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Your State of Independence in a Holiday Cottage

According to ABTA’s 2016 Holiday Habits Report, domestic holiday-taking is what mainly drives the growing number of British people taking a holiday.

Of the survey’s respondents, 71% said they were taking a holiday in the UK. This is an increase of 64% on the previous year.

The most popular holidays in 2016 were city breaks, but a substantial number of people, nearly a quarter of those surveyed, opted for a countryside break. One of the best options for doing this is by renting your own holiday cottage accommodation.

There are two things to take from this report: firstly, that a holiday in the UK is by no means a second-best choice, but is in fact highly popular, and desirable; and secondly, because of this popularity, if you are booking a countryside staycation, you want to make sure you book early enough to give yourself plenty of choice.

 

Why Go It Alone?

To a large extent, going on holiday is about the organisation, and how well you plan everything. However, once you reach your holiday destination, you may feel you want less planning rather than more.

In other words, you might prefer to set your own agenda, to manage your own time and resources, and have a more flexible itinerary.

The idea of the package holiday is a neat one, and it takes care of a lot of the planning, and worry, but it is not for everyone.

This is especially true of holidaying in the UK, where you’re more familiar with the culture, and the language, so are likely to require much less guidance.

You can make your own schedule and your own choices about what kind of holiday will best suit you.

 

The Benefits of Holiday Cottages

A break in a self-catering holiday cottage offers several benefits that help distinguish it from any other kind of holiday.

There is the convenience of not travelling abroad – no flights, checking in or that interminable hanging around in airport lounges.

It’s a case of packing the car and setting off.

Then you’ve got supreme flexibility once you get there. You set your meal times, when you want to get up, and what you want to get up to.

In terms of self-catering, providing you choose the right location for you, you can do as much or as little of it as you want. You might decide to eat out half of the time or more; or just stay in and have family-style meals but in a different setting.

Essentially, you set the pace.

Who goes on your holiday is also up to you. You might be a couple, a young family, an extended family, or a group of several families or friends together. With an enormous choice of self-catering holiday cottage accommodation, you should be able to find the ideal thing for your group.

Furthermore, you can decide how long you want to spend on your break, without being tied down by set days for checking in or out – many holiday cottages offer a more flexibility when it comes to bookings and the length of your break.

Finally, think about how you can have a complete change of scene while staying in full control of what you want to do. You can breathe in some fresh country air, go on amazing, scenic walks, and enjoy different places, communities and individual people.

 

Plan Your Stay

Visit our website, or email info@holidaycottages.cc and we’ll show you how you to get in direct contact with the owner of your ideal holiday cottage.

It’s Not Too Late to Book a Holiday Cottage for Christmas

Does the thought of Christmas sometimes make you feel like getting away from it all? Then again, you’re also thinking of family and friends, and not spending it with them. And there are certain, familiar things about Christmas in that you love.

Here’s the ideal solution, a way to change your surroundings but retain the essential essence of your Christmas, and keep your loved ones close: a holiday cottage Christmas.

Wait, you say, because it’s already November, so haven’t you left it too late?

Well, in fact, no. You may not have quite as much choice, but there are still plenty of places available across the country, and plenty of time for you to plan your Christmas break.

 

On our website, we put you in direct contact with the owners, to make booking clear, direct and easy.

 

The Same, but Different

Get the family, and friends if you like, together for Christmas, but have a change of scene.

Imagine you all in a characterful cottage somewhere in the countryside, celebrating Christmas, or New Year, or even both.

You can enjoy rural walks or other activities, then settle down together at the end of the day, and enjoy a different Christmas break, but one where you’re firmly in control.

There’s something magical about having your own home from home in a holiday cottage – everything’s new, and different, but somehow, it’s comforting, as you build an instant familiarity with your surroundings.

 

Planning Your Christmas Getaway

First, you’ve got to find your cottage. As we’ve already said, you might be booking a little late on, but you’ll still find there are plenty of great places to choose from; whether you fancy something picturesque in the Heart of England, or on the South Coast, or somewhere a bit more rugged and untamed, such as The Lakes, or Snowdonia.

Think about what kind of a Christmas break you want, including how much activity, and who’ll be on it with you – kids will need things to do, for example.

Some cottages have a range of leisure activities nearby, or even on site, while others will be more remote.

If you want to eat out, naturally you’ll need to check in advance what kinds of restaurants are in the area and, over the holiday, what will be open. Booking will probably be a must, especially on Christmas Day.

