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Scotland’s Outdoor Capital and the UK’s Tallest Mountain

ben-nevis-scotlandFor many, the Highlands simply are Scotland. They display a glorious series of amazing landscapes and intriguing locations. A key one of these is Fort William, often known as the UK’s outdoor capital and home to Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in the UK, at a height of 1,345 metres.

There’s a good range of accommodation in the Fort William area, including plenty of self-catering holiday cottages.

 

Mountain Biking and Scotland’s Wildlife

Fort William really is the great outdoors, and the things to do here reflect this. It’s a well-known centre for mountain biking, with a reputation founded on hosting the Fort William Mountain Bike World Cup.

It’s not restricted to a championship activity though – there are plenty of family-friendly bike routes as well as varying grades of tougher routes available at the Witch’s Trails in Leanachan Forest.

These bike trails provide excitement and stunning views in the shadow of Ben Nevis itself. There’s also a coffee shop at the base of the 4,000 foot Aonach Mor route, and, for those who persevere, the Snowgoose restaurant at the top.

In addition, you can always explore a number of unwaymarked trails in the Fort William area.

Fort William is also home to the big five of Scotland’s wildlife species: golden eagle, red deer, red squirrel, otter and harbour seal.

You can watch and photograph these creatures in their natural habitat by taking a wildlife safari. Organised trips include cruises on Loch Shiel and searchlight safaris in search of pine martins.

In winter you’ll witness vast herds of red deer coming down from the mountain tops to shelter from the harsher conditions. At the other end of the scale, why not take a guided expedition to search for Scotland’s elusive otter population?

 

Walking Up Ben Nevis

The mountain, or munro, dominates the landscape around Fort William. The climate is not always that mild – the northerly latitude makes for some arctic temperatures – but Ben Nevis is well worth braving harsh, chilly winds for.

The good news is that you can walk up it. There’s a clearly marked mountain track leading all the way from Glen Nevis at the base to the summit. If you’re unsure about the scale of your ambition, there are guided walks available, where an experienced Ben Nevis mountain guide will take you along the track and up the mountain.

There’s another walking route up, by the narrow, rocky Carn Morg Dearg Arete, which offers stunning views of the north face.

For something more challenging, try the scrambling route up the mountain. Scrambling comes somewhere between walking and climbing, and involves ascending Ben Nevis’s North Face via the Ledge Route. For this you’ll need the right safety gear, and experience. There are separate scrambling courses available for varying levels of ability.

Finally, there is climbing, going up the mountain on the Tower Ridge, Observatory Ridge or North East Buttress. These routes are for people with a good degree of mountain climbing fitness and experience.

Unlock the Immense Beauty of Loch Lomond

loch-lomond-1458598669opdAt the heart of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park is the loch itself, an immense area of water, 24.5 miles long. Loch Lomond is the largest freshwater loch in Scotland and a fantastic destination for stunning scenery, and plenty of outdoor activities and interests.

There is a good choice of self-catering holiday cottages and apartments available, including lodges on the shore of the loch, giving you the freedom to explore the area at your leisure

 

Walking and Cycling

This really is great walking country. With a choice of short to moderate and long distance walking routes, there’s something to suit your ability or your mood.

For short walks, try the Millennium Forest Trail at Balmaha, following the shoreline of the loch then climbing up to Craigie Fort; or the West Highland and Rob Roy Circular, through the forest and along a quiet country road

For long distance routes, six of Scotland’s Great Trails connect in and around the Trossachs National Park. Each of these is at least 25 miles long. The Great Trossachs Forest Path takes you from Callander in the east to Inversnaid in the west, and you’ll see plenty of scenery and wildlife along the way.

The West Highland Way was Scotland’s first official long distance route, connecting Milngavie to Fort William. You might not want to walk its total 96 mile length, but you certainly can experience part of it.

The Loch Lomond area is also ideal for hillwalking, including the popular route to Ben Lomond, Scotland’s most southerly munro (mountain).

