Choose a Walking Holiday for the ideal Holiday Cottage Break

Walking holidays offer relaxation, exercise and a choice of contrasting locations throughout the UK. Taking a break in a self-catering holiday cottage provides a great base from which to explore the surrounding area, giving you the freedom to plan and enjoy your holiday at your own pace.

Here is a selection of great walking holiday routes and locations.

Explore the Pennine Way

Obviously, you might not expect to explore the entire Pennine Way on your walking holiday, given that it runs a total of 268 miles, stretching from Derbyshire to the Scottish Borders.

However, you can focus your holiday activity on selected parts of the Pennine Way, in different regions of the UK.

The Peak District National Park is great walking country, and at Edale you can access the Pennine Way, where it crosses Kinder Scout at the highest point in the Peak District.

Holiday cottages in the Peak District offer a choice of locations, from small towns and villages to more remote areas.

As the Pennine Way makes its way through the Yorkshire Dales, you can explore the country of the Bronte sisters, at Howarth, in the South Pennines, and the limestone landscapes of the spectacular Malham Cove. The Dales area provides a wide variety of holiday cottages from which you can choose your ideal base.

Further north, and the Pennine Way reaches Hadrian’s Wall. This is rugged country indeed, marked by distinctive crags and some of the most well-preserved sections of the Roman wall itself. The end of the Pennine Way is at the village of Kirk Yetholm, in the Scottish Borders.

Choose your holiday cottage in Scotland, or Northern England to explore this part of the world.

Walking in the Lake District

The Lake District is England’s largest National Park, covering 912 square miles. For the walker, it offers many different terrains and levels of exercise; from scenic lakeside ambles to adventurous climbs up high ridges. The choice is yours.

There are accessible, easy walks, what the Lake District calls its Miles Without Stiles routes. These take in areas such as Pooley Bridge, Bowness and Grasmere. These total 48 routes overall.

There are also the routes made famous by the fell walker Alfred Wainwright, some of which can involve climbing up crags and covering rugged terrain.

Walking distances can range from under three miles to seven miles or more, depending on your ambition, and energy levels.

Lake District holiday cottage accommodation offers a wide choice, from 18th century oak-beamed cottages to converted barns.

Peddars Way and the Norfolk Coast Path

At Holme-next-to-the-Sea, two trails come together to form Norfolk’s section of the National Trail.

The total trail is 93 miles in length, following the north shoreline through Sherringham and Cromer, and passing inland via Swaffham. With this expanse covered, you can choose different parts of the trail to explore, from the forest, heath and low river valleys of the Brecks, to tidal saltmarshes and harbours and villages of the North Norfolk coast.

It is a quite magical area of the country, from the mysterious beauty of the heathland along the Peddars Way to the wild remoteness of the coastal path.

There’s plenty of choice when it comes to holiday cottages with character in Norfolk, giving you somewhere comfortable and welcoming to come back to after a great day out.

Choose Your Holiday Cottage for the Ideal Cycling Break

A self-catering break in a holiday cottage is ideal for a cycling holiday. Staying in your own space gives you full control of your itinerary, allowing you to make the most of your time for adventure, and relaxation.

Here we look at some of the UK’s best holiday cycling routes and their surrounding areas.

The Camel Trail in Cornwall

Stretching some 18 miles from Padstow to Bodmin Moor, the Camel Trail follows the route of a disused railway line that makes for an ideal cycling route, as it’s both arrestingly scenic and largely traffic-free.

Cyclists access the route by following the Camel Estuary before going into the wooded Camel Valley and joining the route there. The trail takes you inland, to the edge of Bodmin Moor, finishing close to the pretty village of Blisland.

The Camel Trail is great for a family cycling holiday as it’s both safe and easy to access and ride on. There’s plenty of opportunity to stop off at charming seaside towns and enjoy the beaches and wildlife.

Holiday cottages in Cornwall provide the ideal base from which to explore the area by bike.

picture by Suzy Dubot

Cader Idris, Snowdonia

Some of the best cycling in Snowdonia is around Cader Idris, in the southern part of the region. This is mountainous country, a lot less sedate than Cornwall’s Camel Trail, but with its own rewards in what you can see and experience.

