Archive for category Cycling

Tour de France Grand Depart in Yorkshire

Near Grassington, Yorkshire. Picture by Flickr user Andrew Bowden

Near Grassington, Yorkshire. Picture by Flickr user Andrew Bowden. CC Licence.

This weekend sees the creation of a little bit of history. For the first time, the biggest cycling event in the world, the Tour de France, commences its Grand Depart from Yorkshire!

Stage one starts on Saturday (5th July) with the cyclists travelling from Leeds through to Harrogate. The riders will start from Leeds then be officially waved off by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge when they pass through the Harewood Estate.  Stage two is the following day and travels from York to Sheffield. It is estimated that there will be around two million spectators per day and financial benefits to the region in excess of £100 million.

Expect all manner of events, decorations and celebrations throughout the weekend as Yorkshire goes Tour de France crazy! It will be a wonderful weekend to visit the county to see it and its people at their absolute best. The weather forecast currently doesn’t look too bad, with cloud and sunny spells predicted on Saturday.

Expect to see lots of art on the hillsides of the route, with grass cut into patterns and shapes, Yorkshire dialect signage to welcome visitors, plus large-scale line drawings made by the tracks of bikes cycled into the grass. There will be street art, houses painted with polka dots like the famous jersey, and roads painted with the phrase “Ey up t’Tour!” Also, there is expected to be World Record set with the longest bunting on Earth stretching just over 10 kilometres from Mytholmroyd (once home to Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath) to the summit of Blackstone Edge.

“Christian Prudhomme [the Tour director] has always said the Tour has the power to make social change. Because it’s not just about the bike. This will showcase Yorkshire to the world, showing it to be a confident, dynamic, outgoing place, representing all the things that are positive about the world this day and age.” Said Gary Verity, Chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, the tourism board responsible for the successful bid to host the Grand Depart.

He added: “Yorkshire has cool places, green places in every sense, dynamic people, rich heritage, great food and drink, cutting edge industries in all sectors, great communications, fantastic transport links. With luck it will also help to redress a bit the balance between the south and the north.”

You can plan your journey, or where to settle using the official site and if you want to combine it with some accommodation to make a weekend of it to explore the area and soak up the atmosphere go to our Yorkshire section of the website.

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“Ghost Peloton” to celebrate Grand Depart

Fifty cyclists lit with LEDs will take part in a “ghost peloton” in Leeds as part of a festival to celebrate and welcome in the Tour de France Grand Depart.

The £2m Yorkshire Festival will include 47 different bicycle-themed projects, including installations, performances, photography exhibitions and screenings.

The festival will run from 27th March to 6th July, with the Tour’s Grand Depart taking place in Leeds on 5th July before spending two days racing through places like Harrogate, York and Sheffield.

Yorkshire Festival executive producer Henrietta Duckworth said: “The race is not just about those two days of epic exertion by men in lycra.

“This is an opportunity to engage people with a programme of work that will capture the imagination, trigger some excitable and enjoyable activities and give people a chance to get involved in the Grand Depart in the 100 days leading up to the actual race.”

Highlights of the festival include:

  • Two new sculptures by Thomas Houseago, one for Leeds city centre and the other for the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
  • Large-scale grass-based land art installations will be created along the route of the second day of the Tour de France.
  • A “tour de cinema” will include film screenings in 35 town halls and 10 outdoor locations.
  • A songwriting relay will create folk songs and take them from town to town by bicycle.
  • Maxine Peake will make her stage scriptwriting debut at the West Yorkshire Playhouse with a play about cyclist Beryl Burton.
  • The White Cloth Gallery in Leeds will host an exhibition of photographs of the Tour from the 1960s to the present day.
  • Belgian theatre company Theater Tol will perform an aerial show about Italian cyclists Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi in Dewsbury.

After the Tour’s opening two stages in Yorkshire, the third stage will go from Cambridge to London before the race moves to France.

