Archive for category Walking

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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Easter events in Devon 2014

Easter Bunny by Flickr user somewhereintheworldtoday

Easter Bunny by Flickr user somewhereintheworldtoday

Here are some family friendly events taking place this Easter in Devon. If you haven’t already booked your accommodation, make sure to visit our Devon holiday cottages.

Easter weekend at Living Coasts, Torquay’s costal zoo and aquarium. Meet the cute little chicks and take part in the Easter egg trail, games and craft activities, as well as meeting all the playful penguins and many more fascinating creatures!

Visit Kents Cavern, prehistoric caves in Torquay for a Dinosaur themed Easter. Piece together the Dino facts around the caves, solve the T-REX riddles and see if you can win an Easter surprise.

Easter egg trails at Coleton Fishacre, Dartmouth. Part of the National Trust, you can explore this lovely RHS accredited garden with winding paths through glades, past tranquil ponds, and see many wonderful plants from the Mediterranean, South Africa and New Zealand thriving in this sheltered valley.

Go ‘Beyond the Book‘ in Bovey Tracey at this exhibition of artists that examine the book as a physical form as well as a container of ideas and concepts. Expect a variety of sculpture, installation and jewellery.

Family Rock Days in Okehampton. Suitable for ages 8 and up, this tour of some of the famous Dartmoor tors will cover a range of activities such as rock climbing, weaselling and bouldering.

Also in Okehampton is the Finch Foundry rag rug making workshop on Easter Monday.

The Big Sheep near Bideford, North Devon, is holding an Easter egg hunt to end all Easter egg hunts. Over 30,000 miniature chocolate eggs will be hidden throughout the site, plus, if you find three of them, you can claim a big egg! The Easter Bunny will also be making an appearance for a special breakfast!

 

 

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Eggcellent Cornwall this Easter

Eggs in basket picture by Flickr user cyanocorax

Eggs in basket picture by Flickr user cyanocorax

The Easter holidays are nearly upon us! So, if you still haven’t planned your activities, here are a select few of the things going on in Cornwall with suggestions of where to stay nearby.

 

National Maritime Museum Cornwall, Falmouth 5th-21st April

Inspired by the new Smuggling exhibitions, enter the smugglers’ den to make your own flintlock pistol, pop-up smuggler and secret chest with a concealed compartment. Plus, search for the concealed contraband hidden around the Museum with the Free Traders’ Trail. Plus, on Easter weekend, make your own bunny and chick masks and pour your own mini chocolate Easter egg.

Stay at this spacious first floor apartment situated in a prestigious waterside development on Falmouth Harbour (sleeps 6).

Wild Futures, Looe 5th-21st April

Take a tour of the monkey enclosures and learn about these fascinating creatures at the Monkey Sanctuary. You can also take a gentle stroll around the woodland gardens, and let the children swing like the monkeys in the play area. Have lunch at the award-winning Treetop café and when the day is done, go back to this lovely 4 bedroom house (sleeps 8) with views over Looe Bay and out to sea.

Eden Project, St Austell 5th-25th April

Chocolate Unwrapped is the Eden Project’s festival telling the story of chocolate, how it was found and how it became so popular in Europe. Visitors will be taken on an interactive journey through the Rainforest Biome to see real cocoa trees and meet characters along the way. Children can also make their own chocolatey creations, and adults will be able to take special chocolatier workshops.

Eat your chocolate delights back at this newly refurbished 3 bedroom house (sleeps 6) with stunning views over St Austell Bay.

Cornwall’s Crealy Great Adventure Park, Wadebridge 5-21st April

The Park is unveiling a £300,000 investment in attractions for the 2014 season. One of its most exciting projects is a new area for toddlers and pre-school children open in time for the Easter holidays. Swampy and Dina Land is a 2,000 sq m enclosed area with rides and play areas for children under the age of five.

Stay at this 2 bedroom apartment (sleeps 4)  with a sun trap patio situated in the idyllic hamlet of Little Petherick. Close to the famous Camel Trail and the fishing village of Padstow.

Newquay Zoo, Newquay 5th-20th April

With a programme of family activities including duck races, egg hunts and animal workshops, there’s lots to do at the Newquay Zoo. On 14th April Michaela Strachan will be there with her Wild Adventures Show, which visitors can go to at no extra charge. On the Easter weekend there is an egg trail in the Dragon Maze, and don’t forget to join the Easter Bunny tea party at 1pm on Sunday 20th April.

Close to Fistral beach and Newquay town centre, stay at this 2 bedroom mews house (sleeps 4). Perfect for beach holidays and a spot of golfing.

Tintagel Castle, Tintagel 18th-21st April

Get hands-on with history this Easter weekend. Young adventurers will be needed to crack clues and explore hidden corners of Tintagel Castle on this exciting quest. Those who succeed will receive a delicious chocolate reward.