The scenery takes in high peaks, beautiful, tranquil lakes at Cregennen, and charming villages and towns, like Dolgellau, sheltering under Cader Idris mountain. Other points of interest to take a break from your cycling to see include the tranquil Dysnni Valley, the dramatic Birds’ Rock (or Craig-yr-Adern), and the ruins of Cadtell-y- Bere.

There are plenty of holiday cottages in or near to Snowdonia, offering you a choice of accommodation where you can relax after a day’s cycling in the mountains.

The Jurassic Coast, from Devon to Dorset

This huge stretch of coastline, some 95 miles, isn’t necessarily something you’d tackle in its entirety on a cycling holiday, but it offers plenty of opportunity to explore selected areas of natural beauty and charm.

The coastline between Exmouth and Swanage is particularly good for cyclists, as you explore its narrow seaside lanes. It is hilly in parts – Peak Hill is a designated National Hill Climb – but there are also plenty of beaches for when you want to take a break.

Navigation is easy, if you keep the sea right next to you by following the roads that keep it in sight. There are plenty of lovely towns to explore, including Lyme Regis and Sidmouth.

Choose a holiday cottage in Devon or Dorset, load up your bike, and get ready to explore.

The Yorkshire Dales Cycleway

If you want a holiday with a real cycling challenge, then consider the Yorkshire Dales Cycleway, with its 130-mile circular route that takes in a large area of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

The idea is to start and finish in Skipton, but in fact you can choose different sections along the route, depending on your fitness level, and how much energy you want to use. You can explore the Yorkshire Dales at a relaxed pace by only covering, say, a section of the route a day.

There are challenging, hilly climbs offset by exhilarating descents; quiet country lanes and charming towns and villages.

There is an excellent range of places to look at when choosing your holiday cottage in Yorkshire, where you can relax after your days out in the saddle.

Wexford and Wicklow: Ireland’s Ancient East

In the province of Leister, County Wexford is the centre of Ireland’s Ancient East, a gateway to 5,000 years of history. Further north up Ireland’s east coast is Wicklow, known as the Garden of Ireland, a walker’s paradise, surrounded by valleys and mountains.

The east of Ireland is an ideal part of the world for a self-catering holiday in a holiday cottage, and both Wexford  and Wicklow  offer plenty of choice.

Exploring Along the Norman Way

The Norman Way is a heritage trail running along the south coast of County Wexford, where you can lose yourself in the magic and history of the region. It passes through medieval sites and picturesque seaside villages.

Intriguing and interesting landmarks along the Norman Way include: the Norman castle and tower on Lady’s Island; the medieval church of St Iberius; Sigginstown and Ballyhealy castles; and the Tacumshane Windmill, also dating from Norman times.

The Norman Way is suitable for both walkers and cyclists, and there are pubs and tearooms along the route to keep all travellers refreshed.

The Hook Lighthouse and a Haunted Hall

At the tip of the Hook Peninsula, this 13th century lighthouse is one of Ireland’s top attractions. The Hook lighthouse is more than just an artefact however, because it is the world’s oldest operational lighthouse.

The lighthouse balcony offers spectacular views, following a climb up its 115 steps, and there are guided tours of the lighthouse tower. There’s also a café and art workshops.

Further up the peninsula is Loftus Hall, said to be Ireland’s most haunted house. It has played host to numerous paranormal investigations and visitors can experience its full dark and troubled history on a guided tour.

Castles and Abbeys

Wexford has more than its fair share of historic buildings, including the imposing Dunbrody Abbey, Tintern Abbey – home to the Clodagh Walled Gardens – and the early Anglo Norman Enniscorthy Castle. Here you can also access the roof of the castle for spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.

Later, gothic architecture is on glorious show at Johnstown Castle, while Ferns Castle has a uniquely intact circular chapel.

For an immersive experience in Ireland’s ancient history, visit the Irish National Heritage Park. This outdoor museum is a detailed recreation of Ireland’s heritage, with ancient homesteads amid 35 acres of woodland. There are plenty of activities held here to leave your kids happily exhausted, while you enjoy the scenery, or join in.