For cyclists, there are family-friendly routes or tougher mountain bike trails with a rougher terrain to challenge you. The West Loch Lomond Cycle Path is graded as easy but takes in some spectacular views of the Loch and its islands.

Taking the Banks of Loch Eck Loop route provides more tranquil scenery, including beaches and forests.

For mountain biking there is the Old Military Road that includes the three Lochs of Lomond, Arklet and Katrine. And you’ll have a pretty wild experience on The Three Glens circuit, where you climb to the upper part of Glen Kendrum, then dramatically descend at Glean Dubh into Glen Dochart.

On the Water

When you’re here, you really shouldn’t miss the opportunity to experience the water up close on a loch cruise.

On a loch cruise you’ll get unique views of the mountains and countryside and the various loch islands. Cruises on Loch Lomond run from Balloch and all along the western shore, from Luss, Tarbet and Inveruglas.

There are also cruises on Loch Katrine departing from Trossachs Pier.

Other water activities on Loch Lomond include canoeing and kayaking, sailing and windsurfing. You can also enjoy a bit of swimming, if you feel up to the challenge of the loch’s water temperature – plenty of people enjoy it.

Unmissable Views

Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park is abundantly blessed with places where enjoying the view is its own reward. There are almost too many locations to choose from but there are some key ones not to miss.

The mirrored lookout cabin at Loch Voil offers spectacular views of the landscape while the mirrored stainless steel of its outer surfaces reflects the surroundings to mesmerising effect.

Also to the north of the Trossachs are the Falls of Falloch. The Woven Sound shelter space here is a long trellis of woven steel rods overlooking the waterfalls. It offers the opportunity for a close up view without being overly intrusive on the encompassing landscape.

Finally, the An Ceann Mòr viewpoint at Inveruglas, on the shores of Loch Lomond, is an architecturally intriguing wooden structure, pyramid shaped, where viewers can climb to its apex to experience superlative views of the loch and surrounding mountains.

 

Visit Edinburgh – But Don’t Miss the Lothians!

scotland-edinburgh-castle-1393484290ifrScotland’s capital, Edinburgh, might seem a rather obvious holiday destination, but the surrounding area of the Lothians also has much to offer and really is not to be missed. The advantage of combining the two is that you can choose from a good range of self-catering accommodation and holiday cottages and enjoy the opportunity to visit Edinburgh itself.

 

Exploring East Lothian

Home of the Scottish Seabird Centre, North Berwick is a seaside town with stunning views of the Firth of Forth. You can also see the Bass Rock from North Berwick, home to the world’s largest colony of northern gannet seabirds. North Berwick is a classic seaside town, with great beaches to go with the coastal scenery, alongside fish and chip shops, tearooms and other attractions.

It’s a good base for taking boat trips around the local islands, some of which are seasonal homes to colonies of Puffins.

Further along the North Sea coast is Dunbar, a small town with lots of character. It has a ruined castle, once a strategically important fortress and shelter to Mary Queen of Scots. It’s also home to the John Muir Country Park, a nature reserve named after the explorer and conservationist who was born in Dunbar.

Closer in, six miles from Edinburgh is Musselburgh, with its shoreline on the Firth of Forth. It’s home to both a historic racecourse, dating from 1816, and the Musselburgh Links, a 9-hole golf course, said to have first been used by James IV in 1504.

This small market town also has some fine examples of historically important architecture, Newhailes House, now run by the National Trust, and the Tolbooth in the High Street, dating from the late 1500s.

 

Two Towns, One City

The centre of Edinburgh is divided into two very different parts, with Princes Street running between them, from east to west.

The Old Town retains its medieval layout, replete with winding alleys and compact spaces. It contains both the imposing Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile, along with the National Museum of Scotland. It’s also filled with shops selling traditional Scottish wares and speciality goods.

