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.

Great Britain’s best spring walks part 2

Today we are continuing our posts featuring Great Britain’s best spring walks. We are making a slight departure though as a couple of guests suggested a couple of fantastic walks in Ireland, so they are getting some love too. As we feature holiday cottages in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, we’re only happy to oblige.

So without further ado, here are what guests think are Great Britain’s best spring walks.

Aughinish Alumina Nature Trail – County Limerick

The Aughinish Alumina Nature Trail can be found west of Limerick running along the banks of the river Shannon. It features miles of trails, a butterfly sanctuary, lots of woodland, meadowland and heath and is one of Ireland’s top walking destinations.

Dromana Wood – Waterford

Dromana Wood near Villierstown in the Republic of Ireland is another favourite from across the water. Woodland trails crisscross hundreds of acres of woodland that comes alive in the spring. Some offer unforgettable views of the River Blackwater and the Knockmealdown mountains which are worth the trip alone!

Knoydart Peninsula – Mallaig

The Knoydart Peninsula in the Highlands has some spectacular and desolate scenery. It’s an amazing place to visit and to walk. The region is regarded as Britain’s last true wilderness and once you get here, you’ll quickly realise why. It’s an isolated area with a wide range of walks for all abilities.

Coquet Valley – Northumberland

The Coquet Valley near Rothbury, Northumberland is a fantastic region that borders the Northumberland National Park and the Cheviot Hills. It’s a varied terrain that takes in hills, moor, woods, rivers, valleys and everything the county has to offer. The guided walks by Jon Monks are also worth a try.

Deacon Hill – Hertfordshire

Deacon Hill is a firm favourite with walkers because if offers an excellent circular route that takes in Pirton and the surrounding countryside. The hills can be a bit of a challenge, but the views of Hertfordshire from the top make the effort very worthwhile. There are plenty of little villages around for a cream tea reward too!

South Downs – Sussex

The South Downs in Sussex is one of the south coast’s best walking areas. The region has hundreds of miles of ancient paths, lots of villages, fantastic scenery and some very picturesque destinations. Highlights for us were Chanctonbury Ring and the village of Washington.

These complete our tour of the UK and Ireland looking for the best spring walks we could find. Thanks to all those guests who responded and offered their opinions. If you like walking and are booking a holiday cottage through us, we hope you try one of these fantastic walks!

How to spend your days when in Oxfordshire

Oxfordshire is a great place to spend a little time away from home. It’s only an hour from London, yet could be at the other end of the country. It’s quiet, civilised and offers a huge range of things to see and do. Renting one of our holiday cottages in Oxfordshire is a great way to explore England!

Here are a few things to see and do.

University of Oxford

The University of Oxford is almost a thousand years old in parts and is spread out across the city. Some of the colleges are open to the public some of the time and are well worth checking out.

Pitt Rivers Museum

The Pitt Rivers Museum is one of many superb museums in the area but has a character all of its own. It’s a bit cluttered but is truly amazing to wander around. It’s free to enter and is one of the most fascinating museums anywhere in the world.

Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology

The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology is another Oxford-based museum that is one of the best examples of its type anywhere. You need a full day to really appreciate what’s here.

University Museum of Natural History

Another museum well worth your time is the University Museum of Natural History. Stuffed full of exhibits from across the ages, the museum is an easy way to lose a day. The building itself is fascinating too.

Bodleian Library

The Bodleian Library is one of the most famous book repositories in the world and for good reason. The building is amazing, the sheer number and variety of books are too. Take a guided tour to get the very best out of this attraction.

Broughton Castle

Leaving museums and libraries behind for a while, let’s visit Broughton Castle near Banbury. It’s a fortified manor house built around 1300 and is open to the public. It’s a lovely, peaceful place that has feature in more than a few movies.

Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace is a fascinating walk into the past. The birthplace of Winston Churchill and current home to the Duke of Marlborough, the palace is a historic building with a lot to offer. Allow plenty of time to do it justice!

Those are just a few of the hundreds of places to see and things to do while staying in one of our holiday cottages in Oxfordshire. Each offers a little something different and is well worth your time. Don’t forget to let us know how you get on!

Top ten Valentines movies of all time

If your idea of a good Valentine’s Day is curling up on the sofa with the one you love, this is the post for you. Many couples who use our romantic holiday cottages have no big plans, no activities lined up or major events scheduled. Many just like taking time away from modern life to reconnect with the one they love.

Watching a romantic movie is one way of spending quality time. If you want to know what the top ten Valentines movies of all time are, this is it. Many of our holiday cottages have TVs and DVD players so you have no excuse!

Bridget Jones’s Diary

Bridget Jones’s Diary is a classic chick flick. A single girl writes a diary about daily life as she fights her way through being single and fancying her boss. It’s funnier and more charming than it sounds.

Addicted to Love

Addicted to Love deserved more positive reviews than it received. It’s an amusing romp showing two people trying to get their respective loves back with predictable results. Matthew Broderick and Meg Ryan star.

