Wolsey Lodges for heavenly house parties
- Travel Guide
There are many good reasons for staying in a Wolsey Lodges B&B. There’s the personalised welcome, the high standards of comfort and…Read More
Sometimes the weather in Britain and Ireland is wholly unexpected. The month of July in 2022 has divided the nations, with a long hot spell separating the Brits and Irish into two distinct groups: those who stay home, swelter, and buy fans in the supermarket – and those who head to a beach.
A few nights at a Bed and Breakfast near the coast isn’t always considered as an option, but actually it makes a lot of sense. You can book a few nights at a B&B at short notice, timing it for as long as the good weather is expected to last, and if you pick a B&B close to the coast you can time your travel to avoid the heavy traffic. Many Wolsey Lodges have extra rooms to cope with families and besides, the beach isn’t just for the young: those lodges that don’t take children can also play their part. Unlike most self-contained accommodation you don’t have to book so far in advance that you find your visit ruined by more traditional weather, nor do you have to pay to stay long after it’s obvious the forecast is bad.
Just take a look at this selection and see if you can snatch a few days R&R at a Wolsey Lodges B&B, and fit in a short stay while the weather remains, in the words of the Sun Newspaper (though we use that description of the Sun loosely), Scorchio.
The Dean at Longniddry is a superb B&B to explore East Lothian’s coast. It’s five minutes walk from the sea and two great beaches are close by. Longniddry is 12 miles west of Edinburgh – with a train link available – and The Dean only half an hour from Edinburgh Airport.
Once you get to The Dean you’ll realise what a clever choice you’ve made. This is a deceptively spacious building that has been imaginatively decorated in Arts & Crafts style: the whole place is a riot of colour and interest. There are two guest bedrooms on the first floor, both en-suite, while the top floor has two bedrooms that share a private bathroom: perfect for families. It’s a five minute stroll into the village but the large well-kept gardens make if feel wonderfully peaceful and remote.
The Dean is walking distance from Seton Sands, a dog-friendly beach that’s popular with windsurfers, horse-riders and canoeists. The beach itself mixes sand and rocks, with lively rock pools and shipwrecks offshore revealed at low tide. Unlike the UK’s southern beaches it’s totally uncrowded, with a touch of realpolitic added by the towers of a power station at the southern end. Still, get back to The Dean at the end of each day and you’ll be able to relax in peace and tranquility; evening meals can also be arranged.
The third-sunniest part of the UK is, apparently, The Moray Firth, and that’s where you’ll find Blervie House. This magnificent property is set in a huge estate, with its own grounds stretching down to beautiful beaches where you’ll never see another soul. Add this to the facts that they’re happy to accept children, and also that it’s a short drive from Inverness Airport, and it’s easy to see why this is something of a seaside discovery.
What a B&B like Blervie needs is a snooker table, and fortunately it has one. This means you can combine the inevitably chaotic world of a family beach holiday, with its buckets, spades and all-pervasive sand, with an endlessly civilised base in a stately-home setting. Few of us would ever own a property such as Blervie House, but then even fewer would take on the maintenance of such a grand building, let alone its grounds: fortunately here there’s someone else to mow the lawn and fix the roof. A beach break in Blervie House makes it possible to combine some ultimately private time on a beach of your own, gently warmed by the Gulf Stream, alongside more mature activities such as following Whisky Trails and Castle Routes, or quiet evenings spent in the stately snooker room. Guests here invariably leave wishing they’d booked a longer stay.
The Northumberland coast has to be one of the UK’s most underrated sections of beach. There are miles of pristine sands, totally deserted and dotted with castles, and a thriving fishing industry with plenty to see and do. There’s not much good that has come out of post office closures, but one is Post Office House B&B in Belford. No longer doling out tax discs and postal stamps, this is now a friendly B&B opening up a rarely-visited region – with a notably popular pub just across the road.
Post Office House is a Victorian building that has always been at the heart of the village. Views from the guest bedrooms are of the local church and all the village facilities are within walking distance. Hop in your car and more options open up: Bamburgh Castle is four miles down the road, grandly looking over sand and sea. This was home to Grace Darling, who shot to national fame in 1838 when, at the age of 22, she rowed out to save survivors of the SS Forfarshire. Even Queen Victoria was impressed.
The whole Northumberland coast is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and once you’ve visited it’s easy to see why. Ross Back Sands alone justify a visit to this very special part of England. If the tide is right you can walk across the causeway to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, or take a boat out to the Farne Islands to meet super-friendly puffins, rare seabirds and grey seals. There are coastal walks or head inland to explore the Cheviots, with outstanding views. It’s one of the UK’s best-kept secrets – though to open up its secrets Claire from Post Office House has written a guide to her area.
