Britain’s top ten picnic spots part 2

Welcome to the second part of our series on Britain's top ten picnic spots. If you missed the first part, you can find it here. We covered Somerset House in London, Avebury Stone Circle, Wiltshire, Corfe Castle and Brownsea Island in Dorset and Bodmin Moor, Cornwall.

So for the final five, let's explore some of the rest of our island. If you're staying in one of our holiday cottages this summer and fancy a day out, there is plenty to choose from here!

1.  Glenkiln Sculpture Park, Dumfries and Galloway

The Glenkiln Sculpture Park is around eight miles west of Dumfries and mixes modern sculpture with ancient highland in a most beautiful way. There are six sculptures located around the park to add interested while the park itself is lovely. It's an excellent place to have a picnic as modern meets ancient in a most fascinating mix.

2.  Stenness Loch, Orkney

Stenness Loch is probably the most isolated place you could have a picnic, but also one of the most beautiful. Visit the Stones of Stenness, the oldest known stone monument in the country, enjoy local produce and enjoy the beautiful isolation on this lovely little island. It's a trek to get there, but well worth the effort.

3.  Tollymore Forest Park, County Down

Tollymore Forest Park is comprised of ancient woodland at the foot of the Mourne Mountains in County Down. The park is full of ancient trees, trails, caves and grottoes, making this an ideal place to bring the kids. Once they are all worn out, spread the blanket under the canopy of an oak or redwood and enjoy the tranquillity of the forest.

4.  Top Withens, West Yorkshire

It's fitting that Top Withens fits into our top ten because it is another place full of dramatic scenery and history. The ruined farmhouse on Haworth Moor is eerie and fascinating at the same time. Allegedly it is where the inspiration for Wuthering Heights came from, it's also a significant local landmark. The surrounding moor isn't bad either!

5.  Arbroath Abbey, Angus

Last and certainly not least is Arbroath Abbey close to Angus, Scotland. This is a 12th century abbey with soaring sandstone walls, nice grounds and a nice, relaxed atmosphere. Local shops also have a wide range of produce, making for that extra special picnic experience. has some excellent holiday lets around the country close to all ten of our top British picnic spots. Check them out to find yours!

Britain’s top ten picnic spots

In selecting Britain's top ten picnic spots, we thought about what makes a great location. To us, it's a combination of landscape, location, convenience, and experience. We want to be in a nice part of the country and we want to be somewhere remote but not too far away from the car that our arms ache carrying the hamper. We also want to be able to eat our food while marvelling at the world around us.

We think we get all those things with these top ten spots. Plus, we have holiday cottages close to each. So as always, you can enjoy the items on the list from a top quality holiday let.

1.  Somerset House, London

The capital is surprisingly full of picnic spots, but one of the best is Somerset House on the Strand. The courtyard has some amazing fountains, there is always something going on and there are plenty of places to explore while you're there. If you're in London and are looking for somewhere relaxed but don't want to share a park with thousands of others, this could be the place for you.

2.  Avebury Stone Circle, Wiltshire

Avebury Stone Circle is something completely different. Located in deepest Wiltshire, Avebury is a lovely little village with a pub, some houses, a shop and the stone circle. The circle itself is over 4,000 years old and is one of the largest remaining anywhere. It's also quite calm and close to other nice places to visit too such as Marlborough and Salisbury.

3.  Corfe Castle, Dorset

Enjoying a picnic in the ruins of Corfe Castle in Dorset is a great way to spend a day. Located close to Wareham, once you cross the long causeway to get there, the large expanses of grass are the perfect place to enjoy a bite to each before exploring the castle that overlooks the village. As it's a National Trust property, there are usually things going on too.

4.  Brownsea Island, Dorset

A second picnic spot in Dorset is Brownsea Island. It's car-free and accessible by ferry. It is where the Scout movement began and is a lovely place to spend long summer days. You can explore the island, visit sandy beaches or partake in a wide range of outdoor activities from archery to orienteering and much more besides.

5.  Bodmin Moor, Cornwall

Cornwall is so full of fantastic places to visit that choosing any single one is difficult. However, Bodmin Moor has to be one of the best picnic spots around. A short distance from the centre of Cornwall, the desolate landscape is as dramatic as it is interesting and is well worth the trip. With plenty to see and do, it's an ideal place to picnic.

