Archive for category Peak District

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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Cornwall most family-friendly destination in the world

Porthcurno Beach, Cornwall picture by Flickr user Fraser Reid

Porthcurno Beach, Cornwall picture by Flickr user Fraser Reid

That’s right, our beloved Cornwall has been voted the most child-friendly holiday destination in the whole world, with Devon, Somerset, Dorset and the Isle of Wight also appearing in the top ten.

The results are from a recent poll of 2,000 parents by an international lettings agency, with Cornwall recommended as the best place for family-friendly holidays. The news comes shortly after Cornwall was granted national minority status within the UK, officially recognising it’s distinct culture and heritage.

Top priorities to ensure the best child-friendly holiday included nearby play areas, a good choice of food to cater for fussy eaters, and a shallow sea. Half of the parents polled said the ideal holiday destination must have nice beaches, and 28% said kids’ swimming pools are essential.

Cornwall pipped Orlando in Florida to the top spot because even though Orlando boasts vast theme parks and near-perfect sunny weather, it was marked down for the long flying time of around nine hours.

The study also found that the ideal length of time for a family holiday would be around 10 days, and travelling time to the destination would be under five hours.

Other UK destinations to feature in the top 50 include West Wales, the Yorkshire Dales, Peak District and the Scottish Highlands.

The results are unsurprising to us at Holiday Cottages, where we have holiday accommodation at all of the high-ranking areas voted on in the poll.

 

Top Ten Child-Friendly Holiday Destinations

1. Cornwall, UK

2. Orlando, USA

3. Devon, UK

4. Majorca

5. Costa Del Sol, Spain

6. Isle of Wight

7. Menorca

8. Dorset, UK

9. Somerset, UK

10. Tenerife

 

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‘Sounds’ of Britain to encourage visitors

Big Ben picture by Flickr user tjuel

Big Ben picture by Flickr user tjuel

Sounds can evoke strong memories or associations, and VisitBritain is hoping to harness this power with it’s new sound-based ad campaign.

The £2.5 million TV and online ad campaign features the ‘sounds’ of Britain. These will include the pouring of a cup of tea, a black cap beeping and, of course, the chimes of Big Ben.

It’s been launched across key tourism markets: USA, Brazil, China, India, Gulf states, and throughout Europe.

The digital version will allow users to customise their own advert and itinerary set to the ‘sounds’ of Britain, and Rudimental’s song ‘Feel the Love’. They can also share the result with friends via Facebook and Twitter.

Joss Croft, marketing director at VisitBritain said: “We want to involve people in creating their own British experience – first online where they can become the director of their own bespoke tourism ad, and then in reality following their individual journey across Britain according to their own interests and inspirations.

“This ad is something a little bit different and we hope it conveys the humour and character of a modern, confident Britain.”

If you’re visiting the UK, make sure to include Holiday Cottages in your Great British holiday plan!

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Petrol prices boost bikes

Sportives, National Trust

Will rocketing petrol prices create a holiday bicycle boom? More and more tourism businesses seem to believe so. For instance, April saw the launch of Cambridge Bike Tours, the first of its kind to provide a programme of bicycle tours around the city and surrounding areas. As well as modern bikes, tourists have the opportunity to try some nostalgic and immaculately refurbished historic British bikes.

Cambridge is famous for its cycling and has over 80 miles of cycle paths and lanes to explore. The company claims its tours offer tourists a unique outdoors experience and enable them to see more of the city and river than on the many walking tours available. Surprisingly, Cambridge Bike Tours is the first tour company in the city to offer a programme dedicated purely to bicycle tours.

The company runs a programme of four different tours operating every day of the week in the summer except Tuesdays. Three of the tours cost £20 and the full day tour costs £33, including bike and helmet. Discounts are available for students, families and groups.

Also getting busy on two wheels is the National Trust, which has launched a new series of challenge rides (also known as sportives). Anyone who’s ever fancied the idea of taking part in a challenging cycle ride through stunning countryside or around a beautiful country estate could be in for a treat with one of them.

All of the routes start and finish at National Trust sites and the first ride will take place in Pembrokeshire in West Wales on 1 May.

The National Trust’s Philip Broadbent-Yale said: “These rides offer a fantastic way to see amazing countryside and have been specifically designed to cater for all ages and abilities, from first-time riders to seasoned pros, there’s something for everyone.”