Wild Wicklow

Wicklow is a walker’s paradise. The 131 kilometre Wicklow Way takes you up mountainous trails and through glacial valleys. It begins south of Dublin, in Rathfarnham, and takes you to the uplands of County Wicklow, finishing in the small village of Clonegal.

The full trail takes eight to ten days, but your time is rewarded with a sequence of varied and stunning scenery, from forest trails and parkland to mountain landscapes and deep, rolling hills.

The Glendalough Valley

Known as the valley of two lakes, Glendalough is home to a world famous, 6th century monastic site, a collection of ancient religious buildings including a cathedral, priests’ house, several churches and a round tower. It is a beautiful place, full of natural detail and a pervading sense of calm.

It’s a great centre for walkers and rock-climbers, with its network of trails and high, granite cliffs.

Ireland’s Ancient East manages to maintain an air of mystery while being widely accessible, combining great natural beauty with intriguing, manmade historical structures.


Captivated in Cork City and County Cork

The biggest county in Ireland is Cork, in Munster province, to the south. Cork City is Ireland’s second city and it’s a lively, cosmopolitan destination. Visit County Cork and you can combine the dynamism of the city with the charms of the county’s vivid landscapes and places of historical interest. And County Cork has plenty of self-catering, holiday cottages to choose from.


City Life

The ornate ceilings and columns in the grand Victorian setting of the English Market make this a must to visit, even if you don’t buy any of the wonderful local produce on sale there. You’ll find plenty of takeaway food on offer too, and various cafes and delis.

Another notable 19th century building is the Cork City Gaol, where you can take a tour of this imposing structure and get a vivid sense of what life would have been like for its inmates – in the days when you would be sentenced to hard labour for stealing a loaf of bread.

For all its grimness, the gaol is an outstanding example of historical architecture, full of Georgian and Gothic character.

Both whimsical and dramatic, St Fin Barre’s Cathedral is an elaborate construction dating from that virtually batters your senses into submission with its over-the-top grandeur.

If you want a break from sightseeing in Cork City, then there’s a wealth of places offering food and drink, from modern Irish cuisine and contemporary vegetarian to local bistros and fine dining. You’re also never too far from excellent artisan coffee and independent cafes.

When it comes to working off all that good food and drink, there are a number of Cork Walks you can take in the city centre. These heritage-themed trails take in various places of interest, from medieval to modern, while providing an immersive experience of the city.

Cork also has several key art galleries, showcasing Ireland’s vital, contemporary art scene. These include the Crawford Art Gallery, the Lewis Glucksman Gallery with its award-winning architectural design, and the Triskel Art Centre.

Countywide Adventures

Outside the city, the county of cork has a wide variety of attractions and some stunning scenery. Visit Blarney Castle and gardens. The castle dates to around 1210 AD, with its original wooden structure then supplanted by a stone construction, before being rebuilt a third time in 1446.

Explore the castle’s battlements, dungeons and grounds, its labyrinth passages and enchanting estate. While you’re there you must kiss the legendary Blarney Stone – supposed to bestow eloquence on the kisser!

In East Cork you’ll find plenty of blue flag beaches, at Youghal and Garryvoe. Youghal also has an iconic clock tower, dating from 1777. Youghal Clock Gate is on the site of the former Trinity Castle and you need to book a guided tour to visit it.

On the shore of Cork Harbour, the town of Cobh provides a captivating combination of heritage and contemporary culture, from restaurants and bars to museums, studios and galleries. You can reach Cobh on a direct train from Cork City.

Mizen Head, at the end of the Mizen Peninsula, is Ireland’s most South Westerly point. Here you get stunning views of the coastline and a real sense of the elemental force of the Atlantic Ocean. Visit the Signal Station for a truly exhilarating encounter with Ireland’s natural elements.

There are numerous attractions in Cork, both city and county, whether you want outdoor adventure, inspiration from the arts and Ireland’s diverse heritage, or just to relax, eat and drink and enjoy the scenery.

