On a hot summer’s day, there’s nowhere I’d rather be than an English country garden: bees buzzing, leaves swaying in the breeze, and the sun warming my skin. Recently, I discovered 2 new favourites for just such a day: a cottagey pub with rooms in a sleepy corner of the Cotswolds, and a grand dame of a country house in deepest Dorset. Grab your sun hat, it’s time to unwind.
First up, I hatched a Friday-night escape plan, travelling from central Bristol to tiny Kelmscott in less than 2 hours. Once there, it was straight out to The Plough Inn’s little pub garden (via the bar) to catch the last of the evening sun. Birds sang as the sky grew dusky, friends chatted over pints and all the week’s stresses melted away…
Staying in Kelmscott feels like stepping back in time. There’s little more than a handful of ancient cottages, a Grade I manor house (once home to William Morris), and a pony or 2 keeping the paddocks tidy. The surrounding countryside is perfect for relaxing walks, too. Head for the lovely stretch of Thames path just moments away from the pub (don’t forget your wellies).
Back at The Plough Inn, the cosy restaurant provides ample sustenance. I found the pub classics particularly indulgent and comforting. Don’t miss the smoked-haddock fishcakes topped with a poached egg, wilted spinach and punchy mustard hollandaise. Yum!
Next, my quest to find England’s most charming garden took me to the rolling hills of Cranborne Chase in Dorset. An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it has far-reaching views, regal country houses and stunning parkland. It’s also not uncommon to see the likes of Guy Ritchie and David Beckham relaxing over a pint in the low-key local pubs.
Here I found the manicured lawns of boutique hotel 10 Castle Street. Sipping a chilled Inverroche G&T (i-escape guests get a free glass on arrival), I basked in the Sunday afternoon sun on the beautiful restaurant terrace. Children were playing hide-and-seek amongst the topiary, and the dulcet tones of Izi Onslow serenaded diners from across the garden.
My lazy lunch featured rabbit risotto and a creative cappuccino cup starter of the best crab bisque I’ve ever tasted, complete with a saucer and parmesan foam.
After lunch I took time to stroll the grounds, discovering beautifully curated flower beds, striking sculptures and the resident livestock, before retiring to my palatial first-floor suite to watch the sun sink below the horizon.
Fancy planning your own garden getaway? Check out our full UK collection for more inspiration.