Friday, 17 July 2015

Explore the South West Coast Path feature

Starting in Somerset, the South West Coast Path, covers 630 miles of coastline around Somerset, Devon and Cornwall to Dorset. Offering walkers and non-walkers alike stunning views of the coastline, the Coast Path can be broken up into long or short walks, depending on the preference of the walker; the views are equally as rewarding nevertheless (see

As well as providing stunning views, the Coast Path offers a chance to explore local towns, such as Exmouth, Bude, Tintagel, St Ives and Newquay, that connect with the Coast Path, giving walkers an opportunity to experience the different cultures of four counties, for free! Furthermore, the Coast Path includes numerous beaches to relax on. 

Here are a few:

Duckpool Beach, Devon – Dog-friendly beach
Found along the South West Coast Path, Duckpool Beach is a dog-friendly family beach located north of Bude. With picturesque views of surrounding cliffs, Duckpool Beach offers holidaymakers and locals a secluded beach with sand and rocks, depending on the state of the tide.

Located just 15 minutes’ drive from Bude, Duckpool offers a private beach, with extraordinary views, that doesn’t overpopulate in the summer - many people are yet to discover this great family beach!

Perranporth Beach, Devon – Dog-friendly beach

Perranporth Beach covers miles of the South West coastline, attracting surfers, walkers and ‘sand yachters.’ The caves surrounding Perranporth are easy to locate, and although lots have been explored by locals and tourists, there are still many yet to be explored. The South West Coast Path goes directly across Perranporth Beach, so there’s no reason not to explore the golden sand. Nearby you will find Perranporth town, an old tin mining village that’s been transformed into a holiday destination. You can visit the official Perranporth website at . It’s worth a look!Lulworth Cove and Worbarrow Bay, Dorset: 

Located east of Weymouth, Lulworth Cove and Worbarrow Bay are two beach locations that meet the South West Coast Path. Lulworth Cove is a pebbled beach which offers idyllic views and interesting caves for visitors to explore. Visitors can enjoy this lovely coastal location, as kayaking and watersport activities are available, and a restaurant is available for those who aren’t as daring. Further east is a more isolated yet still idyllic experience at Worbarrow Bay, where you can walk the South West Coast Path along the beach or along the top of the ridge. In addition, both Lulworth Cove and Worbarrow Bay are part of Dorset’s ‘Jurassic Coast’, so walking the South West Coast Path can lead to the discovery of fossils too.

See some of our holiday homes near the Coast Path at

By James Seaton-Burn, who recently joined Helpful Holidays for a week of work experience.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Pet-friendly holidays with Helpful Holidays

Pet-Friendly Holiday Cottages

Our four-legged friends are a wonderful source of joy for young and old, but when it comes to holiday time, things can sometimes get a bit tricky. If you’re holidaying within the UK, you’ll naturally want to take your best friend with you, after all he’s part of the family. However, you’ll find quite often that hotels and holiday homes won’t accept pets. Thankfully, this is not the case with Helpful Holidays.  

We welcome every member of your family and that includes your dog. We have 450 cottages right across Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset just waiting to welcome your wagging companions. Many of our owners go the extra mile to ensure that all his needs are met, and in one case (Crooked ChimneyCottage - P70), even to the extent of leaving the right size tins of dog food, dog blankets and height adjustable food and water bowls.

Fresh air and abundant space

The West Country is a dream for dogs, with its rolling hills and miles of countryside to sniff around and explore. Many local pubs will welcome dogs with a refreshing bowl of water after a long run over the moors. The region is also home to an abundance of dog-friendly beaches, where youngsters and their four-legged friends can splash in the surf and dig in the sand to their heart’s content.

Fun, family days out are a joy as many of the leading West Country attractions and gardens go out of their way to make dogs feel at home. The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Trebah and Caerhays Castle & Gardens are just a few well worth a visit, whilst your best friend also gets his own ticket on cruise boats, trams and steam trains across the West Country. A splendid example is the Dartmouth Steam Railway, one of the finest steam journeys with breath-taking scenery as it passes along the wooded slopes bordering the Dart Estuary and then along the English Riviera Coast to Paignton. 

Great choice of pet-friendly homes

Browse our website, ask for a brochure or simply call to speak to someone who has been to a cottage which catches your eye and who can fill you in on extra details to help you make your perfect choice.  Many of our team have their own dogs so can offer really valuable insights to help you create the ideal, pooch-friendly holiday.

With a huge range of holiday homes welcoming dogs across the length and breadth of the West Country, we’re ready to guide you to just the right place for you and your best friend to enjoy a really wonderful holiday.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Beautiful Blooms Battle it Out...

Bluebells - photo courtesy of Cosmo_71

Do you have a favourite wildflower? 

The wild plant conservation charity, Plantlife, has launched a survey to discover the nation’s favourite, but oh, what a choice! A shortlist of 25 species has been drawn up, and the West Country is blessed with a host of blooming leading contenders.

