rimor
Katamarano motorhome with a modern kitchen including fridge/freeze, a large bathroom, and a drop-down double bed with ladders. There is a television, mood lighting, and solar panels, and for keen cyclists, there is a bike rack for two bikes. It has everything you need for a fun family camper trip. Four nights from £780
Yescapa is a community of nearly 500,000 users, with a fleet of around 10,000 vehicles; yescapa.co.uk
REFURBISHMENT an extravagant
It’s an historic landmark, an art deco hotel right next to the train station in Yorkshire’s largest city, and it recently had a nine-month, £16-million refurbishment. Karyn Noble experiences a luxurious weekend in Leeds at The Queens Hotel and also reviews its new Grand Pacific restaurant
Icould almost count the steps from Leeds’ train station to The Queens Hotel, but even if I had, the minimal step count would’ve entirely slipped my mind when I opened the door to my room on the eighth floor. It was like walking into a turn-of-the-century film location, where I was looking directly at grand Grade-II-listed buildings from each window of my room. Before I can hang up my coat, I’m dazzled by the late afternoon winter sun glinting from the glorious lime-green patina dome atop the Corinthian columns of the former Yorkshire Banking Company building (built in 1899). I cross the glossy parquet floor to bring the other window’s view closer to me: the vast expanse of Leeds’
City Square and the classical architecture of the former General Post Office (from 1896) with its intricately designed clock tower. I wait for the director to call ‘Cut!’ on the cars spinning about the other-worldly metropolis below, where six roads meet, but there isn’t one.
This is my reality. I turn from window to window, transfixed, then spot the complimentary mini-gin bottles accompanied by Valencian orange tonic water on the table. I mix my welcome cocktail into a glass adorned with slices of dehydrated orange and lime, and happily reconcile The Queen Hotel’s new-found modernity with its unique place in Leeds’ history.
Text by Karyn Noble
Glamorous history meets multimillion-pound refurbishment
First operating in 1863 as a Midland Railway hotel, the art deco Grade-II-listed, white-Portland-stone-clad building you see today was constructed in 1937 and opened by the Princess Royal. Back then, it was not just the first British hotel to have en-suite bathrooms and air-conditioning from top to bottom, The Queens Hotel was very much the place to be seen. Still today, it’s not difficult to imagine Cary Grant once lounging in the opulent lobby, Laurel and Hardy dancing about the palatial ballroom or Nelson Mandela emerging from one of the listed red elevators.
As part of its nine-month, £16-million renovation, an additional 16 bedrooms were added, bringing the total to 232 rooms, all of them completely renovated but using a similar black, white and muted grey colour palette. Select one with a ‘City Square’ view for the best outlook. The ground floor has been totally transformed as a social
meeting hub, and the book-shelf-lined lobby with its mix of plush furniture, sculpture, chandeliers, and pendant hanging lights offers a striking welcome as you arrive through the revolving glass doors towards the barrel-vaulted ceiling of the reception.
Upperworth Studios and Iliard Design are responsible for the transformation, which sensitively enhances many of the hotel’s historical art deco features while seamlessly introducing modernised functionality. So much so that my initial disbelief that the red passenger elevators may be ornamental rather than functional proved unfounded.
Grand Pacific Restaurant
With design inspired by Singapore’s opulent Raffles hotel, the Grand Pacific restaurant in The Queens Hotel has been kitted out by developer Living Ventures and features nods to the Golden ‘20s. My first impression at dinner is of relaxed splendour. It all feels rather exciting to be in a high-ceilinged,
‘It's not difficult to imagine Cary Grant once lounging in the opulent lobby, Laurel and Hardy dancing about the palatial ballroom or Nelson Mandela emerging from...the red elevators.’
strikingly lit (15ft bespoke chandelier!) circular space, where palm trees loom over high-backed chairs with thronelike drama, and the décor evokes both light-hearted fun and glamour. This translates to the drinks menu, where the cocktails seem incredibly popular, thanks to the theatrical smoky arrivals from the raised bar that splits restaurant diners from drinkers in the lounge area. I sip my Yuzu Negroni while pillows of smoke waft out of domes lifted to reveal Smoked Pineapple Daiquiris or Smokey Old Fashioneds.
