How to do a mountain adventure, without leaving the UK

Who doesn’t love an adventure?! One of life’s joys is getting out and about and exploring what Great Britain has to offer. Whether it be walking through the woods amongst the bluebells or climbing Snowdonia, whether you’re an alpine style or expedition style climber, it’s time to plan your challenge.

The adventure of climbing mountains is an exciting one, but where to start? Travelling abroad is all well and good but exhausting before you have even started! There is no need to spend lots of time and money travelling to alternative locations if you are yet to tackle what is on offer at home.

Walking in some of the country’s most beautiful settings is easy to find and are on the doorstep of Warner hotels and villages.  What’s more is that Warner Leisure Hotels have partnered with Walking World and have designed a choice of alternative walks.

There is a choice of walks to suit different levels, some that may take in local points of interest, great local pubs or simply a stunning view – how dreamy does that sound?

With Snowdonia a stone’s throw away from the beautiful Bodelwyddan Castle Hotel, it’s the perfect walking destination. The new addition of Warner’s Self Guided Walks enables you to discover the beauty, history and landscape of some of Britain’s most scenic areas. Accompanied by a qualified and knowledgeable walking guide you can expect great views, fresh air and a choice of walks to suit regular walkers and novices alike.

After a day trekking and rambling, the perfect R&R is sitting back, indulge in tasty food, enjoy outstanding entertainment and have a few drinks before retreating to the comfort and luxury of your bedroom.

Go on, get out and enjoy the fresh air and walk with a purpose!

Q&A with Ken Bruce

Programme Name: n/a - TX: 20100101 - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: - (C) BBC - Photographer: Lorenzo Agius

We sat down with BBC Radio 2’s Pop Master legend Ken Bruce and asked him a few questions….

Q: PopMaster is probably the most popular quiz show in the UK with over 8 million listeners every weekday morning at 10:30, what’s the story behind it?

Ken: In 1996, yes that long ago, my daily mid-morning show on BBC Radio 2 was given a refresh and I wanted to include a daily pop quiz.  I invited my producer at the time Colin Martin and quiz setter and colleague Phil Swern out to lunch to exchange ideas. After two bottles of rather expensive red wine, we had pretty much worked out a format and after a few dry runs, we had PopMaster sorted. The rest, as they say, is history.  

Q: So the PopMaster quiz has been running for coming on for 20 years, any ‘special’ moments you can remember?

Ken:  We’ve had quite a few what you might call ‘special’ memories one I recall gave most trouble for myself was an April Fool’s prank when  DJ’s Richard Allinson and Lynn Parsons tricked me by posing as genuine contestants, they were given the answers and when one of them got a question wrong, so did the other and made ridiculous “guesses.”  It ended up locked in a never-ending tie-break until Richard gave the answer before the question was asked. The mastermind behind this set up was the one and only Phil ‘The Collector’ Swern I’ve never really forgiven him for that one.

Q: In the time of PopMaster there must have been some celebs who’ve played the quiz, are there any of particular note?

Ken: We had quite a few celebs playing the quiz from July 2007 to Jan 2008 when all BBC phone in quizzes were suspended.  Musicians are normally terrible at PopMaster, they tend to be very knowledgeable about their own narrow area of music, but struggle with anything outside it. The first, and only to date, celeb to score maximum points was Richard Drummie from Go West – Richard was remarkable, if you had Phil and him in your team for the music round you’d be doing extremely well!

Q: In your time there must have been a few dodgy answers, any particularly memorable?

Ken: We get lots of funny answers but one that stands out for me, we asked “The brothers Derek and Alan Longmuir were members of which 70s boy band?” the answer from the contestant ….. “The Osmonds?”  

Q: So Phil Swern and yourself are taking PopMaster on the road with Warner Hotels how does this work?

Ken: We’ve run several live events supporting Children in Need and the natural evolution was to let many people across the country play the quiz in some fantastic settings and Warner Hotels are a great place to play. The event is interactive and we use screens as well as the audio system to play the quiz. You’ll play as part of a team and use a small handset to answer questions. At the end we’ll hand out an exclusive framed PopMaster disc to the winning table. It’s a fun evening and the great thing is everyone can take part, no matter how excellent your music knowledge.

Q: You’re also the voice of Eurovision for the BBC are there any stories about this you can share?
Ken: Ah yes, due to the unique way the BBC is funded, I once broadcast from my hotel at Eurovision standing in a corridor with a microphone placed on an ironing board.  I’m told it sounded fine but I felt it was a little flat!

Fancy joining  Radio 2’s Ken Bruce and Phil ‘The Collector’ Swern for a live version of the most popular quiz show in the UK, ‘PopMaster’? You can! The duo will be at Littlecote House Hotel 27th May 2017, Thoresby Hall 2nd September 2017 and Bembridge Coast 11th November 2017.