Those are the first five of our top ten picnic spots, join us on Thursday to see the final five. As always, we have holiday cottages close to all of these locations, so check out our selections to find your next holiday home!

Visit Britain’s top ten secret beaches this summer

With summer upon us and the weather warming, thoughts naturally turn to getting out and about and making the most of the good weather. If you, like us, tend to gravitate towards the beach this time of year, this is the post for you!

The team at have got together to build a list of the top ten secret beaches in the UK. Secret is of course a subjective term and here we mean lesser known or quieter beaches that escape the rush of tourists. If you're staying in one of our holiday cottages around Britain's coast, there's bound to be a secret beach near you. So for the next two posts, we are going to share our top ten secret beaches.


1.  Broad Sands, Combe Martin, North Devon

Many of our top ten secret beaches are on the south coast and we begin near Combe Martin in Devon. Broad Sands is a cove with lovely stretch of beach, beautiful clear water and lots of rocks, coves and caves to explore. Accessed by steep steps, this is a very quiet beach with a lovely outlook, perfect for a peaceful day in the sun.

2.  Blackpool Sands, Devon

The confusingly named Blackpool Sands in Devon is another hidden gem that deserves recognition. This is a shingle beach that fronts onto lovely clear water that allows you to almost think you're in the Mediterranean. The tide doesn't move much so is safe for little ones to play and there are lifeguards patrolling during summer. Despite its beauty, it doesn't get as busy as it should.

3.  Sandy Mouth, Bude, North Cornwall

Sandy Mouth is a lovely little beach nestled between the sea and cliffs. There is a nice National Trust café at the top of the cliffs yet is another quieter beach, even during high season. If it does get busy, just walk a mile north to Duckpool or a little further to Stanbury Mouth. All three beaches are lovely at any time of year!

4.  Speke’s Mill Mouth, Hartland, North Devon

Heading back to North Devon, Speke’s Mill Mouth beach is a dramatic piece of coastline that also includes the highest waterfall in the area. It's a wild beach with rock pools, shipwrecks, cliffs, coastal paths and the very handy Wrecker's Retreat Bar in Hartland Quay a short walk away.

5.  Church Bay, Anglesey

Heading up to Wales now and to Church Bay in Anglesey. Known as Porth Swtan locally, this stretch of coastline has white sands, rocks, meadows and relatively calm seas. It also has The Lobster Pot close by for some of the freshest seafood around.

We have holiday cottages close to all of these areas, so if you're looking to spend time by the seaside this summer, you're in good hands. Join us Thursday for part two of our top ten secret beach series!

The Pennine Way hits 50

A couple of weeks ago, one of the most famous trails in the country hit the half century. In 1965, the 268 mile trail across the Peak District and the Yorkshire Dales was opened to the public. It was Britain’s longest, most challenging hiking trail and it has gained a loyal following since.

The Pennine Way traverses the spine of Britain from Edale in the south to Kirk Yelholm in the north. It wanders through the Peak District, Yorkshire Dales, North Pennines and the Cheviots, taking in some of the best countryside we have.

The Pennine Way

This trail, like many longer walks, can be broken up into bite size pieces so you can walk the entire way, but not all at once. There are dozens of towns and villages within close proximity to The Pennine Way and we have holiday cottages spread throughout the entire length of the trail. It’s easy to plan a week or two exploring the centre of Britain while using one of our top quality holiday lets as a base.

It would take around 19-20 days to walk the entire trail. That’s assuming you walked every day for several hours at a time. As an aside, the fastest completion of The Pennine Way was complete in 1989 in 2 days 17 hours 20 minutes and 15 seconds. A man called Mike Hartley ran the whole way, stopping only twice for 18 minutes each time.

The trail can be challenging as it’s hilly, sometimes exposed and very long. If you begin in Edale, the first few dozen miles can be hard, but then it evens out. Expect to do a lot of training before tackling the entire trail!

If you’re more interested in tackling sections of The Pennine Way, then things are much easier. You can break the trail down into manageable sections depending on your ability. The National Trails website has a wealth of information regarding maps, terrain, planning and much more.

Remember, if you feel like tackling The Pennine Way, check our holiday cottages in the area first. You’ll need to put your feet up after a long day of walking!

The National Trails organisations has organised a number of events this year to celebrate this 50th birthday. Beginning on April 24th, the official birthday of The Pennine Way, there began celebrations, special events and more. A month later and things are still going strong in what will be a year of events.