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Top events for 2014

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre timeline picture by Flickr user Dysanovic

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre timeline picture by Flickr user Dysanovic

We’re speeding through January now, so let’s have a quick look at some of the main events in the UK for 2014!

1. This year will be the 450th birthday of England’s greatest poet and playwright, Shakespeare. Celebrations have already kicked off this month at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London. Candlelit plays, operas and concerts will be performed in the new Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. On Shakespeare’s actual birthday, 23rd April, during ‘Shakespeare Week’ The Globe will stage its first performance of Hamlet to start a two-year world tour.

2. 5th July will see Stage 1 of the Tour de France Grand Départ get underway in Leeds, Yorkshire. It will continue on through some of the most stunning countryside in the Yorkshire Dales through to the spa town of Harrogate. Stage 2 starts in the medieval city of York, finishing in my home town, Sheffield! Stage 3 sets off from Cambridge, cycling through the Essex countryside to London, leading to a spectacular finish at The Mall. An exciting sporting event, and great to use the route to explore different areas of the country.

3. Scotland gears up for a summer of sport with the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July, and the golf championship, the Ryder Cup, at Gleneagles in September.

4. This year marks the 175th anniversary of the Henley Royal Regatta. For five days from 1st July, teams from across the world will compete in this traditional rowing event across the River Thames. A great event to sit on the riverbank with a picnic in the sunshine.

5. Another anniversary this year, too; the centenary of Wales‘ greatest poet and writer, Dylan Thomas. The actual centenary is 27th October, but year-round events, exhibitions and festivals will celebrate Thomas and showcase Wales as an extraordinary land of artistic excellence.

 

Keep up to date with upcoming events around the UK featured on this blog, or search particular dates and places at the tourist board, VisitBritain.

 

 

 

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Homecoming Scotland 2014

Fort William photo by Flickr user Hotfield

Fort William photo by Flickr user Hotfield

Scotland is marketing itself to itself in a new £500,000 campaign, ‘Homecoming Scotland 2014’.

The campaign will encourage fellow Scots, northerners and the Northern Irish to visit the various events happening throughout the year, right on their doorsteps. There will be a 30-second TV advert, radio, digital, press and other promotional activity to highlight the 430 family-friendly Homecoming events. These include the Islay Festival of Music and Malt, Lochearnhead Highland Games, and the Wickerman Festival in Dumfries and Galloway.

Tourism minister Fergus Ewing said: “This year, Scotland will also play host to the Ryder Cup, Commonwealth Games and the MTV Europe Awards – which will broadcast to nearly 700 million households through MTV’s global network of channels.

“2014 will be an extraordinary year for Scotland and this advert, alongside the Homecoming app and enhanced information on the wider events programme which are also now available, will help us to share it with as many people as possible.”

So with all these brilliant events going on, what better time than to highlight the Scotland section of our Holiday Cottages!

We have lots to choose from, but to start, how about The Logs, a detached Norwegian-style log house (sleeps up to 10) 3 miles north of Fort William. It has panoramic views of Ben Nevis and the ski slopes of Aonach Mor.

The comfortable accommodation includes a spacious lounge with gallery sitting room, dining room, well-equipped breakfast kitchen, 6 bedrooms (2 en suite) and a bathroom. There is a wood-burning stove in the lounge, gas central heating, 2 TVs, DVD, video and CD player. The large garden and patio area is bordered by the remnants of the old Caledonian pine forest. Plus, there are over 70 events and activities listed on the Homecoming Scotland 2014 website including tours, cycling, fishing and lots more!

The Logs outside

The Logs outside

Cosy living room

Cosy living room

 

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Kipp Cottage, Dumfries and Galloway

Kipp Cottage is a beautiful hideaway for two in Dumfries and Galloway. In a secluded position in the grounds of Kipp House on the edge of the village of Kippford, the accommodation is located on the first floor, with special storage area suitable for bicycles and/or wet weather gear on the ground floor.

