So, you’re looking for a quintessential English break in the countryside for you and that special someone? Here’s our take on the perfect weekend away
Meet us at The Sweet Shop reception at the edge of the estate (say 4pm?) and a member of the team will show you the way to your property in their Series 1 Land Rover. We’re thinking The Hovel right beside the lake. It’s one of those properties that works as well in winter as it does in summer. Floor-to-ceiling windows give you great views across the water and the fireplace is a dream.
We’ll pop the kettle on and start the fire while you drop your bags and enjoy a cup of tea and a slice of Victoria sponge. You might have noticed by now that we’ve decorated the place with beautiful, seasonal flowers too. That’ll be the handy work of our favourite florist Figa & Co. They really know how to set the romantic mood.
Now that you’re settled in, it’s time for the first activity and what could be more romantic than a Bubbles & Sparkles wine tasting. Our resident sommelier Dan will guide you through a series of wonderful English sparklers, proseccos and champagnes.
Your cheese and charcuterie board will have arrived by now, so you can nibble your way through that between sips. It’s from butcher and deli Emmett’s, which is a mile up the road in a pretty little village called Peasenhall. The food there is spectacular.
Once the wine tasting is done, which lasts around two hours, you can pop your Wild Delivered dinner – which comes ready made with simple finishing instructions – in the oven to heat up. The Estate Kitchen loves to cook local, seasonal food, so in the winter you could pick a beautiful fish pie and perhaps an apple crumble?
Your pre-ordered breakfast hamper will have arrived, so you can start cooking a delicious full English breakfast, again with local produce from Emmett’s. Our exceptional bread and viennoiserie, though, is from the award-winning Penny Bun Bake House. Their sourdough loaves are really something special.
Once that’s done and you’ve got your outerwear on, it’s off down to Sibton Park bridge or by the lake on Chapel Barn Estate for a spot of 12-gauge clay pigeon shooting. It’s safe, fun and accessible and you’ll be hosted by a certain Mr Philip Thorrold, widely thought of as one of the world’s best shots. There’ll be refreshments provided to suit the season.
Now that you’re a crack shot you’ll want to celebrate with a fun trip to the Suffolk coast in your very own classic Morgan – it’s an open-top beauty in British racing green. Southwold, which is a short drive away, is a lovely spot to visit and we’d suggest having lunch at Sole Bay, a characterful fish restaurant that looks out over the harbour.
Once you’re back at Wilderness Reserve – say 3pm – you’ll be greeted at your Wilderness home by two masseuses for an hour-long couples massage. The hot-stone massages are particularly good, but there are a variety of options available. Why not carry on relaxing by taking a dip in the hot tub or the roll-top bath in your bedroom.
Then it’s time to pop your wellies back on – you’ll be provided with those, don’t worry – for one of our signature bonfire experiences in the woods. A member of the team will walk or drive you up, where you’ll be greeted with drinks and, of course, some extra-large marshmallows on sticks! Very romantic.
Bonfire experiences can then very easily turn into dinner at our Fire Restaurant, which sees our estate chefs prepare delicious treats before you on an open fire. The salmon – which is pinned to an oak plank and cooked by the embers – is particularly good. If you fancy heading back indoors, there’ll be a sharing menu waiting for you. Think comfort food, but restaurant quality.
Wake up early on Sunday for one of our famous nature walks with Steve, the estate ecologist. Put him to the test and ask any question you like about what you see around you – his knowledge is incredible. In the early summer months, it’s particularly exciting as the birds are out, all chirping away for the dawn chorus.
Then it’s back for a luxury breakfast hamper at around 10am and a lazy morning on the sofa by the fire or on the terrace, reading the Sunday papers. Once you’re feeling strong again, we’d suggest making the most of the estate itself. Simply having a good walk round or perhaps playing a little tennis. If the weather’s right, you might want a dip in our special sunken pool?
You must be hungry again by now? Why not have one of our Estate Kitchen chefs cook a special Sunday lunch in your own kitchen. Take a stroll around the lake and it’ll be near to ready when you’re back. Then how about burning that lunch off with a survival skills afternoon with our head ranger Chuck? It’s held in the woods and consists of foraging, fire building, cooking and building a shelter.
Sit back and relax for your final evening by the fire. Your grazing dinner – a slightly lighter choice after that big breakfast and Sunday lunch – will be delivered. Pop the cork of a few bottles of wine and call it a night! Or, if you’ve got a little energy left, you could pop out onto the terrace for some stargazing – we’re blessed with some of the darkest skies in the UK.
And that’s the dream weekend done and dusted. It’s check-out at 11am Monday morning, so you can have a slow start before heading home.
Please follow the link for more information on our available romantic cottages.