Check the list of special events here if you would like to get involved.

Top springtime food festivals 2015

Food festivals are great. They showcase local producers and growers, expose us to artisan products and new foods and allows everyone to come together to try something different. They are growing in popularity too, which is good news for all of us.

If you have never visited a food festival, you really should. If you're at all interested in food and curious about just how much we create in the UK, a festival is a great way to spend a day. Given that they are all over the country now, there will always be one close to where you are.

If you're spending a spring break in one of our holiday cottages and are looking for inspiration, here are a few food festivals being held this spring. Try one if you can!

Chorley Food Festival

Chorley Food Festival is now a foodie staple despite only being in its second year. It's now a well-established street festival held in the town of Chorley in Lancashire. It showcases local and national food growers, chefs, food and drink producers and many other food related businesses.

The Chorley Food Festival is well worth a visit if you're staying in the area on the 9th of May.

Cheese And Cider Festival

The Cheese And Cider Festival at the Gower Heritage Centre in Wales is another festival worthy of your time. It features our two favourite foods, cheese and cider, but will also have plenty of other produce on offer. This is a showcase of the best of Welsh food and drink and draws a big crowd each year.

Great British Food Festival

The Great British Food Festival in Yorkshire is a major food event that includes over 80 producers, dozens of displays, activities, demonstrations and more. Some of Britain's top chefs will be appearing and so will many artisan producers from around the country.

The Great British Food Festival is being held in Harewood, Leeds from the 23rd to 25th May.

The Great Wild Food And Chilli Fair

The Great Wild Food And Chilli Fair in Maldon, Essex is something a bit different. It not only celebrates local produce, you can also learn how to forage, to cook on a fire, smoke food, build shelters and many other skills. There are also stalls selling street food, performing demonstrations and showcasing chillies. It's a great event that is being held on 27th and 28th June.

There are literally hundreds of food festivals held around the country each year. They make a great day out for anyone who likes food or who is interested in trying something a little different. If you're staying in one of our holiday cottages nearby, we urge you to try one. It will be well worth the effort!

The National Waymarked Trails of Ireland

Continuing on our journey across the United Kingdom and Ireland's national trails, we visit Ireland. This is a land designed for walkers, with 43 National Waymarked Trails and 775 officially recognised walking trails across Northern and Southern Ireland. That's enough to keep even the most ardent walker occupied for a lifetime!

Anyone who likes walking and exploring is going to love Ireland. It's a good job we have a few dozen top quality holiday cottages for you to stay in while you're here! There are obviously too many trails for us to list them all here, but visit and you'll see all of them listed by county. Then, check to find a cottage close by. It couldn't be easier!

Here are a few highlights from that very long list of trails, including National Waymarked Trails of Ireland.

Ballyhoura Way

Ballyhoura Way is a national National Waymarked Trail of Ireland located in County Cork. It crosses into Limerick and Tipperary too over its 89km. The traditional start point is St. John's Bridge and ends at Limerick Junction. It would take around 4 days for an experienced walker to traverse.

This trail has its origins in 1602 as the escape route for O'Sullivan after the Battle of Kinsale. That's why we feature it here, history and geography all in one, what's not to love?

East Clare Way

The East Clare Way has seen some changes over the past decade that leave it less of a trail than it was. Nevertheless, at 180km, it's an epic trail that takes in some of the best of County Clare. The trail begins at Killalor and ends at the same place.

This loop highlights many aspects of Ireland you don't get to see from the tourist trail and for that reason alone we think it's a worthy trail to try.

Monaghan Way

Monaghan Way is 56.5km long and begins in Monaghan Town in County Monaghan. It ends in Inishkeen after taking in some of the best countryside, rolling hills, lakes and arable land in the area. The trail is well marked, well maintained and well worth a try.

It's shorter and could be done in a day or two for experienced walkers. There's no rush though, we are in Ireland after all!

Western Way

Western Way is in County Galway. It is 55km long, begins in Oughterard and finishes in Leenaun. It's a wild area that takes in the best of Connemara as it skirts the edge of Lough Comb. There is mountain, bog, farmland and small villages to take in on this trail, offering a great view of Ireland in its natural state.

