Autumn Shades for Holiday Cottage Breaks

The kids are going back to school, the mornings have got a bit chillier, and we’re no longer hanging on for a barbeque summer. Autumn is here and it’s the ideal time for a getaway.

Holiday cottages are ideal for an autumn break in the UK, offering you freedom, flexibility and a great choice of locations and activities connected with them.

Here are our suggestions for things to do in the UK in autumn, whether it’s a short break or something more substantial.


Romantic Autumn in the Lakes and Cumbria

The Lake District looks glorious this time of year, with forests and woodland turning multiple shades of gold, orange and brown.

At Brockhole, the landscaped garden takes on a whole different quality with their many autumn colours. The garden is designed as a series of south and west facing terraces, sloping down towards Lake Windermere.

Much of the garden’s look and content still retains the original designs of its founder, Thomas Mawson.

The romantic poet, William Wordsworth is closely associated with the Lake District and you can visit both his Georgian Townhouse in Cockermouth, Cumbria, and his rural home, Dove Cottage, in Grasmere.

Grizedale Forest is a treasure trove of autumnal beauty in the Lakes. Between Windermere and Coniston, at Hawkshead, the forest has larch, elder, beech and oak trees in abundance, with the addition of woodland sculptures by notable artists such as David Nash and Andy Goldsworthy.

If the weather turns colder, there are many superb pubs to choose from in the Lake District, where you can warm yourself up while tasting some fine food and drink.

The Masons Arms at Cartmel Fell has a traditional, low-beamed downstairs and a more spacious restaurant upstairs, serving excellent local produce. You’ll also find exquisite meals at the Drunken Duck in Ambelside. In the same area, the Golden Rule is also warm and welcoming, and less likely to draw the crowds.

Dating from 1689, the Mortal Man, is in an idyllic setting, in the tiny village of Troutbeck in the beautiful Troutbeck Valley. If it’s mild enough, you can sit in its lovely beer garden and admire the scenic vistas, stretching as far as Windermere itself.


A National Arboretum

If you visit the Heart of England area in autumn, then you should take some time to explore the Westonbirt National Arboretum in Gloucestershire. This was created in the mid-19th century, to feed the Victorian appetite for exotic botanics.

Here, you’ll find around 2,500 different species of tree, and in autumn you’ll see in all their golden, fiery glory.

The maple trees are especially glorious in autumn. If you time your visit for October, you can see them at their very best.

There’s plenty of space for you to explore here, covering some 600 acres, divided between the three areas of the arboretum, Silk Wood – an ancient woodland – and the grassland of the Downs, which is grade I listed.


The Abbey and the Wood

In Yorkshire, you’ll find Fountains Abbey and Hackfall Wood close together, while offering contrasting views of England in the autumn.

Surrounding the abbey, the Studely Royal Water Garden is a masterpiece of landscape art, from its sculpted vistas to its follies and garden buildings.

Here you can see Japanese maple, birch and swamp cypress in a rusty rush of autumn shades.

Hackfall Wood is feels like wilder terrain, though in fact William Aislabie originally landscaped it, presenting a dramatic contrast to the more formal concept his father came up with at Studely.

Punctuated by follies and temples, the wood is a joy to explore, especially in autumn, when the sycamore, ash, elm, beech and oak trees lend it a rusty, golden hue.

Of course, the ruins of the abbey itself remain stunningly beautiful whatever time of year you visit.


Plan Your Stay

The end of the summer doesn’t mean the end of your holiday experiences. Visit our website, or email

Experience Maximum Seaside at Blackpool

Blackpool frequently comes out on top in surveys as Britain’s favourite seaside town. In many ways, it offers the maximum seaside town experience, from its amusements to its beaches, donkey rides and fish and chips.

If you’re planning a holiday cottage break in Lancashire, then put Blackpool on your itinerary, and let yourself loose.


Pleasure Beach Thrills

If you’re in search of the ultimate British amusement park then this is probably it. Full of attractions, the Pleasure Beach has rides for thrill-seekers, alongside its Hot Ice show and its themed Nickelodeon Land rides.

The Big One is the country’s highest rollercoaster, 65 metres tall. It starts with an almighty drop, then takes you through twists, turns and loops, reaching speeds of up to 85 mph. There are plenty of glorious seafront views along the way, though you may be too focused on hanging on to really appreciate them!