Bring enough supplies with you – shops in many rural areas won’t be open as often as you’re probably used to.

Pack for the weather and the terrain, especially if you’re planning some post-Christmas dinner walks. Wellies may well be essential.

Other practicalities to think about include sleeping arrangements, and whether your cottage will be pet-friendly – if you want to bring the family dog on your Christmas break.

 

Christmas Decorations

Many cottages will provide their own decorations over Christmas, including a Christmas tree, but you might want to check first.

Also, you could see if the owner will leave decorations for the kids to decorate the tree for themselves, to build that special sense of anticipation, and make your holiday cottage feel truly comfortable, and Christmassy.

 

Plan Your Stay

To find your own, ideal holiday cottage in time for Christmas, visit our website, or email info@holidaycottages.cc

Romantic Holiday Cottage Getaways

Whether it’s cosiness in winter, or the feel of a carefree summer, holiday cottages make great locations for romantic holidays.

Combining tranquil, stimulating and inspiring settings with a sense of space, and of you firmly in control of your own itinerary, this is how to truly get away together.

Renting a holiday cottage is straightforward, if you’re in direct contact with the owner. Here, you’ll get better prices, and a service that feels properly personal.  

 

Escape to the Country

Nothing says romance quite like the deepest countryside. You can feel like you’re in your own perfect world.

This could be the Cotswolds, with rolling hills, scenic villages and a traditional cottage built of Cotswold Stone. Alternatively, you’ll find plenty of converted farm buildings to choose from. Then you can spend your time together exploring the local trails, footpaths, and pubs of course. And maybe throw in some fine dining, or browsing for antiques in Stow on the Wold.

Alternatively, explore the rugged countryside of North Wales, in the Snowdonia National Park. If taking on the North Wales Path seems a bit challenging, why not ride on the 13-mile Ffestiniog Railway for its awe-inspiring scenery?

Share a scenic balloon ride over the Shropshire Hills, or explore the region’s varied landscapes, from heather to sandstone. Find yourself deep in the heart of rural England.

 

Contrasting Coastlines

There’s something deeply romantic about a coastline, like the rugged Wild Atlantic Way along Ireland’s West Coast. The towering coastal cliffs at Malin Head might bring out the poet in you. Or you might be lucky, and see dolphins off Ballyhillin Beach.

For a calmer coastline, maybe with a hint of something more cosmopolitan, choose a holiday cottage on the Sussex coast. Here, you can choose between bustling Brighton, with its lively beachfront, or its more sedate close neighbour, Hove.

Or try Eastbourne’s seaside mix of Victorian grandeur and natural beauty, in the shape of Beachy Head and the South Downs National Park.

On the other side of the country, Cornwall’s beaches have a deserved reputation for their attractiveness and all-round quality, whether you choose a popular sandy cove, or a more secluded inlet. Or you could combine beach life with some culture, and stay near St Ives, with its various galleries showcasing the work of talented local artists, and, of course, Tate St Ives and the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden.

 

Head North

For the romance of wide open spaces, try the Yorkshire Dales National Park. You’ll find plenty of picturesque charm in Wensleydale, from the homely charm of the town of Hawes to the breathtaking ruins of Bolton Castle and the stunning natural beauty of Aysgarth Falls.

Further north, and the lochs of Scotland provide more romantic scenery. Stay on the shores of Loch Lomond in a lodge and take in the natural beauty of this immense expanse of water.

This is great walking country, ideal for couples, with short routes such as the Millennium Forest Trail, and more challenging excursions like the Great Trossachs Forest Path.

Cycling’s another good way to get the best out of your surroundings here. There are beaches and forests along the cycle route that covers the banks of Loch Eck Loop; and spectacular views when your take the West Loch Lomond Cycle Path.

 

Plan Your Stay
To find your ideal holiday cottage for a romantic break, visit our website, or email info@holidaycottages.cc

The Potteries and the Ceramics Trail

Located in the Heart of England, in Staffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent is a city with a rich industrial past, and it’s the world capital of ceramics. If you’re at all interested in industrial history, or in pottery, then it’s not to be missed. It also boasts plenty of other attractions – including the nearby Alton Towers – making it an ideal holiday cottage destination.

It’s also on the shortlist for the City of Culture 2021 – visit and find out why.

The Ceramics Trail

The pottery industry has helped shape the history of Stoke for some 2300 years, hence the area’s affectionate name, the Potteries.

