Exploring the World of Elevenses and the Glorious Twelfth
The world of elevenses (a shooters’ morning tea break) and the Glorious Twelfth (of August: the start of grouse season) is an enigmatic one that typically requires either an invitation or a stately home address at birth. But fear not, as there are alternative ways to indulge in toff pursuits. A string of country hotel stays provide access to these activities, allowing even the non-aristocratic to partake in the excitement. From stalking and fishing to clay pigeon shooting and archery, these hotels offer a range of country pursuits for everyone to enjoy.
Best for: Bee keeping – Glenmorangie House Hotel
Glenmorangie House Hotel, located just 15 minutes from the fabled distillery, offers a unique blend of bee keeping and luxury accommodations. Guests can test their accuracy with a round of clays, archery, or even participate in traditional Highland Games. However, the real highlight is the opportunity to tend to a row of hives in the hotel’s pretty gardens, dressed in full moonwalking suits.
Best for: A group shoot – The Beckford Arms
The Beckford Arms is a proper Georgian pub with a cozy atmosphere. In addition to its inviting interiors, the pub offers country sports activities such as fly fishing and deer stalking. Shooting parties are a common occurrence, making it an excellent choice for group events. The pub’s earthy rooms and whimsical “great Arch” on the Fonthill Estate provide comfortable accommodations for guests.
Best for: Family country pursuits – Bovey Castle
Bovey Castle is a sprawling Elizabethan pile set in 275 acres of wild countryside. The estate offers an array of activities for families, including fishing, rifle shooting, and off-roading experiences. Children can join guided tours of the deer park and even feed the estate’s fawns. The Dartmoor National Park surroundings provide a stunning backdrop for these adventures.
Best for: Riding – Lucknam Park
Lucknam Park is a picturesque country retreat with stunning Palladian architecture. In addition to its classic interiors, the hotel is renowned for its equestrian center, offering exhilarating rides through the parkland. Experienced riders can enjoy brisk canters, while novices can take lessons at the riding school. The hotel also features a luxurious spa for post-ride relaxation.
Best for: Riding and pony trekking – The Fife Arms
The Fife Arms, owned by art titans Iwan and Manuela Wirth, offers a unique blend of contemporary art and country pursuits. Guests can enjoy salmon fishing, off-roading through the Invercauld Estate, and pony trekking in the ancient pine forests and heather-clad hills surrounding Glen Tanar. A picnic lunch fastened onto MacNab the Pony’s saddle completes the experience.
Best for: Field sports – Glenapp Castle
Glenapp Castle, surrounded by ancient woodland, is a haven for field sports enthusiasts. The castle offers top-tier shoots and stalking days on its own estate and surrounding areas. Guests can immerse themselves in the tradition of these activities, which have been a part of the region for centuries. The castle itself exudes authentic baronial splendor.
Best for: Local shoots – The Retreat at Elcot Park
The Retreat at Elcot Park offers a playful take on country tradition. The hotel collaborates with local shoots to provide guests with a top-tier day of shooting pheasants in the Kennet Valley. Transport, mid-drive tipples, and even picnics are arranged for a seamless experience. After a day of shooting, guests can relax in the hotel’s unique and colorful interiors.
Best for: The lot – Gleneagles
Gleneagles is a Scottish hotel that offers a wide range of country pursuits. Whether it’s golfing, salmon fishing, or exploring the heather-carpeted hills, there is something for everyone. The hotel underwent a renovation to enhance its activities menu, ensuring that guests never experience a dull moment. After a day of outdoor adventures, guests can unwind in the hotel’s luxurious spa or enjoy a cocktail in the stylish bar.
Best for: Lake cruising – Ashford Castle
Ashford Castle is a magnificent Irish estate that offers a unique country pursuit: lake cruising. After indulging in falconry and fly fishing, guests can step onboard one of the famous liner QE2’s lifeboats and cruise the picturesque Lough Corrib. The mist-strewn beauty of the surroundings is best experienced from the water, offering a tranquil and memorable escape.
Best for: Falconry – Chewton Glen
Chewton Glen, located on the fringes of the New Forest, offers a variety of outdoor activities. After archery and croquet, guests can engage in the ancient art of falconry. Falconers provide historical insights and flight demonstrations before guests have the chance to handle these majestic birds themselves. The hotel’s traditional fire-lit drawing rooms and contemporary-luxe treehouses provide a cozy retreat after a day of adventure.