From Somerset and Dorset, across Devon to the end of Cornwall, wildflowers thrive in our ancient hedgerows and gently farmed fields. Take a trip west and before you even arrive at your holiday home you’ll be welcomed en route by blowsy clouds of cow parsley and cheery oxeye daisies.
Wildflowers are wonderfully evocative, markers of the cycle of seasons, stirring innocent memories of childhood picnics, country walks and daisy chain necklaces.

Some have terrific fragrance: the heady musk of wild honeysuckle, often scented before spotted when wandering a lane on a summer’s evening; the incongruously tropical coconut perfume of vivid yellow gorse flower on a moorland slope; the subtle but unmistakable sweetness of the delicate pink dog rose. 

It’s no coincidence that many of the blooms heading the race for victory are the heralds of spring and early summer. Drifts of snowdrops, shy swarms of lemon-yellow primroses and carpets of vivid bluebells regenerate and fill us with optimism for sunshiny days ahead.

Shippen Cottages
Many of our holiday homes are hidden sanctuaries where you can lose yourself in nature. Picnic tables in organic wildflower meadows invite you to unpack a hamper of goodies at 1 and 2 Shippen Cottages in Wilmington, and West Huckham Barn, a 200-year-old Exmoor cottage, is deep in the unspoiled Quarme Valley full of flowers. South Barn is a haven for nature lovers, with a natural area of ponds and wildflowers; stroll at dusk for evening flower scents and stars emerging in a huge, unpolluted sky.  We’ve lots more countryside havens; do ask us if you’d like help finding your perfect place.  

South Barn
Political party leaders have battled it out and election fever has left us oft-times jaded – what better antidote than seeing the snakes head fritillary go head to head with the lesser celandine and ticking a box for your favourite wild blossom? Visit to vote.  

Friday, 8 May 2015

Explore folklore and magic in Cornwall

Tintagel Castle, photo courtesy of Robert Linsdell

Cornwall has long been the seat of some of Britain's most dearly-loved myths and legends. Indeed, King Arthur himself is often said to have been born of the Cornish people in folklore traditions. 

For holidaymakers spending time in Cornwall, there are plenty of opportunities to really get immersed in this history by visiting a range of attractions. 

The Arthurian Centre

Situated in Slaughterbridge near the medieval market town of Camelford - considered by many to be the site of the legendary castle Camelot - the Arthurian Centre is set in the 20 acres of land surrounding King Arthur's Stone. This stone - and a battle that reputedly took place at the site it commemorates - is dated to the earliest stories as far back as 540. 
Visitors are given the opportunity to walk through the Camlann Battlefield where Arthur and his nemesis Mordred met for their final battle. An exhibition room is filled with panels detailing this history, as well as a video presentation. 

Brass rubbing, a children's quiz, and a nature trail ensure there is something for everyone. Entry is £3.50 for adults, £3 for concessions, £2 for children aged six to 16, and £10 for a family ticket covering two adults and up to four children. 

Tintagel Castle

Tintagel Castle is set on the rugged North Cornwall coast, offering spectacular views over its fascinating ruins. Coupled with a stunning beach cafe, this is an ideal family day out. 

Steeped in myth and mystery, the site is said to be the birthplace of King Arthur - and there is also the opportunity to visit Merlin's Cave nearby. The castle also features strongly in the tale of Tristan and Isolde. Its history stretches back as far as the Roman occupation of Britain and is one of the most iconic attractions in the South West. 

Steep stone steps, stout walls and rugged windswept cliff edges encircle the great hall that characterise the spectacular remains of the 13th century castle. A packed events programme is maintained throughout the year, offering plenty of fun for families, with event themes including Fighting Knights, Grand Medieval Jousts and Pirates Attack. 

Entry is £6.10 for adults, £5.50 for concessions, £3.70 and £15.90 for family groups. 

The Museum of Witchcraft

Cornwall's roots in folklore and magic don't rest purely on King Arthur - as demonstrated by the Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle, North Cornwall. 

This houses the largest collection of witchcraft-related artefacts in the world, including more than 2,000 objects on display. 

There is also a naturally-occurring spring and shrine, a range of activities for children, sections on healing, Christian magic, Pagan beliefs, charms, curses, Cornish 'piskies', and a lot more. 

Guided tours are available and ticket prices are £5 for adults and £4 for children and concessions. 

