WITH the recent spell of sunshine enticing us all into embracing the outdoors, Samlesbury Hall, near Preston, is offering a taste of rusticity with a touch of luxury.

“The Hamlet” is the Hall’s new venture, which will appeal to families looking for a weekend break, couples, friends —in fact anyone who wishes to experience staying in the grounds of a historic home to enjoy a memorable stay.

As glamping is to camping, so shepherd’s-hutting is to caravanning, and Samlesbury Hall now has a collection of such colourful new accommodation.

To call it a “hut” is something of a misnomer as it was distinctly Tardis-like. With a spacious bathroom complete with a power shower, and a ladder leading up to a huge and extremely comfortable double bed carved from Europan oak , this was luxury in its most pure state.

True, there were plenty of electrical sockets, but plugging in to the 21st century was the last thing on our mind in this pastoral paradise.

The handcrafted huts, which sleep up to four, are all heated and with a temperature system designed to keep guests cool in the summer and warm and cosy in the winter.

Kids can enjoy the adventure trail, the Mayflower playground or a round of mini-golf. There’s also a menagerie of rescue animals, including the hens that provide guests’ breakfast eggs, Elvis and Ozzy, the enormous Kune pigs, and rabbits who earn their keep by keeping the hall’s lawns in trim.

As dusk fell we set about building a fire — removing pre-ordered pre-chopped logs and pre-twisted newspaper from a bag and placing the into the fire pit — in the clearing outside our hut.

After a cosy couple of hours enjoying drinks by the fireside, we made use of the lanterns provided and had a moonlit walk around the atmospheric grounds.

The next morning we enjoyed a cup of coffee, sitting on the hut’s steps in the sunshine and enjoying the variety of birdsong from the adjoining wood. Then it was off for breakfast in the timbered, 14th century mansion of Samlesbury Hall itself, which was only minutes away. As well as breakfast, the Hall offers an award-winning restaurant with locally-sourced ingredients. There’s also afternoon tea — advisable to book in advance — an ice-cream parlour and to England’s first wafflery

After this unique dining experience, it was time to join one of the many character-led tours on offer. We chose the weekly Witch Tour with the very entertaining Janey. But there are different tours throughout the year so absolutely worth keeping an eye on the what’s on section of the hall’s website.

Incidentally it came as a surprise entry to the hall, the origins of which date back to 1180, are free.

Having sampled, what I term 'shepping' in summer, we are now looking forward to return visits with a bunch of friends in autumn and winter.

The shepherds huts provide perfect accommodation for weddings guests, but are a fantastic place to stay for anyone wishing for a break away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life or a place to explore the many attractions, nature and historical, surrounding area has to offer.

And while it costs around £25,000 to buy a hut — and now a much loved feature of well know people, including former Prime Minister — you can enjoy the wholesome experience for just £59 a night for two.

I can see why shepherd's hut are so popular and become the new way to take a break

Saiqa Chaudhary stayed at The Hamlet at Samlesbury Hall.

The cost to stay in one of the shepherd’s huts is:

Midweek for two people from £59 per night (Sunday to Thursday excluding school holidays) – includes a fire pit kit too

Midweek for four people £100 per night

Fridays and Saturdays are £130 per night

For details contact helena@samlesburyhall.co.uk or ring 01254 812010

More information from www.samlesburyhall.co.uk