It began on a small scale in the middle of the 17th century, then grew and flourished, as the area became home to such famous names as Wedgwood, Spode, Royal Doulton and Royal Stafford.

What’s impressive is how this industry has remained in Stoke, with local people employing their skills to match this unrivalled heritage.

This means, when visiting the Potteries, you get both a vivid sense of history and a real feel for a contemporary, thriving industry.

The Ceramics Trail runs the length of the region, taking in factory tours and factory shops, and ceramic attractions, museums and events.

There are factory tours at Middleport, Moorcroft and the Emma Bridgewater factory, providing a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at hand-crafting pottery manufacture in action.

There are numerous factory shops, attached to other attractions, so you can include taking something memorable, and beautiful, away with you as part of your visit.

Ceramic museums include the Dudson Museum, which is the oldest surviving family ceramic business focused on tableware; the Spode Works Visitor Centre; and the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery.

Further to the south, in Barlaston, you’ll find the World of Wedgwood. This includes the firm’s flagship store, museum and factory tour, and, in case you find yourself flagging, a dining hall.

 

Homes and Gardens in the Potteries

You don’t have to restrict your activities to ceramics. There are plenty of other attractions in the area, including historic homes and sculpted gardens.

On the Trentham Estate, Trentham Gardens has an adventure playground, a shopping village, and a whole range of shops and restaurants, making it an ideal family destination.

The National Trust owned Biddulph Grange Garden is an astonishing Victorian garden, the brainchild of James Bateman, one of Darwin’s contemporaries.

Here you can marvel at the garden design, see intriguing sculptural works and structures, and explore the geological gallery.

Ford Green Hall is a 17th century, timber-framed farmhouse, and was home to the Ford family for nearly 200 years. As a museum, it provides a fascinating window onto a past existence, including its own period garden.

Food and Drink

Staffordshire and the Potteries is home to plenty of tea rooms, coffee shop, pubs and restaurants – many of the factories and ceramic centres have eateries attached to them.

You can experience fine dining or home-cooked comforts. Many places display the Taste of Staffordshire Quality Marque, which means what they offer has achieved the highest standards.

There are also plenty of regular food and drink events, including the Stone Food and Drink Festival, held in the town of Stone, Staffordshire.

 

Plan Your Stay

To find your own, ideal holiday cottage for your visit to the Potteries, visit our website, or email info@holidaycottages.cc

Why You’ll Love the Landscape of the North York Moors

It’s one of the largest expanses of heather moorland in the UK, and its total expanse is 554 square miles. The North York Moors has been a National Park since 1952, and along with its moorland are picturesque villages, a rugged coastline and distinctive buildings of historical and archaeological interest.

As a UK holiday destination, the North York Moors offers a great range of sights, attractions and activities, and it’s an ideal if you’re thinking of staying in a self-catering holiday cottage.

Explore a Diverse Landscape

There’s no single apt description for the landscape of the North York Moors, because it encompasses moorland, woodland, rivers and a coastline.

Amid this generous expanse of heather moorland, it’s easy to forget that on a worldwide scale it’s a rarity – by some estimates there’s less of it than there is tropical rainforest. It is a quietly spectacular sight, and most of it is open access land, which means visitors can roam freely across it.

There are three types of heather growing here: bell heather, cross-leaved heath and ling, along with a variety of moorland plants and wildlife, including many species of wild bird.

The North York Moors is also heavily wooded, with woodland and forest covering some 22% of the National Park. It covers many of the valley sides too, and adds drama and character to the landscape.

Rivers in this landscape range from trickling streams and small becks to deep, torrential gorges and more peaceful waters running through level valleys.

Choose Your Outdoor Experiences

The National Park is great walking and rambling country, from easy access walks to long distance treks. On foot, you can experience the beauty of the Esk Valley, running 37 miles from the North York Moors to Whitby. Or tackle an ascent of Roseberry Topping, a distinctive half-cone shaped hill, known as the Yorkshire Matterhorn.

This is also fantastic cycling terrain, with routes ranging from the family-friendly to more ambitious mountain-biking challenges.

Routes include the scenic trails high on Sutton Bank, the superb off-road biking at Dalby Forest and the valley of Great Fryup Dale, a major hub for mountain-bikers.

For people with the energy and enthusiasm for it, there are plenty of routes for fell runners and road runners throughout the North York Moors, including the old coastal railway route, known as the Cinder Track. Most of these trails are well-defined with relatively quiet rights of way – ideal for runners.

