My steps crunch on the light frost and I can see my breath in the cold dawn air. I reach the end of the farm road, turn and look back.
The fields and hedges are covered in a brilliant white that has not yet melted with the first light of the sun.
The tree line hugs the ridge to my right and a meadow stretches ahead.
In a field next to me, some curious Aberdeen Angus cattle wander indifferently. The morning is calm and the peace is only broken by the quiet noises of nature.
I smile to myself and start running back down the path that leads to the warm bed I had abandoned.
The beautiful Baston Hall from the sky, located in the Malvern Hills in Worcestershire
Baston Hall is 400 years old and is as charming as it is grand
A few minutes later Baston Hall appears, a nine-bedroom, nine-bathroom Elizabethan mansion.
We had escaped to the Worcestershire hills for a long weekend to see the 400-year-old house at the heart of this magnificent estate, which includes a regenerative farmI didn’t want to go back.
From the outside, the house looks like something out of a fairy tale or a period television series.
Inside it has been beautifully restored and can comfortably sleep up to 18 people, with a combination of original character and modern luxury.
Set on 140 acres in the Malvern Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it is the perfect location for multi-generational families looking for a UK holiday with a difference.
The seasons bring different pleasures and activities for children or anyone who wants to play on the farm.
As the winter chill gives way to spring, visitors can help bottle-feed the lambs or lend a hand during lambing season.
Sheepdog training can always be enjoyed and guests can forage for wild garlic and make their own pesto.
Children on family holidays or colleagues in corporate groups try their hand at anything from bushcraft, where they learn survival skills such as how to start a fire in the wild, or they can take part in burrow building, tree planting or the placement of hedges.
The bravest ones can paddle surf in the lake or even take a wild swim. And then there is a tennis court, croquet, badminton, archery or clay pigeon shooting.
The property is also a haven for wellness weekends and for people who just want the opportunity to reset and recover.
And if you just want to wander around a giant house, walk through the gardens, sit on the patio and hire a caterer, then this is the place.
The imposing Elizabethan house sits in the heart of 140 acres in Worcestershire.
Guests can swim, paddle, or even stand-up paddleboard on the lake.
It quickly becomes clear to us that Baston Hall is much more than just a country house.
While it is certainly an amazing place to host large groups or parties, it is our children who really make us understand how special it is.
They instantly fall in love with life on the farm.
They love wild ducks, chickens and guinea fowl, but their favorites are the playful farm dogs. It’s unclear who is most excited to see whom.
And when they take a farm tour, they are in heaven.
“Sheep, Dad!” my two-year-old daughter shouts, with an explosion of excitement, as she chases 14 four-legged furry friends through the countryside.
Sheep are good sports. They jog to avoid her outstretched arms as she frantically tries to hug them, her bright yellow wellies splashing in the morning dew.
During the few days we spend on the farm, the children feed the animals, explore the forest, play in the shepherd’s hut and love the tractor to ride.
It’s a totally different experience than any other vacation they’ve been on, and the house is just as charming as it’s great.
One of the beautiful living rooms with the fire lit.
King-size beds, wooden beams, and luxurious decor adorn each room
The property has nine huge bedrooms and nine bathrooms.
One of the little mice painted on the walls – the kids love finding them all.
A local artist has painted 14 adorable cartoon mice in various corners and the little ones delight in running around on their treasure hunt, desperate to find them all.
When night falls, they are safely tucked into king-size beds, exhausted from the day’s activities.
As peace descends upon the house, we light the fire and enjoy some well-deserved glasses of wine.
Our hosts, Rosanna and Ian Horsley, left the London rat race for the countryside and bought the estate in 2017.
They are passionate about regenerative agriculture, where farmers prioritize the land to improve biodiversity while producing the most nutritious food possible.
“We want to farm in an environmentally friendly way and the house is our way of making it economically viable,” says Rosanna, holding a hot cup of tea.
‘Agriculture as a business is an extremely difficult life and it must be diversified.
‘When we bought the property, we immediately set out to improve the space to turn it into a luxury hotel, but in a 400-year-old house.
‘That meant installing new bathrooms, new heating systems, we used local companies to help with everything, including reupholstering the furniture.
‘It’s about sustainability and supporting the local community is a big part of our ethos, and we want to create a sustainable life for our family.
‘We have to support the land and support the house. Farming is 24/7.’
Another huge room to lie down and relax.
The great room connects one side of the property to the other.
The morning sun enters through the window in a corner of the huge kitchen-dining room.
The owners painstakingly renovated all the bathrooms on the property.
The house is a mix of old character and modern luxury hotel.
The chickens have their own pretend Elizabethan mansion.
Ian explains as he takes us on a farm tour: ‘Regenerative farming is about leaving the land and our piece of countryside in better condition than we found it.
‘Building on soils and creating meadows, hedgerows, woodland pastures and woodlands provides the essential diverse habitat that insects, birds and mammals need to live.
‘We must create a habitat and at the same time be aware that we need to feed ourselves. Creating nature reserves and importing our food from abroad only exports the destruction of our habitat abroad.
‘It is very important to improve our agricultural practices and involve them in nature, for the benefit of all. “This is what underpins our agricultural ethos at Baston Hall.”
It is a noble philosophy and witnessing it firsthand gives a clear perspective of how demanding life is.
We go back up the track feeling that we have learned a lot in a short time.
The excited barking of the dogs and the happy squeals of the children calm us down and we enjoy feeling calm, content and away from the city.
Sadly our journey comes to an end, but it leaves a deep impression on all of us.
Since they returned, the only question on the children’s lips is a simple one: ‘When are we going back to the farm?’
I hope soon.