Not many people know about Walcot Hall – not many outside the county of Shropshire anyway. And indeed you could pass through the village of Lydbury North and not know that this old house was even there, so tucked away is it, up a long, winding drive from the main road. The family who live here describe it as a real 'Georgian gem' – one that you can experience for yourself, with 15 self-catering holiday cottages and apartments housed in a variety of buildings around the estate, ranging from the top floor of the main house and the refurbished stable block to an old reconstructed chapel in the 20-acre arboretum, which was added by Clive of India when he lived here in the 18th century.
With between one and four bedrooms, all the cottages and apartments are as cosy as you could wish for, thoughtfully furnished and with a classically comfortable feel that can make you believe you really are lord and lady of the manor for the weekend. Perfectly located for exploring the Shropshire Hills, they can accommodate families, romantic couples (the 1-bedroom Arcot in the old clocktower has lovely views over the grounds) or large groups, for example in the beautifully refurbished 5-bedroom Garden House or the spacious Styche situated on the top floor of the main house, which can fit over half a dozen people into its 4 bedrooms. (The whole top floor of the main house can in fact sleep 24 people, so is also perfect for large groups.) Most have wood-burning stoves and/or Agas, and some have their own private patios or garden spaces. The most recent addition is Norbury Hall, which sleeps 6 and overlooks a lush kitchen garden tended by ladies from the local Mennonite community, while the furthest-flung is the Dipping Shed, which sleeps 4 in secluded, solar-powered comfort on the edge of the grounds. Our favourite, however, is the Chapel, up in the arboretum, whose two double bedrooms are also wonderfully private among the trees. It's worth knowing too that the hall's elegant ballroom make a wonderful and very popular wedding venue, and that guests can take as much or as little of the accommodation as they like.
They also run a glamping site – Walcot Hall Glamping – at the same location. The village pub – the Powis Arms – is owned and run by the Hall and serves good food (and also has camping pitches during the summer). In the grounds there are a couple of fishing lakes, a smaller lake with rowing boats to dabble around in and a nearby stables that can take you out for a hack on the local bridleways. Walkers are spoilt for choice but you might like to try the scenic three-mile route to Bishops Castle, a thoroughly welcoming little market town where there are shops, good pubs and a couple of great places to eat, including the restaurant at the excellent Castle Hotel. In the other direction, The Kangaroo in Aston-on-Clun is a proper locals joint serving good food – one of our favourite pubs hereabouts.
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