Don’t worry too much if you’re not a music genius, its as simple as working with your team and pressing A, B, C or D so how hard can it be? Join us for an interactive evening of pop quiz entertainment featuring a range of music questions from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s and music played live by an amazing band The Human Jukebox.

Spruce up your Spring garden with these 5 top tips

Grove Russell-Allen, head gardener at Littlecote House Hotel gets to the root of how to make your garden blossom this season.

Cutting the grass

The sun is out and that means one thing, the lawn is growing at the speed of light. If you’ve neglected your lawn over winter, it may now be long and thick, so it’s important to take the length down gradually rather than hacking all at once.

It is important however, not to cut the grass too short, as frosty Spring mornings can make the grass turn brown.

Start potting summer plants

Now is the perfect time to start sowing hardy plants such as Surfinia Petunias, Marigolds and to tender to bedding plants. A key tip from Grove is to keep vulnerable plants away from frost and slugs and to keep the plants in a greenhouse.

Water greenhouse plants

As April starts to warm up, remember to keep an eye on the temperature of the greenhouse to make sure it doesn’t get too hot. Plants should be watered first thing in the morning – why is this? , but not over watered. If the leaves are wet when the sun comes up, or the leaves are starting to look scorched, move the pots to a less location with less sun.

The first week of May is a prime time to get hanging baskets out from the greenhouse and dress the garden.

Sow tomatoes, chillies and courgettes

In order to get your produce ready for June, now is the time to get your tomatoes, chillies and courgettes ready in pots. Make sure the Tomato pots are placed where they’ll receive plenty of sunlight.

Protect the turf

April is the month to start repairing any grass or turf that has been damaged during the winter. April showers will help the new grass to establish roots in time to avoid dying in the frost or warm summer sun. It would also be handy to keep a large sheet to put over the bedding plants, just in case the temperature drops and frost occurs.


For all you green fingered gardeners, we hope you’re enjoying National Gardening week!

Over 50s are more confident than ever

Last month, Helen Mirren revealed that she’s more confident at the age of 70 than she has ever been. The secret? According to Helen, it’s, “Learning to let go and feel liberated.”

So, Warner Leisure Hotels has carried out research amongst adults in the UK to identify at what age they have felt or do feel most confident and why.

The research* by the adult-only hotel group has revealed that Brits’ confidence is highest during their 50s (22 per cent), compared to any other time in life, with teenage years (13-19) being identified as the time when people feel least confident (4 per cent).

Almost half (40 per cent) claim they feel most confident because they have learnt to worry less about what people think of them, 15 per cent claim it is because they have greater self-awareness, and one-in-ten (12 per cent) reveal their confidence has spiked because they’ve learnt to let go of worries.

When asked what one piece of advice they would give their younger selves, the majority of respondents suggested points based on worrying less, ceasing the day and relationships.

One respondent answered, “Try everything on offer once; if you don’t like it, you never have to do it again, but you’ll always regret the thing you didn’t do” whilst another respondent said, “Seize every opportunity for adventure, and don’t waste time on dodgy men. The right one will come along eventually.”

Mat Finch, head of marketing at Warner Leisure Hotels, commented: “As the saying goes, you’ll regret the things you didn’t do more than the ones you did. Our guests have the opportunity and confidence to try things they may have never experienced before, like climbing, archery, fencing and Thai Chi. Whether guests want to relax or energise, it’s completely their choice, but we certainly notice a peak in confidence in the over 50s who holiday with us.”

*Research based on survey on 391 UK adults


Prosecco on tap at Bodelwyddan Castle

You heard it here first! We have introduced Prosecco taps into our hotel bathrooms, giving our guests 24-7 access to the alcoholic beverage, from the comfort of their own room.

We’ve plumbed the taps into all of our Signature Rooms in our Bodelwyddan Castle hotel, in response to feedback from a guest which asked for ‘Prosecco on tap’.

The Prosecco taps have been installed at our North-Wales site over a 12-week period and will be available for guests for a limited time only.

Warner Leisure Hotels Prosecco

Mark Thompson, research and development project engineer, comments: “One of the main priorities is to ensure the Prosecco makes it way from tank to tap, whilst retaining its bubbles and flavour.

“This has been achieved by installing an oxygen-free, hygienic, stainless steel ring main, pressurised to 3.5 bar – the equivalent to that you would expect from a Prosecco bottle. It’s the first installation of its type I have ever seen.”

Mat Finch, Marketing Director at Warner Leisure Hotels, comments on the game-changing hotel news, “Our guests are at the centre of everything we do at Warner and we take their feedback very seriously.

Warner Leisure Hotels Prosecco (2)

“The Warner team always go above and beyond to make dreams come true, but this has to be our biggest fairy godmother grant yet. The installation at Bodelwyddan Castle will act as a prototype for our 12 other Warner properties across the UK and will give our guests that grown-up fun that they come to Warner for”.

prosecco tanks silver

It’s World Poetry Day!