Perfect for an activity holiday base, the village is set on the Urr Estuary, a popular sailing centre. For keen cyclists, the trailhead for the local section of the 7 Stanes Mountain Bike Network is less than 5 minutes away by car. There is also a small golf course and two hotels/pubs serving food plus local shops within walking distance of the cottage.

The double glazing and full oil fired central heating make this a cosy and comfortable cottage at any time of the year.

Outside view of cottage

Modern kitchen

Beautiful grounds

 

 

 

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Events in Devon

Devon is famous for its countryside and coast, and a favourite visitor destination in the UK. It also has a lot of activities on offer, particularly now that the weather is warming up. The Devon Events Guide 2013 is a great place to start, even highlighting the free activities to make planning days out even easier.

Events coming up this May include Six Days of Art around Teignmouth (final showing 11th – 13th May), Devon County Show, Exeter 16-18th May, (featured here previously), Analogue to Digital Music Expo, Exeter 18th May, and the Cycle Tour Series in Torquay on the 28th May.

This one bedroom apartment  (sleeps up to 4) in a central location overlooking Torquay beach has availability at the end of this month. Well maintained throughout, with on street parking available, beautiful gardens and terrace with panoramic views. Prices for a 3 night stay from £234.

Bay Fort Mansions

Bay Fort Mansions

View to the sea

View to the sea

 

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Beautiful Pembrokeshire

Stables Cottage outside view

Stables Cottage – outside view

Stables Cottages inside view

Stables Cottage – inside view

Pembrokeshire is Wales’ most popular coastal destination. As the sun starts to shine, then it would be a great place to consider going on holiday. It has a national park, coastal path, great cycling routes, arts and crafts and wonderful beaches.

Luckily for you, we have a new holiday cottage on our listings which is perfect for a self-catering family holiday.

A short stroll from its own beach and close to the coastal path on the Pembrokshire National Park coastline, Fynnonofi Farm is relaxation central. The traditional stone holiday cottage has stunning sea or mountain views from all rooms. And with outdoor eating areas to enjoy sunsets in the evening, you will have little need to go anywhere else.

The cottage sleeps 5 with 2 double bedrooms and a children’s room. The kitchen has all expected amenities, and the is a large, bright sitting room with wood-burning stove, TV/video and double glass doors with idyllic views across the sea. There are 2 bathrooms, underfloor heating and the style is ‘rustic coastal’. There is also plenty of space for children to play safely.

For many more Pembrokeshire cottages, visit our main site.

The beautiful beach!

The beautiful beach

 

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Yorkshire to host start of Tour de France 2014

 

Leeds Arcade picture by Flickr user Eric The Fish (2012)

The recent success of the Tour de France has helped to cement the decision to have Yorkshire host the start of the Tour de France in 2014.

The county beat off worldwide competition to host the Grand Départ, the prestigious opening few days of the cycling race. The host city will be Leeds, which will also host an arts and cycling festival to coincide with the tour. Details of where the race will travel through after Leeds are yet to be released, but will likely go through Scarborough, York and Sheffield.

Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, the agency behind the county’s bid, said: “It will mean less than two years after hosting the Olympics the British public can look forward to another of the world’s biggest sporting events coming to the country, and I am in no doubt they will come to Yorkshire in their millions, lining the length and breadth of the route to cheer on the champions of world cycling and our home grown British heroes.”

The first two days of the race will be held in the county on 5th and 6th July 2014, before moving to a third stage somewhere in southern England, finishing in London before continuing on to France.

VisitBritain CEO Sandie Dawe said: “It is fantastic news that the 2014 Tour de France will start in Yorkshire and that this major sporting event will be back in the UK. The beautiful countryside will be a wonderful backdrop and seen by an international audience as well as the thousands who will come to see the race.

“Cycling in the UK has received a welcome boost due to the success of team GB’s cyclists and Bradley Wiggins’s tour victory, so we hope that a Britain-wide bid will be successful in future years.”

