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- Beautiful contemporary eco-friendly barn for a couple (plus 2 children on a sofa-bed*)
- Located on a protected wildlife-friendly landscape
- Superb view
- Big glass doors and big terrace – perfect for inside-outside living
- Not far from the lovely town of Monmouth
- Within easy reach of the Black Mountains or the Wye Valle
The land on which Ashmead is located is a very precious resource for wildlife: an Officially Designated Wildlife Site, the meadows in front of the property are rich in protected species thanks to the efforts of the owners, who are both gardeners and wildlife advocates. This beautiful converted barn oversees all this, and in great comfort and style. The luxury of lots of well-considered space and beautiful design makes this a wonderful retreat for a couple. Sleeps 2, plus 2 children*, and an infant.
*Please note that although two children can be accommodated on the sofa bed, it is in the living-room, not a separate bedroom, so may not suit everyone.
The accommodation at Ashmead is conveniently spread across one floor – perfect for those who don’t want to deal with stairs. The open-plan kitchen/dining/living room is bright, spacious, and generously furnished. Oak beams adorn the ceiling space, and big glazed doors open out onto a deep terrace, which wraps around the building. A strip of big windows above the kitchen work-surface frames the beautiful view across unspoilt Monmouthshire countryside, making domestic chores a pleasure.
A contemporary Jotul wood burner and some rather snazzy radiators warm the interior a treat; a bookcase full of interesting things to read – books, guide books, maps, local tourist information – plus a TV and an iPod dock will keep you happily entertained.
The kitchen has everything – a stove with induction hob, a dishwasher, a fridge, and a separate freezer. A washing machine and tumble dryer are stowed away in a cupboard.
The bathroom is small but fabulous, with a loo, hand basin, and a bath with a wonderful rainfall shower over it. And the bedroom, tucked away, enjoys the same lovely expansive view as the living-room.
The garden is spacious: the large flagged terrace, adorned with trees and shrubs in handsome pots, and fringed by a flower border, overlooks a gently sloping area of grassed space, and a pond. Thanks to the protected status of the meadows, there is plenty of wildlife – peregrines, red kites, buzzards, skylarks, swallows, martins, yellowhammers, pippits, and garden birds, as well as many butterflies and insects. There are nightly visits from badgers in the wood, and in early summer, two types of wild orchid bloom. Kingfishers, dippers, and even the occasional goosander, make appearances on the nearby river Monnow. The owners have details of some really lovely walks from the front door - through fields, woodland, down ancient green lanes, and along the river Monnow.
Things to do in and around Ashmead
The Gwent Wildlife Trust has a number of reserves in the area, which are really worth a visit, including an SSSI at Pentwyn, Penallt, above the river Wye. This makes a nice day out, punctuated by a good lunch at The Inn at Penallt.
Walks, both from Ashmead and further afield, are spectacular. There is a really good local walk to Skenfrith with its 12th-century castle and historic church. You can climb to the top of the Kymin above Monmouth to admire the view (it is claimed that you can see eight counties from up here, and Admiral Nelson did just that when he visited Monmouth in 1802 and breakfasted in the enchanting Roundhouse); or perhaps walk stretches of Offa's Dyke, which meanders up this border country; enjoy some or all of the Three Castles Walk (connecting the Norman castles of White Castle, Skenfrith and Grosmont); or take the Wye Valley Walk down to The Boat at Redbrook for a pint and some lunch, and the owners can collect you if they are around. For steeper walking and more wonderful views, head towards the Black Mountains or The Brecons to climb The Skirrid, the Sugar Loaf or Pen y Fan.
Outdoor Activities are plentiful: golf can be enjoyed at The Rolls of Monmouth Golf Club; kayaking and Canadian canoe trips can be made on the Wye, and in the Forest of Dean, there are superb cycle trails (www.pedalabikeaway.co.uk). Fishing is possible in season on the Wye or the Usk, and a dip in the local river Monnow is refreshing on a hot day.
There is something very particular and interesting about Border Country – whatever country you are in. Whether it’s a fusion of culture where cultures meet or a jigsaw puzzle of very different pieces, or whether it’s the tension (happy or otherwise) of living so close the edge of one’s world – whatever the reasons for it, there is a special quality about marcher land. The Welsh Marches have always been extremely lively, something you would expect from frontier country. Early British tribes, Romans, Normans, Medieval monks, and the Tudors have all left their mark. Caerleon boasts some of the best Roman archeology in Britain; the abbeys at Llanthony and Abbey Dore, and Hereford’s cathedral with its famous Mappa Mundi are all hugely fascinating examples of the Medieval church’s culture and politics. And the Norman castles that march up the border are extraordinary testimonies to a powerful invading force. The cities and towns are full of interesting shops, markets and restaurants as well as some really lovely architecture. Good pubs and restaurants (including Michelin-starred dining) are plentiful in the area. All the best, as well as top tips for excursions, are selected by the owners and included in the information file in Ashmead.
The nitty gritty
Live online booking
Changeovers are normally Mondays and Fridays. Weekends are set-priced from Friday 4pm to Monday 10.30am; so you can stay 1, 2 or 3 nights for the weekend price. Check availability and book online below, or check availability for all cottages.
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From the visitors book at Ashmead
'Absolutely faultless and perfect in every way - we cannot recommend Ashmead highly enough! We have stayed in many rural retreats and this is by far the best. Property has been finished to a high standard with attention to detail, accompanied by views to die for, we really couldn't have asked for more. We arrived to a thoughtfully prepared breakfast basket which was a lovely touch. We will definitely return.'
'The whole place was wonderful, we would highly recommend.'
'Very welcoming and friendly owners. Lovely quality holiday accommodation with quality kit. Comfy bed and bijou bathroom. Loved the rainfall shower. Good info book. We had a lovely time. We enjoyed spectacular sunrises after early walks with the dogs. Brilliant.'
'Lovely cottage in a beautiful part of the country. Very relaxing holiday.'
'We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Ashmead, awesome views, lovely hosts who were very helpful. Dex, our dog, had a fantastic time as well :)'