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.

 

Newcastle

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.

Discover the Drama of Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast

Between Belfast and Derry, and some 120 miles long, Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coastal Route takes in natural and manmade attractions such as Carrickfergus Castle, Torr Head, Giant’s Causeway and Magilligan Point. This stunningly scenic route is visually arresting and culturally immersive.

Where to Stay

The Causeway Coastal route is ideal if you plan a self-catering, holiday cottage break, because you have the freedom to set your own itinerary.

There is plenty of variation when it comes to holiday cottages in Northern Ireland, including areas conveniently located close to the Causeway Coastal route.

Belfast and Derry

These two cities bookend the route, and both are ideal places to either start or finish your journey.

The only remaining walled city in either Northern Ireland or the Republic, Derry is richly historical but also dynamically contemporary. With a calendar full of events and festivals, the city feels like it wears its history well.

Attractions include the Siege Museum, the Tower Museum and the civil rights-themed Museum of Free Derry. Derry also has the contemporary Void art space and Warehouse Gallery. There are several bus and walking tours, taking you along the walls, and visiting sites of political interest.

Also, as a thriving cultural centre, Derry has a great selection of restaurants, bars and pubs.

Belfast is home to the Titanic Belfast attraction, where you can explore the shipyards and take a walking tour to experience the Titanic story up close.

The Titanic Studios are where the iconic Game of Thrones series is filmed, and there are a variety of tours which take you to the outdoor locations where key moments of this unfolding saga have been shot.

Like Derry, Belfast has a lively entertainment and arts culture, with plenty to see and experience, including restaurants, pubs and attractions.

Castles on the Causeway Coast

Standing high on the cliffs of the North Antrim coast, the ruins of Dunluce Castle bear witness to centuries of conflict. The MacQuillan Family built the castle in about 1500, and became the sought-after prize in conflicts between warring warrior clans.

Glenarm Castle is the ancestral home of the Earls of Antrim, the McDonnells. Its famous walled garden is one of Ireland’s oldest, and originally supplied the castle with all its fruit and vegetables. Now it is purely decorative, with rich displays of herbaceous plants and bright and rare specimens of flower.

Not far from Belfast, Carrickfergus Castle is one of Ireland’s best preserved medieval constructions, and it continued to play a military role right up until 1928. You can easily explore the castle using the information on site, and get a feel for medieval life by visiting the restored banqueting hall.

Giant’s Causeway and Torr Head

The Giant’s Causeway is a natural geological wonder. Consisting of some 40,000 basalt columns interlocked with one another, it provides an organic, sculptural landscape feature.

Visitors can climb the Shepherd’s Steps cut into the hillside and hike along the clifftop for a panoramic view of the coastline.

A short detour off the main coastal route, the trip to Torr Head takes you along a narrow stretch of winding road. But you’re rewarded with awesome views of the coastline, including the coast of Scotland, which is only 13 miles away.

 

Other Attractions and Landmarks

The Causeway Coastal Route is unfeasibly packed full of places to see and things to experience, which could mean some hard choices when it comes to making the most of your time.

There is the Old Bushmills Distillery, Ireland’s oldest, where you can enjoy tutored whiskey tastings; and, along the Antrim Coast, the sandy beaches of Whitepark Bay to stroll along. Walk beneath the natural occurring archway of intertwining beech trees at the Dark Hedges; or visit the Cornish-styled, charming coastal village of Cushendun – the work of Clough Williams-Ellis, who also designed Portmeirion in North Wales.

Food Tips for Your Holiday Cottage Break

A self-catering break in a holiday cottage can free up your schedule, and your budget, but, obviously, you do need to consider the catering part of the equation: plan your food, including what you’ll need to take with you.

Eating In or Out?

So, on the one hand your holiday is a break from your normal daily routine, but on the other it requires a routine of its own. And a big part of this is eating.

Of course, it’s fun to eat out, but on a self-catering, holiday cottage holiday part of choosing self-catering is to do just that.

Some of this comes down to location. If your holiday cottage is in a remote area, or a small village, then beyond the village chippy and pub, your nearby options for eating out might be limited.