Kerry, Kingdom of the Perfect Landscape

Picture by Jean Beaufort

With its wild coastline, high peaks and the Killarney National Park, Kerry combines nature at its most picturesque with a whole host of activities, from festivals and fairs to food and drink – and it’s an ideal destination for a self-catering, holiday cottage holiday

The Killarney National Park

Killarney was Ireland’s first national park, when the Irish Free State received a donation of the Muckross Estate. Today the National Parks and Wildlife Service manages this spectacular natural beauty spot.

The park covers some 26,000 acres and within it are notable landmarks such as Muckross House and its gardens, Inisfallen Island and the Lakes of Killarney.

The large area of natural oak woodland covered in the park is itself a stunning natural attraction, as are the herds of red deer on the mountain slopes. Muckross House was originally built between 1839 and 1843, then further improved in 1850, in preparation for Queen Victoria’s visit to Ireland.

Looking out across Muckross Lake, the house is an imposing feature of the park and well worth exploring, as are its surroundings, including its elegant, multi-themed gardens.

Killarney’s Upper, Middle and Lower lakes converge at the aptly named Meeting of the Waters. This is a wonderfully tranquil spot in the national park, which you can only get to on foot or by cycling, making it something of a hidden gem.

On Inisfallen Island are the remains of Inisfallen Abbey, dating from the early Christian period. The monastery dates from 640 and in its desolate state still evokes an air of mystery and spirituality.

Sitting on the edge of Killarney’s Lower Lake, Loch Leane, in the national park, Ross Castle was built in the 15th century. It was one of the last fortresses in Ireland to hold out against Cromwell’s armies, until its fall in 1652.

Recently restored, it has guided tours from April to October but its grounds are open to visitors throughout the year.

The Gap of Dunloe is one of Ireland’s most famous visitor excursions, involving travel through stunning natural landscapes. It combines a coach trip to Kate Kearney’s Cottage, a traditional, family-run venue, and thereafter visitors can travel on horseback through the six-mile pass of the gap.

A trip through the gap will take you to the shore of Killarney’s Upper Lake and Lord Brandon’s Cottage.


The Dingle Peninsula

Stretching 30 miles into the Atlantic Ocean, the Dingle Peninsula is a coastline of steep sea cliffs and sandy beaches.

It’s a great centre for angling, walking, surfing and swimming, with a thriving Iocal Irish-language community.

There are eco marine tours to the nearby Blasket Islands, where you can see whales, dolphins and plenty of seabirds, including puffins and gannets. You can also enjoy land-based minibus tours of the peninsula and Slea Head.

Along with action and adventure attractions such as cycling, trekking and climbing, there are various festivals held in Dingle throughout the year. These include traditional music festivals, hill walking and fitness, visual arts and poetry, and even Dingle’s own film festival.

The area is culturally, vibrant, and its landscape is richly, naturally dramatic, providing a whole range of interests and sights for visitors.

Experience and Explore Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way

The West Coast of Ireland is the world’s longest defined coastal tourist route. It stretches for some 1,500 miles from the northern headlands, at Malin Head, to the Haven Coast

Picture by Brian Henry

in the south. It is a coastline of contrasts, from rugged cliffs to blue flag Beaches. It’s ideal terrain to explore from the base of a self-catering holiday cottage.

Rugged Landscapes and Towering Coastal Cliffs

In County Donegal  you can experience the drama of Malin Head and the Sliabh Liag Cliffs.

If you wanted a single place to capture the essence of rugged, outdoor beauty then Malin Head would be a leading contender. Lying on the Inishowen Peninsula, the area’s vivid coastal scenery and birdlife, along with its historical associations, make it an endlessly diverting destination.

The monolithic Banba’s Crown stands at the tip of the peninsula, built by the British Admiralty in 1805 as part of the coastal defences against the possibility of a French invasion.

The raised landscape of Ballyhillin Beach harks back to a time when the sea level was 100 feet higher, some 15,000 years ago. It’s also a repository for semi-precious stones.

If you’re lucky, you might also see dolphins off this coastline, and, on occasion, the Northern Lights.

