Top ten British scuba diving sites

You may not believe it but the UK coastline is full of sea life and fascinating places to explore underwater. Water we have plenty of, we are an island after all. But we also have some of the best scuba diving sites of anywhere in the world. A holiday cottage and a wetsuit, what's not to love!

While nothing can beat clear, warm seas with visibility for miles, our own shores have interest aplenty. From old wrecks, reefs to wildlife and creatures you wouldn't expect to see around the cool waters of the UK. So this week's posts are going to focus on the top ten British scuba diving locations.

Scapa Flow, Orkney Islands

Scapa Flow has to be the most popular diving area in the country, if not Europe. The remains of the German High Seas Fleet was sunk here in 1919 and many of the ships remain. Along with more recent wrecks, this is definitely a place where any diver worth their salt is going to want to tick off their to do list.

Eddystone Reef, Plymouth

Moving away from wrecks for a moment, let's try a reef. Just 12 miles off the coast of Plymouth is Eddystone Lighthouse and Reef. Set at around 50 metres depth, this reef is full of life and colour, including jewel anemone live there and if you're lucky, you'll also get to see a 17th century anchor lying close by.

James Eagan Layne, Plymouth

The James Eagan Layne was torpedoed off the coast of Plymouth during World War 2 and sits under just six metres of water. It is a very accessible wreck, making it suitable for divers of all levels and the water around Devon and Cornwall is lovely and clear most of the time.

We also have hundreds of holiday cottages around the two counties, so you're not short of choice either!

M2, Portland

Just along the coast from the James Eagan Layne is the M2 experimental submarine lying in 36 metres of water in Lyme Bay. It's an unusual vessel with an aircraft hangar attached. It sank in 1932 with all hands and is a fascinating dive to see what is a very unusual creation.

Lundy Island, Bristol Channel

Lundy Island is full of life and so are the waters around it. Time it right and the water is clear, warm and teeming with fish, sea creatures and maybe even some very playful seals. It's a no-take area, so there really is a lot of marine life to see!

We have holiday cottages in close proximity to all of these dives, so if you're looking for something a little different for your summer break, you know what to do!

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!

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!

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.

Explore Wales on film

Wales is a beautiful and fascinating country. So much so that it is often used as a backdrop for movies and TV series. If you're staying in one of our many Welsh holiday cottages, there are plenty of places across the region that you have seen on screen but would never know.

Here are just a few.

Clash of the Titans

The reimagining of the classic movie Clash of the Titans was partly filmed in Harriet Hole in Dinorwic Slate Quarry. The quarry is quite famous, having also featured in Willow and Street Fighter. It is also home to the National Slate Museum, so is worth a day out if you're staying near Snowdonia.

Die Another Day

Wales features prominently in this James Bond film that stars Pierce Brosnan. Penbryn Beach in Ceredigion is turned into North Korea for this film. Not only has it been immortalised in film, it's also a beautiful beach. It's popular with stargazers as it receives almost no light pollution.

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows is one of the most popular of the iconic movie series and was filmed partly in Wales. The main protagonists hide in a recreation of Shell Cottage which is in Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire. The real cottage is made entirely from seashells.

Freshwater West is also featured in Robin Hood, Snow White and the Huntsman and the Lion in Winter. During the filming of Robin Hood, Russell Crowe liked the beach so much he camped there for a few nights instead of going back to his hotel.


The BBC TV series Merlin did a lot of shooting in Wales. Many of the scenes were shot across the country, including Cosmeston Medieval Village, the Brecon Beacons National Park, Castell Coch and Caerphilly, Chepstow castle and Raglan castle. We have holiday cottages near all of those!

Doctor Who

No discussion about Wales on film would be complete without mentioning Doctor Who. Being based in Cardiff, the show shot many scenes within the Roath Lock studios. You can't get inside the studios but you can visit the nearby Doctor Who experience. It's a worthwhile visit if you're a fan of the show.

Gavin and Stacey

Another Welsh classic is Gavin and Stacey, a comedy that put Barry firmly on the map. So much so that the locals have seen a multiplying of tourists since the show was first shown. They even run coach tours to show visitors where the scenes were shot.

How to keep the children occupied during a wet half term

It's half term for many this week and it leads into Easter which means there are a lot of children with not a lot to do. This is prime time for getting away from it all and our holiday cottages are busier than ever. Given the weather so far hasn't been great, there are probably a few families out there looking for things to keep children occupied indoors.

Here are just a few. All are simple but effective ways of keeping kids entertained whether you're in a holiday cottage or at home. They go to show that it isn't all about games consoles and expensive computers. Old school games can still be fun too.

We hope they help!

Reading together

Parents reading to and with their children is something we should all do more of. It sparks their imagination, gets them interested in books and makes learning interesting. It's also a great bonding experience. Considering it's a very simple pastime that can keep children occupied for hours, everyone should try it.

Let's pretend

If your children are still of an age where they can build a den or have a tea party with their invisible friends, why not encourage it? It's a healthy way to let children explore their imagination and have a little fun without making a fuss, a mess or causing mayhem.