Edinburgh’s New Town is only new relatively speaking, as it was actually built in the 18th Century to relieve overcrowding in the Old Town. It has a distinctly Georgian character, with plenty of sandstone buildings and cobbled streets, but it is also the contemporary commercial hub of Scotland’s capital.

In close walking distance to one another in the New Town are three of Scotland’s national art galleries, the Scottish National Gallery, the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art and the National Portrait Gallery.

In the New Town you’ll also find the Scott Monument, an architectural tribute to Sir Walter Scott in the form of a spire. It’s 200 feet tall with 287 steps to its summit – an effort that’s really made worthwhile by the fantastic views of the city it gives you.

 

Out West

In West Lothian the iconic Forth Bridge has been in operation since 1890. It was Britain’s first bridge to be made completely of steel and weighs 53,000 tonnes. It’s 2.5km long. Visitors can enjoy views of this enduring Victorian wonder by visiting the Forth Road Bridge, which has pedestrian and cycle access.

Between these bridges is the village of South Queensferry, on the southern shore of the Firth of Forth. You can get good views of the bridges from here, and you can catch boat tours from South Queensferry that will take you under the Forth Bridge. You can also travel by boat to Inchcolm Island, home to a 12th-century abbey.

The Lothians, East and West, combined with Edinburgh itself, make for a fascinating region of Scotland to explore and immerse yourself in.

Deceptively Quiet Shropshire, A Hidden Gem

ludlow-englandShropshire doesn’t shout about itself – it has the reputation of being one of England’s quieter counties. But in fact this just means there’s lots to discover, which you might not be previously aware of, making Shropshire something of a hidden gem when it comes to English holiday destinations.

It has plenty of self-catering accommodation to offer in the form of holiday cottages, and it’s a great place for experiencing the English countryside and our rich, industrial heritage.

Blue Remembered Hills

Covering about a quarter of the county to the south, the Shropshire Hills are a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The poet A E Housman wrote the famous poem cycle A Shropshire Lad, and described the “blue remembered hills” of the area, evoking a wistful but powerful vision of the English countryside.

The hills are stunning to walk across, with deep, golden valleys contrasting with dramatic rises and rugged moorland. And if you want to experience a very different view of them, you can always go on a scenic balloon ride, starting from the Craven Arms, which is the base of the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre.

You’ll come across a whole variety of landscapes across these hills, from the almost Alpine experience of the heather-covered Long Mynd and Stretton Hills, to the sandstone of Grinshill and the fossil-filled double escarpment of Wenlock Edge.

Industry and History

The Industrial Revolution began in Shropshire, and you can get a feeling for the enormity of this historical shift when you visit the Ironbridge Gorge Museums in Telford. This is an impressively comprehensive World Heritage Site, consisting of a recreated Victorian town at Blists Hill, the Coalport China Museum, celebrating the history of porcelain manufacturing in the area, and the world’s first cast iron bridge, spanning the impressive gorge itself.

If you want to travel further back in time, then the castle that once dominated Ludlow for centuries pretty much encapsulates all that you might imagine an English Castle should be.

Construction began on Ludlow Castle in the late 11th century and it underwent several historical modifications over time, as it became home to a succession of noble families, and even royalty.

Nowadays Ludlow Castle puts on a number of regular events, including jousting and archery and historical talks. It’s also home to the Ludlow Food Festival, and has its own unique shops and traditional tea rooms.

Alongside these there are many other attractions, including plenty of charming, market towns to explore, a whole range of castles, churches and other historical places of interest, and great local produce when it comes to eating and drinking.

It may be the quiet heart of England, but Shropshire really is something to shout about.

Will Shakespeare Country Play a Part in Your Holiday Plans?

anne-hathaway-cottageCovering an area of the East Midlands that includes Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwick and Royal Leamington Spa, Shakespeare Country is, naturally, named after the playwright William Shakespeare, one of England’s greatest (if not the greatest) literary figures. Obviously there are things to do and see here that are Shakespeare-related, but that is by no means the whole story.

