Short break - Temple to Turret at Swinton Park, North Yorkshire
PUBLISHED: 00:00 13 November 2015
Rebekka O’Grady experienced the best of nature along with the height of luxury during her stay on Yorkshire’s Swinton Park Estate
For someone who loathes the thought of camping, the idea of staying in a woodland shack is something I consider to be the perfect compromise between nature and my cosmopolitan self. No creepy crawlies and uncomfortable sleeping bag, but rather a comfortable double bed, an actual toilet and cosy cast iron fire – it’s about as wild as I am willing to get. After all, I told myself, if I hated the experience it would only be 24 hours until I was staying in a luxury castle with the glorious thing that is electricity.
I was staying at the magnificent Swinton Park Estate, located in North Yorkshire near to the quaint village of Masham, on their Temple to Turret package. It comprises one night at Swinton Bivouac in a luxury yurt or wooden shack, and then rounding off your stay with one night at Swinton Park Hotel, with dinner and breakfast. This package enables you to experience a snapshot of what the beautiful estate has to offer.
The Bivouac is a few miles from the castle, nestled in the heart of the 20,000 acre estate. On arrival at our stylish hand-built shack, the rain was pouring down but this only added to the magical atmosphere of staying hidden in a forest. After a soak in the outdoor hot tub (booking required) which had breathtaking views of the Dales, we settled down for a cosy evening in the candle-lit shack with a glass of Prosecco. Perfect.
The next morning, after a hearty breakfast in the Bivouac’s licensed café, we set off on a stroll to the hotel. Our luggage was conveniently delivered separately. Just over an hour later we arrived at the grand 17th century castle, owned by the current Baron of Masham, Mark Cunliffe-Lister and his wife, Felicity. Furnished with family portraits and antiques, the hotel has a timeless elegance one can only find in an English country house.
Before checking in, we were treated to a picnic in a Georgian summer house on a private island in the parkland. Packed full of local produce, it was a sign of the high quality to come during dinner at the three AA rosette Samuel’s restaurant. After freshening up in our spacious ‘Harrogate’ bedroom, we enjoyed pre-dinner cocktails, crafted using ingredients from the estate’s four acre walled garden, in the impressive drawing room.
The sumptuous dining room, which boasts a gold leaf ceiling, matched the award-winning cuisine. Three courses from the Classic menu later, which included standout dishes of Swinton Estate pork (loin, belly and cheek) and dark chocolate marquise and blood orange sorbet, we retired to the bar for a nightcap.
On the drive back home after a first class breakfast, I couldn’t help but think maybe my perspective on camping had changed. Of course, if anyone suggests pitching a tent in windy Wales anytime soon, I will politely remind them that now I’ve had a taste of such luxury at Swinton, it’s very hard to go back to anything else.
Temple to Turret at Swinton Park : from £345 based on double occupancy. www.swintonpark.com