Lake, river, mountain, valley, hill, dale, weald, wold, marsh and shore… Britain is an endlessly varied and beautiful country, best explored on foot. And what nicer than to return from a day out rambling to a comfortable hotel? Here, The Good Hotel Guide recommends 10 of its favourites.
GLENFINNAN HOUSE HOTEL, GLENFINNAN, HIGHLAND
Romantically situated on the shores of Loch Shiel, with views across to Ben Nevis and the monument to Bonnie Prince Charlie’s doomed ’45 rebellion, this Victorian mansion is your point of departure for the Viaduct Trail. There are glorious loch views from above Scotland’s longest concrete viaduct (built in 1901 and familiar to Harry Potter fans). Very serious walkers stride out for Cape Wrath, or tackle the Corryhully Horseshoe. Hill and mountain challenges abound.
Singles from £70, doubles from £140 B&B, à la carte £30 (01397 722235, glenfinnanhouse.com).
BIGGIN HALL, BIGGIN BY HARTINGTON, DERBYSHIRE
Step outside the door of this historic, friendly, country-house hotel to discover the limestone terrain of the Peak District National Park. Before you is Dovedale – "Eagle Dale" in Adam Bede, for this is "Stonyshire", George Eliot country. Hike or drive to Ilam village for a National Trust trail by the River Dove where Izaak Walton fished, crossing Dovedale Stepping Stones. Visit the country park at Ilam Hall.
Doubles from £70 B&B, set dinner £25; children 12 and over (01298 84451, bigginhall.co.uk).
UNDERLEIGH HOUSE, HOPE, DERBYSHIRE
North of Biggin and still in the Peak District National Park, this rustic B&B serves an award-winning breakfast to set you up for walks straight from the doorstep. The owners are happy to lend you guide books and to supply customised maps and a packed lunch. Set off for Lose Hill and cross to Mam Tor via the Great Ridge between the Hope and Edale valleys; discover Peak Cavern, and ruined Peveril Castle immortalised by Sir Walter Scott
Doubles from £110 B&B, children 12 and over (01433 621372, underleighhouse.co.uk).
THE HORN OF PLENTY, GULWORTHY, DEVON
Built for the Duke of Bedford’s mine captain, this Victorian mansion-turned-luxury-hotel stands in the Tamar Valley, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Head through gardens and orchards to pick up the valley trails, or drive a short distance to Dartmoor National Park, perhaps to the hamlet of Postbridge for a circular walk via Roundypark Cairn, a waterfall and Hartland Tor. Make time to visit nearby Tudor Cothele.
Doubles from £110, B&B, set dinner £49.50 (01822 832528, thehornofplenty.co.uk).
BOSKERRIS HOTEL, ST IVES, CORNWALL
Away from St Ives town centre, this stylish 1930s hotel perches on the hillside overlooking Carbis Bay. You can walk the South West Coastal Path, take a National Trust cliff-top route from Godrevy headland to the inlet of Hell’s Mouth – keep an eye out for seals, dolphins, basking sharks. Or pick up St Michael’s Way, which leads 12.5 miles from Lelant to St Michael’s Mount. It’s part of the network of pilgrim routes that brings you at last to Santiago de Compostela, but turn back long before and have a simple supper at the hotel – or dinner at the excellent Porthminster Café.
Doubles from £150 B&B, à la carte £30; children 10 and over (01736 795295, boskerrishotel.co.uk).
TITCHWELL MANOR, TITCHWELL, NORFOLK
In big-sky landscape washed by the North Sea, this jazzed-up Victorian farmhouse is a stroll by marsh path from Brancaster beach. There are guides to take you wildlife spotting on Titchwell Marsh RSPB reserve. Or follow the ancient Peddars Way westward along sandy beaches and dunes, perhaps as far as the resort of Hunstanton. It’s more of a hike eastward to Holkham Hall; the Coasthopper bus shadows the Coastal Path.
Doubles from £125, B&B, set menus from £55, à la carte £30 (01485 210221, titchwellmanor.com).
HOWTOWN HOTEL, ULLSWATER, CUMBRIA
It was on the shores of Ullswater that William Wordsworth and his sister, Dorothy, saw the daffodils that inspired the nation’s best-known poem. Set off from this 17th-century stone farmhouse, supplied with a packed lunch by the kindly owners for an incomparable lakeside amble. Take the steamboat to Glenridding, and hoof it back in three to four hours. Or don hiking boots and head for the fells.
Doubles from £138 B&B, set dinner £30 (01768 486514, howtown-hotel.com).
PEN-Y-DYFFRYN, OSWESTRY, SHROPSHIRE
You are yards from the Welsh border at this 19th-century stone rectory and lovely small hotel. The owners have compiled a folder of walks for guests. Climb to the top of Wales’s highest waterfall, meander in adjoining woodland, or make tracks for Offa’s Dyke long-distance path, which passes by a mile away.
Doubles from £136 B&B, set dinner £41 (01691 653700, peny.co.uk).
THE MANOR TOWN HOUSE, FISHGUARD, PEMBROKESHIRE
Overlooking the harbour, which once featured in a film of Under Milk Wood, with lovely views of the jollyrogered, fishboatbobbing sea, this Georgian town-house B&B stands above the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path. It’s a cliff walk for most of the nine miles to Pwll Deri, past the lighthouse at Strumble Head, through a landscape ablaze with gorse in August, with maybe glimpses of seals.
Doubles from £83 B&B, single occupancy £75 (01348 873260, manortownhouse.com).
PEN-Y-GWRYD, NANT GWYANT, GWYNNED
Val-deri, val-dera. Here’s one for happy wanderers. a hotel with a mountain in its garden, its own swimming lake, sauna and chapel. At the foot of Snowdonia, this old-fashioned, ivy-clad inn hosted Sir Edmund Hillary and his Everest team in 1953. Hill-walkers come for the challenge and awe-inspiring scenery. For the less ambitious, a way-marked path leads to the village of Beddgelert, with wild goats along the way. Ask for a packed lunch – and return to a substantial dinner.
Doubles from £90 B&B, £110 with own bathroom, set dinner £25 (01286 870211, pyg.co.uk).
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