The celebrated poet W.H.Davies, penning his thoughts about leisure, had it just right when he began his famous lines with, ‘What is this life, if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare…’
In today’s world of frenetic lifestyles we are often buzzing around like so many busy bees, rushing here and there with not a moment to spare, let alone having the time to stop and admire the view.
Five miles from the tourist honey-pot market town of Helmsley in North Yorkshire stands the village of Ampleforth, a quaint village in its own right which boasts two quintessentially English village pubs, one of which, The White Horse Inn dates back to 1768.
Better known for its famous public school and apple-brandy producing Benedictine monks, Ampleforth is also the location of Shallowdale House.
This five star rural retreat is a Wolsey Lodge, and sits across the lane from the northern edge of The Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This serene area of 79 square miles was granted the status in 1987 and is characterised by soft, rolling hills with a patchwork quilt of woodlands, pasture and arable fields.
Amazingly, the two and a half acres of sloping, well cared for gardens of the house rests comfortably in the North York Moors National Park, a double bonus.
Owners Anton and Phillip have created the perfect haven to stand and stare.
And what views!
Shallowdale House is generously proportioned with light and airy rooms, enhanced by panoramic picture windows with extensive views down the green slopes towards timeless Yorkshire farms and stone built hamlets.
Its superb position and attractive south facing gardens are the features which grab the attention of the first time visitor and give an early indication of the quality experiences to come.
The welcome by the owners is genuine and warm and they greet guests like old friends. From arrival to departure, you never feel like a customer, you are always a valued friend.
Your needs are soon established as you relax in the comfortable ground floor drawing room or the wonderful first floor sitting room, both with stunning views.
The house contains an eclectic and fascinating range of antiques, pottery and works of art and there are literally hundreds of books available to delve into when the weather is not so kind.
The three guest rooms are all spacious and light, with contemporary decorations and furnishing. Two are en-suite whilst the third has a private bathroom across the corridor. All have views down the verdant slopes towards the valley.
The dining room is also south facing with jaw-dropping views, especially at sunset.
Food for both the four course dinner and breakfast is locally sourced and varies with the seasons, though the presentation and quality never fail to reach very high standards. Many good restaurants would be proud to serve the dishes created and cooked with such care by Phillip and Anton.
This area is blessed with many nearby attractions including Helmsley Castle, abbeys at Byland and Rievaulx, Nunnington Hall, Newburgh Priory, Shandy Hall, Duncombe Park, and the magnificent Castle Howard amongst many others.
Nearby, the White Horse of Kilburn, a chalk figure on the side of Sutton Bank was created by the village schoolmaster and local people in 1857. It is 318’ long by 220’ high and can be seen from 45 miles away.
Standing at the top of Sutton Bank affords some of the finest long distance views in Britain, as well as being the home of the Yorkshire Gliding Club, where the more adventurous can take to the skies for a bird’s eye view.
The hand made oak furniture workshop of Robert (Mouseman) Thompson may be found just down the road in Kilburn village.
Open moorland expanses and forestry of the North York Moors National Park also lie not many miles away.
If you take the advice of Mr Davies, you will certainly take the time here to stand and stare, open-mouthed for most of the time.
A word of warning though. If you arrive at a Wolsey Lodge like Shallowdale House as a frantic worker bee, you will leave as a well fed and laid back drone.
Shallowdale is just one of over 150 different Wolsey Lodges across the UK and France. Wolsey Lodges is the name behind a group of luxury private homes, offering B&B – and in many cases also an evening meal – to paying guests. For over 30 years, Wolsey Lodges have been one of the best-kept secrets of the travelling cognoscenti. The inspiration came from King Henry VIII’s Lord Chancellor, Cardinal Wolsey, who famously toured the realm, expecting to receive generous hospitality at suitable houses on his travels.
Owners share an uncompromising ethos of exceptional hospitality and you can enjoy the individuality of each property plus the chance to visit and stay in some of the most beautiful private homes.
Each property is highly individual; castles, manor houses, farms, town houses and rectories from a range of different eras. Not all are in the country – some are in towns and cities.
The welcome you receive at Wolsey Lodges is genuinely warm and the stay will exceed expectations. Many have won awards for their exceptional level of service and accommodation.
Prices start from just £45 per head for B&B (based on two sharing). Bedrooms are luxurious and elegant and hosts provide tea, coffee and other personal touches, such as homemade biscuits, in the rooms, and many also provide a delicious evening meal.