If you’re feeling the stresses and strains of everyday life (and, let’s face it, who doesn’t at this time of year) perhaps it’s time for you to have a break – and I think I’ve found just the place, one which epitomises ‘getting away from it all’, in the heart of my home county, Yorkshire.
I had never been to Swaledale until this weekend, but I now can’t wait to return. The countryside exudes peace and tranquillity and spending time there gave me a great sense of stillness and well-being – although that may have been something to do with the effects of the outdoor hot tub with uninterrupted views of the dale at our country idyll.
Swaledale House is a cluster of three properties: one for the owners and two for holidaymakers: Kisdon and Lovely Seat (named after two nearby fells). They are located just outside the picturesque village of Thwaite but the outlook of the properties means you have uninterrupted views of Swaledale countryside that are unique to these cottages alone.
We stayed in Kisdon where we could watch the changing weather front sweep across the moors – either from the comfort of our sofa or by peeping over our toes in bed. Needless to say, we didn’t draw the curtains, as half the fun was waking up to that stunning view.
Before we left, the owners also let us have a look around ‘Lovely Seat’, which had a different character to our apartment but was equally as appealing and stylishly decorated. It has a balcony, ideal for al fresco dining in warmer weather and a log burning stove in the lounge for cosy evenings in autumn and winter. The thought of getting snowed in here is so appealing – although we hear the roads are kept well cleared in winter (but that can remain our little secret).
On warmer days, guests can enjoy the view from the terrace and, even in late October, we enjoyed the view from the hot tub. There’s also a sauna (or possibly it’s called a sanarium as it was at a more comfortable temperature than a traditional sauna) but whatever it was called, it was a great place to unwind and give you a true ‘spa experience’, which is not what you expect from a self-catering weekend break. Mind you, this is not just any self-catering accommodation, this is 4 star Gold standard accommodation and, once ‘tasted’, this level of luxury won’t easily be forgotten.
Inside the recently renovated, accommodation there was every conceivable item necessary for a comfortable holiday – however long your stay: hairdryer, dishwasher, microwave (and full sized cooker), great cooking utensils, and even plastic glasses to take to the hot tub!
The bedroom boasts a vibrating massage bed, which eased my husband’s aching back after only a few minutes and there’s a huge walk in shower in the roomy bathroom.
There was a plethora of useful up-to-date information and nature books in the apartment and even a ‘Dale Pack’ of local walks, with separate pages and a carrying case. Suzanne and Chris (the owners) even provided a torch and high visibility waistcoats for anyone heading out onto the fells. However, we weren’t there to go walking – we were there to relax and unwind – but we did do some wildlife spotting from the apartment: a Greater Spotted Woodpecker in the tree outside our bedroom window, a weasel in the garden and flocks of goldfinches and chaffinches on the lane to Thwaite.
We were only in Swaledale for two nights but we visited some lovely nearby villages: Thwaite, Hawes, Settle (on the way there) and Skipton (on the way home). Hawes has some lovely antique shops, eateries and the Wensleydale creamery and visitor centre. Leyburn, although less ‘pretty’ to my mind had some lovely independent shops and several eating places.
When the weather brightened up, we visited Hardrow Force, the tallest single drop waterfall in England (approximately 100 feet). If you go to the falls, it’s useful to know that they are privately owned and you can only visit through the Green Dragon Inn, where you just need to pay at the bar. I’m sure the lure of the real fire and real ales have distracted many a visitor intent on seeing the falls – but we did make it to see the sight and to take a few photos of the majestic force. We then visited the neighbouring tea shop for afternoon tea of scones and jam.
So, if like me, you normally ‘head to the hills’ by going to the Lake District, perhaps you may think again and head to Swaledale instead. After all, you too now know the perfect place to get away from it all. Your only dilemma is: should you book ‘Kisdon’ or ‘Lovely Seat’?
To book Kisdon or Lovely Seat you can book directly with the owners, Suzanne and Chris via their website: http://www.swaledalecountryholidays.co.uk/
For details of the Wensleydale Visitors Centre: http://www.wensleydale.co.uk/visitor-centre/
Hardraw Force: http://www.hardrawforce.com/
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