Keep the gloom at bay with a stay at a cosy bolthole set in some of Britain's most beautiful walking country. LIZ BIRD picks some of the best MYRTLE HOUSE Llanfrynach, Brecon Beacons
This pretty 18th-century cottage is situated a few doors down from an award-winning foodie pub in the quiet village of Llanfrynach in the foothills of the Brecon Beacons.
Recently renovated, it has a woodburning stove, leather sofa and antiques in the double-aspect lounge overlooking a large mature garden and a stylish country kitchen with a Belfast sink and stone floor. Click here now for amazing offers to Brecon Beacons!
Nearby the White Swan, a 17th-century coaching inn, is equally welcoming with open fire, leather sofas, exposed beams and to-die-for desserts such as baked peach tarte tatin with homemade peach ice cream.
The walk: Craig Cerrig-Gleisiad National Nature Reserve, a 20-minute drive from Llanfrynach and situated off the Brecon to Merthyr Tydfil A470 road, has to be one of the most spectacular walks in the Beacons.
Walk up alongside a stream before entering the canyon-like setting with steep cliffs and alpine plants. Take the centre path on a two-hour circular walk leading over the top of the cliffs where there are dramatic views of Pen y Fan, the highest mountain in South Wales.
Brecon Cottages (01874 676446/ www.breconcottages.com
) offers seven nights at Myrtle House from £348 (sleeps five), self-catering. Three-night short breaks from £300. BYFORDS Holt, Norfolk
This stylish B&B in the elegant market town of Holt offers 16 boutique hotel-style rooms with Egyptian cotton sheets, DVD and sound systems and sleek modern bathrooms.
By day, downstairs is a bustling deli and café which sells giant slabs of delicious homemade cake.
By night, candlelight and an open fire transform it into a relaxed bistro serving locally sourced meals. Tuck into smoked salmon with Cromer crab and spaghetti or homemade lamb meatballs with pasta and Parmesan. That's if you have room after all that cake.
The walk: Take a windswept walk along the three-mile stretch of Holkham beach, a 30-minute drive away, which is famed as a location of the film Shakespeare In Love starring Gwyneth Paltrow.
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The Queen is also said to exercise her corgis here while staying at the nearby Sandringham Estate. However, you're more likely to spot birds than royal pets; the neighbouring fields are often frequented by both pink-footed and brent geese.
Byfords (01263 711400/byfords.org.uk
) offers doubles from £150 per night (two sharing), B&B. TREASURE ISLAND COTTAGE Braemar, Royal Deeside
Robert Louis Stevenson wrote some of his famous book Treasure Island while living at this small, traditional stone cottage in 1881.
Today the two-bedroom property offers all the mod cons and the all-important woodburning stove, ideal for nights in front of the fire. Braemar is only nine miles from the Queen's Highland retreat, Balmoral, while the cities of Perth and Aberdeen are both within an hour's drive.
The walk: Just south of Braemar off the A93 near Auchallater farm is the beginning of a seven-mile circular walk to Loch Callater, a high loch hemmed in by mountains and offering superb views of dramatic peaks such as Ben Avon.
Ecosse Unique (01835 822277/ unique-cottages.co.uk
) offers seven nights at Treasure Island Cottage from £295 (sleeps four), self-catering. INGLENOOK COTTAGE, Broad Campden, Cotswolds
Holiday hideaways don't come much more cosy than 300-year-old Inglenook Cottage, a thatched Grade II listed Cotswold stone building with exposed beams, a large inglenook fireplace, Victorian roll-top bath and an iron bed.
Picturesque Broad Campden has an award-winning village pub and is close to Bourton-onthe-Water, the "Venice of the Cotswolds" and Shakespeare's Stratford-upon-Avon.
The walk: Take a gentle one-mile stroll to Chipping Campden with its elegant honey-coloured buildings and 17th-century Market Hall.
There's a more energetic four-mile hike up a hill towards the 18th-century Broadway Tower where you can climb the steps for spectacular views of up to 16 counties and admire the gargoyles and turrets of this Capability Brown-designed project.
Rural Retreats (01386 701177/ ruralretreats.co.uk
) offers two nights at Inglenook Cottage from £257 (sleeps two), self-catering.