This collection of secluded lodges is perfect for family gatherings, says Dan Brotzel.

On the staycation front, Lincolnshire is one of England’s lesser-known counties. It sometimes seems to struggle for attention, especially as it lies just north and west of much-hyped Norfolk, long the province of affluent second-homers and holidaymakers up from the Home Counties.

But there’s much more to the area than wheat fields, dykes and Skeggy, as a long family weekend based at Bainland Country Park soon revealed.

Once a trailer and caravan park, Bainland – a 30-minute drive from Lincoln – has been in the Craddock family for decades. After current owner Simon inherited the site from his dad, he began converting it into something rather more upmarket: a luxury campus of high-end lodges and safari-style glamping tents set in 45 acres of parkland, with enough space and mod cons for couples and families to cocoon themselves away from the hurly-burly.

Accommodation comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Big Beast ‘tents’ are about as upscale as glamping gets, with built-in kitchens, bean bags, and log burners (though the walls are canvas, so you may need an extra layer). The interiors are great fun for the kids, with ladders to clamber up and beds tucked away behind wooden shutters.

Every lodge comes with a wooden terrace to sit out on, a small private garden and at least two hot tubs. Indeed, the park is full of examples of Simon’s quirky personality: life-size sculptures of animals dotted around the grounds, a family of friendly young goats sleeping in a converted railway carriage, arcade games and air hockey. The majority of lodges are also pet-friendly, and there are lots of great walks in the surrounding woodlands for dog owners to enjoy.

Also on site, in unrestricted times, there’s archery, tennis and volleyball, plus a swimming pool and ping pong. Bikes are for hire, and the park is next door to Woodhall Spa Golf Club, the home of England Golf. The park is busy with bookings year round, and always popular over Christmas and the New Year.

We stayed at the very high end of this high-end resort – the English Garden Villa, one of two villas which can take up to 24 people in spacious seclusion (currently booking for groups of 6), with 12 en-suite bedrooms and witty designer décor.

The inside-out, Mediterranean-inspired layout offers a vast living-room area containing pool table, old-school table-top Space Invaders, giant sofas, huge TV, and ample breakfast bar alongside a deluxe kitchen kitted out with Le Creuset.

Best of all, this area has its very own heated pool with removable cover, firepits, and of course, hot tubs. Oh, and your own exclusive tennis court.

For next year, a few more lodges are being built in an unused area, a pack of llamas and petting zoo are on the radar, and a project to rewild the whole area is underway. Extensive planting will create even more of a natural oasis feel, and attract more wildlife and colour into the park.

Many people come to Bainland with a plan to escape the outside world, and that very much works. But if you do venture beyond the park’s unprepossessing gates, there’s plenty to see and do.

With check-in at 4pm, we drove up early from London and spent the day in Lincoln. We wandered around the cathedral which, with its vast early gothic façade, high-vaulted interior, monumental effigies and stunning rose windows, is just about everything you could hope for from a jewel of medieval church architecture that was once the tallest building in Europe.

Also at Lincoln, if available you shouldn’t miss the chance to check out the Magna Carta – which lives in 11th-century Lincoln Castle. Dating back to 1215, it’s one of just four surviving copies of the document – a founding charter of democracy and the rule of law, which coronavirus protestors recently tried to invoke to put a stop to another lockdown.

After all that history, there’s the quaint collectable boutiques, fancy food shops and artisanal fudge-makers of Steep Hill to enjoy, a thoroughfare which, as my calves can testify, very much lives up to its name.

But for me, my wife and three children, the highlight of our trip had to be the visit to Donna Nook. Here, seals come every year to give birth in their thousands, and from the nearby path, you can literally watch – as we did – a pup slipping out into the world.

On the drive back to Bainland from Donna Nook, we took in the rolling fields, big skies and rich ploughed soil of Tennyson’s county, where you feel the sea is always just over the next gently rolling hill, before shutting the door on reality once more and heading for the pool.

How to plan your trip

Bainland will be open for the Christmas period, December 23-27, and is currently taking bookings for bubbles of up to three households. The region is currently in Tier 3, so check for further updates on full lodge re-openings.

A four-night stay in an Usselby Lodge (sleeps four) costs from £699 in 2021. Visit

Visits to Donna Nook have to be booked in advance. You just pay for parking (£10). Visit

Tickets for Lincoln Castle have to be booked in advance and cost £14 for adults, and £7.50 for children. Visit