Read more information on our inspected and star-rated Cornwall Holiday Cottages

Friday, 1 May 2015

Farm-friendly fodder at Darts Farm Shop

Photo courtesy of Jacob Spinks
One of the most well-known and tempting features of the West Country is its edible produce. Eggs, pies, pasties, cider and cheese are just a few of the foodstuffs that are freshly made around the region and if you head down to Darts Farm Shop, you will find a collection of the best seasonal products sourced from local growers…

Based in Exeter, the shop has been open for nearly 40 years and recently won the accolade of ‘Best Farm Shop in the UK.’ This honour is extremely well-deserved with the shop entirely dedicated to stocking food which has been grown, reared, baked or caught locally. As a working farm, baker, deli, cider marker and lifestyle shop, Darts Farm offers an all-encompassing authentic local experience. With pick-your-own fruit and vegetables, fishing ponds, a number of animals and a Maize maze, this is a great family attraction. It is also a lovely place to simply have a stroll among the West Country landscapes and crop fields.

Fruit and vegetables are collected daily from the surrounding fields to be sold in the shop or used in dishes at the on-site restaurant. As another purveyor of fine foods, the restaurant’s menu includes traditional favourites such as Devon sausage and mash, home cooked casseroles and Devonshire cream teas. There is also a selection of local ale and cider.

The site is also home to the magnificent Food Hall, which brings together produce from the best local suppliers and specialist artisan retailers. The award-winning range of luxury includes many homemade products, the caliber of which reflects the care and passion that has gone into their creation.

The on-site master butcher sells entirely traceable meat, and also have their own herd of native Devonshire cattle, slow-reared to produce the highest quality beef. Elsewhere, the Fish Shed produces delicious fish and chips with all fish caught and landed within 12 hours of serving.
The Darts Farm Shop is based in the old town of Topsham within easy reach of many of our cottages. We have a two-bedroom apartment in the town close to the antiques shops, pubs riverside walks, cycle routes and boat trips, as well as birdwatching at the RSPB reserve. The spacious, second-floor property includes a comfortable living area and compact kitchen with lovely countryside views.

Just nine kilometers outside Topsham in the red-stone hamlet of Poltimore, you will find our gorgeous three-bedroom property, Mallard Cottage, which set in the private grounds of an organic farm. Just ten minutes from Exeter, this cottage boasts a peaceful location and bright, fresh ambience. Sleeping six, this welcoming home includes communal gardens with trampolines, slides, swings, climbing frame, picnic table and barbecue, as well as a games barn with a small pool table and darts board. The smart interiors include stripped flooring, original stable doors and spiral staircases.

Another great property local to Darts Farm is our charming two-bed ‘upside down cottage’ in the pretty village of Lympstone. Sleeping four, the property is situated on a cobblestone street and features a balcony with views of the estuary and Powderham Castle in the distance. The picturesque surrounding area takes in local pubs, shops and shingle beaches, as well as the Exe estuary - the ideal spot for windsurfers.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015


We like to live up to our name at Helpful Holidays and that’s why each year we put together a glossy brochure for our customers to help make their holidays as enjoyable as possible. As always, this year’s issue contains in depth information and tips on how you can make the most of your holiday whilst staying at one of our cottages.

Our  “What shall we do today?” 2015 guide includes a collection of impartial recommendations about some of the best things to do whilst visiting  the West Country. This helps you tailor your holiday to your own tastes and needs, such as those travelling with  young children,  adventurous travellers who wish to pack their holiday itinerary full of activities or older couples seeking more relaxed options for their leisure time.

Our ever-popular top 10 lists are updated annually to ensure that we inform visitors of  the most up-to-date and exciting opportunities. Using our local knowledge, we’ve  compiled lists of the top 10 walks, beaches, places to eat, gardens and houses, attractions for children and West Country Wonders. The latter includes such delights as the appropriately named Eden, as well as picture-perfect Cornish villages and locations made famous through our literary and cultural heritage.

Farmers Markets are some of the most authentic and enjoyable days out in the West Country and we’ve compiled a list with dates and times when the more interesting ones are held, including those in Falmouth, Penzance and Dorchester. These markets provide a fun-filled way to mingle with local people and get a taster of the best local produce fresh from the farm.

Sun and beach worshippers will love our list of award-winning beaches, which include details on those that are marked with the prestigious Blue Flag and those with official RNLI lifeguards. Foodies can scan our list of award-winning as well as value-for-money pubs and restaurants, while holidaymakers who love a good hike can choose from the range of short and long routes. These are all divided up into regions for ease of reference.

Our month-by-month special events calendar will ensure that you don’t miss out on any of the West Country festivities, which include jazz festivals, craft fairs, regattas, surfing championships and oyster festivals. The region is also home to some of the most beautiful and enjoyable Christmas festivities in the UK.

And that’s not all. In the true spirit of keeping your holidays hassle-free, we’ve secured some fabulous discounts for you. Our brochure contains vouchers with discounts on admission prices for many attractions, as well as savings on activities such as watersports, bicycle and surfboard hire and even offers of free tea and cake!

There’s a lot of fun to be had in the West Country and we’ve done the research for you. All you have to do is gather family and friends together and leaf through our brochure to plan the holiday of your dreams.