Other outdoor activities available in the area include horse riding, kayaking, rock climbing and even husky trekking!

Market Towns You Must Visit

When you want a break from your outdoor experiences, there are plenty of market towns dotted across the North York Moors for to explore.

Helmsley feels like the quintessential English market town. It’s got a lovely old market square, pubs and tea rooms, and its own castle ruins. It’s also the starting point for both the Ebor way and Cleveland way walking routes.

At the north of the River Derwent is Malton, known as something of a foodie destination. It has a monthly food market, and holds a notable food festival every autumn. It’s also home to a cookery school and several good quality food shops.

Pickering is the gateway to the moors, and the southern terminus of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. Bustling and vibrant, Pickering has plenty to offer, from cafés and tearooms to restaurants, pubs and intriguing, independent shops. Also, the railway puts on frequent special events, such as an annual Steam Gala, featuring a range of steam locomotives.

Plan Your Stay

Experience the North York Moors and surrounding area for yourself. Visit our website, or email info@holidaycottages.cc

Experience Maximum Seaside at Blackpool

Blackpool frequently comes out on top in surveys as Britain’s favourite seaside town. In many ways, it offers the maximum seaside town experience, from its amusements to its beaches, donkey rides and fish and chips.

If you’re planning a holiday cottage break in Lancashire, then put Blackpool on your itinerary, and let yourself loose.

 

Pleasure Beach Thrills

If you’re in search of the ultimate British amusement park then this is probably it. Full of attractions, the Pleasure Beach has rides for thrill-seekers, alongside its Hot Ice show and its themed Nickelodeon Land rides.

The Big One is the country’s highest rollercoaster, 65 metres tall. It starts with an almighty drop, then takes you through twists, turns and loops, reaching speeds of up to 85 mph. There are plenty of glorious seafront views along the way, though you may be too focused on hanging on to really appreciate them!

Other rollercoaster rides at the Pleasure Beach include Infusion, which is the country’s only roller coaster completely suspended above water; and Valhalla, an indoor ride that’s spooky, scary and exhilarating, all at the same time.

For a more traditional theme, try the Grand National. Now some 70 years old, this wooden ride takes you on a rollercoaster tour of the iconic steeplechase, from jumps and turns to the winning post.

Rides for the whole family include Alice in Wonderland and Wallace & Gromit’s Thrill-O-Matic, alongside more traditional dodgems and ghost train.

The Hot Ice Show provides plenty of edge-of-your-seat entertainment with its fast-paced choreography and displays of stunning skating.

For the full, immersive Pleasure Beach experience, you can get both adult and junior wristbands for a day’s unlimited rides.

Get Wet at the Waterpark

To add to Blackpool’s tally, it boasts the UK’s largest indoor waterpark. This means that whatever the weather – and we know what the British Summer can be like – or the season, you can enjoy splashing around in a tropical climate.

The Sandcastle has thrill-seeker rides, including colossal slides, but also family-friendly slides and wavepools.

There’s an all-inclusive wristband option, and a spa offering treatments.

 

Walk on the Iconic Comedy Carpet

Blackpool has various free attractions and one of the more recent is already fast achieving iconic status. This is the Comedy Carpet, one of the largest pieces of public art commissioned in the UK.

In the shadow of Blackpool Tower, you can stroll over numerous catchphrases, quotes, jokes and songs that celebrate Britain’s rich, cultural comedy heritage.

The Comedy Carpet features the words of 850 writers and comedians, and the letters range in size from being a few centimetres high to metres tall.

Inspired by traditional music hall playbills advertising acts, artist Gordon Young, working with Why Not Associates design agency, put together this entertaining, and frequently mesmerising, 1,880 square metre installation.

Explore Blackpool Tower

First opened as an attraction in 1894, Blackpool Tower is 518 feet tall. While it’s an historical construction, it houses five different contemporary attractions.

These are Jungle Jim’s Indoor Play Area, the Tower Circus, the Dungeon, the Ballroom and the Eye, at the top of the tower.

The Tower Ballroom offers a taste of the traditional, with its stunning Rococo-style surroundings, Wurlitzer organ, and afternoon teas.

From the top of the tower, the Eye provides stunning, panoramic views and the SkyWalk glass viewing platform – so long as you’re not afraid of heights!