Also, if one of the reasons for choosing self-catering was to do with your budget, eating out, or even takeaway food, all the time, will soon eat into it.

So, if you’re eating your own food, what do you need to consider?

Reach for Your Recipes

Be prepared, as the old scout motto goes. So, if you have favourite family recipes, take them. Do a bit of recipe research for things like handy, one-pot meals.

Keep it simple though – unless you’re going armed with the contents of your kitchen cupboard.

And on this subject, if there are certain key ingredients you don’t think you can do without, then do remember to take them with you.

Think Local

Do you know what local shops there will be when you get to your holiday destination? Research your location, check for local amenities. And if you’re arriving late at night, have immediate food supplies with you.

Emergency meals are always a handy standby, particularly breakfast items such as cereal, tea-bags and instant coffee.

Don’t do a massive weekly shop on arrival, as if you were at home, because you’ll only end up having to chuck things away.

Your Holiday Kitchen

It might not always be clear exactly what you’ll find supplied in the kitchen in your holiday cottage, such as the size of the cooker, and what cooking implements are to hand.

It makes sense, therefore, to take a few essentials with you, such as a sharp vegetable knife, a tin opener and a corkscrew, along with some key items of cutlery. Don’t take your entire kitchen, but be mindful of what you might need.

Your holiday is an adventure, but while you should be adaptable, you don’t want to feel too restricted.

 

And Relax…

This is the most important point to remember. You’re going on holiday to relax. You’ll need a degree of forethought, planning and organisation, but don’t get carried away.

When self-catering you want to feel happy about your meal choices and, as much as possible, calm in your holiday kitchen.

Avoid feeling pressurised by having to prepare and cook food, and try and combine planning with a degree of spontaneity. Don’t overthink your self-catering.

How to Survive a Group Holiday Cottage Holiday

Of course, it’s great to go on holiday with friends and family, but sometimes it’s not always a case of the more the merrier. You should consider carefully where you choose to go, and how you manage one another’s company when you get there.

A break in a holiday cottage can be a great way to spend extended time with friends, and family, but be sure to take necessary precautions so you don’t all fall out.

Choose Wisely

What do you all want out of your holiday? If some people in your group want to just relax while others want all-out activity, how are you going to reconcile these different expectations?

One way is by location – choose a holiday cottage near to civilization but also the countryside and links to other areas.

If there are a lot of kids in your group, be sure you’ll have enough for them to do, regardless of age range.

Also, think of the accommodation itself. Will there be enough rooms for those who don’t want to share, and is there good mobile phone and internet reception – it’s a brave set of parents who expect their children to go tech-free while holed up with them in a holiday cottage.

Who Does What?

Obviously, with self-catering holidays, there are tasks and responsibilities involved, so it’s best to get these sorted out early on, otherwise you risk festering resentment if certain members of your group perceive that they are doing far more than others.

It may be that you don’t want to get too official with a rota, but at least be aware if someone seems to be bearing too much burden of responsibility for certain tasks, such as cooking meals.

Other People’s Kids

When it comes to their own, and other children, people have different ideas about rules and discipline, so respect one another’s boundaries, and if things do appear to be getting out of hand, try and have a quiet word first, rather than launching all-out war.

No one likes their parenting skills criticised, and you want to avoid a breakdown in relations while you’re all under one roof. Diplomacy is the key.

Perhaps jointly agree some house rules at the outset.

Valuable Me Time

Just because you’ve gone on holiday together as a group doesn’t mean you must do everything together.

It makes sense for your group to split into smaller parts to get some time to themselves if this is what people want.

Remember, the whole point of going on holiday is to enjoy yourself, and not everyone will enjoy doing the same thing at the same time.

When in doubt, give people the space they want, and don’t get obsessed with too many small details, such as who’s had more helpings of that nice cake you got from the local farmers’ market.

You’ve come on holiday because you all get on. Try to keep it that way.

Are Holiday Cottages a Good Green Option?

