Augill Castle, in the Upper Eden Valley, stands in open country, little changed for centuries. The castle's backdrop is the dramatic North Pennines with gardens opening out to views of the nearby Yorkshire Dales and the Lakeland Fells beyond.

Augill Castle

Built in 1841 as a Victorian gentleman's country residence, the castle has all the fairytale romance of a turreted hideaway. Augill Castle is not just a hotel, but a country house in its truest sense. Wendy and Simon, together with their young family, do all they can to ensure their guests leave feeling that they have stayed with friends.

Not here a formal reception desk to greet you, but rather a collection of comfy leather chairs around a roaring fire and a friendly Labrador. The castle provides the chance for guests to step out of reality and into a more relaxed place altogether.

It is a place where the background is of creaking floorboards, ticking clocks and distant laughter. Interesting antiques lurk in every corner and artifacts on every mantle have a genuine story to tell.

To achieve this, Augill is, above all things, a real home with children, cats and dogs, muddy boots kicked off by the door and toys tidied carelessly into a corner. Guests can be part of the family or they can keep themselves to themselves. Anything goes at Augill; anything that is but hushed tones and false formality.

My over-riding memory of Augill is abseiling down from the tower – my son Zach, then aged just 9, stood on the turrets and froze. Who could blame him? Not sure if it was the stunning views, or the drop!

Vikki Crayden-Reed, Castle Sales Advisor