To look at the wide range of holiday cottages available across Yorkshire, go to our Holiday Cottages site and start planning your trip!

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Reach for the sun lotion!

Water fight picture by Flickr User Jeff Sandquist

Quick, take a few days off work this week if you can to enjoy the Indian summer we’re having! It looks as if this sunny weather, with temperatures reaching 27C (80F) in some parts of the UK, is only set to last one week as the country is bathed in warm weather blowing in from the continent. After one of the worst summers for 20 years, we will be able to appreciate a little of what it could have been, if only for this week.

So, this has inspired me to write a top ten list of things that you can easily do on a whim while the sun is shining!

1. Have a picnic in your local park

2. Play tennis

3. Visit an outdoor pool

4. Make your own mini kite (very easy with some tissue paper and string) and fly it in the park or your garden

5. Go for a bike ride

6. Gather your friends for a water fight

7. Have a BBQ

8. Head to a theme park, such as Alton Towers

9. Laze in your garden with a good book and a cool drink.

10. Book a last minute holiday cottage with Holiday Cottages!

There are many other things you could do of course, so if you have any other ideas, please leave them as a comment below as we’d love to hear them!

Ride, stride and support

Explore the English countryside

There’s another opportunity in September to explore and enjoy the English countryside by taking part in Ride+Stride, a sponsored walk or bike ride between 10,000 participating churches. The event involves over 13,000 people of all ages, crosses 34 counties and opens the doors to some of the landscape’s most unusual and unknown churches.

The event has run each year since it began in Suffolk in 1981, and last year’s event raised £1.5 million for church restoration. This year’s event was on Saturday 11 September, with churches open from 10am – 6pm. The idea is that you sign up with the Churches Trust in your chosen county and find sponsors for your walk or ride between whichever churches you fancy. The route can be as long or short as you like, visiting two, or however many more you like, churches. The sponsorship money can all go to your favourite church, or to all the churches in that county.

Cyclists and walkers lucky enough to live in Cumbria, or planning to be on holiday there, might like to put together a route including the charming Newlands Church in the hamlet of Littletown; Beatrix Potter’s Mrs Tiggy Winkle was dedicated to the Vicar’s daughter. In Dorset, participants could head over to Loders’ St. Mary Magdalene’s Church, to offer sympathy and support to its gargoyle with toothache.

Riders and striders in Wiltshire can picnic by Bremilham Church in Cowage farmyard, the tiniest church in the UK, which has one pew and seats four. Or over to Kent and spend the day on Romney Marsh visiting St Clements Church, Old Romney which boasts pale pink pews, having been painted for the filming of Dr Syn in the 1960s, and which were kept because the parishioners liked them. Or wander to St Thomas a Becket in Fairfield, which sits in the middle of a meadow that was only accessible by boat until the 1960s.

Ride+Stride is ideal for the young and old, the energetic and the more relaxed. In 2009, the oldest participant was a 101 year old lady from Oxfordshire who walked between six churches in hilly countryside; the youngest was still in his push chair. Some walk between two and three churches, others are more ambitious – one inspired rambler spent two weeks running 630 miles along the South West Coastal Path from his local church, St John the Baptist, Buckhorn Weston, to Poole in Dorset.

There is also the opportunity to relax and recharge between journeys, with most churches offering a display of snacks and drinks, from cakes and biscuits to home grown plums and orange squash. In fact, you don’t even need to participate in the main event, as this is an ideal opportunity simply to visit a church, knowing it – and its collection box! – will be open.

Ride+Stride helps preserve some of Britain’s 47,000 churches, chapels and meeting houses. Many historical landmarks are falling into severe disrepair and need our help. The event is supported by The National Churches Trust, in partnership with County Churches Trusts nationwide. Keen cyclist and Channel 4 news presenter, Jon Snow, is the patron. Another keen supporter is author Bill Bryson, who said: “No feature of the English countryside is more important, or potentially more vulnerable, than its churches. That’s why I am so delighted to support Ride+Stride.”

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