More Wonderful Winter Walks

With the post-Christmas period now upon us, many will want to get out of the house, move away from the TV and do something more interesting instead. One option is to stay in a lovely holiday cottage somewhere within the British Isles. There’s no better way to begin 2015 than by staying somewhere scenic!

With that in mind, we thought we would continue the Wonderful Winter Walks series we began a couple of weeks ago. For such a small island, we are blessed with a diversity of natural landscapes that is hard to beat. From lakes and forests to moorland, fell and beach. There really is something for everyone here.

So, for the next two posts, we’re going to list some of our favourite places to walk in the UK. Each has a holiday cottage within a short walk or drive and would make for a very rewarding New Year’s break.

The Peak District

The Peak District is a huge swathe of wild land that stretches from Derbyshire in the south, up to Sheffield and across to Glossop. It’s easier to hike than the Lake District, but no less rewarding. There are hundreds of marked routes, or hundreds of square miles of countryside to explore on your own.

It’s the perfect place to spend a winter’s day!

The Lake District

The Lake District National Park is one of our most famous wild areas to walk and to visit and with good reason. Not only does it have England’s highest mountain in Scalfell Pike, it also has the lakes, fells, hills, valleys and hundreds of acres of parks, towns and villages to visit and enjoy.

There are also plenty of holiday cottages within the region too, so you’re spoilt for choice!

Snowdonia National Park

Snowdonia National Park is probably the most challenging hiking Britain has. It has more mountains than anywhere else in the UK, the terrain is exposed to the elements and is over 1km above sea level. There are hundreds of miles of trails that traverse the area. Some will include mountains, others will not.

Snowdonia National Park has challenges for all levels and some stunning scenery. That’s what makes it so special.


We covered Dartmoor last time, so it’s only right that Exmoor gets some attention this time round. Also located in Devon, Exmoor offers dramatic landscape and over 600 miles of trails crisscrossing one of the most scenic counties in England. It includes beaches, hills, valleys, rivers, moor and more. It’s a fantastic place to walk in a lovely part of the country.

Best Christmas ice rinks in the UK

Ice skating is like gift shopping or eating brussels sprouts, something many of us do only once a year. Yet it’s an enjoyable activity that offers entertainment, a little exercise, a bit of romance and a few thrills and spills.

If you’re wintering or spending Christmas in a holiday cottage, why not see if one of these Christmas outdoor ice rinks is nearby? It’s a great way to spend a few hours and is much more fun than it might look!

Winter Wonderland – Hyde Park

Winter Wonderland is one of two outdoor ice rinks we feature in central London. This ice rink surrounds a Victorian bandstand which is in turn surrounded by a Christmas market, activities and more. After dark, the rink is lit by lights and Christmas music will play. There are also plenty of cafes to keep you warm!

Ice Skate Vauxhall – London

Ice Skate Vauxhall is held at Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens in London. The ice rink is huge and is open until 4th January. Once you’re too tired to skate, there is a Christmas tree maze to solve, a fair, street performances and a Christmas market to enjoy.

Royal Pavilion – Brighton

The Royal Pavilion in Brighton is a lovely place to spend time anyway, but add an ice rink to proceedings and it gets even more interesting. As it’s only a few steps away from the city centre, it’s a great thing to try when you’re bored of Christmas shopping. There is a rinkside bar and kitchen too to keep you fuelled for skating.

Winter Wonderland – Cardiff

We have spoken about Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland before and will unashamedly plug it again as it is good. This time, the outdoor ice rink takes centre stage. It’s a good size, surrounded by fairground rides and is only a short walk from the city and the castle, both of which have their own Christmas activities going on.

Selfridges – Manchester

Selfridges in the Trafford Centre Manchester has its own ice rink too. While technically outside, it is covered. The rink is themed to match the store’s Christmas theme, so expect woodland creatures, elves and so on around the ice. It’s a great opportunity to mix a little retail therapy with ice skating.