With distances ranging from a few miles, which is ideal for families, to more testing 50-100 mile rides for the more experienced, these cycling challenges are designed for those who love spending time in the great outdoors. The routes wind through open countryside and will be fully way-marked and marshalled by professional event organisers.

Challenge rides planned for 2011 are:

  • 1 May – National Trust Pembrokeshire Challenge Ride at Stackpole in Wales
  • 19 June – Father’s Day Ride at Dunstable Downs in Bedfordshire
  • 3 July – National Trust White Peak Challenge Ride – Illam, Peak District (TBC)
  • 3 July – Kingston Lacy in Dorset
  • 24 July – Dunstable Downs in Bedfordshire
  • 11 Sept – Wimpole in Cambridgeshire
  • 2 October – Dartmoor Atlantic Challenge at the Parke Estate in Devon
  • 9 October – Sizergh Castle in the Lake District

More information on the rides, how to register and more downloadable cycle trails can be found at National Trust website

Also happening this summer will be the Trust’s first ever Cycling Festival which will take place between 16-24 July, with bike-ride events and activities happening at 25 locations, including Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire and Scotney Castle in Kent.

Finally, March saw the launch of a unique cycle route in Dorset, where to celebrate its 50th Anniversary, Dorset Wildlife Trust has created 42toDO, a special route taking in all of its 42 nature reserves. At 260 miles through the best of Dorset’s landscapes, it is a challenge that people can take up by bike, on foot or even by car, with shorter routes also available for a more leisurely day.

Fiona Sansom of Dorset Wildlife Trust said:

“42toDO is all about celebrating our wonderful nature reserves. Anybody can do it, whether they cycle the whole thing in one go or tick off a few nature reserves at a time on a leisurely ride or walk. Our route is suitable for cyclists, avoiding main roads where possible, but you can still visit the reserves by car, so there’s no reason to feel left out!”

The Trust has produced a map which includes all you need to know about where and when to see unmissable wildlife such as wood anemones, bluebells, sand lizards, early spider orchids or red squirrels.

With different punches at every reserve to collect on the 42toDO maps, challengers will win a certificate and special badge for achieving all 42 or for more than half. There will be additional prizes for the most impressive or unusual ways of completing the challenge.

The 42toDO challenge is free. For a pack, click here

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Build a better bookshelf

One of the great pleasures of getting away on a cottage holiday is the chance to relax with a good book. Another is getting out and about, seeing and doing things that make a real change from everyday life.

So having a well chosen selection of books (as well as DVDs and games) in a holiday property can contribute a lot to a holiday. Bookshelves tend to acquire a life of their own, with visitors donating books they’ve brought and read. That can lead to a wonderfully mixed selection of books reflecting all sorts of tastes and interests. Even so, it still helps a lot if at the heart of the collection is a core of books appropriate to the property. Books about the area, of course, whether guide books, local history or fiction. But also books that can help visitors appreciate aspects of country life they might otherwise miss.

For instance, a couple of new books from Britain’s Wildlife Trusts do this in quite different ways. The first is a guide designed to help you get closer to nature, called 152 Wild Things to Do. Divided into four seasonal sections, it lists places to visit (mostly wildlife reserves owned by the Trusts), activities for both adults and children, and skills you can acquire.

In spring, if you’re in Wales you could visit Silent Valley nature reserve. Or you could cook nettle soup. “Healthy, delicious and found absolutely everywhere, nettles are a wonderful leaf that can be cooked up into a wholesome soup. Food that’s free and full of goodness – perfect! You’ll need to pick the tender tops of young nettles in the spring.” It goes on to a full Nigella-style listing of ingredients (including optional wild garlic leaves), cooking instructions and a final flourish: “You could stir in some crème fraîche or serve with a swirl of cream and some crusty bread.”

In summer, you could go wild swimming or glow-worm spotting; in autumn, you could go blackberrying (and make jam), discover Tolkien’s inspiration or see Britain’s largest butterfly. And in winter… well, buy the book and give it as a present, or just for yourself to spur inspiration and booking another cottage holiday.

In all there are – as you would expect – 152 recommendations, so there’s plenty to keep you busy. The book is probably aimed mostly at parents hoping to occupy children and stir an interest in nature and the countryside, but there’s plenty for everyone. It serves as an introduction to a number of small, lesser-known nature reserves and the colour photography is beautiful. It’s a book that deserves a place on every holiday cottage bookshelf.

