Relax and unwind on a glamping staycation with castle backdrop in the beautiful Vale of Belvoir
Making plans for a bank holiday weekend isn't always easy. Deciding what to do, where to go and contemplating how busy it will be are all things that need careful consideration.
But the glamping experience I enjoyed in the beautiful Vale of Belvoir during the latest public holiday will be one glorious staycation that lives long in the memory.
This for a number of reasons - one, the weather couldn't have been better, always a plus when residing in the great 'outdoors', and two, it was the first trip away for our newly-adopted ex-racing greyhound Jojo.
With the Belvoir Holidays site near Grantham less than an hour's drive away, I couldn't wait to immerse myself in the remote and tranquil surroundings of our destination, loading up the car in excitement as we headed off for our three-night countryside stay.
On the journey you know you are close when catching first glimpse of historic Belvoir Castle, home of the Duchess of Rutland, which provides a unique backdrop to the site that few other glamping venues could boast.
Pulling up alongside bell tent number 10, nicely tucked away in the far corner of the field, I immediately sensed feelings of privacy as we unpacked our belongings before returning the car to the designated car park.
There are several pitches dotted around, some on raised wooden decking, but it's clear that space is paramount. If guests fancy something a little quirkier than a tent, there are also shepherd's hut and gypsy wagon accommodations on offer.
For us the cosy, but roomy tent was perfect for our little family of three, with plenty of standing room and ample space for a double bed, comfortable seating area, storage and rather large dog basket.
Guests can bring whatever they please, but the best thing about glamping is that most essentials are provided, in this case bedding and towels, pots, pans, kitchen utensils and cutlery, as well as a gas cooking stove with spare canisters and an outdoor table and benches.
People unfamiliar with the glamping world should note that although classed as luxurious camping, there is no electricity hook-up, but who needs wifi or entertainment devices when you are surrounded by so much natural beauty?
As the daylight faded exploring would wait until the following day, but with stomachs rumbling it was time to crack open the prosecco and prepare the cheese board for drinks and nibbles in front of the glowing warmth of the flaming fire pit, which we lit up each night after topping up the firewood from the nearby shed.
Sipping on bubbles as the dog slept and the sun went down, life couldn't have felt more perfect and as I gazed out across the Vale it proved to me why folk frequently flock to the beautiful British countryside.
But the great thing about Belvoir glamping is that there are plenty of other things to keep you amused. Just a stone's throw away from the site are Belvoir's shopping, food and entertainment attractions at The Engine Yard, which was originally home to the tradesmen who maintained the castle.
Spending an evening sampling the delicious wood-fired pizzas with a glass or two of refreshing Belvoir cider from the Fuel Tank Kitchen is highly recommended.
And for after-dinner cocktails it's definitely worth visiting the Balloon Bar, which has a beautifully-decorated themed interior with singers regularly booked in to entertain.
For shoppers there's of choice of outlets including a garden centre, chocolatier, delicatessen, jewelers and kids toy store, as well as a hair salon and day spa for those who need a spot of pampering.
And then there's the historic castle which has even featured in popular Netflix series The Crown due to its resemblance to Windsor Castle, with producers using it as a stand-in for the Queen's home during filming.
Glampers can enjoy the perk of a 25 per cent discount for entry to the castle and gardens which are open daily, with various events held there throughout the year including the upcoming Festival of the Horse (10th-11th September) which will be showcasing thrilling displays from stunt riders, jousting nights and the Household Cavalry.
For dog owners, if all the activity is too much for the pooch, there are plenty of pleasant and scenic countryside walks around the Belvoir Estate to keep them happy.
As for Jojo, the extra sausage cooked on the stove on our final morning was the icing on the cake and as far as debut doggie trips away are concerned, Belvoir glamping will certainly take some beating.
Starting price for Belvoir Holidays glamping, at The Engine Yard at Belvoir Castle, Grantham, NG32 1PA, is £245 for two nights. For more information visit the website.