 

Don’t Forget the Beach…

With all the attractions and entertainment on offer, Blackpool Beach sometimes takes a back seat in people’s plans. However, having been awarded its first ever Blue Flag, the beach is not to be missed.

The resort’s famous Golden Mile has three piers, including the North Pier with Grade II listed status. Here you’ll find the North Pier Theatre and a Victorian tea room.

The Central Pier has a huge ferris wheel, offering fabulous views across the Irish Sea; while the South Pier makes a great family attraction with its Blue Flag beach opposite the Pleasure Beach.

and the Illuminations

Founded in 1879, Blackpool Illuminations are an annual light display taking place every Autumn in the resort.

Switch-on is in September, and the Illuminated displays stretch for some six miles, using over one million bulbs. The Illuminations can be seen from the south end of the town, at Starr Gate at the Promenade, to Bispham in the north.

In conjunction with the Illuminations, the Blackpool Festival of Lights combines art, events and special installations.

So, if you fancy a visit to Blackpool after the summer season’s over, the Illuminations are the perfect attraction.

Plan Your Stay

Combine a stay I Lancashire with a trip to the coast and the delights of Blackpool. Book your holiday direct from the owner. Visit our website, or email info@holidaycottages.cc

Making the Most of a Rainy Day Out

Wherever your holiday cottage break takes you there’s something you’ll find there that’s not entirely predictable: the UK weather.

Summertime weather can be a challenge, and booking your break doesn’t guarantee you bright skies and dry, sunny days.

Most of us are familiar with the daily routine of checking the weather forecast, and looking to see if the summer will finally get started, Atlantic jet stream permitting.

However, in the spirit of being on holiday, and of making the most of things, here are our suggestions of things you can do on a rainy day out.

All the following attractions and places of interest are within easy reach of holiday cottages.

Art by the Seaside

St Ives is a wonderful beauty spot, but even in Cornwall you can’t guarantee endless fine weather. Fortunately, St Ives is also a big draw for artists, so there are various galleries and displays of art dotted about the town, providing the perfect, indoor solution to the wet outdoors.

You’ve also got Tate St Ives, perched on the end of Porthmeor Beach. The gallery’s focus is on modern art but rather than having a permanent collection, it houses special exhibitions.

A short walk away is the Barbara Hepworth Museum, with a glorious Sculpture Garden attached to it – for when the rain has stopped.

Across the country, in Kent, the traditional seaside resort of Margate now has the world-class Turner Contemporary gallery. This centre opened in 2011 and is a showcase for both contemporary and historical art, while celebrating the artist JMW Turner’s association with Margate.

Planetariums and the Prime Meridian

In Bristol, you’ll find the UK’s only 3D Planetarium, where you can enjoy a truly immersive experience as you travel through space, seeing the earth from an astronaut’s perspective.

There are also great shows at the Planetarium at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. This historic site is the location of the Meridian Line, dividing the earth’s western and eastern hemispheres. You can stand on the line, making it a pretty special spot for a holiday photo opportunity.

The Active Indoors

You don’t have to be in the great outdoors, with all the British summer weather can throw at you, to get active.

In Exeter, the Quay Climbing Centre has the South West’s largest climbing wall, along with a selection of training walls, abseil towers and different climbing routes to suit all ages and abilities.

For burning off that holiday energy, the Legoland Discovery Centre in Manchester is a limitless playground, providing opportunities to run wild and experience a whole host of miniature scenarios.

Also in Manchester, the National Football Museum is both educational and entertaining, with team histories, exhibits and plenty of interactive displays, such as beat the keeper.

Maximum Media

Bradford’s National Science and Media Museum has nine floor of exhibits and visual displays, providing enough to divert even the most restless of us on a rainy day.

There are temporary exhibitions, usually centred on themes of film and photography, along with rare films, television programmes and the museum’s very own IMAX cinema screen – the world’s biggest.

Cool Caves

What better way to get out an about but sheltered from the elements than inside a cave?

In Wells, Somerset, are the famous Wookey Hole Caves, a series of limestone caverns offering a variety of family-friendly caving experiences, and professional instruction in abseiling, climbing and crawling. In the same county, you can visit the caves at Cheddar, the site where the Britain’s oldest skeleton, the Cheddar Man, was discovered.

North, in the Peak District, there’s a good selection of caverns and caves, including Poole’s Cavern, the Heights of Abraham and Treak Cliff Cavern. All welcome visitors and include impressive displays of beautiful, natural stone.