The food choices at dinner err on the side of comforting crowd-pleasers. I murmur ‘international cruise ship’ to myself in an attempt to describe the gamut of global influences. Indeed, the main courses are described as ‘a mesmeric voyage of tastes from distant shores’, spanning everything from Asian-Spiced Duck Cottage Pie to Tempura Szechuan Sea Bass. Yuzu makes another appearance in my dessert of crème brûlée served with macadamia shortbread. And if chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream and salted caramel sauce doesn’t make you happy enough, they go one step further by adding honeycomb-roasted peanuts. Everything is a dollop of ‘extra’ without being too avant-garde.
Such is the warmth of service at Grand Pacific, that I’m recognised at High Tea the next afternoon by one of the previous night’s waiters, and I already feel like a regular. I’m thrilled to sit at yet another dramatic highbacked chair, where I cocoon inside, like being in a sun-dappled protective pram. A choice of loose-leaf tea is offered with all the accoutrements, along with not one but two impressive
three-tiered courses, first the savoury delicacies then the sweet treats.
Let’s start with the savouries. This is no mere crusts-off cute sandwich situation (although Coronation Chicken as well as Egg and Mustard Cress sandwiches are present). Instead, think: Smoked Salmon Potato Cake, Marinated Tuna Tartare, Arancini with Goat’s Cheese, Eccles Cake with Creamy Lancashire Cheese, Crumpet with Lobster Butter). The next three-tiered course of sweet treats arrive and I become gratefully to slide deeper into my comforting throne in the face of a food coma: Hibiscus and Strawberry Trifle, S’mores Chocolate Pot, Chocolate Cupcakes, Apple and Cinnamon Scones, Pumpkin Macarons, Coconut and Lemon Tarts and Treacle Toffees. It’s a delightful way to spend an afternoon, and the Grand Pacific High Tea already appears a popular choice for celebrations and get-togethers.
Note: the hotel breakfast is not served in the Grand Pacific’s 100-cover dining room, but on a basement level of the building with more of a conference-room vibe, which feels like a missed opportunity, given the dramatics upstairs.
It’s a perfunctory hot-and-cold buffet affair as well as a choice of cooked-to-order items from a short menu. If your room rate doesn’t include breakfast (you have a choice when booking), then brunching at one of the nearby cafes (see opposite page) is an excellent idea while exploring Leeds
The Queens Hotel has Classic Double Rooms from £139 (£163, including breakfast) in high season; thequeensleeds.co.uk
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK NEARBY
The sheer diversity of Leeds’ food scene could rival its abundance of shopping options, which is already off-thescale. Don’t miss our drink and dining choices, all within an easy walk of The Queens Hotel:
Access at night is via security escort from Kirkgate Market's entrance, which feels very special, as does The Owl itself. Chefs prep the likes of sourdough crumpet topped with smoked cod’s roe puree and bacon jam right in front of you.
The place for fine dining, on the banks of the River Aire at Brewery Wharf. Former MasterChef semi-finalist Elizabeth Cottam produces multicourse tasting menus (your choice of eight or ten courses), the service is impeccable and while the menu is adventurous (kudos to the Malham dessert inspired by Lockdown walks through the limestone landscapes of Yorkshire’s Malham Cove), it’s never intimidating.
The Lost & Found Leeds Club
This magnificent Grade-II listed building dating back to 1820 was restored in 2018 into a restaurant, cocktail bar, boardroom, secret den, and what at times feels like an indoor forest. The cocktails are spectacular and, depending on what you choose, could arrive topped with bubbles ready for popping, explosive fireworks, or in vessels big enough to share between four people. This is the club that brings the atmosphere if you’re ready to party. You’ve been warned.
A wonderful choice for brunch, with a menu that caters well for vegans, in addition to being on the healthier side of usual. The setting is minimalistic Scandi. If it’s on the menu, don’t miss the Duck Hash: a perfectly cooked portion of duck leg with sweet peppers, Parmentier potatoes, spinach, poached egg and Béarnaise sauce. fint-leeds.com
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