The Ashton Estate is one of the best preserved Victorian/Edwardian model settlement in the country. Three miles from the village itself, down a long private lane, the Grade II* listed Lady Rothschild Dairy comprises three former cow houses around a cobbled yard. Immaculately thatched and renovated, they have been most luxuriously decorated inside. Sitting rooms are sociable, beds blissful, bathrooms and kitchens smartly fitted, and almost every room holds a piece of history: a ladder here, a hayrack there, a salt-lick holder, an impressive grain chute. In the communal garden to the side are three shepherds’ huts and barbecues. Living nearby and passionate about the place is Carol, who did much of the decorating herself. She’ll greet you warmly on arrival and will ensure you have a great time. Walking and wildlife watching are on the doorstep – stroll along the river Nene, spot badgers, deer, rabbits, red kites, foxes and an array of birdlife. Close by, the market town of Oundle has plenty of shops, bars and restaurants, Elton Hall gardens are stunning and Fotheringhay is ancient and atmospheric.