Take your prize home to this smart detached cottage (sleeps 6) a mile west of Tintagel.

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Clovelly Fantastic Fudge Hunt 18th March – 27th April

Clovelly picture by Flickr user xlibber

Clovelly picture by Flickr user xlibber

If you have a sweet tooth and love free things then look no further than the Fantastic Fudge Hunt, Clovelly, North Devon, 18th March to 27th April!

20 fudge stones will be hidden in the village each day. Find one and take it to the Fudge Shop at the Visitor Centre to discover how much fudge you have won. Whoever finds Number 20 will get a whole kilo of fudge, made up of eight different flavours! One stone is redeemable per visiting family each day, but you can try again the next day and see if you’re lucky more than once.

Clovelly is a famous cobbled, cliffside, traffic-free village with a picturesque high street that winds down through to a small harbour. There are pubs, a museum, shops and seasonal fishing and day trips to Lundy Island.

3 miles out of the village and surrounded by flower-filled hedgerows and close to a magnificent stretch of coast is this luxurious cottage converted from old barns (sleeps 3). Designed to a high specification, the accommodation looks like it’s been taken straight out of an interior decoration magazine. There are two ground floor bedrooms, a double and a single with en suite shower room, plus a main bathroom. The stairs lead up to an open-plan living/dining room and fitted kitchen. The high ceilings reveal the lovely original exposed beams, and there are French windows with steps down to the private garden.

Book now and save 20% on the remaining weeks in April.

Living/dining room

Fitted kitchen

Double bedroom

 

 

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Falmouth Spring Festival

Falmouth picture by Flickr user Nigel_Brown

Falmouth picture by Flickr user Nigel_Brown

Enjoy an array of happy springtime events from 13th-30th March as part of the Falmouth Spring Festival in Cornwall, perfect for a pre-Easter getaway. 

The festival celebrates Falmouth’s open and green spaces through music, dance, community activities, sport and art. A large town, port and resort beside one of the world’s most beautiful natural harbours, Falmouth is a brilliant place to visit for beaches, sailing and sightseeing.

On the 13th, pupils from local schools, together with students from Falmouth University, will paint the town yellow with displays of daffodils and decorations in over 100 shop windows.

Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd March is a free games event called Mar Games on the Moor. From 10am to 4pm, you and the family can enjoy dodging a swing ball, playing giant snakes and ladders, connect 4 or quiots. Also on that weekend is the Mar Cider and Folk Fayre, with a great range of bands and a choice of over 20 scrumptious ciders from across the West Country. Events Square will also host a marquee full of food and craft stalls and children’s activities from 10am until late.

Throughout the festival there will also be lots of different guided walks covering topics such as foraging for food, astronomy, nordic walking, beach-combing, wildlife and history. Different grades and duration mean there will be something for everybody!

For more information on these and the many other activities taking place, visit the website.

Sitting on the edge of Falmouth and only a five minute walk to Swanpool beach and seven minutes to the beautiful Gyllingvase beach by cliff and coastal paths is this lovely private apartment on the first floor of a private house. The comfortable accommodation offers a terraced garden (with table/chairs, loungers and gas barbecue) and 180 degree views across to Swanpool and Falmouth Bays. There are two bedrooms (one double, one twin), a living/dining room, fitted gallery kitchen and bathroom (suite plus bath-shower). The friendly owners live unobtrusively in the main house and are delighted to offer advice on days out etc if requested.

 

View from living room

Living room

 

Double bedroom

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Cornish Magnolias signal in Spring

It’s officially Spring! The season has been fully declared now that the seven Magnolia campbellii trees from seven gardens in Cornwall have flowered with at least fifty blooms. 

Cornwall is the only place to see the flowering magnolia trees in the UK at this time of year, and it’s a wonderful sight to behold. VisitCornwall have a lovely introductory video to give more information on the blooms and a glimpse of their current phase in some of the magical gardens across Cornwall.

Now is a great time to visit Cornwall. The weather is milder and the sun sets later, so time starts to take on a slower quality, allowing for longer walks and visits to the many Cornish gardens in full springtime bloom.

Trengwainton is one of the gardens where you’ll be lucky  enough to see the magnolias; and with 25 acres to explore you’ll encounter rhododendrons and camellias, a walled kitchen garden, winding wooded paths, dappling streams and open views across Mount’s Bay.

Walled garden at Trengwainton. Picture by Flickr user treehouse1977

Walled garden at Trengwainton. Picture by Flickr user treehouse1977

Rest your weary feet at The Retreat in the tiny hamlet of Badger’s Cross, near Penzance. A semi-detached converted barn with views of Mount’s Bay and Newlyn Harbour. It offers the benefits of countryside living with seaside pleasures.