Winchester Cathedral – Winchester

The Inner Close of Winchester Cathedral has been transformed into an ice rink for Christmas and is open to the public until 4th January. The rink itself is managed by the Cathedral and is surrounded by a Christmas market. It’s a lower key setup than say, Selfridges, but it is still eminently enjoyable.

Those are just six of the many Winter ice rinks featured around the UK. If you’re looking for something to do while staying in one of our holiday cottages, or just want a day out doing something new, all of these deliver.

Great UK Christmas days out for all the family

One of the downsides of Christmas is having a lot of time to fill. Kids need entertaining, adults need to get out of the house and everyone needs a break from Christmas TV adverts and wrapping presents. If you’re staying in one of our holiday cottages for Christmas, these offer a great activity for the day too!

Winter Wonderland – Hyde Park

Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, London is one of the best Christmas days out in the city. It includes The Magical Ice Kingdom, Lycamobile Ice Rink, the Victorian Bandstand, Giant Observation Wheel, Santa Land, Christmas markets, Zippos Christmas Circus, Cirque Berserk and more.

Beaulieu – New Forest

Palace House in Beaulieu always does Christmas well. This year, kids get the opportunity to dress up as Victorian children and experience the holiday as it used to be. The decorations and the tree are lovely and the National Motor Museum in the grounds also has a Victorian-themed exhibition running. It’s a great day out on a lovely estate.

Santa’s Grotto at Bounce Below – Gwynedd

Santa’s Grotto at Bounce Below is a unique experience set inside a cavern underneath Gwynedd in North Wales. Tour the underground caverns, visit Santa and then have a bounce on a huge net within the cavern. It really is something very different and is sure to tire the little ones out!

Christmas at the Lost Gardens of Heligan – Mevagissey

Mevagissey in Cornwall is a lovely place to visit at any time of year. Our holiday cottages in the area are some of the busiest we have. Add the Christmas at the Lost Gardens of Heligan event and you have even more cause to visit. The 200 acre estate is lit up with a Christmas Advent Trail, Santa comes to visit the children and craft fairs run throughout December.

Lantern Magic – Chester Zoo

Lantern Magic is a unique opportunity to see Chester Zoo at night. Not only do you get to tour the zoo at a time you wouldn’t normally be able, children also get to visit Santa and make a wish on the Giant Wishing Tree. It’s definitely something different that will entertain the whole family.

Christmas at the Castle – Warwick Castle

Christmas at the Castle is an annual Christmas event held at Warwick Castle each year. This year the property has been transformed into a winter wonderland that offers the chance to have breakfast with Santa, marvel at a huge Christmas tree, enjoy a Christmas banquet and take a torchlit tour of the castle.

Those are just five Christmas activities happening around the country. There are thousands of others across Britain and Ireland. If you’re spending winter or Christmas in one of our many lovely holiday cottages, why not try one? Don’t forget to let us know how you got on!

Where to find the UK’s best Christmas shopping Part 2

Welcome back to our two-part series on finding the UK’s best Christmas shopping destinations. Last time we covered Oxford Street and Westfield Stratford City in London, The Trafford Centre in Manchester, the Bull Ring in Birmingham and Princes Street Edinburgh.

All are fantastic shopping destinations with holiday cottages close by. They are perfect for last minute gift buying or enjoying a festive shopping expedition with family. That’s why we love them. So without further ado, here are the final five of the UK’s best Christmas shopping.

Bluewater – Kent

Bluewater is one of the UK’s largest shopping centres and it’s all indoors. If it’s cold and wet outside, it’s the perfect antidote to the winter blues. The mixture of shopping, undercover, cafes, restaurants, cinema and seasonal exhibitions make Bluewater a great place for catching up with Christmas shopping or spending the day.

The Quays – Newry

The Quays in Newry, Northern Ireland is one of the region’s largest shopping destinations and is one of the newest too. Built just outside Newry, The Quays has all the big names and some smaller ones too. There is also a cinema, food, cafes and lifestyle venues spread liberally around the centre too.