Until recently Castell Malgwyn was a 16-bedroom hotel; now it’s been converted into an 8-bedroom B&B, halving its capacity and doubling its space. One of Pembrokeshire’s loveliest grand houses, it was once home to Miss Lilly Gower, four-time winner of the All-England (sic) Women’s Croquet championship, and only one of three women ever to win the Open Championship, in 1905. Her croquet lawn is still in play today, and there are a further eight acres of formal gardens to explore. You can walk from the front door along the River Tiefi to Cilgerran, where a romantic castle gazes over a gorge: this was immortalised by JMW Turner in 1768 and hangs in the Tate.
Following its downsize from a large hotel into a large B&B – but taking only eight guests at any one time – the atmosphere is relaxed. Furnishings are eclectic, with an unpredictable collection of pictures, sculptures and objets d’art.
Wolsey Lodges are well represented along the coastline of Wales. Other Wolsey Lodges include Elm Grove Country House on the Pembrokeshire Peninsula, within a few miles of the beaches of Tenby and Saundersfoot, Manor Town House overlooking Fishguard, Penbontbren, three miles from some of the best beaches of Cardigan Bay, and Ramsay House, midway between St David’s Cathedral and the magnificent coast.
Tregoose is set on the Roseland Peninsula just outside Truro. It’s almost exactly in the geographic centre of the county, which means you’re equidistant from all the county’s beaches, from surfswept shores of the north coast to the sheltered covers of the south. Cornwall has increasingly become famous for its gardens – the Lost Gardens of Heligan are five minutes drive from Tregoose, as is the Eden Project – but for guests here it’s Tregoose’s garden that takes centre stage. Over the last 20 years your hostes here has lovingly tended to two sheltered acres, establishing a sunken herbaceous garden, a kitchen potager, and nutured many rare and spectacular plant species. Cornwall’s gentle climate allows any number of trees and shrubs to flourish: look out for their 40-foot rhododendron and any number of Cornish camelias. The garden isn’t all work though: there’s space for a croquet lawn, ideal for long summer evenings.
There are several Wolsey Lodges in Devon and Cornwall, and most of them are pretty close to a beach of some sort. Check out Sandhill House on the Tamar near Tavistock, Pendragon Country House near Camelford, Bradford Mill near Tavistock, Burnville House near Brentor, Westleigh in Seaton and The 25 Boutique B&B in trendy Torquay.
Bossington Hall was built in 1911 by one of the last great ship owners, and is beautifully decorated to reflect its era, with period furnishings in the stately guest sitting room, but it nods to the future with a private cinema, fitted with leather armchairs for nine. There are seven guest bedrooms, all en-suite or with private bathrooms, and magnificent views of the sea. You can walk to Bossington Beach, which is less than a mile away, and Porlock Village is about the same distance but this is a journey better made by car.
You do have to make a bit of an effort to tear yourself away from Bossington Hall’s own grounds: there’s simply too much to do. There are 8 acres of grounds, including millponds, rivers, waterfalls and woodlands, not to mention a Grade II listed squash court and further courts for tennis and badminton. Bossington Hall is friendly as well as sporty: families with children are welcome and there’s lots of space for impromptu games of football or golf.
Bossington Hall is actually within Exmoor National Park: the iconic Exmoor ponies – known as ‘mousies’ – cluster in small herds, and there are moors and tors on every side. Bossington Hall also welcomes dogs, with a boot room, stocked with dog towels, right by the front door.
Knelle Dower is perfectly placed in Northiam, just outside Rye: this means you’re close to the beaches of Camber Sands, Rye Harbour and Dungeness nature reserves. The historic Cinque Port towns of Rye and Winchelsea are ten minutes away eash, and you can walk along the Sussex Border path to Great Dixter Gardens.
Breakfast is in the main house at Knelle Dower, a fabulous 15th century timber-framed building rich with history, but your guest accommodation couldn’t be more different. There’s just one guest bedroom here and it’s set some way from the house, in a beautiful barn conversion, all soaring beams and ultra-modern fittings. This means guests have a huge degree of privacy, with their own space and even their own terrace, with lovely views over the Rother Valley. Helpfully for the terrace your room does have a fridge, and this might also come in use for more active guests who also take advantage of Knelle Dower’s tennis court.
These are just a selection of Wolsey Lodges near the coast. So if you’d never thought about combining some time on the beach with experiencing some of the finest – and most personable – hospitality in the UK and Ireland, perhaps it’s time to consider it now. Life’s better with a night or two in a privately-run, family B&B.