Other rollercoaster rides at the Pleasure Beach include Infusion, which is the country’s only roller coaster completely suspended above water; and Valhalla, an indoor ride that’s spooky, scary and exhilarating, all at the same time.

For a more traditional theme, try the Grand National. Now some 70 years old, this wooden ride takes you on a rollercoaster tour of the iconic steeplechase, from jumps and turns to the winning post.

Rides for the whole family include Alice in Wonderland and Wallace & Gromit’s Thrill-O-Matic, alongside more traditional dodgems and ghost train.

The Hot Ice Show provides plenty of edge-of-your-seat entertainment with its fast-paced choreography and displays of stunning skating.

For the full, immersive Pleasure Beach experience, you can get both adult and junior wristbands for a day’s unlimited rides.

Get Wet at the Waterpark

To add to Blackpool’s tally, it boasts the UK’s largest indoor waterpark. This means that whatever the weather – and we know what the British Summer can be like – or the season, you can enjoy splashing around in a tropical climate.

The Sandcastle has thrill-seeker rides, including colossal slides, but also family-friendly slides and wavepools.

There’s an all-inclusive wristband option, and a spa offering treatments.


Walk on the Iconic Comedy Carpet

Blackpool has various free attractions and one of the more recent is already fast achieving iconic status. This is the Comedy Carpet, one of the largest pieces of public art commissioned in the UK.

In the shadow of Blackpool Tower, you can stroll over numerous catchphrases, quotes, jokes and songs that celebrate Britain’s rich, cultural comedy heritage.

The Comedy Carpet features the words of 850 writers and comedians, and the letters range in size from being a few centimetres high to metres tall.

Inspired by traditional music hall playbills advertising acts, artist Gordon Young, working with Why Not Associates design agency, put together this entertaining, and frequently mesmerising, 1,880 square metre installation.

Explore Blackpool Tower

First opened as an attraction in 1894, Blackpool Tower is 518 feet tall. While it’s an historical construction, it houses five different contemporary attractions.

These are Jungle Jim’s Indoor Play Area, the Tower Circus, the Dungeon, the Ballroom and the Eye, at the top of the tower.

The Tower Ballroom offers a taste of the traditional, with its stunning Rococo-style surroundings, Wurlitzer organ, and afternoon teas.

From the top of the tower, the Eye provides stunning, panoramic views and the SkyWalk glass viewing platform – so long as you’re not afraid of heights!


Don’t Forget the Beach…

With all the attractions and entertainment on offer, Blackpool Beach sometimes takes a back seat in people’s plans. However, having been awarded its first ever Blue Flag, the beach is not to be missed.

The resort’s famous Golden Mile has three piers, including the North Pier with Grade II listed status. Here you’ll find the North Pier Theatre and a Victorian tea room.

The Central Pier has a huge ferris wheel, offering fabulous views across the Irish Sea; while the South Pier makes a great family attraction with its Blue Flag beach opposite the Pleasure Beach.

and the Illuminations

Founded in 1879, Blackpool Illuminations are an annual light display taking place every Autumn in the resort.

Switch-on is in September, and the Illuminated displays stretch for some six miles, using over one million bulbs. The Illuminations can be seen from the south end of the town, at Starr Gate at the Promenade, to Bispham in the north.

In conjunction with the Illuminations, the Blackpool Festival of Lights combines art, events and special installations.

So, if you fancy a visit to Blackpool after the summer season’s over, the Illuminations are the perfect attraction.

Plan Your Stay

Combine a stay I Lancashire with a trip to the coast and the delights of Blackpool. Book your holiday direct from the owner. Visit our website, or email

Making the Most of a Rainy Day Out

Wherever your holiday cottage break takes you there’s something you’ll find there that’s not entirely predictable: the UK weather.

Summertime weather can be a challenge, and booking your break doesn’t guarantee you bright skies and dry, sunny days.

Most of us are familiar with the daily routine of checking the weather forecast, and looking to see if the summer will finally get started, Atlantic jet stream permitting.

However, in the spirit of being on holiday, and of making the most of things, here are our suggestions of things you can do on a rainy day out.

All the following attractions and places of interest are within easy reach of holiday cottages.

Art by the Seaside

St Ives is a wonderful beauty spot, but even in Cornwall you can’t guarantee endless fine weather. Fortunately, St Ives is also a big draw for artists, so there are various galleries and displays of art dotted about the town, providing the perfect, indoor solution to the wet outdoors.