When you visit Shakespeare Country you really do feel like you’re in the heart of England, and with lots of holiday cottages available, you can design your own holiday and run to your own relaxed schedule.

The World of Shakespeare

You can really experience Shakespeare’s world in Stratford-upon-Avon – not through what he wrote, but by seeing how he lived, and what kind of life you might lead in Tudor England.

At the award-winning Tudor World museum, you can immerse yourself in a Tudor ambience, from cobbled streets to timbered buildings and detailed recreations of what it was like to live in Shakespeare’s time.

Shakespeare’s Birthplace is an historic house that has become something of a shrine. People have been visiting it for 250 years, including other famous writers such as Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy. Here you can actually explore the Shakespeare family home, with the added attraction of extracts from Shakespeare’s plays performed live.

Another Shakespeare-related attraction worth seeing is Ann Hathaway’s Cottage. This thatched farmhouse is where the young William Shakespeare wooed his future bridge. It’s located in Shottery, a short, scenic walk from Stratford town centre. The cottage is 500 years old and contains its original furniture, including the Hathaway bed.

 

An Elegant Spa Town

Royal Leamington Spa is a spa town in central Warwickshire, which originally expanded in the 18th century, following the growth in popularity of its local water. The whole town practically emits elegance, from its tree-lined avenues and beautifully-tended gardens to its fine examples of Regency architecture.

The town’s museum, art gallery and visitor information centre all come under the Royal Pump Rooms, an historic building turned cultural complex. Here you can catch a guided tour, exploring the building that originally housed Royal Leamington’s spa baths, with behind the scenes access. There’s also a café on site serving breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea.

Opposite the Pump Rooms are the famous Jephson Gardens, a stunning Victorian garden with breathtaking floral displays and a boating lake. Ideal for taking some relaxing time out the centre of town.

A Day Out at Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle dates back to the time of William the Conqueror, but it’s recently been given something of a makeover courtesy of Horrible Histories, whose Maze makes the experience of history, for kids, very entertaining and interactive. The Horrible Histories Maze covers six history zones, from a Viking Ship to World War One and gives children plenty of opportunity to get involved.

Elsewhere, Warwick Castle offers various trails, tours and events, taking in the castle dungeon, a conservatory and peacock garden, a children’s Pageant Playground and a restored Victorian Mill.

All in, it makes for an ideal one-stop family day out.

Reaching Peaks of Holiday Perfection in the Peak District

peak-district-1-20851287391863hzMHAt the southern end of the Pennines, the Peak District National Park covers over 500 square miles of moorland and rock, it’s highest point being Kinder Scout. The area has springs and caverns, historical market towns and charming villages, and a multitude of things to see and do. There’s plenty self-catering accommodation in the form of holiday cottages, giving you the right kind of freedom to explore the area and shape your break.

 

Deep, Deep Down

Despite the area being known as the Peak District, there’s a lot to see and experience under the ground. At Poole’s Cavern and Country Park you can take a guided tour through vast limestone caverns and see underground chambers lined with crystal-formed stalactites and stalagmites. This natural limestone cave is two million years old and stretches underground for some 1,000ft.

The Heights of Abraham is another popular, underground destination. This spectacular network of caverns goes deep down, penetrating the surrounding hillside. It was the site of lead mining, from Roman times to the 17th century and has now become the site of a fascinating guided tour, enhanced with state-of-the-art lighting. Above ground, you’ll find a breathtaking cable car ride, 500ft up, which gives you spectacular views of the Derwent Valley below.

The Hope Valley is also home to three caverns open to visitors: Treak Cliff Cavern, Peak Cavern and Speedwell Cavern.

 

Matlock Bath – Little Switzerland

Close by to the Heights of Abraham is the spa village of Matlock Bath, developed from an historical village site after the discovery of warm springs in 1698. Its reputation grew and when Lord Byron visited it he compared it with alpine Switzerland, leading to its Little Switzerland nickname.