Further down the coastline, the Sliabh Liag (Slieve League) mountain has some of Ireland’s highest sea cliffs. At the Cliffs Centre you’ll find information about the area and local culture, along with delicious homemade scones and cakes.

As well as exploring the cliffs and taking in the amazing scenery, you can also go on guided hillwalking and hiking tours, which take in the archaeology, heritage and folklore of the area.

The Poetic and Pounding Surf Coast

On the northern edge of County Sligo is Mullaghmore, with some of the most desired surfing waves off its white, sandy beach. Strandhill in Sligo is a favourite centre for surfing, and the local surf school offers surfing lessons for children and adults.

At Mullaghmore you can also take in the beauty of the monastic site of Inishmurray, dating from the 6th century, and Ben Bulben mountain, part of the dramatic landscape that inspired the poet W B Yeats.

The Picturesque Bay Coast

In Connemara and County Mayo , you’ll find a shoreline dotted with characterful dotted with coves, loughs and islands. The beautiful Clew Bay has numerous islands, including Clare Island, the biggest of them. Here are blue flag beaches, and historical and archaeological sites.

For those seeking more active diversions, Collanmore Island is home to many organised water sports, including kayaking, dinghy sailing and paddle boarding.

A must-visit is the Georgian Westport House, providing fascinating cultural insights with its elegant, historically preserved rooms and grounds. Also onsite, are the Pirate Adventure Park and Adventure Activity Centre, making it an ideal family destination.

The Calm South

The aptly named Haven Coast zig zags from Bantry Bay to Kinsale in Cork. This southernmost stretch of the Wild Atlantic Way basks in the more temperate climate of the Gulf Stream and is a focal point for both ancient cultural sites and contemporary food and festivals.

There’s an annual Gourmet Festival held every autumn in Kinsale, hosted by the fishing port’s Good Food Circle restaurants. Kinsale is also a centre for arts and crafts, as well as boasting fine beaches.

South west of Skibbereen, Lough Hyne is a unique saltwater lake, and, as Ireland’s first marine nature reserve, it’s home to a many rare species of animals and plants. Guided kayaking trips are available for exploring the lake.
You can also go whale watching in West Cork, with various species frequently seen in these waters, including Minke, Fin and Humpback whales, as well as dolphins. Day trips for dolphin and whale watching are available throughout the autumn months, departing from Baltimore Harbour.

Escape to the Essex Coastline

The large and diverse county of Essex has over 350 miles of coastline, making it an ideal holiday location, especially if you choose a self-catering holiday cottage and use it as a base from which to explore this fascinating region.

Essex may not be top of everyone’s list, but having the longest shoreline of any county in England means that it offers lots of variety and endless possibilities for family holiday activities, or just somewhere to relax and take in the surrounding natural beauty.

A Victorian Seaside Legacy

Clacton-on-Sea encapsulates the classic British seaside holiday. It was created as a seaside resort in 1871, with its iconic pier dating from this time. Clacton was also the location of Bill Butlin’s second ever holiday camp in 1938.

Clacton brings this legacy up to date with a thoroughly contemporary approach to seaside fun and entertainment, complete with an aquarium, thrill rides and other family entertainment, along with bars and restaurants.

Frinton has much more of a genteel feel, with its esplanade and avenues and vintage surviving Victorian beach huts. In its heyday it was a retreat for the aristocracy, while today it retains a sense of uprightness, even if that’s enforced with numerous by-laws. It does, however, have a certain quiet charm that’s a world away from Clacton’s brashness.

Uniquely, Walton-on-the-Naze is surrounded on three sides by the sea, and has a history of coastal erosion. Wooden groynes (barriers) and a concrete sea wall protect it now, but many pillboxes dating from the Second World War have since fallen from the eroding clifftops.

The area offers plenty of walking trails, nature reserves, three miles of sandy beaches and a Site of Special Scientific Interest in Red Crag cliffs, where many fossils have been found. Manmade attractions include a pier, yacht club and marina.

Southend boasts the longest pier in the world, and a buoyant cultural scene that includes a number of museums, galleries and historic houses. It has seven miles of coastline, the bustling entertainment of City Beach, and plenty of rides and rollercoasters to burn off your kids’ energy on.

