Midland Meanders

wall hadrian

The landscapes of the Midlands are widely celebrated – and rightly so. There are also some brilliant Wolsey Lodges in the region, brimming with character and offering the warmest of welcomes to all visiting walkers.

malham cove 2451405 640Start, perhaps, with Horseshoe Cottage Farm, a delightful property set in rural Leicestershire within easy reach of East Midlands Airport. More importantly for walkers it’s on the newly-gazetted National Forest Way that runs 75 miles from the National Forest Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire to the Beacon Hill Country Park in Leicestershire. This takes walkers on a journey tracing the evolution from a rural landscape, through industrialisation, decline and rebirth.

Horseshoe Cottage Farm is also close to the Leicestershire Round, a circuit of the county. This encircles Leicester and passes through some of the most beautiful and historically significant parts of the county including Burrough Hill, Foxton Locks, High Cross, Bosworth battlefield and Charnwood Forest.

You don’t, of course, need to take such a long or regimented walk. Horseshoe Cottage Farm is just opposite Bradgate Deer Park and Swithland Woods. There are plenty of shorter walks right from your door, easily tailored to involve a pub or two.

winnats pass 4381592 640Head North towards Scotland and Heads Nook Hall is six miles from Carlisle and four miles short of Hadrians Wall, a World Heritage Site and also a fantastic walk. The lodge itself is surrounded by eight private acres and is great for walkers or cyclists: there’s a secure place for bikes, a drying room for wet belongings, an honesty bar and a nearby pub. You don’t need to take a long walk along Hadrian’s wall to combine exercise and history: Chesterholm, Vindolanda, Birdoswald Roman Fort and Lanercost are all close by.

Just south of here Johnby Hall is on the northern edge of the Lake District, and their flexible blend of B&B and self-catering accommodation gives their guests great access to the quieter North Lakes. Their nearest major fell is Blencathra, 9 miles away, and the town of Keswick is 14 miles by car. For major hikers the brand-new Ullswater Way can be accessed from Dalemain, seven miles away.

There are other Wolsey Lodges around the Lake District’s south. These include Broadgate HouseSt Mary’s Mount and Cook House, all offering character accommodation to complement what is, perhaps, the UK’s greatest walking countryside.

Head east towards the coast and The Wold Cottage is very close the Yorkshire Wold’s Way, one of the 15 National Trails laid down for UK walkers and cyclists. This one loops around the East Ridings, arriving 79 miles later in Kingston-upon Hull. The Wold Cottage is also within easy reach of Flamborough Head and the RSPCA Bempton Cliffs which their clifftop work and seabirds.

flamborough head 2444811 640It should be noted, however, that there’s another Wolsey Lodge, Flamborough Manor, that is is a lot closer to both Flanborough Head and Bempton Cliffs, being a short walk away. Both lodges provide great, Wolsey Lodge accommodation; just take your pick.

 

The spotlight shines finally on Woodlands Retreat, a newly-built Scandi-style property in the heart of Staffordshire’s finest walking country. There are great walks from your door, with footpaths giving you direct access to the Dunstall Estate. Venture a little further and you’ll find countless areas of outstanding natural beauty, such as the Staffordshire Moorlands, Cannock Chase, Derbyshire Peaks and Dales and of course Dovedale. It’s also at the heart of the canal network, with miles of towpaths – and the occasional canalside pub – for level strolls. If you want to take off on an electric bike these can be hired here, complete with bespoke route maps, and there’s secure bike storage on offer.

Last but not least, Woodlands Retreat is ten minutes from the National Memorial Arboretum. Not only is this a place where you could while away many a walking day it once more marks the start of the National Forest Way,  with which we started this feature.

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