Its location is stunning, dramatically situated in a deep gorge of the Derwent Valley. It is still served by a local railway line that is an attraction in itself. The overall impression Matlock Bath gives is of a characterful seaside resort, but without the sea, obviously.

You can enjoy fine views of the River Derwent from the narrow, iron Jubilee Bridge, built in 1897, which spans the river and was lovingly restored to its original state in 2014.

In the village there are plenty of places to eat and drink, as well as the nearby Matlock Bath Aquarium and the Peak District Lead Mining Museum.

Ideal for Walking

The Peak District is one of the UK’s most popular walking destinations, but don’t worry, there’s plenty of space for you to enjoy the freedom of the countryside without bumping into lots of other visitors.

There’s plenty of choice in how you might want to go about it: 500 square miles of access land, which means you don’t have to keep to public footpaths; high moorland treks; and more tranquil, riverside routes.

You can go for adventurous, long distance trail walks, such as the Limestone Way, or take a guided walk with an experienced tour-guide through some of the Peak District’s most stunning scenery.

The Cotswolds: Visit England’s Bedrock

cotswalds-of-englandThe rolling hills of the Cotswolds stretch across five counties of England and take in historic towns and villages of great character, alongside beautiful rural scenery. This is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, looked after by the Cotswolds Conservation Board.

As an area to visit, the Cotswolds offers a quintessentially English holiday experience, with sites of historical interest, a wide variety of activities, and places where you can simply relax and enjoy the natural world around you. It also offers a great choice in holiday cottages and self-catering holiday accommodation.

Unspoilt Towns and Villages

Some towns in the Cotswolds are rightly famous – Cheltenham, Gloucester and Cirencester for example – but there are others, tucked away in semi-seclusion that preserve an historical magic, and feel like well kept secrets.

In the North Cotswolds you’ll find Bourton-on-the-Hill, containing many 17th and 18th century cottages made of the distinctive, yellow Cotswold stone. In the centre of the village is Bourton House Garden with its historical tithe barn and striking plants and flowers. Nearby is Batsford Arboretum, which has a garden centre and adjoining terrace restaurant.

A little off the tourist trail is the village of Naunton, home to a fine pub and historic dovecote. It’s peaceful, scenic, and dotted with footpaths along which visitors can explore the surrounding area.

Winchcombe maintains a feeling of tranquillity despite being a popular centre for walkers on the Cotswolds Way. This market town is a great base for exploring the more rural areas of the Cotswolds but is itself a great visitor destination. The Gloucestershire Warwickshire heritage railway runs through it and it contains many charming, independent shops, pubs, cafés and restaurants.

More well known is the Stow on the Wold, the highest of the Cotswolds towns, situated on the 800ft high Stow Hill. It has a vast market square, a testament to its historical importance as a trading town. It hosts a biannual Gypsy Horse Fair and it’s a great centre for antique shopping. It has plenty of fascinating boutiques and specialist shops, as well as pubs and tearooms.

Activities in the Cotswolds

For those seeking a more challenging, physically active holiday, the Cotswolds isn’t all idyllic scenery and views. It’s a great place for walking and cycling holidays, including the Cotswold Way, stretching the length of the Cotswolds, from Chipping Campden in the north to its finish at Bath Abbey, in the south.

The 102 mile trail takes you through picturesque villages and close by to historical sites such as Sudeley Castle and Hailes Abbey, so there’s plenty of opportunity to stop off and take in these places of interest.

For cyclists, the numerous country lanes and bridleways of the area provide an excellent network for exploration, combined with enough uphill exercise and downhill stretches to make you feel you’ve earned a drink and something substantial to eat in one of the many characterful local pubs.

 

The Inspiring Coast of Pembrokeshire

Pembrokeshire is Britain’s only Coastal National Park. Located in the south west of wales, Pembrokeshire has award winning, Blue Flag beaches, abundant wildlife and attractive towns and villages. It’s an ideal destination if you want to combine the countryside and the seaside on your holiday, and it’s an ideal location for holiday cottages.