You’ve also got Tate St Ives, perched on the end of Porthmeor Beach. The gallery’s focus is on modern art but rather than having a permanent collection, it houses special exhibitions.

A short walk away is the Barbara Hepworth Museum, with a glorious Sculpture Garden attached to it – for when the rain has stopped.

Across the country, in Kent, the traditional seaside resort of Margate now has the world-class Turner Contemporary gallery. This centre opened in 2011 and is a showcase for both contemporary and historical art, while celebrating the artist JMW Turner’s association with Margate.

Planetariums and the Prime Meridian

In Bristol, you’ll find the UK’s only 3D Planetarium, where you can enjoy a truly immersive experience as you travel through space, seeing the earth from an astronaut’s perspective.

There are also great shows at the Planetarium at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. This historic site is the location of the Meridian Line, dividing the earth’s western and eastern hemispheres. You can stand on the line, making it a pretty special spot for a holiday photo opportunity.

The Active Indoors

You don’t have to be in the great outdoors, with all the British summer weather can throw at you, to get active.

In Exeter, the Quay Climbing Centre has the South West’s largest climbing wall, along with a selection of training walls, abseil towers and different climbing routes to suit all ages and abilities.

For burning off that holiday energy, the Legoland Discovery Centre in Manchester is a limitless playground, providing opportunities to run wild and experience a whole host of miniature scenarios.

Also in Manchester, the National Football Museum is both educational and entertaining, with team histories, exhibits and plenty of interactive displays, such as beat the keeper.

Maximum Media

Bradford’s National Science and Media Museum has nine floor of exhibits and visual displays, providing enough to divert even the most restless of us on a rainy day.

There are temporary exhibitions, usually centred on themes of film and photography, along with rare films, television programmes and the museum’s very own IMAX cinema screen – the world’s biggest.

Cool Caves

What better way to get out an about but sheltered from the elements than inside a cave?

In Wells, Somerset, are the famous Wookey Hole Caves, a series of limestone caverns offering a variety of family-friendly caving experiences, and professional instruction in abseiling, climbing and crawling. In the same county, you can visit the caves at Cheddar, the site where the Britain’s oldest skeleton, the Cheddar Man, was discovered.

North, in the Peak District, there’s a good selection of caverns and caves, including Poole’s Cavern, the Heights of Abraham and Treak Cliff Cavern. All welcome visitors and include impressive displays of beautiful, natural stone.

Plan Your Stay

Don’t let the British summer’s unpredictable weather put you off booking what promises to be a memorable holiday. Visit our website, or email info@holiday

Irwell: Adventures in Rail and Sculpture

Extending from Rossendale and running through Salford and Manchester, the Irwell Valley includes places full of character, and the Irwell Sculpture Trail, the longest sculpture trail in the UK.

The beautifully restored East Lancashire Railway also runs through the Irwell Valley, providing great days out and themed trips for the whole family.

Why not use a holiday cottage in Lancashire as your base, and explore this fascinating region, on foot, or by rail?

The East Lancs Railway

Running from Heywood to Bury, and from Bury through Burrs Country Park, Summerseat, Ramsbottom and Irwell Vale to Rawtenstall, the East Lancs Railway (ELR) is a major attraction in the area.

The original ELR service had undergone various closures since the 1960s and 1970s, and finally closed in 1972.

However, following the formation of the ELR trust in 1984, the line reopened in 1987, running diesel and coal trains.

The ELR runs every weekend and on public holidays throughout the year, apart from Christmas Day. It also runs some midweek services in the spring and summer months.

As well as providing standard passenger services, the ELR offers packages, centred around rail journeys.

These include dining aboard a beautifully restored Pullman coach; Real Ale Trail guided tours; and various events throughout the year, including days out with Thomas the Tank Engine.

ELR Destinations

With 36 hectares of scenic countryside, Burrs Country Park is the newest stop on the ELR, having opened in January 2017. The park also has an outdoor activities centre, a campsite, picnic area and a café and visitor centre.

In between Bury and Ramsbottom is the picturesque village of Summerseat, with its own nature reserve, garden centre and two traditional pubs.

Ramsbottom is a bustling market town full of interesting and award-winning eateries and independent shops, as well as pubs and the Irwell Works Brewery. In addition to eating, shopping and drinking you can climb Holcombe Hill overlooking the town to the iconic Peel Tower.

On the rivers Irwell and Ogden, Irwell Vale is a traditional mill village that’s full of picturesque character and, like the other ELR destinations, you can pick up the Irwell Sculpture Trail from here.