Sleeps 6-8 plus a cot, the ground floor accommodation consists of a well-equipped kitchen/diner, shower room with WC, and twin en suite bedroom adjacent to the bunk-bed room. Upstairs is the master bedroom and a lounge with a sofabed and stunning countryside and coastal views.

The Retreat - view from outside

The Retreat – view from outside

Kitchen/diner

Kitchen/diner

Lounge

Lounge

 

 

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e-Luminate Festival Cambridge

'Colour Shift' at e-Luminate. Picture by Elisa Artesero

‘Colour Shift’ at e-Luminate. Picture by Elisa Artesero

I had the pleasure of visiting Cambridge for the annual e-Luminate Festival of light art and technology this weekend (the festival continues until 23rd February).

It was my first time in the pretty city and it was a flying visit, quite literally at times, as it was windy! We started with a Trail of Light, a walking tour of the Cambridge College Chapels. All participants were given an LED flashing light to create a line of light as we walked across from chapel to chapel. Once inside, we were given a performance by either a choir, or my personal favourite, organ music, which echoed through the candlelit chapels and their high vaulted ceilings.

There were quite a few light installations and projections throughout the city, the most impressive was Colour Shift by Susie Olczak, a wash of changing colours across the facade of King’s College. It really highlighted the architecture, creating harsh shadows to emphasise the detailed cuts of the stone.

Saturday was a bright and sunny day, and really gave us the chance to explore and get a feel for the place. There was a market selling local produce, second-hand LPs, clothes and jewellery. The city is famous for its literature festival and in keeping with this, there were plenty of bookshops to be discovered down tiny side streets and in hidden courtyards, many selling rare books of antiquity.

We had a lovely lunch of fish and chips at The Eagle pub. Dating back to 1667, the pub is most famous as the place where James Watson and Francis Crick first announced they had ‘discovered the secret of life’ – DNA. Regardless of that, it was popular yet cosy once you found a seat. We were quite lucky to get one, and would advise getting there just after midday if you’re to find a table also, as many visitors who arrived after 12.30pm were disappointed.

All in all my visit to Cambridge was a success, and anyone interested in interesting architecture, particularly religious buildings, would do well to visit. I think it would work well as part of a longer visit to the area, so it would be a good idea to rent a holiday cottage outside of the centre to allow for visits to the surrounding countryside. 

Orchard Cottage (sleeps up to 7) is a beautifully restored and tastefully furnished 18th Century cottage with half an acre of garden of mainly trees and lawn where you can, if you wish, play croquet, badminton and quoits. It is in a rural situation with a farm opposite and fields around, but is close to travel to Cambridge, Rutland Water and Stamford.

The cottage has three double bedrooms (master bedroom has en suite shower room), study, sitting room with inglenook fireplace and well-concealed television; large kitchen with Rayburn, microwave oven, dishwasher, washer/drier etc, and conservatory. The furniture is antique even the bathroom has Victorian fittings.

Orchard Cottage

Orchard Cottage

Beautifully presented bedroom

Beautifully presented bedroom

 

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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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Christmas cottages – special offers

It’s getting closer to Christmas, and with that comes some great special offers on some of Helpful Holidays’ huge array of cottages.

Q4 light and sunny apartment

Q4 light and sunny apartment

How about a whopping 50% off the Christmas and New Year weeks at this lovely cottage in Newquay. This sunny, first floor apartment sleeps 5 and has lovely views over the gardens and to the beach.

L248 stylish converted barn

L248 stylish converted barn

Save 25% on the new year week at this well presented converted barn (sleeps 4) in Aveton Gifford, South Hams. A quiet place on a gorgeous leafy estate to  just relax and get away from it all during the festive period.

L84 Hallsands perched on the clifftops

L84 Hallsands perched on the clifftops

Save 50% on Christmas week and 20% on the remaining weeks in January at Prospect House (sleeps 4), once a legendary hotel and now 16 lovely apartments in Hallsands, South Hams. Perched high on the cliffs you’ll enjoy stunning sea views across to the lighthouse at Start Point and all the way down the coast to Dartmouth.

P21 Boscastle

P21 Boscastle

Save 30% on Christmas and New Year weeks at this charming Grade II listed slate cottage (sleeps 8) in Boscastle. There are lovely woods to walk in, a low-tide beach and pony trekking nearby.

L6 Enjoy the heated indoor swimming pool

L6 Enjoy the heated indoor swimming pool

Due to a last minute cancellation, save 50% on the week commencing 3rd January for a lovely couple’s getaway at this holiday cottage in Kingsbridge, South Hams. Enjoy the use of a heated indoor swimming pool and games room to keep you entertained during your stay. A bargain at just £134 for the week!

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