Exploring Essex’s Intriguing Islands

Essex has a number of islands off its extended coastline, each with their own particular charm and character. Foulness is the largest of them, close to Southend-on-Sea, and a large number of tidal waterways separates it from the mainland. It’s a notable wildlife haven for birds and seals, and it has a fascinating Heritage Centre located in an old school house, full of local artefacts, some dating back to Roman times.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) owns the island, so visiting hours only apply at the time when the Heritage Centre is open.

On Essex’s Blackwater Estuary, Osea Island feels like something of an idyllic retreat. You can only reach it by a pebble causeway every seven hours, when the tides permit crossing. It has a rich history of occupation dating back to Neolithic times, and there are remains of ancient villages and Viking burial grounds here.

It’s a secluded spot that attracts a range of wildlife, from wild rabbits to a wide variety of owl species. Osea makes an ideal spot for sailing and fishing for sea bass in the estuary, and it also has a saltwater swimming pool and a tennis court.

More of a wilderness destination, Wallasea Island is an RSPB conservation project and a developing nature reserve. The RSPB is working to restore mudflats and saltmarshes to this wild landscape, and to provide a safe, natural home for many different species of birds.

For oysters, and the simple pleasures of watching the world go by, Mersea Island fits the bill, along with windsurfing, sailing and other watersports. It combines these seaside attractions with the country life of its eastern side and the Cudmore Grove Country Park.

Self-catering or All Inclusive – Which Holiday to Choose?

Picture credit: Ed Hoskins

Family holidays require a degree of planning. Everyone knows it’s not a simple as looking at desirable destinations, booking one and waiting for the date to come around. While your end destination is important, the actual structure of your holiday is also vital, and this includes amenities.

All inclusive holidays are popular for families. They provide a readymade solution to at least one big issue, and a potential family battleground: meals.

There is also the issue of cost: which is the most economic option for a family holiday?

However, we think the most important thing you must consider is quality. What sort of holiday do you want? What will suit your family best, and, how will the holiday affect you all?

Are You in Control?

The temptation with all inclusive is to cede all control to your holiday hosts, so you no longer need worry about the kids nagging you for drinks and snacks. And your meals are taken care of, so you don’t have to do that much planning around mealtimes.

But then how much choice will this leave you with? Because if you’re staying within the confines of your resort that’s fine, but any plans to eat out and you’re basically paying twice.

If, for example, you choose to stay in a UK holiday cottage, then you’re basically in control of everything you do. You choose where to shop, what food to eat – and if you want to eat out, you can plan ahead for it.

If the kids are fussy about their food, no problem, because you can find food they’re comfortable with in the local shops, or even take it with you. Sometimes familiarity is a great problem-solver.

And you can control the budget.


Your Holiday Experience

It comes down to the kind of holiday you want, and a self-catering holiday cottage break is about exploration.

It’s about getting to know the area around you; discovering new places while having your own home from home as a kind of base camp.

You also have a lot of independence. Some might find this a challenge, if your kids need constant entertainment on tap, for example; but if your family is temperamentally suited to it, then the self-catering holiday can be very rewarding.

You can switch off by doing lots of active things, things that take you away from your normal routine, even while you maintain your close-knit family arrangements in your self-catering accommodation.

Your holiday might just tell you something new about yourself, and give you a much-needed rest in the process. Not every moment has to be magical – but you might just surprise yourself.


Holiday Cottages Dos and Don’ts

When you’re on a self-catering break, staying in a holiday cottage, you expect a high degree of personal freedom, where you can set your own schedule, make your own eating arrangements, and generally enjoy a

Picture by Petr Krotochvil

holiday that’s a home away from home.

However, holiday cottages do have rules, and while these shouldn’t have a negative impact on the quality of your stay, they are important from the point of view of safety and common courtesy.

Many of them are, in fact unwritten, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow them, if you’re going to be a good guest.


If you’re given an appointed time to arrive at your holiday accommodation, don’t be too early. It can prove especially difficult where there are several properties in one place, with queues of cars leaving and arriving.