 

The Smallest City and Towns With Charm

Small in scale but big in charm, most of Pembrokeshire’s towns are intimately connected with the sea, having had links with ocean trade at some point in their history. The area also has the UK’s smallest city, St David’s, with just over 1,500 residents.

St David’s is located on a peninsula with stunning coastal scenery and access to the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. As well as being ideal for walkers, St David’s is the base for several wildlife watching trips, where you can travel by boat to see whales and dolphins, and the massed Gannets nesting on Grassholm Island.

The city is also home to the Oriel y Parc Gallery, built in 2008 to house Welsh national treasures, and the impressive St David’s Cathedral.

On the North Coast of Pembrokeshire lies Newport, a picturesque market town with a gorgeous, laid-back, undeveloped feel. The walled seaside town of Tenby is busier, but retains a charm of its own. It’s an award-winning coastal resort with a thriving harbour and three great beaches. It provides plenty of opportunities for watersports enthusiasts, including kayaking and jetskiing, and it offers more sedate attractions in the form of the Tudor Merchant’s House, owned by the National Trust, and the Tenby Museum and Art Gallery.

Further inland, the town of Narbeth has a high street lined with multi-coloured Edwardian and Georgian buildings and an impressive number of real one-off shops, from antiques sellers to vintage and other gift and craft items. There are also plenty of restaurants, cafés and pubs to break up the shopping.

Haverfordwest is Pembrokeshire’s administrative centre with its own castle and museum and the recently excavated riverside ruins of an Augustinian priory. There is also an award-winning farmers’ market, and plenty of holiday cottages in the surrounding area.

Historical Sites for Sightseers

Pembrokeshire is home to medieval castles and prehistoric tombs, including Pembroke Castle, Carew Castle and Cilgerran Castle. Gilgerran Castle overlooks  the Teifi Gorge, in the most dramatic of locations.

West of Abercastle, on the north side of the St David’s Peninsula is Carreg Samson, an exposed Neolithic burial chamber, known as a cromlech. Another burial chamber is located in the heart of Bluestone Country, near Newport. This is Pentre Ifan, the most popular megalithic site in Wales, dating from around 3500 BC.

Like other parts of Wales, Pembrokeshire has a real feel of somewhere rooted in heritage and in the character of its surroundings. It’s popular as a holiday destination but much of the area retains a feeling of unspoiled, natural character and beauty.

Green With Soul: the Valleys of South Wales

miner-sculptureFrom eastern Carmarthenshire to western Monmouthshire, and from the vale of Glamorgan to Swansea Bay, the Valleys of South Wales are steeped in cultural history and the industrial heritage of Wales. They also provide a wealth of activities and things to see, including walking and climbing, mountain biking and sightseeing.

They cover a large area of South Wales, ideal for self-catering holiday cottage accommodation, and for days of exploration and relaxation.

The Industrial Past

Industrialisation transformed the pastures and wooded valleys of South Wales. With the dramatic growth of first iron works and then coal mining in the 19th century came the development of towns and villages. When the iron industry declined, coal mining took over, reaching its peak in the early years of the 20th century.

The Blackwood Miners’ Institute, in Blackwood, Caerphilly is a hub for arts and entertainment in the area. It hosts various theatrical and musical events and exhibitions throughout the year, and while remaining a dynamic heart of the community. Also in Caerphilly you’ll find the Senghenydd Mining Memorial, opened in 2013 to commemorate all welsh mining disasters. There is a ceramic memorial wall and a dramatic bronze sculpture – “The Rescue” by Les Johnson – set in beautifully landscaped memorial gardens.

The Rhondda Heritage Park is the site of the first deep coal mine in the Rhondda Valleys, at the former Lewis Merthyr Colliery. The park offers full underground tours and the visitor centre has an indoor reconstruction of a period village street. There is also a contemporary art gallery and café.

