Narrowly survived a fraught school holiday or perhaps your spirits were dampened by the washout summer? Then it’s time for a little indulgence: check in for some grown-up luxury at Ellenborough Park, a five-star hotel in Gloucestershire. Wander around its tranquil 90-acre country estate or venture a few miles by car to the picture-book villages and stately homes of the Cotswolds. After clocking up some steps, indulge in afternoon tea in Ellenborough’s Great Hall.
Doubles cost from £299 per night, including breakfast; ellenboroughpark.com.
Pair history and whisky
Seek home-grown adventure in the Orkney Islands on a guided round-trip tour from Inverness. Highlights include a trip to the Neolithic settlement of Skara Brae (which predates both Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids), an optional stop at Kirkwall’s Highland Park whisky distillery and a coastal hike to Shapinsay island. The six-mile-long isle attracts cormorants, kittiwakes and seals and has a high point (Ward Hill) from which you can view much of the Orkneys.
Four nights in guest houses, including some meals and transport, cost from £905 per person. Departures Sept 22 and Oct 6; intrepidtravel.com.
A shepherd’s delight
Delve into Devon’s post-summer charms with a stay in a shepherd’s hut in the Sid Valley. Outside the shelter, which was built by a local craftsman, you will find a firepit – bring some marshmallows to toast as you enjoy an evening of stargazing. Whip up breakfast in the hut’s kitchen, which comes stocked with fresh eggs, honey from the farm’s hives and other local produce. If it takes your fancy, venture out for a hike on the cliffs or a day exploring the nearby villages and market towns.
A three-night weekend stay in Sept or Oct costs from £300; coolcamping.com.
Take a hike
Break in your walking boots on a nine-night self-guided tour that follows the northern path alongside Offa’s Dyke. The 97-mile route takes in the highest of the Clwydian Hills, Moel Famau. A climb up will reward you with views of Snowdonia, the Mersey estuary and Liverpool. There’s much variety on this trip: one day, you could be wandering over heather-strewn peaks, the next crossing the Unesco-listed Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.
Nine nights cost from £1,429 per person, including accommodation, some meals, luggage transfers and the help of a local representative. Trips depart every week from Sept 16; exodus.co.uk.
Town and country
Commuters may be flocking back to the city, but London is still quieter than usual. Enjoy autumn in the capital as the parks fade to a burnt orange, and before the cold sets in. You can ramp up the glamour with a room at the Biltmore Mayfair. Feeling flush? The hotel is offering chauffeur or self-driven Bentley tours, ideal for pootling through the countryside, champagne picnic in tow. Alternatively, you could try its exclusive walking tour of Regency London. A Blue Badge guide will lead you through Mayfair and Belgravia, sharing titbits of one-time dukes and duchesses, fashion icons and military heroes.
Rooms cost from £309 on a B&B basis. The Biltmore Bentley tours start at £1,000 for an eight-hour chauffeur trip; a self-drive tour based on a minimum two-day hire at £750 per day is also available. The Biltmore to Belgravia Regency London experience starts at £250; lxrhotels3.hilton.com.