Shropshire Star

Travel review: Truly a hidden gem in the great outdoors

When it comes to getting away for a few days, one of the last things that would ever come to my mind would be glamping.

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‘The Hamlet’ at Samlesbury Hall features groups of three colourful shepherd’s huts

You see, for me, the idea of a holiday is being spared the oven for a few days, tucking into some top class grub and relaxing in luxury. But that’s where the stunning Samlesbury Hall gets you.

Yes, it’s a shepherd’s hut. Yes, you’re given a barbecue to feed the family; and yes, you are effectively hidden away at close proximity to each other in the countryside.

But this 14th century stately home has somehow managed to nail it. Luxury and the great outdoors? Maybe I’m a convert after all.

You see, nestled away in the grounds of this historic gem in Lancashire, it’s a gathering of colourful huts – known as The Hamlet. Clubbed together in groups of three, the little huts, which amazingly sleep four adults in total comfort, are perfect for a family get-away.

Just as luxurious as a hotel room, but with a rural edge, you feel away from it all, while being just a stone’s throw away from normal life. We arrived at Samlesbury Hall on a stunning Wednesday afternoon and were greeted by the friendly team, who quickly sorted out our hut, while the toddler amused herself and dad by playing hook-a-duck in the stunning gardens which surround the hall.

A quick walk down a stone path and we found our berth for the next three nights. Two incredibly comfortable double beds awaited – and for those young at heart, you will have great fun in scaling the ladder to be on the top bunk.

A seating area, with tea, coffee and a chilled bottle of Prosecco caught our eye straight away and as we set up our firepit and barbecue for the night I began to count the years I had wasted shunning the great outdoors.

The bathroom was ideal – the shower was hot and the pressure was rapid – perfect! We could scarcely believe all this was confined to a space no bigger than the average kitchen. We sat outside and sunk a glass of gin and tonic as the one-year-old acquainted herself with her new surroundings. The long grass, fairy doors and trees enticed her and made her trip as wonderful as ours.

As Alice slept, we toasted the complimentary marshmallows on the firepit and chatted long into the night while watching the sun set and the clear night sky come to life. The male was especially pleased with himself, having not only managed to produce an epic barbecue but also keeping a roaring fire going until the early hours.

Low wattage plug sockets in the hut meant mobile phones could charge overnight ready for more picture opportunities the next day.

The next morning we awoke in great comfort and coffees were shared around before heading to the black and white panelled hall for breakfast in the billiard room. With eggs from the on-site chickens and high quality bacon and sausage, this was a treat that would set us up well for the whole long weekend.

The aforementioned male declared it the best English breakfast he had ever tasted, while I found the smoked salmon and scrambled eggs to also be as good as I had ever encountered. Little Alice was well catered for too, switching between toasted teacakes and beans on toast throughout our stay.

On the subject of food, we also had lunch at the hall on the Friday, where fish and chips were lit up by crispy batter and marvellous mushy peas. It was on day two we decided to take advantage of the 28C temperatures and 20-minute drive to the coast and nipped over to both Blackpool (which is looking better than ever before) and Lytham St Annes, which we found perfect for a family day out, with the beach stretching for miles, great ice creams and a splash park all on offer.

Walking back to our hut that evening, the pathway was brought to life with glistening camping lanterns and large fairy lights strung across the huts. It was perfect.

Waking again as the sun came up (thanks Alice), we decided to spend the next day on site and there was plenty to keep everyone interested.

The hall possesses possibly the best children’s playground in the country, with a mini replica hall, pirate ship, slide, climbing equipment and rope bridge. Hook-a-duck made a pleasing return to the agenda and all three of us enjoyed meeting the chickens, goats and rabbits that wandered the grounds.

The hall itself is smaller than you may first think, but that doesn’t mean it is any less special – and it is also free to explore as you wish. Built in 1325, the hall is steeped in fascinating history, retaining its original typical black and white exterior.

Enjoy intrigue, witchcraft and centuries of enthralling times gone by throughout their archive rooms.

Saved from demolition in the 1920s by six local businessmen, it remains in the care of the Charitable Trust today with the aim of maintaining and keeping it open for visitors to enjoy.

And did I mention there’s a wafflery on site? Oh yes and a golf course and bee experience. It’s a real hidden gem.

As the sun set on our third and final night at Samlesbury, it was obvious I had been mistaken. You can enjoy luxury with the feeling of the great outdoors and this place is perfect for it.