Rather more traditional is Nature Tales, from  the same source. It’s a compilation of nature writing spanning the last three hundred years, with a forward by Sir David Attenborough. “This wonderful collection of some of the greatest nature writers in Britain’s history is a pleasure to read from start to finish and a valuable addition to any naturalist’s library,” says Sir David. Quite so, but don’t let that reference to a naturalist’s library make you think this is some learned, stuffy book. Quite the reverse, because it’s the ideal accompaniment to a cup of tea and a digestive, with most of the items no more than two or three pages long.

The book is organised in themed sections – By river and sea, From my window, Nature trails, and so on – each with items from across the 300 years. So an entertaining piece by Bill Oddie – one of the longest items at nine pages – is preceded by the 19th century novelist Richard Jefferies and followed by Nan Shepherd, a wonderful descriptive writer who died in 1981 at the age of 88. There are brief notes on each contributor, which might well lead you to follow up on their other writings.

Even more than in a naturalist’s library, this book belongs in every holiday cottage. And it, too, would make an excellent birthday or Christmas present for any nature-minded reader.

152 Wild Things to Do, published by Elliott and Thompson Ltd, £12.99,
Nature Tales, published byElliott and Thompson Ltd, £18.99

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Going Ape in Buxton

Yesterday’s trip to Go Ape in Buxton turned out to be really fun. We had good weather, which tends to make these kind of things much more pleasant.

It takes two to three hours to go round the course – which comprises five “stages”. You’re given pretty comprehensive training on how to use all the safety equipment — the idea is that whenever you are up in the trees, you are attached to a safety wire at least once, and usually two or three times. On your harness, you have a pulley, which is used for most of the fun stuff like going down zipwires.

The highlight of the course is the “Tarzan Swing”, which involves jumping out of a tree into a net. You’re attached to a swing, but the first part of the jump is a mini free-fall. For most of the course, it’s quite obvious that you’re very tightly connected to the safety wires, but the Tarzan jump is a little different, because the safety wires aren’t so visible, and it really does feel like you’re just launching yourself out of a tree into thin air.

Go Ape isn’t particularly cheap – £30 for an adult ticket, but it’s a novel experience – and exhilarating. It also seems to be really catching on across the country. There are 26 courses across the country – many in forestry commission woodland – and all offer a similar experience up in the trees.

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Go Ape

We’re off to try out the Go Ape course in Buxton today. Go Ape is a forest-based adventure trail… it basically involves swinging from trees, traversing rope bridges, sliding down poles and that kind of thing.

I’ve previously tried out the Go Ape course in Whinlatter, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ll update this once we’ve survived the Buxton course!

Tom K

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Keira

Keira Knightley

Keira Knightley

No matter how beautiful she actually is, Keira Knightley doesn’t look great in the costume she’s wearing in our photo on the website (news pages), does she? The wig just doesn’t do it for her. Never mind – it’s a great film by all accounts and many of us at Merricks Publishing are looking forward to seeing it.

As I say in the news piece, Knightley chose a holiday cottage to stay in during filming in the Peak District, and the owner said she was ‘a delight’ to be around. I can believe it. In a recent interview with Sam Wollaston of the Guardian, she comes across as someone with a wicked sense of humour who doesn’t take herself too seriously. Here’s an extract from Sam’s piece (or read it in full he re:   Dirty pretty thing).

‘When we talk about her work, she purrs. No, not literally – that would be weird – but she speaks easily, and appears content and relaxed. When I attempt to steer the conversation towards her life outside work, the claws come out. In a very good-natured, playful way, it has to be said. At times the interview feels like a sparring match, and she gives as good as she gets, if not better. She’s very entertaining company, and it’s fun – trying to get under the guard of Keira Knightley.

‘This will sound like the tragic fantasy of a male journalist who has fallen under the spell of a very pretty young lady and somehow imagines he could be her friend, but although she does speak awful proper, there is something nicely unstarry about her. Perhaps it’s being sworn at, but I’m finding it hard to remember that I am talking to the second highest-paid actress in Hollywood last year.’

If you know of any other pieces of information relating to films being made on location in the British Isles, do please let us know.