Good afternoon to you, we hope you are well

For today we have lots of great breaks that are really swell

From archers at Cricket to walkers at Nidd

There are plenty of folks (and not one single kid)

Who would like to head off on a Warner retreat

For a fun-filled adventure that just can’t be beat

So go forth and be great, help your dreams come true

There is only one person who can, and it’s you!


7 reasons to take a short break in the UK this year

Last year 2.5 million Brits opted to holiday at home, rather than travel abroad and there’s a good reason for that; you’ll be able to take all your home comforts, you’re well versed to expect British downpours and with such an array of festivities in the calendar, you’re never stuck for something to do.

So, whilst we move into March as the weather is changing and giving us hope for a pleasant Sping why not take a look at our top seven reasons to take a break in the UK this year.

Dodge the tourists

Spring has officially sprung, so what better time to visit the beautiful British countryside with a walk through the Yorkshire Dales and the North Yorkshire Moors. Why not try a spot of stargazing? The Yorkshire dales National Park has four dark sky discover sites to choose from, so grab your deckchairs, picnic basket and telescope and soak up the galaxy above, with no distraction.



No Passport required

The Isle of Wight is full of natural beauty including walks and beaches galore, but if you fancy doing something a little different why not hop across the sea to Monkey Haven? Without the faff of having to remember your passpord, it’s definitely one not to be missed, and you’ll feel like you’re in the rainforests of Costa Rica, minus the 45-degree heat and creepy crawlies.


Soak up the local history in your own time

Cowny Castle in North Wales is a fantastic place to take a pit stop and learn all about the history of the local area. Make sure you don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Bath Abbey whilst you stay at Cricket St Thomas. The Abbey is an architectural delight that has been enjoyed by Pilgrims and visitors alike for hundreds of years.


No restrictions on hand luggage

With all the spare suitcase space and unlimited luggage weight, why not splurge on some retail therapy? Littlecote House Hotel is less than half an hour from the town of Newbury, where you can bag yourself a bargain at the local market every Thursday and Saturday.


Savour the best of British delicacies

If you fancy getting to grips with nature and sampling some organic handmade delights, then Jimmy’s Farm should definitely be on your to do list if you’re taking a trip to Gunton Hall or Corton.
Alternatively, if you’re in need of a well-earned tipple after a day of relaxation at our Holme Lacey House, then a visit to the Chase Distillery will let you sample the local vodka delights where you can even pick up a bottle to take home with you.


No crying children on the plane  

You don’t need to be skydiving over the Grand Canyon to release your inner wild child. A trip to the City of Caves in Nottinghamshire will allow you to discover a hidden world beneath your feet and will both educate and shock you. Or, if you’re feeling even more adventurous why not have a go at the longest and fastest zip line in the world?!


Free from jetlag

The beauty of staycations is that little to no recuperation time is needed when you get home. After all, what’s more relaxing than an evening stroll taking in the stunning sea views over Langstone Harbour at our Sinah Warren Hotel? Bliss!

Warner Leisure Hotels are proud sponsors of the English Indoor Bowling Association Champion of Champions

Held at our seaside coastal village Lakeside, the EIBA Champion of Champions Bowls Competition took place on the 3rd to 6th February 2017.

The EIBA Champion of Champions Competition is a singles competition that brings together 16 of England’s top men and women bowlers. The bowlers play over 3 days for the title and this year’s Champion of Champions is Katherine Rednall!

Katherine Rednall won her first National Champion of Champions Title at Lakeside Coastal Village when she was just 16. The talented bowler then went on to claim the World Singles Champion Title just 3 years later, making her the World’s youngest winner of a World Indoor Bowls title.


Katherine then returned Lakeside to win her second Champion of Champions in 2016. If that wasn’t enough, Katherine also went on to claim the World Singles title in 2017!

To really get 2017 off with a bang, Katherine has retained her Champion of Champions title – all at a mere 21 years of age! This is now her third Champion of Champions title; I think you’ll agree it is pretty remarkable.

Lakeside Coastal Village has become the spiritual home of the National Champion of Champions Competition, which again attracted large crowds. Guests were treated to 3 days of brilliant bowling with England International skipper Jamie Chestney claiming his first men’s title.

Lakeside Bowls Centre Manager said, “It’s good to know that the our regular bowls groups, and the hundreds of guests we introduce to bowls each year, are able to enjoy the same facilities as the international stars who played here this weekend”.

Congratulations to Katherine, a fantastic achievement!



Burlesque at Bodelwyddan!


Burlesque is a very old and very popular form of entertainment, which began in the 1840s. It was used by the working class performers as a way to mock the upper classes, their traditions, social habits, culture and fashion and many of the performances were spoofs of operas, Shakespeare and other classic literature and plays.