Your holiday can be as virtuous as you want it to be, but for many people, green holidays are becoming a priority. And as demand increases, so it becomes easier to organise a greener, more environmentally-friendly holiday.

Staying in a self-catering holiday cottage can be a green option, and here are the reasons why.

 

Bringing it all Back Home

The UN’s World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has called 2017 the year of sustainable tourism. Their focus is on how to make your holiday abroad greener. But in fact, a greener holiday can be something you achieve more easily when holidaying in the UK.

Some of the same guidelines apply: pick areas where you can walk or cycle, and visit local conservation projects. But you can do this on a self-catering holiday in a holiday cottage.

While an all-inclusive break abroad has its attractions, a self-catering break puts you firmly in control. This flexibility is great for going green, because you can choose exactly the kind of accommodation to suit you, and when you’re there, you can plan your holiday according to your needs and values.

Think Local

For your holiday to be a green experience, you need to be able to get the most out of the area you choose to be in. This means planning your stay around what’s on offer for things to do. And if you can be close to local shops and amenities, and help sustain them as part of your break, then all the better.

When it comes to getting about think about your options: are there plenty of things to do within walking or cycling distance?

Take it further and base your entire stay around walking or cycling.

You can also find out about local walking and cycling events held in specific areas and make these the focus of your holiday.

Plenty of holiday cottages are within easy reach of nature reserves and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). You can lend these conservation efforts your support by visiting them as part of your holiday cottage break.

 

Travelling to Your Holiday Destination

Obviously, this can prove a bit tricky: if you’re motoring hundreds of miles to your holiday cottage then you’re hardly limiting your carbon footprint.

However, many holiday cottages are located within easy distance of public transport links and networks. You might take the train, or combine your train journey with cycling to get to your destination – which would make even more sense if you make cycling the theme of your self-catering break.
Visit the Holiday Cottages website to find your ideal, green, holiday cottage holiday.

How Norwich Combines the Medieval and Modern

Norwich proudly displays its historic heritage. You can still see the original walls that guarded it in some parts, and there are plenty of intriguing buildings from the city’s rich cultural heritage, including the striking Norman cathedral.

The city also has a contrastingly modern dynamic, reflected in its striking riverside and forum development, and in its well-earned reputation as an individual and attractive shopping destination.

Norwich sits in the heart of beautiful countryside, close by to the Broads, making it a great place to visit if you want a wide choice of things to do on your self-catering, holiday cottage holiday.

Two Cathedrals

The Catholic Cathedral of St John the Baptist is regarded as one of the finest examples of Gothic Revival architecture in Britain. This 19th century building contains fine carvings and stained glass and provides vivid views of the city from its tower.

The much older, Anglican Norwich Cathedral is a stunning example of early medieval architecture, dating from the Normans, with the largest monastic cloisters in England. It also has a spectacularly high spire, the second tallest in the country. Strangely, because of the layout of the surrounding streets, the cathedral can appear almost hidden, which makes it feel like a real reward when you come upon it.

Norwich Cathedral has a licensed restaurant attached to its cloisters, and it hosts choral and orchestral concerts as well as lectures.

Norwich Castle

This imposing Norman building is a central landmark of the city, standing squarely on a hill, it was built as a royal fortification and is mentioned in the 1086 Domesday Survey.

As well as its impressive Norman keep, the castle includes a museum and two galleries. Here you’ll find ceramics, jewellery and textiles on display, dating back as far as the Ancient Britons. There is also a gallery housing paintings from the 17th century to modern, contemporary artists.

There are also interactive and digital displays and models that help tell the story of Norwich Castle.

Shopping in Norwich

Norwich has a deserved reputation as a major shopping centre. With its two contemporary malls – Chapelfield and the Castle Mall – and numerous independent and specialist shops, it has pretty much something for everyone.

Visit the medieval Norwich Lanes for a whole range of unique shops, cafes and bars.

Norwich Market is the largest open air market in the country, selling food, clothing, flowers, accessories and household goods.

In the Market Square in the Victorian Old Skating Ring Gallery building, Country and Eastern is a vast treasure-trove of oriental rugs and textiles, antique furniture, clothes, accessories and decorative objects. The high-ceilinged, arched wooden building is an attraction on its own.