The Shambles – York

The Shambles in York is a fantastic place to visit for itself let alone for Christmas Shopping. Like much of the old city, The Shambles is Medieval, at least 500 years old and as pretty as a picture. The narrow streets can be a challenge in crowds, but the place is such a delight that you can quickly forgive it.

St David’s Dewi Sant – Cardiff

St David’s Dewi Sant in Cardiff is the Welsh flagship shopping destination. It’s wide open spaces, lots of parking, variety of shops and seasonal highlight make it one of the UK’s best Christmas shopping. With over 200 different stores, there really is something here for everyone!


The newly revamped Bristol city centre is quickly becoming one of the must-visit shopping destinations in the country. With no one particular centre or street as a highlight, the entire city is great for shopping, eating, drinking a coffee and watching the world go by. It’s also easy to get around and has a lovely quayside area too!

Those are what we here at regard as the top ten UK’s best Christmas shopping destinations. We have a wide selection of top class holiday cottages near to each of these locations, so if you’re looking for inspiration, you’re in luck!

Where to find the UK’s best Christmas shopping

It’s December and a little over three weeks to go until the big day. For many of us that means spending weekends searching for gifts, late nights surfing the internet and hoping the items can be delivered in time and panicking in case we’re not ready for the day itself.

For others, Christmas is a time to relax, enjoy the festivities and spend time with family. In order to help all our customers become the latter instead of the former, has put together this list of the UK’s best Christmas shopping.

This two-part post will highlight ten towns and cities that have the variety of shops you need, Christmas markets for you to enjoy and the festive decorations and events going on that make shopping a bit less of a chore.

Oxford Street – London

Oxford Street is probably the most famous shopping street in Europe, if not the world. With that in mind, the Borough of London goes to great lengths to make sure it feels festive and always has something going on. Oxford Street also has a huge range of shops, from individuals to chain stores and department stores. If you can’t find it here, you won’t find it anywhere!

Westfield Stratford City – London

Staying in London for a moment, Westfield Stratford City is the third largest shopping centre in the UK. That makes it prime territory for Christmas shopping and for a day out hitting the shops. It gets busy this time of year, but if you need to buy gifts, this is an excellent place to do it.

The Trafford Centre – Manchester

The Trafford Centre is the North’s most famous shopping centre and one of the largest. It’s bigger than Westfield Stratford City and has just about every shop you can think of. There are also displays, exhibitions, a food court and a whole lot more to make your shopping trip more enjoyable.

Bull Ring – Birmingham

Birmingham’s Bull Ring is a great piece of modern architecture and a great place to shop. Not only is it home to one of the best Selfridges outside of London, it also has one of the best Christmas markets anywhere, it’s all pedestrianized and surrounded by bars, cafes and restaurants.

Princes Street – Edinburgh

Princes Street in Edinburgh is great for shopping at any time of year, but it and the Royal Mile really come alive around Christmas and New Year. Famous for its New Year’s Eve celebrations, it’s also a great place for shopping with stores, the Christmas market and lots going on.

Those are just five of the top ten places to find the UK’s best Christmas shopping. If you’re planning a shopping expedition or are having a winter weekend away in one of our holiday cottages, all of these make a great day out.

Join us next time for the final five UK’s best Christmas shopping destinations!’s top five UK winter walks

Winter is about more than just Christmas and New Year. It offers more than just an opportunity to wrap up in a blanket with a hot cup of tea. Tackled right, winter is a great time of year for getting out and about and seeing our country in a whole new light.

As long as you have the right clothes, there’s no reason why a wonderful winter walk shouldn’t be a highlight of your year.

Hadrian’s Wall -Northumberland

Hadrian’s Wall is spectacular all year round, but in the winter it really is something special. Spanning Northumberland and Cumbria, the wall is 84 miles long and most of it is very accessible. It offers some amazing views of moorland, country, wood and field. It’s a great place to walk, especially in winter and especially if you’re wrapped up warm!

