Tranquility and fun activity! A tale of two Away Resorts parks in picturesque Lincolnshire
BEFORE I drifted off to sleep in the wonderfully comfortable bed in my luxury Oakwood accommodation at Away Resorts' Appletree Country Park, I listened and heard absolutely nothing, save the occasional and lilting distant rumble of a passing train.
Only on rising in the morning was the absolute stillness broken by welcoming birdsong in this tranquil wooded setting among 150 acres of beautiful countryside near Boston, Lincolnshire.
Away Resorts have 23 parks around the UK from Perthshire in Scotland to St Ives in Cornwall, and I was given the unique opportunity to sample not one but two of them just 20 minutes' drive from each another, but poles apart in other ways.
Formerly the Boston West site, Appletree is quite new to Away Resorts and, as such, is being gradually and sympathetically upgraded with little or no intrusion to visiting guests. With a nine-hole full-size course it's very popular with golfers, some of whom enthused to me about the wonderfully lush fairways and manicured greens and the amount of money and time that had been spent on it since the acquisition.
The park is also home to a state-of-the-art driving range with Toptracer technology for those clubswingers in the know - a clever device that tracks your golf ball trajectory to improve accuracy to you and me!
But the park is not just for golfers. Adults and children alike can enjoy daily activities including ceramic painting, VR experience sessions, bird box decorating, tie-dye t-shirt and grasshead monster making in the park's marquee.
Mini archery, foot golf (with football) and disc golf (with frisbee!) sessions are also on offer and there's a bike hire shack if you want to explore the beautiful Lincolnshire countryside as well as an amazing adventure playground for the kids. On Tuesdays and Fridays you can grab a blanket, popcorn and some hot chocolate and settle down to watch a film in the outdoor cinema too.
There are accommodation types for all sizes and budgets, and wheelchair-accessible units, all equipped with modern facilities. Our elegant Oakwood unit came with three TVs - one in the lounge and one in each bedroom - which afforded more flexibility and private space, and touches like a dishwasher, master bedroom en-suite, bespoke wifi for the unit, and even a built-in HDMI cable to connect your devices to the main TV all added to the luxury experience.
All units have modern and fully-equipped kitchens should you wish to cook your own meals, but to give yourself a break from that and the washing up, you can head down to the stylish Six West restaurant, where a fine array of breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes await. Complementing the venue is an attractive and well-stocked bar area where you can enjoy a cocktail or three and watch colleagues, family or friends complete their rounds on the ninth green from the comfort of the terrace.
Open subject to demand and time of year, the Tipsy Eagle Brewhouse is a place where you can relax and enjoy an extensive choice of homemade food while admiring the stunning countryside views from the balcony.
To give you an idea of prices, the Nachos Our Way starter for two costs £8.95, with a main meal of Gammon Steak and Hunters Chicken costing £13.60 and £13.40 respectively. A bottle of Jean Julien Chardonnay at £24.95 was our delicious and perfect accompaniment, and expect to pay around just over a fiver a pint depending on your choice of beer/lager. Following your night out a hair-of-the-dog traditional breakfast costs £9.70.
So then it was time to head up to Tattershall Country Park, a long-established Away Resorts family favourite where we enjoyed a non-stop and fun-filled day of activities, where qualified and experienced instructors take you through all aspects and safety first.
We started with laser clay pigeon shooting, using decommissioned rifles fitted with laser technology to register a hit on the metal-stripped 'clays' fired from the launcher, with a variety of different games to enjoy.
It was then time to be harnessed up and connected to the amazing zipwire attraction affording great views over the park as you travel across various lengths of wire. Target archery was next with, again, different fun games to play, before my two children enjoyed the High Ropes area, with the exciting leap of faith jump at the very end. We finished the day with axe-throwing, our technique gradually improving so that we were hitting the target regularly at the end.
Many of the activities are optional, additional extras and play an important part at Tattershall and I have named just a few, but there is something for everyone here - be it an adventure playground, crazy golf, bike ride, watersports including wake boarding, jet skis and pedalo hire, or just relaxing back on the children's beach or on a lounger in the popular outdoor Lakeside Lido before taking a refreshing dip. There's an indoor pool too if the weather isn't so nice.
Bars, restaurants and food vans abound when you fancy a bit of refreshment, again at similar prices to Appletree, and it's a must to try the new Catch 22 chip shop with its freshly-caught fish making this a popular lunch and dinner destination.
Rest assured that while probably a bit more lively than the tranquil Appletree, accommodation is set aside from the hub of activities so peace and quiet is still very much part of the package here too.
So then it was back to Appletree, and time to explore some of the outlying area. The historic city of Lincoln with its ancient and picturesque Cathedral Quarter is just 50 minutes' drive away and, of course, Boston itself is just down the road for a bit of retail therapy and its own architecture worth a photograph or too.
Added to this the Lincolnshire coast, should you wish to dip your toes in the sea, is easily accessible within the hour depending on your choice of seaside resort.
In conclusion, a distinct difference in pace between the two parks, but with common threads of beautiful surroundings, relaxation, and fun whatever your age.
For more information and prices/availability visit www.awayresorts.co.uk