Cultural Attractions

Norwich is a year-round cultural destination. It is the first ever UNESCO City of Literature, making part of a network of 20 cities worldwide. The city has a programme to help young writers develop and helps fund and promote literature-associated events.

There are several festivals held in the area throughout the year, including the Norfolk and Norwich Festival (showcasing performing arts and literature) a Food and Drink Festival and a Science Festival.

The city has various museums and art galleries, such as the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, part of the University of East Anglia. Here you’ll find Henry Moore sculptures, paintings by Picasso and Degas and one-off exhibitions and special events.

The 14th century Strangers’ Hall is a fascinating period building in the centre of Norwich. This was the home of mayors and merchants in the city’s heyday. It is a beautifully preserved, impressive set of rooms.

Finally, for lovers of condiments, there is the Colmans Mustard Shop & Museum, celebrating over 200 years of Norfolk-made mustards.

Water, Wildlife and Wonder on the Norfolk Broads

The Broads are a manmade national park in Norfolk, comprising 125 miles of waterways set in beautiful countryside, punctuated by towns and villages full of character. Here there’s plenty of opportunity to make your holiday experience rich and varied one, in the unique setting of the Norfolk Broads.

Norfolk is an ideal part of the world for self-catering holiday cottage accommodation.

The Broads by Canoe

Canoeing along the Broads means you combine being on the water with getting close the environment and its wildlife. There are plenty of canoe hire centres to choose from and there is a Boards Canoe Network which ensures quality and safety standards.

Because of the layout of the Broads, using a canoe gets you into parts that you would otherwise miss.

You can choose from a variety of canoe trails, including:

  • Wayford Bridge and Sutton Staithe;
  • Salhouse Broad;
  • Norwich to Rockland;
  • Rockland to Loddon; and
  • Bungay to Geldeston Lock.

There are plenty more canoe trails to explore, and, if you want, you can choose to have a guided canoe tour, which can be handy if you’re a canoeing novice.

The local canoe hire centres will be able to advise you on routes according to your ability and how adventurous you want to be.

Wildlife on the Broads

The Norfolk Broads is the UK’s largest wetland area, attracting a large variety of bird species and other wildlife.

Many of these are rare, such as the swallowtail butterfly, which is unique to the area. You might also expect to see otters, grey seals and water deer.

The Broads are dotted with nature reserves, which are the perfect starting point for observing wildlife while enjoying your natural surroundings. The Bure Marshes Nature Reserve lies at the heart of the Broads. Here you’ll find a wide range of habitats, from woodland to open water.

Bird species include the bittern and marsh harrier, while the waterways and fens are home to insect species such as Norfolk hawker dragonflies.

Strumpshaw Fen is a family-friendly conservation area run by RSPB, and a haven for birds and, if you’re lucky, you might spot an otter or two.

The naturalist Ted Ellis created Wheatfern Nature Reserve before his death in 1986. It’s a lovely quiet and contemplative place. You can see marsh harriers and Chinese water deer and walk along the river and over wild fenland.

Ants Broads and Marshes is officially a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSI), incorporating the Medieval peat digging of Barton Broad and its rich peatland habitat is home to various species of wildfowl and rare insect life.

There are many more nature reserves of varying sizes on the Broads; enough to keep you occupied, engaged and relaxed during your holiday cottage break.

Boat Trips on the Broads

If you’re less inclined to take the activity route of a canoeing or walking holiday, you can still appreciate the beauty of the broads from the comfort of a larger vessel on an organised or self-hire boat trip

Norfolk Broad cruisers are ideal for this. These small electric boats are available for hire from a whole range of boatyards and small towns, such as Horning, Wroxham, Beccles and Stalham.

You’ve got the added benefit of plenty of charming riverside pubs where you can break your trip for refreshments and meals.

We’ve only touched on the attractions of the Norfolk Broads, but with a great choice of self-catering accommodation, there’s plenty of opportunity to explore this uniquely charming area of the English countryside.