I’m pleased to announce my guest blogging stint for Four Seasons hotels, “Have Family will Travel,” which details our recent trip to Hampshire, England. After spending a long weekend in London, we ventured out of the city to experience the English countryside, making stops in Stonehenge and Bath before arriving to the Four Seasons Hampshire – a lovely Georgian estate in Dogmersfeld, 48 miles southwest of London.
Relaxation time on a family vacation is key, but we also relish enriching and educational experiences for our boys, 12 and 15. Travel can broaden their minds, sharpen their skills, and encourage them to embrace new environments. From outdoor sports steeped in history to excursions back in time, the experience sparked their curiosity as they pursued their passions in this country home away from home.
Riding: Although I am a novice, I was eager to visit the Equestrian center. Advised to wear thick trousers, I was professionally outfitted with riding boots, gloves, and helmut. The instructor gave me a quick tutorial, and then led me on an informal half-hour hack through the fields. Riding up high offered a lovely new perspective on the estate grounds, and we even had a chance to circle near Belvedere Pond and say “hello” to my boys as they fished. I’d like to think they are quite impressed with their mom’s horsemanship! Children will love the “Own a Pony” experience: two hour sessions for kids seven to 16 on how to care for their own horse, ride included.
Fishing: After pulling on complimentary Wellingtons in the lobby, the guys ambled down to Belvedere Pond for a morning of fishing with John, our expert guide. He came well equipped with fly rods, reels, flies and nets, and loads of advice on the fine art of fly-fishing. Shouting “Fish on!”, the boys were in their glory, catching and releasing colorful rainbow trout. They returned the next day for a round of rod-and-reel fishing.
Clay pigeon shooting: After a quick walk to the estate’s South Field, we were warmly greeted by Brian, the nattily dressed shooting instructor. He spent several minutes outlining the safety instructions and describing the five-platform shooting circuit, dispensing equipment and ear protection. Brian provided plenty of assistance to my younger son, a beginner, and gave expert tips to my older son and husband, both experienced riflemen.
Cycling: We picked up a pocket map from the concierge and headed out for an off-road adventure, exploring the miles of trails that traverse the property. The Spa provided us with bikes of all sizes, helmets and water bottles. On our ride, we stopped at Tundry Pond and biked near the farms to greet the lively pigs in their pens and the shaggy, longhaired Highland Cows dining on pasture land.
Canal walk: One afternoon, we walked along the scenic towpath of Basingstoke Canal, which winds its way throughout the estate.
DAY TRIPS FROM HAMPSHIRE:
Stonehenge & Bath: Iconic Stonehenge is the ancient stone circle aligned with the movements of the sun, raised 4,500 years ago by a sophisticated prehistoric people. Bath is the site of the famous Roman Spa, which still flows with natural hot water—the UK’s only hot springs. Together, they make a perfect historical day trip.
Highclere Castle: Even if you’re not a “Downton Abbey” fan, a visit to the massive, real-life home of the 8th Earl and Countess of Carnavon is worth it. An added bonus was the Egyptian Exhibit displaying King Tut’s artifacts famously discovered 100 years ago by the 5th Earl of Carnavon and archeologist Howard Carter.
Hampton Court Palace: We could’ve spent hours exploring the rooms of this historic royal Tudor/Baroque palace on the Thames. The kids also loved the lush Privy Gardens, the Hedge Maze, the 240-year-old Great Vine and the Chocolate Kitchen.
For tips on sightseeing, shopping and eating in London, please read my recent posts:
Looking for an expert tour guide in England? Check out Mirandus Tours for top notch walking and driving tours of London and the countryside.
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