An gorgeous estate with an honest 'green' attitude in countryside to die for, paired with wonderful design and a caring attitude all around. What more can one want?
If you ever want to find the England of old, with gorgeous rolling, verdant hills, endless horizons, friendly locals, exceptional food, go to Shropshire.
I didn’t know much about Shropshire, until I found my way to Combermere Abbey. What a find! Just three hours drive from London and you are in a different century, but with all the mod cons you are used to, and none of the stress.
This is a very clever transformation of an old estate, just nine cottages (if you want to call them that, though they defy that quaint term mightily), a lot of land (1,000 acres), and a huge lake. It's also nearby many fantastic castles, should you wish to become historically minded. Powis is truly amazing, and Alfringham and it’s gardens are very impressive too, as are so are many others just one-half hour away.
But frankly, what could be better than sit outside your 'cottage' overlooking amazing landscape, so lush I am still full of joy just thinking about it. And they encourage you to do just that, just breathe and enjoy this green and pleasant land.
This is helped, of course, by the hamper provided on your arrival, so generous it's hardly credible; the Full English sorted before you have to think with mushrooms almost crisp with freshness; and of course, a cool bottle in the fridge and a few others to help you along. The food is all organic and local, they really live what they preach here, which makes it admirable and delicious.
I don’t think I have ever seen such a well-thought-out place, not though-out with profit making in mind, but with guests in mind. Everything you might need to have a good time is present: ample food available at all times, including an honesty freezer for in-cottage cooking on the sophisticated appliances, a huge amount of information on the surroundings. Our cottage, Wellington, was a wonderful mix of classic Quaker meets Ralph Lauren, with some very lovely pictures chosen by the owner, Sarah Callendar-Beckett. Even on a hot summer day it was wonderful to have real fire in the evening, of course, all provided and all easy.
With glorious sunny weather, we took great walks around the lake, visited a few pubs (the Cholmondley Arms 10 miles away is well worth a visit) and took a and scenic drive. For the rest of our all-too-brief stay, we happily hung around, soaking up the goodness of the place. Maybe it’s all these green principles they actually practise, or the gentle South African Stefan popping up with his beautiful black Labradors whenever he was needed.
If you go midweek, you’ll have the place and it’s 1,000 acres almost to yourself; at the weekends it is, of course, popular for weddings. The Walled Gardens are delightful, and really, could you resist three lush pleasure gardens if you were a bride?
It seems there is talk of installing huge windmills on those gorgeous hills. While I’m no fan of William Cash from Spear’s mag, his NIMBY movement gets my applause if it rallies the troops to protect this countryside, where beauty is so plain for all to see, it would be criminal if Share Energy got their mitts on it.
So what more could we want? For the peace and beauty we found to have no end!