Plan Your Stay

Don’t let the British summer’s unpredictable weather put you off booking what promises to be a memorable holiday. Visit our website, or email info@holiday cottages.cc

Irwell: Adventures in Rail and Sculpture

Extending from Rossendale and running through Salford and Manchester, the Irwell Valley includes places full of character, and the Irwell Sculpture Trail, the longest sculpture trail in the UK.

The beautifully restored East Lancashire Railway also runs through the Irwell Valley, providing great days out and themed trips for the whole family.

Why not use a holiday cottage in Lancashire as your base, and explore this fascinating region, on foot, or by rail?

The East Lancs Railway

Running from Heywood to Bury, and from Bury through Burrs Country Park, Summerseat, Ramsbottom and Irwell Vale to Rawtenstall, the East Lancs Railway (ELR) is a major attraction in the area.

The original ELR service had undergone various closures since the 1960s and 1970s, and finally closed in 1972.

However, following the formation of the ELR trust in 1984, the line reopened in 1987, running diesel and coal trains.

The ELR runs every weekend and on public holidays throughout the year, apart from Christmas Day. It also runs some midweek services in the spring and summer months.

As well as providing standard passenger services, the ELR offers packages, centred around rail journeys.

These include dining aboard a beautifully restored Pullman coach; Real Ale Trail guided tours; and various events throughout the year, including days out with Thomas the Tank Engine.

ELR Destinations

With 36 hectares of scenic countryside, Burrs Country Park is the newest stop on the ELR, having opened in January 2017. The park also has an outdoor activities centre, a campsite, picnic area and a café and visitor centre.

In between Bury and Ramsbottom is the picturesque village of Summerseat, with its own nature reserve, garden centre and two traditional pubs.

Ramsbottom is a bustling market town full of interesting and award-winning eateries and independent shops, as well as pubs and the Irwell Works Brewery. In addition to eating, shopping and drinking you can climb Holcombe Hill overlooking the town to the iconic Peel Tower.

On the rivers Irwell and Ogden, Irwell Vale is a traditional mill village that’s full of picturesque character and, like the other ELR destinations, you can pick up the Irwell Sculpture Trail from here.

The Irwell Sculpture Trail

The Irwell Sculpture Trail features over 70 different works of art by local, national and international artists.

The trail runs from Bacup, in Rossendale to Salford Quays, for 33 miles, and is the largest sculpture route in the UK. It is like a common theme running through the Irwell Valley and its various local attractions and places of interest.

Because of this, getting on, and off, the trail at various points is easy, which means you don’t have to do the entire 33-mile stretch in one go.

You can explore the trail on foot, or by bike. The sculptures are collected in clusters at different locations, from Bacup to Ordsall.

Notable individual sculptures include Richard Caink’s giant picture frame in the Ramsbottom cluster; the massive steel Halo structure in Bacup; and the Lookout in Clifton Country Park.

So, whether you hop on and off the train, or get your hiking boots on, the Irwell Valley has plenty to offer you on your self-catering, holiday cottage break.

 

Ribble Valley Highlights

Most of the Ribble Valley is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, because of the picturesque countryside.

This is a diverse landscape of hills, valleys and moorland covering some 300 square miles. It has historic sites, charming villages and historic market towns.

If you want walks in the wild, characterful country pubs, and towns with a warm welcome, then the Ribble Valley makes an ideal destination for a self-catering holiday cottage break.

Walking the Pendle Way

In 1612, twelve people in the area around Pendle Hill were accused of witchcraft, leading to one of the most famous witch trials in English history.

In the end, ten of the accused were hanged for witchcraft, but the legacy of the trial lives on, and visitors can explore the area around Pendle Hill, including its tiny villages and isolated farms.

While the countryside is stunning, there is an undercurrent of eeriness as you follow the road the accused took along the Ribble Valley, leading to Lancaster Castle, where their trial took place.

From Pendle Hill, you’ll experience breathtaking views of the local area. This is where George Fox once walked, and discovered the inspiration to found the Quaker movement. On a clear day, you can even see Blackpool Tower and the sea.

The Pendle Way is a walk of medium distance, covering 45 miles, and takes in the Pendle Sculpture Trail. This is set in woodland, and features the work of four artists.

 

Clitheroe, Historic Market Town

Clitheroe is market town in the Ribble Valley with a long history, dating back to Saxon times. It has its own 12th century Norman keep, Clitheroe Castle, said to be the smallest keep in England, restaurants, cafes and tea-rooms, plenty of individual shops, and 16 acres of landscaped gardens.