Make stuff

Making things will be easier at home than in a holiday cottage, but it is possible anywhere. Make cakes, paper hats, marshmallow and cocktail stick molecules or whatever, but get your hands dirty with the children, teach them something and play.

Take pictures

If you have a digital camera, why not let your children loose with it? As long as it comes back in one piece, taking pictures is a fascinating insight to how their mind works. It's also very creative and very "grown up" which adds to its attraction for the child. If they take anything particularly good you can promise to have it printed when you get home.

Sink or float

Sink or float is a simple game that can be quite fun if you turn it into a friendly competition. Take a bowl of water and some random objects and bet with your kids whether each object will float or not.

Those are just five of hundreds of indoor activities you can try while the weather is bad this half term and over Easter. Whether you're staying in one of our holiday cottages or at home, they will work wonders!

More holiday cottage locations for lovers of horse riding

In the second of our horse-related posts, we are going to explore more areas of the UK that welcomes horses. In the previous post, we explored the Cheviots, The Coleridge Way in Somerset, the Brecon Beacons and the North York Moors. This time we're trying another range of great rides.

Each of these locations has a holiday cottage nearby. We have hundreds of high quality holiday lets designed to help you make the most of your time away from home. Check out the interactive map if you want to know more!

New Forest

The New Forest is a fascinating natural resource that provides activities for all people of all ages. Horses feature quite highly there too. Not only are there hundreds of miles of trails, there are also wild horses and ponies roaming free. You can bring your own horse or hire one there. The supporting infrastructure is excellent, the pubs are horse friendly and the entire region is geared around enjoying the outdoors.

You can't get much better than that!

Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight may not be the first place you think of when you're looking for horse riding trails, but there are miles of them on the island. Horse riding is a big part of the tourist industry here, so if you like your riding, this is a great place to visit. There are riding schools and stables, organised rides or trails and beaches for you to explore. It's an unexpected gem!

The Lake District

The Lake District is not only a firm favourite of hikers, it's also very popular with riders too. With hundreds of miles of trails and bridleways to explore, plus open fields to let loose, there's a lot to like about this part of the country. With a wide range of businesses built around horses, you won't go short of support either.

Wild Atlantic Way

The Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland is another amazing location to explore on horseback. It takes in mountains, valleys, forests and beaches and is one of the most fascinating trails on the island. With hundreds of miles of trail available along the Wild Atlantic Way, you can explore as much, or as little, as you like.

Cairngorms National Park

The Cairngorms National Park is the claimed home of pony trekking so it's right that we visit here on horseback. There are lots of stables and a few trekking centres in the area, as well as miles and miles of trails and bridleways that take in some of the best of this part of the country. If you like your scenery desolate and beautiful, this is the place to come! has a selection of high quality holiday lets within a short drive of each of these locations. Book yours today!

Holiday cottage locations for lovers of horse riding

Exploring the countryside on horseback is not only an amazing way to travel it's also one of the oldest forms of transport known to man. A horse is a fascinating creature, skittish yet brave, easily frightened yet with a stout heart and a friend for life once you get close enough. Combining a holiday cottage with time in the saddle is our idea of heaven!

Being able to explore our fabulous countryside from the comfort of a saddle at a relaxed pace is one of our favourite ways to spend time. In the hope that you might try it too, we thought we would put together a couple of posts around horse riding. The next few posts will have horses in mind as well as your family. These first two will be a list of parts of the country that you can explore on horseback.


Our first ride begins in the Cheviots and does a loop though Northumberland National Park. It begins in Cliftoncote and takes you round the park along a range of trails from a few miles long to over a week of riding. The routes are being developed by the Northumberland National Park and the British Horse Society. Visit their websites to learn more.

We have a range of holiday cottages within range of Northumberland National Park, so check out the map to find yours!

The Coleridge Way

Named in honour of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, this is a 51 mile trail that runs through Somerset, across the Quantock Hills and into Exmoor. It's a fascinating landscape that will challenge horse and rider but is well worth the effort. From expansive moorland to dramatic coastal views, there is something for everyone here.

Brecon Beacons

The Brecon Beacons is a firm favourite of anyone who loves the outdoors. The variations in countryside, terrain, weather and scenery all combine to make an amazing place to spend time. There are over 600 miles of trails within the Brecon Beacons and most of them will be passable to horses. The website has a list of specific trails and the area has a range of stables and supporting business to help you enjoy your time there.

North York Moors

The North York Moors are another firm favourite of horse riders and lovers of the outdoors. With over 500 miles of trails to explore that take in moors, forest, fields, quaint villages and towns, there is little to dislike about this area. Add in the friendly people, outdoor infrastructure and support for all outdoors activities, it's a prime holiday destination.

We have holiday cottages near all of these destinations. Many will be within easy reach of stables if you bring your own horse or equine centres if you don't. Either way, they are perfectly placed to explore the countryside on horseback!