A £1.7m boost in funds for the Cheshire landmark Peckforton Castle (01829 260930; peckfortoncastle.co.uk) has delivered 10 new opulent en-suite bedrooms, a luxury beauty treatment facility and a new brasserie, all of which opened in early July. A previously unused part of the Grade I-listed building has been sensitively transformed into one luxury suite, one deluxe, three four-poster, and five executive rooms, all sumptuously designed and retaining original features such as vaulted ceilings, sandstone walls and tall windows overlooking the grounds or the Cheshire Plain.
At the other end of the accommodation scale – but by no means slumming it – Featherdown Farm is offering guests the chance to live like Victorian explorers until the end of October in the brand-new lakeside Country House Hideout (01420 549150; countryhousehideout.co.uk). The "hamlet" of African safari-style tents is in the leafy grounds of Wyresdale Park, Lancashire. They come fully kitted out, with extras including binoculars, microscope and telescope to encourage exploration of the estate.
Also in Lancashire, the lost art of afternoon tea is celebrated in style at the recently opened Russian Tea Room in Bacup (01706 874800; russiantearoom.co.uk). Olga Penney, who as a child was captivated by the traditions surrounding the preparation of tea in her Siberian home town, now serves up love in a cup to her customers from traditional samovars. Fast becoming a foodie hot spot, the tea room offers a choice of 50 blends and 20 speciality coffees, as well as carefully selected cakes, pancakes and other delicacies.
If you're in Cheshire between 2 and 12 September, call in to Stockley Farm, near Northwich, to experience a restaurant in a yurt. The Riverford Travelling Field Kitchen (01803 762062; river ford.co.uk/stockley) – a spin-off from an organic veg box scheme in the North-west and the successful Riverford Field Kitchen restaurant in Devon – will be pitching up to serve seasonal delights harvested from the surrounding fields. Book tickets for a chance to try delicious dishes such as swiss chard and anchovy gratin topped off with summer berry pavlova.
See historic Chester through different eyes when you follow Rhino Mania around the city (rhinomania .co.uk). Sixty-two rhinos have been created by local artists, community groups and schools to provide an explosion of colour in a trail that takes in some of the city's key sights. On show until mid-September, the stampede of six-foot-long animals leads visitors from the river to the zoo and around the neighbourhoods. Kids can pick up a free trail map and try to spot as many rhinos as they can during their journey.
From 19 August, John Ruskin's former home, Brantwood, overlooking Coniston Water, will ring to the sounds of musical rocks when the percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie launches the alternative music project Ruskin Rocks (01539 441396; brant wood.org.uk). Using rock donations from Cumbrian quarries and music and multimedia to bring out the qualities of rock sound, the installation aims to introduce children to geology and demonstrate that some rocks can really "ring". The 21st-century rock xylophone will be available to visitors to play after the launch.
Cyclists and walkers can now test themselves on a new coast-to-coast leisure route, the Way of the Roses (way oftheroses.org.uk; sustrans.org.uk), which opens officially on 12 September. Having transformed 170 miles of roads and cycle tracks across the North of England, the route starts on the west coast in Morecambe, Lancashire, ending in the Yorkshire seaside town of Bridlington. It takes in some of the regions' most spectacular scenery, passing through the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the Forest of Bowland, as well as the historic cities of Lancaster and York.
Sit back and enjoy the landscape of the Lake District in comfort and style on a new Taste of the Lakes cruise from Sailaway (07920 575261; sailawaybm@ hotmail.com). Departing White Cross Bay in Windermere, the 90-minute trips run three times a day and can include a picnic or afternoon tea featuring home-baking, or a sunset cruise with a glass of wine and local cheeses.
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