The Irwell Sculpture Trail

The Irwell Sculpture Trail features over 70 different works of art by local, national and international artists.

The trail runs from Bacup, in Rossendale to Salford Quays, for 33 miles, and is the largest sculpture route in the UK. It is like a common theme running through the Irwell Valley and its various local attractions and places of interest.

Because of this, getting on, and off, the trail at various points is easy, which means you don’t have to do the entire 33-mile stretch in one go.

You can explore the trail on foot, or by bike. The sculptures are collected in clusters at different locations, from Bacup to Ordsall.

Notable individual sculptures include Richard Caink’s giant picture frame in the Ramsbottom cluster; the massive steel Halo structure in Bacup; and the Lookout in Clifton Country Park.

So, whether you hop on and off the train, or get your hiking boots on, the Irwell Valley has plenty to offer you on your self-catering, holiday cottage break.


Ribble Valley Highlights

Most of the Ribble Valley is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, because of the picturesque countryside.

This is a diverse landscape of hills, valleys and moorland covering some 300 square miles. It has historic sites, charming villages and historic market towns.

If you want walks in the wild, characterful country pubs, and towns with a warm welcome, then the Ribble Valley makes an ideal destination for a self-catering holiday cottage break.

Walking the Pendle Way

In 1612, twelve people in the area around Pendle Hill were accused of witchcraft, leading to one of the most famous witch trials in English history.

In the end, ten of the accused were hanged for witchcraft, but the legacy of the trial lives on, and visitors can explore the area around Pendle Hill, including its tiny villages and isolated farms.

While the countryside is stunning, there is an undercurrent of eeriness as you follow the road the accused took along the Ribble Valley, leading to Lancaster Castle, where their trial took place.

From Pendle Hill, you’ll experience breathtaking views of the local area. This is where George Fox once walked, and discovered the inspiration to found the Quaker movement. On a clear day, you can even see Blackpool Tower and the sea.

The Pendle Way is a walk of medium distance, covering 45 miles, and takes in the Pendle Sculpture Trail. This is set in woodland, and features the work of four artists.


Clitheroe, Historic Market Town

Clitheroe is market town in the Ribble Valley with a long history, dating back to Saxon times. It has its own 12th century Norman keep, Clitheroe Castle, said to be the smallest keep in England, restaurants, cafes and tea-rooms, plenty of individual shops, and 16 acres of landscaped gardens.

The town holds an annual food festival every summer, which is perfectly in keeping with its many specialist shops selling food and drink – including a sausage shop selling 60 different varieties of sausage.

There are plenty of guided tours for walkers and cyclists, with the town providing easy access to the surrounding countryside.

The Forest of Bowland

Providing excellent walking and cycling, and suitably remote to feel you’re getting away from it all, the Forest of Bowland covers 312 square miles of rural Lancashire.

Within this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, you’ll find lots of open moorland, ancient villages, and rare wildlife and birds.

Traditional villages in the area include Slaidburn and Downham. Here you can almost feel like time has stood still, amid babbling brooks, village greens and stone cottages.

To the far west, is the town of Longridge. This is a former cotton mill town is largely unchanged since the 1800s, with most of its buildings made from locally quarried sandstone. It’s an ideal base from which to explore the fells and local trails.

The Romans at Ribchester

On the banks of the River Ribble, the ancient village of Ribchester was built on the site of the Roman fort of Bremetennacum, and is now home to Lancashire’s only specialist Roman museum.

The Ribchester Museum Trust expanded the building in 2001, and it now hosts a permanent exhibition of excavated Roman, Iron Age and Neolithic artefacts


Plan Your Stay

If you like the idea of staying in the Ribble Valley, visit our website, or email info@holiday


An historical city and the county capital of Lancashire, Lancaster is compact but compelling, and ideal for a short break or a day out, whether it’s exploring canals or enjoying artisan coffee.

There’s plenty of self-catering, holiday cottage accommodation in Lancashire, to make your visit to Lancaster that much more memorable, and flexible when it comes to your itinerary.


Lancaster Castle

With its origins in Roman times, and its later use as a prison, as recently as 2011, Lancaster Castle is an unmissable attraction in the heart of the city.

The castle has been part of the Roman defences against marauding hordes of Scottish tribes, and Richard the Lionheart gave it as a gift to his brother Prince John.