My Best Friend's Wedding

My Best Friend's Wedding is another Valentine’s Day classic with Julia Roberts and Dermot Mulroney. These two make a deal to marry each other if they hit 28 without being hitched. Dermot meets Cameron Diaz and Julia Roberts doesn’t like it.

The Wedding Singer

The Wedding Singer is typical Adam Sandler, a good natured movie with a little romance thrown in for good measure. Also starring Drew Barrymore, the movie is a bit odd in places but in a good way.


Singles is a good film about a group of people in their twenties who are trying to settle down. It’s quite illustrative and contains a few good tips for men.

French Kiss

French Kiss is about what a woman will do to keep her love. Meg Ryan is engaged to Timothy Hutton, who in turn falls for a French woman. Meg works with Kevin Kline to win him back. Some good tips for the boys in this movie!

Notting Hill

There can’t be many people in the UK who hasn’t heard of Notting Hill. It’s a romantic classic starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts that set women aflame when it was release. It should need no introduction.

Last Tango in Paris

Not only is this movie a good instruction manual for young men, it’s also a good film in its own right. Marlon Brando is at his screen shattering best in this and it’s well worth watching on Valentine’s Day.


Chocolat is a charming film starring Jonny Depp and Julliete Binoche about an unconventional woman who opens a chocolate shop in a traditional French village. It’s a great little film.

Love Actually

Love Actually follows eight couples in the period leading up to Christmas one year in England. It’s a classic RomCom and one most women will love.

So if you’re planning on taking time away in one of our romantic holiday cottages, you have a list of great movies to take with you. Enjoy your time together!

The origins and history of Valentine’s Day

Here at, we’re taking lots of bookings for romantic holiday cottages for Valentine’s Day. It’s a busy time for us, but we wanted to take a minute to think about the origins of this day. Where did it come from? Why do we celebrate it?

As far as we know, celebrations began in Roman times. The festival of Lupercalia was held in February on the 13th, 14th and 15th. This was a fertility festival, held to usher in the spring and healthy crops. Men would run around naked using dog or goat-skin whips to spank women to promote their fertility too.

Valentine was Bishop of Interamna who served in AD 197 under the Roman Emperor Aurelian. He was beheaded for reasons unknown. Another Christian Valentine, Valentine of Rome was also martyred for giving aid to prisoners during the reign of Emperor Claudius. He was said to have fallen in love with his jailer’s daughter and wrote to her signing off “From your Valentine.”

Then, around 496 AD, Pope Gelasius declared February 14th St. Valentine’s Day. The day was to be a Christian feast day, ostensibly designed to “civilise” the still popular festival of Lupercalia.

The first mentions of Valentine’s Day and love, apart from the alleged love letters from Valentine, were from Geoffrey Chaucer. He wrote in his book “Parlement of Foules” in 1382 about the engagement of Richard II of England and Anne of Bohemia. “For this was on St. Valentine's Day/ When every fowl cometh there to choose his mate.”

Later, in France around 1400 AD, the High Court of Love was formed to manage affairs of the heart such as marriage, divorces and all manner of happenings. It was held on Valentine’s Day each year. Sometime later, the Duke of Orleans writes the first recorded Valentine’s love letter to his love when he was a prisoner in the Tower of London.

By now, Valentine’s Day is a firm fixture in the calendar, so much so that Shakespeare writes about it in Hamlet. “To-morrow is Saint Valentine's day,/All in the morning betime,/And I a maid at your window,/To be your Valentine.”

From then on, Valentine’s Day was a regular part of our year. The print press, the advent of the card, various publications of romantic rhyme writing and the Post Office all made sending cards and love notes easier. The rest as they say, is history.

So when you’re relaxing in your romantic holiday cottage on Valentine’s Day, just think. The holiday you’re celebrating is over 2000 years old!

Book a holiday cottage for Valentine’s Day before it’s too late!

We know Christmas and New Year are only a week or so behind us. We know you’re only just back to work. You might think that it’s way too early to be thinking of Valentine’s Day and that you want a week or two of normality before moving on.

However, we’re already seeing bookings on the rise for the weekend of the 14th and 15th of February. If you want to stay in a romantic holiday cottage somewhere lovely, you’re going to have to move fast!

Romantic holiday cottages

Even if you don’t buy in to the commercial side of Valentine’s Day, it’s too good an excuse for a romantic weekend away to ignore. Taking time out with the one you love, escaping somewhere nice and hiding away from the world for a weekend is a great way to spend quality time any time of year!

We have a huge selection of high quality holiday cottages spread across the UK and Ireland. From the beach to forest, valley to hills, we have something to suit. Quaint Cornish cottages, romantic Scottish retreats, stylish city pads or old world English charm. Whatever kind of holiday cottage you’re looking for, we have something for you.

What makes a romantic holiday cottage for Valentine’s Day?

There are several elements that makes a holiday cottage perfect for Valentine’s Day. One, location, two features and three, company. We can help with the first two, the third is up to you!

