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Open Features: Fitness Holidays With The National Trust

"Fitness fanatics now have the chance to beat the January blues whilst shedding the Christmas excess by booking a National Trust holiday cottage to make the most of the great ‘outdoor gym,'' says Jane Travis.

The outdoor gym – which includes footpaths, beaches, lakes and hills - gives people the chance to experience the benefits of exercising outdoors; it’s better for you – both physically and mentally – to exercise outside in the fresh air.

Academic research suggests that contact with green spaces reduces stress levels, enhances mood and self-esteem and enables people to relax, unwind and recharge their batteries – all the benefits also associated with taking a holiday.

There are over a hundred National Trust holiday cottages located right on a walking or running route, near to cycle paths and places to swim or surf. From the tip of south west Cornwall to the east of England, an active holiday with a Trust cottage as the base is a great way to kick start 2011.

Marianne Wanstall, head of holidays at the National Trust, said: “The Trust has holiday cottages located across hundreds of amazing outdoor sites where people can get fit, boost their energy levels and improve the mind. To then relax in one of our cottages after a day’s enjoyment outside offers no better reward.''

Stay at Strode House, adjacent to Barrington Court House in Somerset, and have fun with the family on a twenty mile circular cycle ride through the beautiful south Somerset countryside. The route takes you from the tranquil gardens of Barrington Court to the magnificent Elizabethan Montacute House, with stunning views of the Quantock Hills, the Blackdowns and the Somerset Levels.

The apartment is within the 17th-century stable block plenty of lawn areas for playing, bike-riding and picnics.


Lower Pentire farmhouse is directly on the pool at Loe Bar on the Penrose Estate in Cornwall, with miles of paths and coastline for runs, walks, or cycle rides. The Farmhouse looks out over the still, shimmering water, with the distant rumble of the waves breaking on Loe Bar beyond. Stop off for an intense workout on five pieces of outdoor gym apparatus all made from timber on the estate.

The team behind the holiday cottage also work with the local cycle hire company which will drop off a bike at your doorstep for you to use in the woodland and countryside directly from your door and an adventure company which offers a real taste of what the Cornish Coast has to offer.


Take a holiday in Chaplain’s Lodge on the Tyntesfield estate, Somerset, which is a great base to explore the wider estate and go on a 21st century treasure-hunt. Use your GPS or SAT NAV to find the hidden ‘geocaches’ (treasure). Each geocache contains a log book as well as information on the each location and a family-friendly activity to do. All geocaches are less than 5m from the public footpaths.

The cottage is available to let all year around and guests can also enjoy the 500 acre estate, including woodland walks and the working Kitchen Garden, plus complimentary entry to the main house.


Woodlands cottage is in the heart of Nymans wood and from here guests can get going on the new exercise trail around the garden. Grab a skipping rope from Visitor reception, walk in the woods and take part in a light 30 minute personal training taster session in the garden from the Sussex Boot camps team at 11am every Tuesday and Thursday during January (January opening times 11am-4pm).

The cottage is a real out of the way retreat surrounded by beautiful woodland with walks and lakes, but within an hour of London and 30 minutes from Brighton and the Sussex Coast.


Stay at the fabulous Round House on the Ickworth Estate in Suffolk and - aside of miles of wonderful woodland walking – there’s a mile long ‘Trim Trail’ with obvious exercise stations on route which detail what you need to do at each stop.

The cottage – a uniquely circular former game keeper’s house – is located right in the heart of the estate.


At Calke Abbey in Derbyshire, themed walks take place once a month going throughout the wider estate with its ancient trees. After a guided tour, relax at Wicket Nook cottage with stunning views over the Calke Estate. Beyond lies extensive woodland and the valley of the River Trent.


A holiday at Chirk Home Farm cottage, just a few hundred metres from Chirk Castle, offers direct access to the improved, wider cycle and walking paths along the estate and in to the woodland walk. The new trails allow independent wheelchair users and families with pushchairs and prams to access the walks, and Pedal Power provides special bikes which include side by side tandems, wheelchair bikes and tricycles - providing outdoor activity for people with disabilities to get out in to the great outdoors and stay fit throughout the year.


Porthoer, on the Llyn Peninsula in north Wales, is also known as Whistling Sands due to the sand can make when you walk across it. This northwest facing beach has great waves for surfing when conditions are right, and is also popular with body boarders. After a day surfing, relax back at Pant Rhiw cottage, with its stunning views out to another famous north Wales surfing beach – Hell’s Mouth. The cottage sleeps four in cosy surroundings and is the perfect place to stretch off and wind down after hours battling the surf.


Castle Ward in Northern Ireland has a 332 hectare walled demesne with walking, running and cycling trails galore. There’s a popular 3.2 mile running route and a 2.4 mile woodland route which is a good all over body workout as the terrain works every muscle and there’s plenty of scenery to keep the mind alert. Whilst pounding the grounds of the estate, stay at The Potter’s cottage on the edge of Strangford Lough; recently refurbished and extended, the cottage allows two dogs so they can join in with the exercise.


Exercise the kids on the Crow Wood at Lyme Park, where tree trunk climbing, giant badger sets, a massive slide, a huge tree house and rope walkways will burn off their energy for certain. A perfect family holiday cottage is East Lodge on the estate, which accommodates four people. The cottage also has direct access to 1400 acre historic deer park to explore, and the stunning walking country of Kinder Scout is a short drive away.



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