During the English Civil War, it became a garrison for the Parliamentarians who captured it, and was then the scene of a siege by the opposing Royalists.

Over the years its gaol has housed, and been the execution site of, various martyrs, dissidents and criminals.

It was a centre for training police officers in the 1930s, and became once again a prison in 1954, until its closure in 2011.

Various parts of the castle date to different times in its colourful history, which makes for a fascinating trip through history, all concentrated in one location. The Keep is a four-storey tower rebuilt during the reign of Elizabeth I; the Well Tower (also known as the Witches Tower) dates from 1312, and its alternative name comes from the Lancashire Witches, who were supposedly housed there before their trial in 1612.

The John O’ Gaunt Gatehouse is perhaps the most impressive of the castle’s buildings, built shortly after the accession of Henry IV; and on the other side of the gatehouse is the 18th century Governor’s House, between the Gatehouse and Well Tower.

English Heritage has described Lancaster Castle as the North West’s most important historic and architectural monument. Public access to interior areas is by guided tour, but there is free access to courtyard areas, and the castle’s café and gift shop.


The Ashton Memorial

Located high on a hill in Williamson Park, overlooking the city, you can’t miss The Ashton Memorial.

This Edwardian memorial is a splendidly Baroque construction, sometimes nicknamed the jelly mould. Lord Ashton commissioned it in honour of his late wife, but in fact he’d remarried by the time it was completed.

It has an external copper dome, while the remainder of the building is a combination of granite and Portland stone. The memorial is 150 feet tall, and it provides glorious panoramic views of the city and surrounding area from its first floor, outdoor viewing gallery.

Williamson Park also has a Butterfly House, where you experience a calm, tropical atmosphere and amble along as butterflies perched or fluttering around, including many beautiful species.


Shopping and Coffee

Lancaster’s historic streets are home to a diverse range of independent shops, as well as the main high street retailers, including small boutiques, gift shops and vintage stalls.

The city now has its own, unique coffee quarter, centred around the 1837-established Atkinson coffee roasters and its two cafes, The Hall and The Music Room.

You can also use the city centre in Lancaster as the base for exploring the Lancaster Canal, either on foot, or by a diesel-powered pleasure cruise, taking you over the River Lune across a Georgian viaduct on a two-hour return trip.

If you want to stay in a holiday cottage near Lancaster, visit our website, or email info@holiday

Alderney: An Alternative, Natural Island Destination

The northernmost of the Channel Islands, Alderney offers a genuine alternative to anyone looking for a holiday away from everyday life.

The island is small and popular, yet never feels too bustling or overcrowded with holidaymakers, with a welcoming local community, and fantastic, natural surroundings.

It has a good choice of self-catering holiday cottages to make your stay feel that much more independent.


Walking and Cycling

Experience the open landscapes of the island either on foot or by bike. There is plenty of beautiful greenery, imposing cliffs and calm, wooded valleys. The island has over 50 miles of paths and lanes – impressive when you consider that at its widest point Alderney is only 3.5 miles by 1.5 miles.

Walking on Alderney, you’ll discover intriguing historical sites, including Neolithic artefacts and Roman remains.

There are also numerous Victorian-built forts and batteries originally designed to protect the island and its harbour from France’s expanding naval forces.

Along with manmade places of interest, Alderney’s natural environment hold many unspoilt treasures, from coastal heathlands to thousands of wild flowers alongside the coastal tracks.

You can also enjoy various guided walks, taking in the town of St Anne and doing a bit of wildlife-spotting.

For cyclists, there are traffic-free routes, and numerous paths and roads to explore, which is a great way getting an impression of whole of the island. There are organised cycling tours, and cycle hire available.


Wildlife on Alderney

Alderney is a haven for birds and other wildlife. The island has over 270 different species of birds, including rare migrating species. So, you can expect to see visiting birdwatchers.

Depending on the time of year you visit, you might spot kestrels, ravens, gannets, gulls and puffins.

With its different habitats, such as grassland, shingle and forests of kelp, Alderney makes an attractive destination for these different species of wild birds.

The island is also home to various animals, including bats, seals, shrews, slow worms and hedgehogs. And Alderney’s Blue Bay attracts numbers of bottle nose dolphins.


Out on the Ocean and by the Seaside

Alderney is ideal for sailing, though with its strong tides it’s best suited to experienced sailors. However, various charter trips are available, so you can enjoy a spot of island hopping to other Channel Islands, or even France.

