Last Updated on May 29, 2021 by Fiona Maclean
Escape to the Country at Fuller’s Hill, Cambridgeshire
In the heart of the South Cambridgeshire countryside, I found respite from the past eight months of staring at my own four walls. Since the brief lifting of lockdown restrictions last summer, when I staycationed in Devon, I have hardly left my neighbourhood never mind London. Hence, a weekend away filled me with undue excitement albeit that I was travelling a mere 90 minutes from home.
Located on a farm at Little Gransden, Fuller’s Hill Cottages offers 4-star accommodation set in 550 acres of arable land on which is grown linseed, flaxseed and rape amongst other things. The Farm has its own private airfield, a most romantic way to arrive. In fact, the cottages are available to hire as a wedding venue so anyone looking to make a dramatic entrance to their nuptials need look no further.
It may be several decades since my wedding day, but there was no shortage of romance on offer for us at Fuller’s Hill Cottages. We arrived late and tired after a day out in nearby Cambridge (a half hour’s drive away). On the deck outside Apple Cottage was a hot tub and there was a bottle of well-chilled Chalk Valley sparkling wine in the fridge. First, we took a short walk in the glowing evening light along a public footpath where the fresh country air and bird song was disturbed only by the sudden arrival overhead of a helicopter. We were intrigued. Even more so when a few minutes later, two motorised hang gliders soared up into the sky. Silhouetted against the sun, now dropping towards its setting, the blue and orange sails were a beautiful sight. Back at Apple Cottage, we donned fluffy towelling robes (provided along with towels and Duck Island bathing products) and headed out to the hot tub. It was growing dark and a rather chilly 9 degrees, but in the tub, it was 29 degrees which delighted me. A warm bath is one of my favourite pleasures. For some reason, I have never tried a hot tub and with a flute of sparkling wine in hand, I took to it like the proverbial duck. Within minutes I felt the cares of the past months fall away. The combination of the tranquil surroundings, the comfy cottage, the country air and a glass of bubbly just all worked their magic.
Apple Cottage is bijoux with two small bedrooms, one a double, the other set up with two single bed, with space for another two guests on the sofa bed in the living room. The bathroom had a rain shower, the bedroom had comfy beds and crisp white linen. The kitchen was well appointed with a coffee machine, tea bags, milk and biscuits and everything needed for cooking – even a spatula which I appreciated for scrambling my morning eggs. A lovely bouquet was set out on the countertop. While this is a self-catering facility, there are several options for guests. If you are not in the mood to cook, you can order ahead for a private chef to whip up a wonderful meal. Alternatively, there are villages in the vicinity where you can eat or get takeaways. Breakfast boxes can be ordered ahead to get the day started with ease.
While Fuller’s Hill Farm is off the beaten track, it is close to major motorways and well placed for tourism. There are also lovely walks in the area. Being townies, we managed to get ourselves lost in the nearby woods. Not even Google Maps was any use and I joked to my husband that we should have left a trail of sourdough crumbs to find our way out. After we were saved from permanently walking around in circles – a dogwalker took pity on us – we did manage to find the local pub. The Duncombe Arms is a welcoming establishment in Waresley, a nearby village peppered with pretty cottages with thatched roofs, church, pub and everything a jaded traveller could need for a weekend staycation. We had only planned a drink in the garden but the lunch menu was too tempting to resist and we ordered pan-fried halibut with bacon, girolles, asparagus and Jersey Royals. The dish sang with a springtime melody even while the weather provided the bass notes with an icy wind and periodic showers.
There is a silver lining to inclement weather while one is away from the chores of daily life. I find a certain happiness from an afternoon spent in a cosy, warm cottage while the rain pelts down outside and there are hours ahead to read and drink tea. In the evening we played Scrabble – board games are provided – while listening to music on the Bluetooth speaker. I was so grateful for the peace and quiet at Fuller’s Hill Cottages.
The cottage is attached to another of the same size so would make a lovely arrangement for two families or a group of friends. Each has its own private garden filled with flowers and lawn for little ones to run about, hot tub, outdoor furniture and BBQ. Close by is a further set of cottages – these are single-story, wooden cabins – and another area houses the third set of accommodation. Hiring out all six cottages would be a great opportunity to meet up with friends or family and there is a communal indoor area where gatherings could take place. There are play areas for children too with swings and more.
There is a lot to do for those looking for a more action-packed itinerary, both for adults and children. Fuller’s Hill Cottages has an online brochure, brimming with ideas for all the family from child-friendly activities to walks, museums and food. You will need a car to get the most out of Fuller’s Hill Cottages as there is so much to see within even just a half hour’s drive.
We spent the first day in Cambridge which I visit often. At this time of year, I love to have afternoon tea at The Orchard – a somewhat ramshackle and utterly charming tearoom that has been providing cream teas for over a century to the likes of Virginia Woolf, Rupert Brooke and other luminaries of the English literary canon. Nowadays its apple orchard is filled with students having tea with their visiting parents, passing the afternoon on deckchairs under the trees. After finishing our sandwiches and enormous, warm scones we walked along the Cam which flows at the end of the meadow on which a game of cricket was being played. It was an utterly English summer experience – even with rain showers dripping into the strawberry jam – and I loved it.
Having taken our leave of Jenny and John who live on Fuller’s Hill farm (Jenny is the writer of several inspiring cookbooks) we drove a short distance to Wimpole Hall. It was my first time back in a museum since March 2020 and it felt good to be getting back indoors, although the house was only partially open due to Covid restrictions. We walked about the beautiful walled garden, marvelling at how much more vigorous the vegetables were than the ones attempting to grow in our garden at home. We strolled through fields dotted with sheep and cows up to the folly, in a landscape designed by Capability Brown. Then it was time to return to London, refreshed after just two days in the peaceful environs of South Cambridgeshire.
Fuller’s Hill Cottages has been awarded a We’re Good To Go mark which indicates that the cottages have met the government and tourist industry standards for processes being in place for cleanliness and aiding social distancing.
Fuller’s Hill Cottages,
Looking for something different – we also enjoyed staying with Coastal Cottages of Pembrokeshire in Tenby