Wastwater – Lake District

Wastwater is our favourite of all the lakes in the Lake District. It’s much quieter during winter and the scenery can be much more dramatic. Get the weather right and you could be in for some jaw dropping scenery and some amazing walking. Surrounded by mountain peaks, wooded hills and verdant green countryside, this has to be one of the best places to walk in the world.

Dartmoor – Devon

If you like your winter walks desolate and beautiful, Dartmoor is the place to come. You can walk the majority of the moor as long as you’re properly equipped but there are also structured walks out of Princetown and Postbridge. After your walk you have Exeter in one direction, Plymouth in another an Tavistock in yet another. It’s a great part of the country to walk.

Wild Atlantic Way – Ireland

No list of winter walks would be complete without mentioning what is undoubtedly the best walk in Ireland. The Wild Atlantic Way stretches across the entirety of Ireland’s west coast and takes in some truly astonishing scenery. Add in that legendary Irish hospitality, some lovely towns and villages, as well as some fantastic holiday cottages and you have an amazing package.

Richmond Park – London

Richmond Park is one of many parks in London, but it’s definitely one of the best. Containing acres of ancient woodland, parkland, wildlife and even fallow deer, this is a true oasis in the city. Walk along to King Henry’s Mound and get a fantastic view of the city skyline, including the iconic St Paul’s Cathedral.

Those are our top five winter walks in the UK. There’s something there for everyone and a walk to delight the senses. Each has at least a couple of hour wonderful holiday cottages nearby too, which is even more reason to try them!

The top 10 UK city destinations for a Christmas break

If you’re looking to get away for Christmas and don’t want to spend hours and hours and hundreds of pounds chasing the sun, this is the post for you. We have scoured the UK for cities that have gone the extra mile to make Christmas that little more special. Here’s what we found.


Edinburgh is one of the best cities in the UK for Christmas and was featured in our Best Christmas Markets article last week. It’s a city that embraces everything to do with the holidays and has lights, special events, lots of child-friendly activities and shops to spend your money.

As Christmas holiday destinations go, it’s hard to beat. We also have a few holiday cottages around the city too!


Durham is another city that knows how to do Christmas. Nice at any time of year, Durham offers shopping, Santa, a Christmas market, carol singing, a lantern procession, the Polar Express and more during December. That makes it prime Christmas real estate for all the family!


Cardiff is a great place all year round, but especially at Christmas. Cardiff Castle already featured in our Best Christmas light displays in the UK article and this time the rest of the city wants in on the action. The Winter Wonderland makes a welcome return this year, with ice skating, ice bar and more. The city centre is lit up, there’s a Christmas market too.

Cardiff is a great city to do Christmas is and we have some lovely holiday cottages nearby.


York does Christmas exceptionally well and it isn’t all Dickensian either. While there is a lot of old England on display, there is plenty of contemporary Christmas too. There are medieval markets, Santa displays, carols, the Festive Fayre, street displays, lights, shops, food and a whole lot going on throughout December.


The historic city of Bath is like going back in time. The amazing Georgian architecture, narrow streets and old buildings all make a lovely atmosphere that’s only enhanced by Christmas. Bath Christmas Market is a particular highlight, as are all the lights, the ice rink in Victoria Park and carol singing around the city.


Leeds is already renowned for having a lively, vibrant city centre and Christmas brings out the best in that. There is usually a Christmas market, regular visits from Santa and maybe his reindeer. The shopping is also excellent, the city is lit up throughout and there is a real festive atmosphere that’ infectious.

These are just some of the cities that do Christmas well. Each has a little different on offer, making them truly unique. We also have holiday cottages within a short drive of all of them, making them an ideal destination for your last minute shopping or as a day out!

The best Christmas light displays in the UK right now

There are many elements that make any Christmas a good one. Family, friends, happiness, relaxation, time away from work, the culture of Christmas and seeing everyone embracing the holiday season are just a few.