You can also book a boat-based wildlife tour on The Voyager, which takes you out on the water for sea views of puffins and other birds, along with dolphins, seals and the occasional basking shark.

There are various water-based sports and activities you can also get involved in on Alderney, including angling and kayaking.

Of course, the island also has its beaches. Best for surfing is Corblets Beach, on the north coast; while the sheltered Arch Bay, Braye Bay, Saye Beach and Longis Bay are family destinations.

If exploring is more your thing than basking in the sun, then try Platte Saline or Clonque Bay.

Explore the Unique and Wonderful World of Sark

Between the Islands of Guernsey and Jersey, 20 miles south of the UK mainland, Sark is a car-free location that feels utterly unique.

Sark offers true escapism, set apart from its neighbouring islands, and from England, with a very special atmosphere and charm of its own.

Why not experience the individuality of Sark on a self-catering break in a holiday cottage?


The Gouliot Headland and Caves

On the western tip of Sark, the Gouliot headland points out towards the smaller island of Brecqhou. The headland is an official Ramsar site, which means it is an official wetlands conservation area.

If you visit the Gouliot headland in springtime it is blanketed with wildflowers, including bluebells and primroses. It is also a site for other species of wildflower, including the rare sand crocus.

Here, you can sit on the cliffs and watch the sun set in spectacular fashion from this glorious picnic spot.

Beneath the headland is a network of caves, open to the sea on both sides of the headland. When the tide is very low, under one metre, visitors can access the caves, which display an amazing selection of marine life carpeting every surface.

Because their location is difficult to reach, and because of the closeness of the sea, it’s best to visit the Gouliot caves with someone who has a sound knowledge of the tides.

Big and Little Sark

The peninsula at the southern point of Sark is known as Little Sark. Here you’ll find the Venus pool, a natural rock pool ideal for swimming in, sheltered from the sea. There’s also a megalithic burial chamber, known as a dolmen, located on this part of the island.

A causeway joins the main island, Big Sark, to the Little Sark peninsula. This is known as La Coupée.

This ridge extends over 100 yards and rises some 260 feet above sea level. It’s narrow and is an essential link between the two parts of the island. In fact, the land joining the two pieces of land is gradually eroding, so that eventually Little Sark will become an individual island. This occurred with the island of Brecqhou, which was originally part of the main island.

La Coupée is a dramatic and distinctive landmark of Sark and well worth experiencing for the spectacular views you experience in both directions.

Coasteering and Sark’s Sky at Night

Sark is a great destination for the adventure holiday. Organised coasteering trips offer a unique perspective of the island and its steep, rocky coastline.

Think of coasteering as a kind of multi-activity adventure walk, where you do some hiking, climbing and swimming as you cross challenging terrain, which is why it’s safest, and best, to take part in organised trips.

For a more sedate experience, Sark is a renowned location for stargazing. Viewed from Sark, the sky is exceptionally free from light pollution, making it ideal for seeing the stars. This has led to Sark earning the designation of the world’s first Dark Sky Island.

The Sark Astonomy Society organises various events and offers useful information about the best places on Sark to experience its remarkably clear night skies.

Intimacy and Astronomy in the City of Armagh

Armagh, the medium-sized county town of County Armagh, received city status in 1994, making it the least-populated city in Northern Ireland. This is no bad thing, making it a wonderfully relaxing yet stimulating destination to visit.

With its gorgeous Georgian buildings, two cathedrals, National Trust properties and Ireland’s only planetarium, Armagh has lots to offer.

Make your holiday fully flexible and enjoy Armagh at your own pace by staying in a holiday cottage in the area.

Two Cathedrals for Saint Patrick

With its twin spires overlooking the city, the Catholic Saint Patrick’s Cathedral dates from 1904, but it took many years to complete, having had its foundation stone laid in 1840. Restoration work took place in 2002, following a rededication in 1982, when the relics of St Malachy were placed in a new altar.

The Cathedral’s Church of Ireland counterpart, also St Patrick’s, dates further back, to 1268, with restoration in 1834. It contains a Celtic Cross from the 11th century, as well as several bronze age sculptures. The cathedral grounds are the burial place of Brian Ború, the High King of Ireland.

Both Cathedrals are architecturally imposing, beautiful and fascinating. Offering contrasting but enduring monuments to religious devotion.


Armagh’s Museums and Planetarium

Armagh’s museum dedicated to the Royal Irish Fusiliers combines exhibitions and events to give an evocative picture of this regiment that dates back to 1793 and the Napoleonic War.