The town holds an annual food festival every summer, which is perfectly in keeping with its many specialist shops selling food and drink – including a sausage shop selling 60 different varieties of sausage.

There are plenty of guided tours for walkers and cyclists, with the town providing easy access to the surrounding countryside.

The Forest of Bowland

Providing excellent walking and cycling, and suitably remote to feel you’re getting away from it all, the Forest of Bowland covers 312 square miles of rural Lancashire.

Within this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, you’ll find lots of open moorland, ancient villages, and rare wildlife and birds.

Traditional villages in the area include Slaidburn and Downham. Here you can almost feel like time has stood still, amid babbling brooks, village greens and stone cottages.

To the far west, is the town of Longridge. This is a former cotton mill town is largely unchanged since the 1800s, with most of its buildings made from locally quarried sandstone. It’s an ideal base from which to explore the fells and local trails.

The Romans at Ribchester

On the banks of the River Ribble, the ancient village of Ribchester was built on the site of the Roman fort of Bremetennacum, and is now home to Lancashire’s only specialist Roman museum.

The Ribchester Museum Trust expanded the building in 2001, and it now hosts a permanent exhibition of excavated Roman, Iron Age and Neolithic artefacts

 

Plan Your Stay

If you like the idea of staying in the Ribble Valley, visit our website, or email info@holiday cottages.cc

Lancaster

An historical city and the county capital of Lancashire, Lancaster is compact but compelling, and ideal for a short break or a day out, whether it’s exploring canals or enjoying artisan coffee.

There’s plenty of self-catering, holiday cottage accommodation in Lancashire, to make your visit to Lancaster that much more memorable, and flexible when it comes to your itinerary.

 

Lancaster Castle

With its origins in Roman times, and its later use as a prison, as recently as 2011, Lancaster Castle is an unmissable attraction in the heart of the city.

The castle has been part of the Roman defences against marauding hordes of Scottish tribes, and Richard the Lionheart gave it as a gift to his brother Prince John.

During the English Civil War, it became a garrison for the Parliamentarians who captured it, and was then the scene of a siege by the opposing Royalists.

Over the years its gaol has housed, and been the execution site of, various martyrs, dissidents and criminals.

It was a centre for training police officers in the 1930s, and became once again a prison in 1954, until its closure in 2011.

Various parts of the castle date to different times in its colourful history, which makes for a fascinating trip through history, all concentrated in one location. The Keep is a four-storey tower rebuilt during the reign of Elizabeth I; the Well Tower (also known as the Witches Tower) dates from 1312, and its alternative name comes from the Lancashire Witches, who were supposedly housed there before their trial in 1612.

The John O’ Gaunt Gatehouse is perhaps the most impressive of the castle’s buildings, built shortly after the accession of Henry IV; and on the other side of the gatehouse is the 18th century Governor’s House, between the Gatehouse and Well Tower.

English Heritage has described Lancaster Castle as the North West’s most important historic and architectural monument. Public access to interior areas is by guided tour, but there is free access to courtyard areas, and the castle’s café and gift shop.

 

The Ashton Memorial

Located high on a hill in Williamson Park, overlooking the city, you can’t miss The Ashton Memorial.

This Edwardian memorial is a splendidly Baroque construction, sometimes nicknamed the jelly mould. Lord Ashton commissioned it in honour of his late wife, but in fact he’d remarried by the time it was completed.

It has an external copper dome, while the remainder of the building is a combination of granite and Portland stone. The memorial is 150 feet tall, and it provides glorious panoramic views of the city and surrounding area from its first floor, outdoor viewing gallery.

Williamson Park also has a Butterfly House, where you experience a calm, tropical atmosphere and amble along as butterflies perched or fluttering around, including many beautiful species.

 

Shopping and Coffee

Lancaster’s historic streets are home to a diverse range of independent shops, as well as the main high street retailers, including small boutiques, gift shops and vintage stalls.

The city now has its own, unique coffee quarter, centred around the 1837-established Atkinson coffee roasters and its two cafes, The Hall and The Music Room.

You can also use the city centre in Lancaster as the base for exploring the Lancaster Canal, either on foot, or by a diesel-powered pleasure cruise, taking you over the River Lune across a Georgian viaduct on a two-hour return trip.

If you want to stay in a holiday cottage near Lancaster, visit our website, or email info@holiday cottages.cc