If you’re enjoying a winter weekend away in one of our lovely holiday cottages, why not see a Christmas light display near to where you are? They are one of the highlights of the season for us and we enjoy them every single year. If you’re close to any of these, they are well worth a visit!

Mousehole, Cornwall

The quaintly named Mousehole in Cornwall has the reputation pf being the best Christmas light display in the country. With thousands of lights strung throughout the village and across the harbour, this light show may not be the biggest, but it’s certainly the best. It has England written all over it, in the history, the culture, the displays and the pies!

Kew Gardens, London

A visit to Kew Gardens is a must for anyone at any time, but Christmas offers something special. The main building is decked out in lights, the lake is lit and a one mile trail throughout the gardens is lit. There are also light sculptures, giant snowflakes and the Tunnel of Lights too. Well worth a visit!

Westonbirt Arboretum, Tetbury

We have featured Westonbirt Arboretum on before and probably will do again. Not only is it a national treasure, it also always has something going on. The annual Christmas light show is just one of them. The trees are lit, a mile-long trail is lit, Father Christmas comes to visit, fairies haunt the woods and choirs bring Christmas to everyone. It’s lovely.

Regent Street, London

No list of awesome Christmas lights would be complete without mentioning Regent Street in London. The city does Christmas well, but this street does it better than most. The long shopping street is lit from above with lights, each shop window is full of Christmas displays and Hamleys Christmas display should never be missed, whatever your age.

Cardiff Castle, Cardiff

Cardiff Castle is another destination we like visiting at any time of year, but Christmas is especially appealing. The castle itself is lit up at night, the town centre has its own light show and there are always things going on, late night shopping and the usual Christmassy things.

Those are just five Christmas light shows being held around the country this December. If you’re staying in one of our holiday cottages and are looking for something to do while you’re there, these are definitely worth a visit!

Five must-see Christmas markets

If you’re enjoying a winter break in a holiday cottage somewhere in the UK, spending an afternoon and some money at a Christmas market is a good use of your time. As has holiday rentals spread across the country, we thought we would put together a quick list of five must-see Christmas markets.

You’ll have to move fast though, as some of these will be happening in a day or two!


Birmingham’s Frankfurt market is a regular visitor to Centenary Square. It’s a market full of German-style market chalets selling everything from food, leatherworks, gifts, crafts and more. Much of what’s on offer can be very good indeed. There is also an ice rink, separate craft market and lots more going on over Christmas.


Lincoln also has a German market that runs each Christmas. It starts December 4th and runs for four days. Held in Castle Square, this market has over 200 stalls selling craft, arts, gifts, artisan foods and more. A funfair runs beside the market for the entire period and live music and performances are held each evening.


The historic city of Bath is well worth a visit at any time of year, but especially Christmas. Set next to Bath Abbey and the baths themselves, this Christmas market runs for 11 days in December. The stalls sell local food, crafts, art, gifts, unusual items and all sorts of interesting things. There is also plenty of entertainment on offer throughout.


Edinburgh does festivals in style and Christmas is no exception. The Edinburgh Christmas Market is definitely one to see if you’re staying in the area. There are actually three, that are full of arts, crafts, food and drink as well as German gifts, entertainments, ice rink and Highland fayre.


German markets are great, but a Victorian Christmas is very English. That’s what’s happening in Gloucester. Their “A Very Victorian Christmas” market features local producers selling food, drink, art, craft and more. There are also period entertainers in Dickensian costumer, life entertainers, sideshows, fairground rides, a pop-up tavern and more.

Those are just five of the many Christmas markets being held throughout the UK in December. If you’re enjoying one of our holiday cottages near any of these, we recommend them wholeheartedly!

We have sumptuous holiday cottages available close to Birmingham, Lincoln, Bath, Edinburgh and Gloucester. If you haven’t booked already, why not book today? We have some great places at some unbelievable prices!