By Graham Chalmers
At the height of their 1960s fame, The Beatles once scoured the Aegean in search of their own private island - but one is now available right on our own doorstep for anyone who fancies the ultimate luxury break.
Set in 200 acres of nature and birdsong near Masham, you’ll need to use a pull-along rope ferry and a wooden bridge to get there but the 16 metres square island will be entirely your’s after that.
Available for hire by the half or full day, the island is part of the Swinton Park estate which has been owned by the Cunliffe-Lister family since the 1880s.
Originally created in 1765 as part of a chain of small islands at the height of this magnificent estate’s Georgian pomp, the island became overgrown over the years and its summerhouse fell into disrepair when the castle was sold in the 1970s.
But the current Lord Masham, Mark Cunliffe-Lister, never forgot how much he enjoyed picnics on the island in his childhood years.
Recently-completed restoration work by Lord and Lady Masham has allowed Swinton Park to make a taste of private luxury available to everyone.
Called Lake Island, the family say it’s the ideal for special celebrations, corporate barbecues and family afternoon teas - or a romantic proposal over a bottle of champagne.
The island comes complete with a small house furnished with a table and chairs that can be transformed with fairy lights, flowers and candles or rugs, blankets and board games.
And, if you fancy some top cuisine for your cosy hideaway, meals can be arranged - and delivered - from the four AA Red Star Swinton Park castle’s own kitchens.