Lincolnshire is often overlooked as a short break destination.
But many of its treasures will be strangely familiar to West Midlanders thanks to two of Hollywood’s biggest stars.
The county welcomed Tom Hanks when the breathtaking Lincoln Cathedral doubled as Westminster Abbey for the 2006 blockbuster movie The Da Vinci Code.
And Keira Knightley shot scenes for the previous year’s Pride And Prejudice at the Tudor mansion Burghley House and in nearby Stamford, described as “England’s finest stone town”.
Ten years earlier, the legendary BBC version of the Jane Austen novel, starring Colin Firth, was also filmed in Lincolnshire, at Belton House.
The National Trust-owned restoration mansion, near the market town of Grantham (where Margaret Thatcher was born), has 36 acres of gardens and a 1,000 acre deer park.
Lincoln Castle and Cathedral
Next door is Belton Woods – the ultimate in luxury self-catering living.
There are 32 contemporary but cosy lodges – 20 detached sleeping eight and 12 semi-detached sleeping six. We stayed in one of the semis.
The lodges are built on rising ground so you enter at first floor level where there’s an open plan kitchen, dining and living area and a sauna room.
Our spacious kitchen was equipped with everything we could need, including a dishwasher, while the sauna room also featured a double-sized body jet shower.
The large living room/ dining room was furnished with leather sofas, Italian glass tables, designer rugs and a state-of-the-art entertainment centre.
The windows went the full width of the room giving panoramic views across Belton Woods’ three golf courses and beyond to Grantham.
Our huge balcony was just a chip shot away from the perfectly kept greens, fairways and ponds and was a great place to dine or soak up the sun.
Belton Woods lodges
Downstairs, there were two large bedrooms each with TVs and stylish en suite facilities – one with a whirpool bath and shower and the other a jet shower.
Throughout our secluded lodge there was specially-commissioned artwork, striking floral displays and imaginative lighting.
Belton Woods is undoubtedly the perfect place to unwind. But having said that, there is plenty of opportunity for young and old alike to enjoy the great outdoors.
You might spot badgers, roe deer and rare woodland birds following one of the nature trails that pass the lodges.
One morning, we didn’t have to look far for the deer – a small herd was literally on our doorstep.
There are two 18-hole golf courses, one of which has PGA Championship status and features one of the longest holes in Europe.
Belton Woods lodge
There is also a challenging 9-hole course and a driving range on the estate.
Other activities to try at Belton Woods include fishing, horse riding, quad biking, archery, clay pigeon shooting, karting and mountain biking.
The four-star De Vere Belton Woods Hotel just down the lane has tennis courts, squash courts, a snooker room and a children’s play area and activity club.
Lodge guests receive free membership of the hotel’s health club which boasts a lagoon-style indoor pool, a gym and a spa (extra charge).
If you want to eat out the hotel has a choice of fine dining and family-friendly restaurants while the surrounding area is bristling with traditional pubs and tearooms.
At the end of your break you won’t want to hand back the keys. Which is probably why there’s the threat of a £40 fine if you’re not out of your lodge by 10am!
But that gives you plenty of time explore either Lincoln or Robin Hood’s Nottingham, both under an hour away.
For more information visit the Belton Woods website.
Belton Woods lodges