On the staycation entrance, Lincolnshire is one among England’s lesser-known counties. It typically appears to wrestle for consideration, particularly because it lies simply north and west of much-hyped Norfolk, lengthy the province of prosperous second-homers and holidaymakers up from the Residence Counties.
However, as we have been to find, Lincolnshire shares lots of the delights of its flashier cousin, in addition to a number of treasures all its personal. There’s way more to the realm than wheat fields, dykes and Skeggy, as an extended household weekend based mostly at Bainland Nation Park quickly revealed.
As soon as a trailer and caravan park, Bainland – a 30-minute drive from Lincoln – has been within the Craddock household for many years. After present proprietor Simon inherited the positioning from his dad, he started changing it into one thing moderately extra upmarket: a luxurious campus of high-end lodges and safari-style glamping tents set in 45 acres of parkland, with sufficient house and mod cons for and households to cocoon themselves away from the hurly-burly for days on finish.
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The lodging is available in quite a lot of sizes and shapes. The so-called Large Beast ‘tents’ are about as upscale as glamping will get, barely tents in any respect, with built-in kitchens, bean baggage, and log burners (although the partitions are canvas, so chances are you’ll want an additional layer). The interiors are nice enjoyable for the children, with ladders to clamber up and beds tucked away behind wood shutters.
Each lodge on the positioning comes with a wood terrace to sit down out on, a small non-public backyard and at the very least two sizzling tubs. Certainly, the park is filled with examples of Simon’s quirky persona: life-size sculptures of animals dotted across the grounds, a household of pleasant younger goats sleeping in a transformed railway carriage, arcade video games and air hockey. Nearly all of the lodges are additionally pet-friendly, and there are many nice walks within the surrounding woodlands for canine house owners to get pleasure from.
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Additionally on web site, in unrestricted occasions, there’s archery, tennis and volleyball to get pleasure from, plus a swimming pool and ping pong in a central block. Bikes are for rent too, and the park is simply subsequent door to Woodhall Spa Golf Membership, the house of England Golf. Nowadays, the park is busy with bookings yr spherical, and is at all times very talked-about over Christmas and the New 12 months.
We stayed on the very excessive finish of this high-end resort – the English Backyard Villa, one among two villas which may take as much as 24 folks in spacious seclusion (at the moment reserving for teams of 6), with 12 en-suite bedrooms and witty designer décor.
The within-out, Mediterranean-inspired format provides an unlimited living-room space containing pool table, old-school table-top Area Invaders, large sofas, an enormous TV, and an ample breakfast bar alongside a deluxe kitchen space totally kitted out with Le Creuset, proper right down to the mugs.
Better of all, this space has its very personal heated pool with a detachable cowl, firepits, and naturally, sizzling tubs. Oh, and also you’ve acquired your individual unique tennis court docket, about 20 steps away…
For subsequent yr, a number of extra lodges are being inbuilt an unused space, a pack of llamas and petting zoo are on the radar, and a undertaking to rewild the entire space is effectively beneath manner. In depth planting will create much more of a pure oasis really feel, and – moderately within the model of Middle Parcs – entice extra wildlife and color into the park.
Many individuals come to Bainland with a plan to flee the surface world, and that very a lot works. However in case you do enterprise past the park’s unprepossessing gates, there’s a lot to see and do.
With check-in at 4pm, we drove up early from London and spent the day in Lincoln. We wandered across the cathedral which, with its huge early gothic façade, high-vaulted inside, monumental effigies and beautiful rose home windows, is nearly the whole lot you could possibly hope for from a jewel of medieval church structure that was as soon as the tallest constructing in Europe. I significantly admired William Fairbanks’s The Forest Stations, an uncommon up to date tackle the standard stations of the cross carved from totally different shades and sorts of timber.
Additionally at Lincoln, if out there you shouldn’t miss the prospect to take a look at the Magna Carta – which lives in 11th-century Lincoln Fort, only a stone’s throw away. Courting again to 1215, it’s one among simply 4 surviving copies of the doc – a founding constitution of democracy and the rule of regulation, which coronavirus protestors lately tried to invoke to place a cease to a different lockdown.
In spite of everything that historical past, there’s the quaint collectable boutiques, fancy meals retailers and artisanal fudge-makers of Steep Hill to get pleasure from, a thoroughfare which, as my calves can testify, very a lot lives up (and down) to its title.
Lincoln has a great vary of recent retailers, eateries and galleries to take a look at too. The Redhill Farm Store reminds you that that is one among England’s nice agricultural counties – we picked up haslet, sausages, pork pies and extra.
Past Lincoln, there are a number of different attention-grabbing cities within the neighborhood. Alford is known for its native arts and crafts market, Horncastle has a wonderful fish and chip restaurant, whereas Woodhall Spa – simply up the highway from Bainland – provides a stunning lengthy picturesque parade of quaint shops together with ‘the world’s smallest shoe store’.
Different native highlights embrace the delightfully retro Kinema within the Woods. Courting again to 1922, it’s one of many UK’s oldest cinemas, and nonetheless performs the unique organ throughout intermissions. Additionally right here, you’ve acquired The Petwood Resort, as soon as residence to the Dambusters, the place you possibly can stroll in superbly landscaped gardens and cease for a drink in a bar largely unchanged from the officers’ mess it turned in these warfare years.
However for me, my spouse and three youngsters, the spotlight of our journey needed to be the go to to Donna Nook. Right here, seals come yearly to offer delivery of their 1000’s, and from the close by path, you possibly can actually watch – as we did – a pup slipping out into the world.
Past the seal grounds, the remainder of the beachy marshland truly belongs to the RAF and is used for bombing observe. The seals, perennial guests from the North Sea, are fully habituated to the bangs and roars, although for people, the sight of those large marine mammals going into labour and giving delivery in opposition to a backdrop of fighter jets and focused explosions might be fairly surreal.
On the drive again to Bainland from Donna Nook, we took within the rolling fields, huge skies and wealthy ploughed soil of Tennyson’s county, the place you are feeling the ocean is at all times simply over the following gently rolling hill, earlier than shutting the door on actuality as soon as extra and heading for the pool.
Bainland will likely be open for the Christmas interval, December 23-27, and is at the moment taking bookings for bubbles of as much as three households. The area is at the moment in Tier three, so examine for additional updates on full lodge reopenings.
A four-night keep in an Usselby Lodge (sleeps 4) prices from £699 in 2021. Go to bainland.co.uk.
Visits to Donna Nook need to be booked upfront. You simply pay for parking (£10). Go to lincstrust.org.uk.
Tickets for Lincoln Fort need to be booked upfront and price £14 for adults, and £7.50 for kids. Go to lincolncastle.com.