2022 was the year we searched the internet for romantic retreats, barn conversions and country cottages. We booked short breaks in beautiful self-catering accommodation on the outskirts of York, the coast near Whitby and the quiet lanes of Suffolk. In August we discovered The Old Dairy, one of four barn conversions belonging to Cambridge Country Cottages.
Where are Cambridge Country Cottages?
The cottages are near the village of Horningsea, just north of Cambridge. They are located a few minutes from the A14 yet when you drive through the gates, you feel as if you’re miles from anywhere.
Situated in the grounds of Eye Hall, they started life as an old dairy but have been converted into The Buttery, The Hayloft, The Cart Shed and The Old Dairy. They are Grade II listed cottages, renovated and decorated to the highest level. Guests in all the cottages park in the large courtyard (there’s ample space). You can also swim in the owner’s outdoor pool by request.
The Old Dairy – a gorgeous cottage for two.
Our cottage was utterly gorgeous. The decor struck me as a combination of French Chateau and Farmhouse vibe. Pieces of vintage furniture and accessories plus a huge gilt mirror look very much at home in the rustic surroundings. The bedroom has a superking four poster bed but thankfully without the swags which would have overwhelmed the room. Underfloor heating is supplied beneath 300 year old exposed bricks.
We visited during the hot spell so had no need for the heating or the log burner but did appreciate the pretty garden outside with outdoor furniture and restful views across the fields.
The kitchen boasts a Nespresso machine but, surprisingly, no microwave. There’s a small fridge with a freezer compartment but no separate freezer. But otherwise we had everything we needed for our stay and we cooked for ourselves very happily each evening.
Our favourite things?
- The honesty bar with whisky, gin, vodka and even a fresh lemon alongside.
- The most comfortable bed with Vispring mattress and a divine down duvet.
- A coffee table set with lots of magazines to flip through.
- A proper bath as well as a fabulous raindance shower.
- Sitting outside on the cushioned chairs with a glass of wine and a good book.
Walking into Cambridge
On our first full day at The Old Dairy, we walked through the fields and neighbouring farm to reach the correct side of the River Cam so we could walk the towpath to Cambridge city centre. It was about six miles each way but a flat, easy saunter spotting canal boats, swans and acres of Fenland countryside.
When we stayed in August last year there was also a modern trail, Our Place in Space, featuring the planets of the solar system. We started our walk just south of Pluto and passed Neptune to Mars before reaching Earth, Venus and Mercury on Midsummer Common in Cambridge.
We had a quick lunch in Cambridge before starting back the way we came. In the heat, it really did feel like millions of miles between each planet on the final stretch.
An easier way to visit Cambridge and spend more time there, is to use the Park and Ride bus. One of the car parks, Milton Road, is only 7 minutes drive from the cottage. We did this on our second day, parking the car in the huge car park and hopping on the bus for £3.50 return per person (three children under 16 can travel free with each fare-paying adult). Even when we’re not on holiday here, whenever we visit Cambridge we use the Park and Ride as parking in the town is pretty difficult and expensive, so best avoided.
I highly recommend The Old Dairy as a place to relax in the countryside but still have access to major road networks. Looking at the website, the other Cambridge Country Cottages are just as beautiful. There are so many individual touches to each cottage making them very special and unique. We loved our short stay here, despite only living just over an hour away. It was just as therapeutic to the soul – and with less travel there was less hassle. Perfect.