Activities and Exploration

At the world heritage site of Blaenavon visitors can combine walking with visiting an intriguing range of historic sites, from prehistoric remains to industrial heritage. Blaenavon covers 33 square kilometres, and the walks cover mountainous terrain and picturesque landscapes of reclaimed industrial sites. Blaenavon town has rows of old miners’ cottages and the imposing Workingman’s Hall juxtaposed with specialist shops and independent cafés. You can also visit the Big Pit National Coal Museum and the historical iron works at Blaenavon.

There are some 400 kilometres of off-road tracks to explore throughout The Valleys, many with gentle gradients that make them family-friendly. Two of the most famous routes are the Taff Trail and the Trevithick Trail. The Taff Trail stretches between Brecon and Cardiff, whereas the Trevithick Trail follows the route taken by the first steam locomotive to pull a load by rail, back in 1804.

Other activities in The Valleys include kayaking, climbing and archery, and mountain biking, of course.

The Valleys could have been made for mountain biking, so suited is the terrain here. Key routes include the Twrch Trail in Cwmcarn Forest, Darren Fawr mountain bike trails, and BikePark Wales in Merthyr Tydfil.

The South Wales Valleys present visitors with a wide choice of activities, suitable for different ages. They resonate with the industrial past but also have a great feeling of reclaimed and natural beauty combined.

 

Mystery, Adventure and Relaxation on the Island of Anglesey

Anglesey_south-stack-pathThe Island of Anglesey lies off the north-west coast of Wales, and it’s a place resonant with ancient history and character. It is an area associated with the druids, the Iron Age and the Roman occupation of Britain. It has a scattering of small towns, sandy beaches and a beautiful rural coastline.

Anglesey is a small island of less than 300 square miles, and it has a feeling of self-sufficiency, close to but apart from the Welsh mainland. This brings with it a unique character, and this is reflected in the hospitality shown towards its visitors. For anyone considering staying in a holiday cottage on Anglesey, it has much to recommend it.

 

Exploring Along the Coastal Path

The Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path runs for some 125 miles along much of the island’s coastline. 95% of the Anglesey’s coast is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). This takes in woodland, coastal heath, dunes, salt-march and cliffs. There is also a National Nature Reserve.

The island is divided into 12 sections, which is handy if you don’t actually fancy trying to walk the full 125 miles (though if you do, the Friends of the Anglesey Coastal Path will award you with a special badge and certificate).

Highlights of the route include Holyhead Mountain, the highest point on the island, the imposing Menai Suspension Bridge, and the Cemlyn nature reserve.

Ancient Monuments and Castles

If you want to get a real sense of history, stretching far back to times of pre-Christian worship, then Anglesey is the place to be. The island has over 120 ancient monuments, including around 30 burial chambers dating from Neolithic era and Bronze Age. There are also plenty of standing stones.

The island is home to a number of castles. Beamaris is the most famous, built during the reign of Edward I in 1295 but never fully completed. In contrast with the squat sturdiness of this construction are the ruins of Aberlleiniog castle, seemingly embedded in surrounding woodland, and the eerie, hillside Bryn Celli Ddu burial chamber.

 

Anglesey’s Best Beaches

For those less inclined to explore rugged paths and ancient monuments, there is always the beach, classic UK summer weather permitting. Anglesey is blessed with a number of outstanding beaches, from the wide expanse of Lligwy Beach to the rural seclusion of Porth Nobla.

Porth Tywyn Mawr Beach is popular for watersports and has a nearby campsite and village for amenities. The sheltered cove at Bull Bay has plenty of rock pools for kids to explore and also some good fishing locations. Moelfre’s small pebble beach is a good for boats, while Cemaes Bay feels like pretty much the perfect sandy beach.

Anglesey is full of contrasts, from ancient to contemporary and rugged to relaxing, which makes it an excellent UK holiday location, particularly if you want to strike out on your own in a self-catering, holiday cottage.