The museum hosts regular talks by experts in military history and has a permanent collection of items of historical significance related to the regiment. It all adds up to a fascinating insight into this world.

Armagh County Museum is the oldest museum in Ireland. From the outside, it has a distinctive façade, located on Armagh’s Georgian Mall. Its comprehensive collection includes maps, photographs, period clothing, ceramics and prehistoric artefacts.

Ireland’s only planetarium is in Armagh. This leading centre for astronomical education houses a digital theatre where visitors can attend dynamic shows related to the skies above Ireland and astronomy in general. Armagh Planetarium also hosts a monthly open skies evening during the autumn and winter, which gives people the opportunity for telescope viewing.

Other places of interest in Armagh worth checking out include the historic Armagh Gaol, the Grade A listed Diocesan Registry at Number 5 Vicars Hill, and the observatory with its beautifully landscaped grounds.

In Milford Village, Armagh, you will find the Milford House Collection. The McCrum family were a leading linen manufacturing dynasty and the collection brings together fascinating interiors and pieces from their time in residence at the house. The Argory is an historically furnished, preserved Victorian mansion open to visitors. It boasts a fully working barrel organ, a coffee shop and a second-hand bookshop.

The Armagh Visitor Experience

As a small, intimate city, Armagh provides a unique experience to visitors. And whereas the city does have a generous share of modern and stylish outlets, it also has plenty of one-off independent shops selling a range of goods.

Market Square and Shambles Yard host local markets offering local produce and gifts, homeware and clothing.

For eating and drinking in Armagh, there is a great range of restaurants, bars and cafes, including bistros, fine dining establishments and down-to-earth eateries.

Armagh may be a small city, but it punches above its weight, retaining a kind of small-town charm at the centre of its relaxed, welcoming atmosphere.

Exploring the Mourne Mountains and Newcastle by the Seaside

If you’re considering staying in a holiday cottage in Northern Ireland, this part of County Down is an ideal spot. It offers mountains, spectacular views, a seaside resort and a golden stretch of glorious beach. Whether you’re a nature-lover, into walking and climbing, or you just want to relax and take in the scenery, there’s something for you here.


The Mourne Mountains

The Mourne Mountains comprise an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with a complex and varied character, presenting a range of walks, from the scenic to the challenging.

The big challenge is walking the six peaks, the tallest in this region. Be prepared though, because this route is nearly 24 miles of rugged terrain, typically taken over a three-day itinerary.

You’ll be rewarded for your efforts with stunning views of the Irish Sea, and the satisfaction of knowing you’ve conquered the six peaks.

If you want something less physically demanding, you can take other walks which will give you a vivid sense of the area without quite the same level of exertion. The 26 miles of the Mourne Way, for example, follows mountain paths through the foothills of the Mournes.

You can also explore the beauty of Tollymore Forest Park or take in the sights of Silent Valley Reservoir.



Around 45 minutes’ drive from Belfast, Newcastle is a small coastal town with an unspoiled, almost magical feel. It lies at the foot of the Mourne Mountains as they descend towards the coastline.

Nearby, you’ll find self-catering accommodation and the town itself has a 1930s lido, plenty of charm and a local restaurant, Vanilla, with a formidable reputation for great food.


Dundrum Castle and Coastal Path

On a wooded hill outside Dundrum Village, near Newcastle, Dundrum Castle dates back to 1177. This well-preserved Norman structure offers fantastic views of Dundrum Bay and the Mourne Mountains. This reflects the strategic importance of the castle when John De Courcy first built it as part of the area’s coastal defences.

The Dundrum Coastal Path takes you along a stretch of disused railway line on the western shore of Dundrum Inner Bay. The walk begins next to Dundrum Village and follows the shoreline, and passes through a conservation area including rich grassland and saltmarshes. It also provides a habitat for a variety of birdlife.

Murlough Beach and Nature Reserve

Murlough Beach is just outside the town of Newcastle. It is a blue flag beach, with its golden sands stretching some five miles.

The beach is part of the Murlough Nature Reserve. This was Ireland’s first nature reserve, and consists of a 6,000-year-old system of fragile dunes, at the edge of Dundrum Bay. It contains evidence of human habitation dating to Neolithic times.

There is a network of paths and boardwalks through the dunes and this example of a dune heath landscape is home to butterflies, wildflowers and bird species, including wildfowl.