Today however, burlesque is more about empowering women, encouraging them to embrace their sexuality and femininity and be confident in expressing themselves. We then took on the challenge to prove that you can still be sexy, powerful and classy as you get older and we had some real grown up fun doing it!

We invited five ladies aged between 50 – 75 to Bodelwyddan Castle in Wales to try Burlesque for the very first time.  The ladies learnt their moves at our one off ‘Burlesque Bootcamp’ and performed what they had learnt in front of a live audience in the Thowther Hall at Bod.

Our young-at-heart learners were put through their paces by the head of The Folly Mixtures, Sarah-Louise. Famous burlesque moves were taught such as; the tease, the glove peal, the shimmy and of course, the wink! Each dancer was given a personalised ‘Burlesque pseudonym’; Brandy Pink, Chloe Diamond and Bunny Sparkles were just a few! With these new names, the women were encouraged to let their inner ‘burlesque goddess’ shine through!


Teacher Sarah-Louise said:

“Burlesque is all about having a bit of grown up fun. It is very light hearted, it is very tongue in cheek, it doesn’t matter what your age, what your background or what your fitness level is. It’s for everyone and I was very impressed with how quickly our ladies transformed into Burlesque goddesses.”

One of the dancers, Ellen Wilson, AKA, ‘Brandy Pink’, loved the experience and said she will carry on learning Burlesque at home to continue her new found hobby.  Ellen said:

“The whole experience was great for my fitness and confidence and I loved meeting the other ladies and getting to know them. Burlesque is such a sociable activity and great for ‘girl power’ in our later years! I definitely want to learn more routines and will be showing my show my family my new moves – goodness knows what they’ll say!”

Our guests loved seeing the performance, with one guest saying how it proved that “anyone can do anything at any age”. The dancers themselves told us that we’d increased their confidence and given them a highly entertaining experience.


This is proof that you are never too old to try something new and that even if you think that you can’t do something, to try it anyway! To watch the video of our Burlesque boot camp and live show, visit our Facebook page here:

Warner’s Wonderful Winning Gardens!

Both Thoresby Hall and Gunton Hall were recently given the challenge of entering gardening competitions. Thoresby Hall won gold for the Best Hotel Garden in East Midlands in Bloom and Gunton Hall (picture above) was the winner of the Best Hotel Garden in Anglia in Bloom!

The gardens were judged on a range of criteria; colours, design, appropriate choice of plants and innovation were taken into consideration. Horticultural practise was also judged, watering, dead-heading and weeding were important and signs of appropriate feeding where necessary were observed. Good quality plants, obviously flourishing with no obvious signs of pests, diseases or deficiencies along with appropriate size for planting situation, appropriate soil type were also closely examined.

Sustainability was a key element in which judges were looking out for. Ensuring ecological functions, processes, biodiversity and productivity can be maintained and only using resources at a rate at which they can be replenished naturally was required. The teams had to take into consideration the balance of permanent/sustainable planting vs. seasonal/bedding plants at the timing of displays.

A considerable section of the judging criteria was environmental responsibility. This element is constantly considered at Warner gardens to ensure we are caring for our environment efficiently. Both teams from Thoresby Hall and Gunton Hall had to take into consideration the efforts made to preserve and maintain their gardens. Ensuring that the gardens are well preserved and are in keeping with the historic features of the property and local heritage were very much judged.

The Grounds Team at Gunton Hall consist of Head Groundsman Bowen Riches, two full time members and two part time members; Simon Cozens-Poll, Jill Day, Vicky Reeve and Callum Harris. Bowen has been gardening at Gunton Hall for 5 years, Simon 14 years, Jill 10 years and Vicky and Callum 3 years. Years of hard work went into the competition and each day on site to maintain the wonderful gardens at Gunton.

Bowen Riches said –

‘At the beginning of June we were told the judges will be visiting us on the 18th July. The couple of weeks leading up to it myself and the team put long hours into the grounds to make them look the best they could possibly be. I also called in on the site’s value chain; I had housekeepers, chefs and waiters all out on the gardens helping to make the site look good.  We are very proud of the win!’

The Grounds Team at Thoresby Hall is made up of 5 members who together have over 35 years of experience maintaining the fantastic gardens at Thoresby Hall.

General Manager at Thoresby Hall said;

‘I’m proud of our Grounds Team that have been awarded a Gold Award in the East Midlands in Bloom Best Hotel Garden Competition, this award was followed by the team’s Silver Award in 2015. It’s a great boost!’



The Grounds Team at Thoresby Hall.

Top Tip – At Gunton Hall we say we are a woodland site with lots of different areas including a landscaped Walled Garden/ rose garden, village square, putting green, pitch and putt and a 5 acre lake – it’s really not to miss!