The National Trails of Scotland part two

Welcome to the second part of our series highlighting some of the many walking trails that make up the National Trails of Scotland. Last time we covered Annandale Way, The Ayrshire Coastal Path, Kintyre Way, Borders Abbeys Way and Great Glen Way. This time we're going to cover five more places to enjoy walking in this beautiful country. has quite a selection of holiday cottages in Scotland. All would make a great base camp for tackling many of these trails. Check them out and book yours today!

The Southern Upland Way

The Southern Upland Way is 212 miles from Portpatrick to Cockburnspath. It includes some of the best hidden scenery in Scotland and is one of the quieter trails thanks to being relatively unknown except for enthusiasts. Enjoy hills, fields, woodland and coast along this way, with plenty of wildlife to spot along the way.

It takes around 12 days to complete this trail from end to end so using one of our holiday cottages as a base camp would be ideal.

Clyde Walkway

Clyde Walkway takes you from Glasgow city centre to New Lanark across 40 miles of city and countryside. Walk along the riverside out of the city into Strathclyde Country Park and then along the banks of Strathclyde Loch to the River Clyde. From here you explore woodland, fields and hillsides and take in all four Falls of Clyde.

Speyside Way

The Speyside Way runs from Buckie on the shore of the Moray Firth southwest to Aviemore on the edge of the Cairngorm Mountains. It is 65 miles long and includes a huge variety of countryside to enjoy. The trails are well maintained and take in some of the best views in the area. Buckie offers a lovely coastline, while you head inland to Aviemore where the mountains dominate the skyline. It's a lovely walk.

Berwickshire Coastal Path

Berwickshire Coastal Path takes you 28.5 miles from Cockburnspath to Berwick across some of the most picturesque coastline anywhere in the world. With dramatic cliffs, energetic sea and some lovely countryside landward, this is an excellent walk for anyone who loves the coast or seabirds as you get plenty of both. It's not the longest trail, but it is one of the prettiest.

The Moray Coast Trail

The Moray Coast Trail runs 50 miles from Findhorn to Cullen and is another excellent coastal trail. It takes in some amazing coves, cliffs and dramatic coastal scenes. Look inland for busy farms, lush woodland and some lovely scenes of Scottish lowland life. has a selection of high quality holiday lets within a short drive of any of these trails. If you're looking to explore, we have the perfect holiday cottage for you. Check out the interactive map to find yours!

Holiday cottages in the beautiful Channel Islands

The Channel Islands are an often forgotten part of the United Kingdom that doesn't get its share of publicity. For such a beautiful place with so much on offer, it deserves more. That's what this post is all about. We have a few holiday cottages in the Channel Islands and we want them all to get the attention they deserve.

The islands are made up of Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Herm and Sark. Each has its own charm and character and each has something different to offer. Considering they are only an hour away by plane or helicopter, we really should visit them more. You can get there by ferry too.

Jersey is a mix of modern town and lovely countryside and is a real taste of cosmopolitan life. Guernsey is almost Mediterranean in character and has sparkling emerald waters and lots of history. Alderney is quieter, with less tourism but just as much to see and experience. Herm is smaller, with a tropical feel in its white sandy beaches and clear sea. Finally, Sark is car free, and a step back in time.

If you fancy a Mediterranean holiday without the hours of travel and language barriers, you should try the Channel Islands. Each has a very European flavour but with a British twist. The larger islands have plenty to offer families and couples alike. The smaller islands are well, smaller and quieter, perfect for taking time away from it all and enjoying yourself.

The Channel Islands sit close to the Normandy coast and have a unique mixture of French and British culture about them. The islands also bear the scars of being the only part of the United Kingdom to be occupied during the Second World War.

This year, the Channel Islands are holding the Channel Islands Heritage Festival, celebrating 70 years of freedom after that occupation. So if you were thinking of visiting the Channel Islands one day, this might be the best time!

Running from the 11th of May, the festival will include living history re-enactments of life during the 1940s at Castle Cornet to guided tours with historians, fetes and more. Visit the Channel Islands Heritage Festival website to learn more. Each island is holding its own events and there really is something for everyone.

Check out the Channel Island section of our website to book a quality holiday cottage on one of the islands. We bet you'll love it!

The National Trails of Wales

Last week we covered the National Trails of England and mentioned than Wales had its own set of trails. So this week we're going to discuss those, the National Trails of Wales. Despite there being an abundance of amazing countryside in Wales, there are only four trails in Wales. So it's just as well all four are actually very good!