Location, location, location. It’s not only a very good TV show, it’s also an essential element in choosing your holiday cottage. Do you want to be somewhere secluded? Somewhere in the middle of the action? By the beach? By a forest? In the city? We have cottages that meet all these criteria. Just use the map to search.

Holiday cottage features add value and enjoyment to your Valentine’s Day. Want a holiday cottage with a log fire? Want one with a pool, hot tub or large garden? Want one where the dog can come too? We can help. We have hundreds of pet friendly holiday cottages with or without fires, pools and hot tubs.

A romantic holiday cottage for Valentine’s Day is only a few minutes away. Simply find the one you like, check availability and book. It’s as easy as that. They are going fast though so move quickly if you want to guarantee your romantic cottage for two!

Be prepared when using one of our holiday cottages for hiking in winter

The mild winter weather we’re enjoying right now is encouraging more people than ever to get outdoors and explore. What is usually a quiet time for holiday cottages is actually turning out to be quite busy. The usual winter hiking routes across the UK and Ireland are seeing more traffic too.

If you’re considering using one of our holiday cottages for a little winter hiking, here is a quick checklist of things you’ll need to take. The list is designed for those new to hiking or to exploring outdoors and includes everything you’ll need to stay warm, dry and safe.


  • Waterproof jacket
  • Walking trousers
  • Base layer
  • Backpack
  • Walking boots
  • Walking socks
  • Hat
  • Gloves
  • Map and compass
  • Food and drink
  • Mobile phone (GPS a bonus)
  • First aid kit


  • Gaiters
  • Walking poles
  • Torch
  • Sunscreen
  • Multi-tool
  • Sunglasses
  • Extra layers and socks
  • Camping equipment

It is essential that you’re prepared for your winter hike as chances are you’ll be far from civilisation. That means help will take a while to get to you. As you will be carrying most of this stuff, a balance has to be struck between packing absolutely everything and weight. That’s why we split this list into essentials and optional. In an ideal world, you would take everything on every hike, but that isn’t always practical.

Short hikes

For a short hike of up to 10-15 miles, it isn’t always necessary to carry kit spares, camping equipment, walking poles or sunscreen. However, if you’re driving out somewhere desolate and then going hiking, it might be worth taking some kind of shelter.

You should always carry plenty of water and some water purification tablets. You would be surprised how much water you lose when walking, even during winter. You still sweat and still burn liquids, so it’s essential that you’re able to top up as you go.

Longer hikes

For hikes over 10-15 miles, it’s always useful to have shelter, spare sunscreen, spare batteries and plenty of water. The army has a saying, plan for the worst, hope for the best. You should adopt that saying whenever you’re preparing for a hike. The more isolated your route, the more preparation you should undertake.

When staying out longer, food and drink begin playing a more important part. Proper hydration can prevent many injuries and incidents. Food replenishes energy as you go. Both could save your life. Pack as much as you can comfortably carry for a few hours and eat well before you leave.

We have some amazing holiday cottages in some of the best walking regions in the world. We want you to enjoy your time with us and if you prepare properly, you’re going to love it!

More Wonderful Winter Walks Part 2

Continuing on from our previous posts on Wonderful Winter Walks, we’re intent on helping you make the most of not just what could be on your doorstep when you stay in one of our lovely holiday cottages, but what the UK has to offer too. So here are a few more winter walks to work off that turkey!

Cairngorm National Park

The Cairngorm National Park is one of our newest parks, having been established in 2003. It’s also the largest, covering hundreds of acres of land that’s twice the size of the Lake District. There are 52 peaks here, many over 900m high.

As well as some stunning scenery, over a quarter of the UK’s endangered species can be found here, so if you’re into nature, there’s a double reason to visit!

The Malvern Hills

The Malvern Hills are located south of Worcester and while not our biggest area of outstanding natural beauty, is certainly one of the best. It’s also close to motorways and centres of population, making it ideal for a day out walking. Walking the Malvern Hills isn’t as challenging as some of the other places on here, but it’s still very rewarding.

The Brecon Beacons National Park

The Brecon Beacons National Park is one of the more famous of our parks and not far from the Malvern Hills. Located in South Wales, the park is the natural border between England and Wales and includes some of the most challenging winter hiking around.

Here you can walk the Black Mountain, Fforest Fawr and Pen y Fan. The Wye Valley offers some stunning scenery from atop the many hills and ridges, making for a very rewarding day out.

North Yorkshire Moors National Park

The North Yorkshire Moors National Park is another park surrounded by towns and villages, making for a very interest winter break or day out. This park is more rolling hills and valleys than mountains and crags but is no less rewarding for it. Miles and miles of trails cross this wild land and there are plenty of holiday cottages within a short distance too!

South West Coast Path

The South West Coast Path isn’t a park or mountain, it’s a dedicated trail that covers almost the entire coast of Devon and Cornwall. It’s 630 miles in all, but it broken down into manageable chunks between seaside towns. We have dozens of holiday cottages in this part of the country so would make a great New Year getaway.

The path stretches from the edge of Exmoor National Park and covers all the south west coast round Cornwall to Poole in Dorset. It’s an epic place to walk!

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.

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!