If possible, do arrive at your holiday cottage in daylight hours. After dark, finding things like locks, keys and entrances can prove complex, particularly if you’re out in the countryside. Be on the safe side and bring a torch with you.

Do check in advance if you require disabled access – people can have different ideas about what this means and, depending on the disability, conditions can vary.

Don’t assume that “dogs welcome” means any pet – caged birds will be fine but it’s unusual to take a cat, for example.

Your holiday cottage may state that towels are included, but please don’t assume this will cover all your needs. You should pack your own beach towels (if applicable), and you might want to pack a large bath towel of your own.

Do ask the owner any questions on arrival, but don’t overwhelm them with detailed queries about the area, places to eat etc – their time is limited and while you’re on holiday, they’re not.

If there’s a welcome pack at the cottage, do take the time to read it – it will probably contain useful information about the cottage and the local area and its amenities.

Don’t keep any complaints to yourself – if there’s something you feel is wrong, or missing, then let the owner know as soon as you can after your arrival, so that they can fix it. That way everyone’s happy.


Do check you’re leaving your holiday cottage in the same state you found it. No one’s expecting you to act like an au pair throughout your holiday, but you should leave the place tidy as a courtesy to the owner.

If there are any breakages do admit to them – it’s not fair on the owner if they then must deal with unreported items that are broken or missing.

If there’s a visitors’ book, do write in it – useful comments, including constructive criticism, should always be welcome, since the holiday cottage owner will want to ensure that guests have the best possible experience.

How to Make the Most of Your Self Catering Holiday

Image by George Hodan

Holidays are about relaxation, but we all know that they can also be a major cause of stress, both in the planning and the execution; and keeping everyone happy all of the time presents certain challenges.

When it comes to a self-catering holiday in a holiday cottage, the key is to be prepared but also be flexible. Here are our tips for a successful, and happy, holiday.

The Advantages of Self Catering

For a family holiday, self-catering gives you much greater flexibility, because you can come and go as you please. Of course, while this means you set your own schedule, it also requires a bit more planning on your part.

You’ve also got potentially more freedom in terms of space – your holiday cottage has more to offer than a hotel room, and while there may not be the facilities immediately to hand that a hotel can offer, you’ve got other choices – surrounding attractions, countryside etc.

There’s also more freedom in not feeling immediately labelled as a tourist – staying in a holiday cottage gives you the opportunity to feel more embedded locally and comfortable in your own skin.

Choosing Your Location

Obviously, location is key. While you might like the abstract concept of self-catering, the reality and what sort of holiday you can expect, will very much depend on where you choose to go on holiday to.

So, if you’ve got kids, think of what they’ll want to do, and what you’ll need to keep them happy and occupied – if, for example, birdwatching and nature reserves are not their thing then make sure your holiday cottage is located somewhere where there are attractions and things that will appeal to them, as well as you.

Think about what you’re looking for and match the location to it – whether it’s rural seclusion, beaches, attractions or entertainment.

What is the immediate outdoor space going to be like – will you have a garden, or even a pool? This can make a big difference to how you find your self-catering holiday experience. Having outdoor space gives everyone on holiday a greater sense of personal freedom.

What You Get and What You Should Bring

What you get in your self-catering accommodation can vary, so you should always check in advance. Your cottage might come with a fully-equipped country kitchen, or something more basic.

Is there a washing machine, a television, kids’ toys? What sort of cutlery, crockery will be supplied, and do you need to bring your own towels?

Knowing what to expect in terms of facilities also affects what you decide to pack for your holiday. If there’s a washing machine, you can pack less changes of clothes, for instance.

Always bring the essentials with you – first aid, a loo roll, and a corkscrew!

And have basic supplies of food and drink with you for the day of your arrival, in case the local shop is closed and there’s nothing provided at your accommodation address. Again, location is important: do you need a food shop nearby to fit in with your holiday plans?

There’s a self-catering holiday to suit most people, so try and choose the one that will best suit you – be prepared for your holiday, but also be prepared to relax – planning is important, but so is enjoying the moment.