There is no shortage of place to walk when in Wales. Many of our holiday cottage customers stay there to do that very thing. With national parks, forests and some lovely towns and cities, you're never short of things to do. However, if you're working your way across the country using the national trails, here are the four you need for Wales.

Offa's Dyke Path

Offa's Dyke Path is a 285km trail that stretches almost the entire length of Wales along the England/Welsh border. You begin in either Chepstow or Prestatyn and can walk the entire length in 12 days. Fortunately, the trail is broken up into more manageable sections with places to stay close to each.

Offa's Dyke was created by King Offa of Mercia during the 8th century as a rampart between England and Wales. Much of the original rampart remains and has been made safe for walking, which is now Offa's Dyke Path.

Glyndwrs Way

Glyndwrs Way is named after the last Welsh Prince of Wales, Owain Glyndwr. It is a 217km loop that begins and ends at different points along Offa's Dyke Path. It would take nine days to do all this trail, but in return you get to see some of Wales that most visitors would never get to see.

You walk through open moorland, isolated hills, small towns, farms, forests and the best of Welsh wildlife. You also get to see the Cadair Idris and Plynlimon mountains. Like Offa's Dyke Path, the trail is broken up into smaller sections with accommodation within easy reach of each. We have a number of holiday cottages within the area only a short drive from many sections of Glyndwrs Way.

Pembrokeshire Coast Path

The Pembrokeshire Coast Path is 300km of coastal loveliness and is one of the best walks in the country. It takes in over 50 beaches, 14 harbours, lots of caves, coves, towns and villages and is well worth the effort.

Like the other trails here, the Pembrokeshire Coast Path is broken up into manageable sections. Buses link many of them, while towns and villages make excellent stopping off points.

Wales Coast Path

The Wales Coast Path is the newest trail here, opened in 2012. It is 1,400km long and stretches for the majority of the Welsh coastline. It begins in Chepstow at one end and ends at Queensferry at the other. It includes the Pembrokeshire Coast Path the North Wales Path, the Anglesey Coastal Path and the Llŷn Coastal Path so you get to see the very best of what Wales has to offer.

Given the length of this trail, it will take a couple of weeks at the very least to cover most of it. Fortunately, like the other trails, there are a wide variety of accommodation available along the walk in the many towns and villages you'll come across while walking. We also have a number of Welsh holiday cottages near the route so you can recover at the end of the day!

The National Trails of England

The National Trails of England are a series of outdoor trails that cross large swathes of England. You can walk them, cycle some of them, ride some of them on a horse and generally enjoy them as you see fit as long as you're responsible. There are also national trails in Wales, Scotland and Ireland which we will cover in future posts.

They are a great way to explore our green and pleasant land. They are also a fantastic way to see parts of the country you wouldn't normally see. Especially if you're staying in one of our many holiday cottages spread throughout England.

Spending a day or two exploring our lovely landscape is probably the best way to spend time on holiday that we can think of. You can keep your beaches, your clubs, your city breaks, give us miles of countryside and a few nice country pubs and we're happy!

There are 15 National Trails of England that stretch to around 2,500 miles. All of them are open to walkers and hikers. Many of them are open to cyclists and horse riders. A further trail is currently being built which will become the England Coast Path. This will add another few hundred miles of walking around some of the many beaches of England. The full path will open in 2020.

Who, what and why are the National Trails of England

The National Trails of England came about after World War Two to preserve areas of land from redevelopment and expansion. There was a need to control how and where we rebuilt, so National Parks, Areas of Outstanding National Beauty and Long Distance Routes were created to protect certain areas of land. These all became National Trails in England and Wales.

National Trails are looked after by local managers and funded by local government. Other social enterprises also contribute to the maintenance and improvement of the trails.

Where are the National Trails in England

As mentioned, there are 15 National Trails in England and we have holiday cottages close to all of them. If you visit this National Trails website page, it shows you where the trails are. There is also a printable leaflet here that shows you where each trail is.

The trails are continually evolving as new permissions and trail expansions are secured. Thanks to legislation passed a few years ago that allows new rights of way just about anywhere for responsible walkers, new trails are opening up across the country. While it's best to stick to established trails, there are many ways to explore the countryside that we didn't have before.

If you're planning a spring or summer break in one of our holiday cottages, you could do worse than spending a day or two exploring the National Trails of England.