Monday, 24 September 2012

Our 2013 brochure is out with holiday cottages galore...

We're delighted to announce the release of our 2013 brochure. With over 580 wonderful places for you to choose from throughout the West Country, we're sure you'll find the perfect spot: a family holiday near a fine sandy beach; a relaxing break exploring the stunning coastal scenery or rugged moorland; an indulgent stay in a luxurious 5 star house; a grand gathering in a large farmhouse or historic country house; or perhaps just a quick retreat to blow away the cobwebs?.

This year, Green Cottages qualifying for our eco initiative feature for the first time. There is also a marked increase in properties throughout Devon, and in particular across Dartmoor and the central ‘river country’, as well as north Cornwall and the Newquay coast. Why not browse all our new holiday cottages?

Amongst the many places new for 2013 is The Old Stables, a big stone-built cottage for 10 converted from a former barn in the heart of Ilsington on Dartmoor’s farmed and wooded south-eastern slopes. 

Smart and spacious inside, the original features combine easily with modern touches; a big arched floor-to-ceiling window on one side of the open-plan living area gives rolling countryside views. This comfortable and welcoming cottage is a good base for exploring the moors and coast. Pets welcome.

On the quieter Pentire side of Newquay in north Cornwall, just 200 yards from Fistral Beach and the coastal path, is Fistral Edge, a spacious, modern three-storey townhouse for six. 

Set at the end of a gated crescent row with its own enclosed lawned garden, the light and airy house has lovely long uninterrupted views across the golf course and beach and out to sea. Pets welcome.

All our properties are regularly inspected and star rated by our team so we can advise holidaymakers honestly through first-hand experience; 38 holiday homes carry a top 5 star rating, while 60 have 4½ stars. 67 have use of a heated swimming pool, some have private moorings or fishing rights; others are on working farms and most have stunning views across countryside or out to sea. Many are within ambling distance of the beach or local pub.

Properties range from romantic retreats for two up to big country houses sleeping a maximum of 48 guests. In fact many of our properties are exceptionally plush and we're proud of our reputation for offering big and beautiful places. 81 of our houses sleep ten or more; many can organise professional catering and maid service. Prices are from £175 to £5,995 per week.

And don't forget, dogs can come too, with many of our holiday homes making your 'best friend' more than welcome. Cottage availability for 2013 is live on our website now, so you can already look and book online.

For a free copy of our 2013 brochure, call on 01647 433593, order or download a copy online or email Every property in our brochure is also featured on our website.

Happy browsing!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Autumn food festivals in the West Country...

Cornwall Food and Drink
Many people let their tastebuds take the lead when choosing holiday destinations. In this busy world we live in, a holiday means we can sit down opposite our loved ones and take the time to enjoy mealtimes together for a change.
The West Country is renowned for the quality of its local produce and is blessed with hundreds of excellent restaurants and pubs serving delicious fare. We're also lucky to have a tantalising selection of food festivals throughout the region and autumn's a great time to catch one...
Cornwall Food and Drink is a three day celebration of Cornish produce, running from 28th to 30th September in Truro. The festival features more than 60 exhibitors - with plenty of opportunity to try and buy local favourites - and live demos from Cornwall's top chefs. Take your tasty haul back to S243.

Powderham Castle
We're delighted to be sponsoring the inaugural Powderham Food Festival on 6th October which is to be held at 600-year-old Powderham Castle, amidst a beautiful deer park with breathtaking views across the Exe Estuary. The festival has a particular focus on historical Devon fare, as well as stalls, food demonstrations and tastings by artisan makers, small producers, growers, local community groups, wineries and more. Make G109 your castle for the week.

This year’s annual Boscastle Food and Craft Festival, which is taking place on 6th and 7th October, features an impressive line-up of well-known chefs including Nathan Outlaw, Paul Ainsworth of Number 6 Padstow, Andy Appleton from Fifteen Cornwall, and Paul Harwood, head chef at Rick Stein’s St Petroc’s Bistro in Padstow. Test your culinary skills in the fine kitchen of P21.
Falmouth Oyster Festival, from 11th to 14th October, celebrates the start of the oyster dredging season. With oysters galore, seafood, wine and local ale, children's shell painting, sea shanties, a town parade, live music, an oyster shucking competition and a Falmouth Working Boat race, you'll be glad of a comfy sofa waiting for you back at S211.

Dartmouth Food Festival
This year sees the 10th anniversary of the Dartmouth Food Festivalrunning from 26th to 28th October, which sets out to showcase the best quality produce the south west has to offer - from Severn & Wye Smokery through to Heron Valley fruit juices, Well Hung meat and Bigbury Bay Oysters. Mitch Tonks is the festival's advocate - try out his recipe for Fresh Spaghetti with Crab, Chilli and Parsley.

To find out which food festivals are on during your holiday with us, you can search the events on our online 'Explore the Area' map, check our news pages or refer to the 'What Shall We Do Today?' printed guide we send you when we confirm your booking.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Have you seen a man on the beach?

The recent good weather has seen people flock to beaches all around the West Country, and with any luck there are a fair few beach-friendly days left in store for us in 2012.

Beaches are such an intrinsic part of a British holiday that you've probably never asked yourself the question: What does the beach mean to you?

We know a man (who remains anonymous) who asks people he meets on beaches throughout Cornwall exactly that. 
The simple but engaging premise has resulted in a website packed with enjoyable 60-90 second videos of people answering his question, as well as lovely films of the beach itself. 

In his own words, Man On A Beach:
"...celebrates the elemental power of the beach and its profound effect on those people who enjoy being where the air, land and sea meet. The beach means different things to different people, whether it’s enhancing creativity, decisiveness and energy, being restorative and settling, part of a routine, a reference point through generations, freedom or just fun."
Take a look at an example video below:

Man On A Beach also provides his own charming narrative in some videos, such as this one filmed at Pendower:

His website is well worth a look - find out what people have said about your favourite beach or perhaps about one you haven't been to yet.

If you love beaches anywhere near as much as the Man On A Beach, it's worth noting that the MCS Beachwatch Big Weekend, the biggest beachclean and survey event in the UK, runs from 14th to 17th September.

To get involved, take a look at this list of Beachwatch events and make a positive difference to a beach near you. 

Here's a final video of a beach clean enthusiast to inspire you!
So, what does the beach mean to you? We'd love to hear your comments.

Monday, 3 September 2012

100 miles along the Cornish coast...

We recently sponsored 14-year-old Abbie Underhill, who set herself the challenge of completing a 100 mile walk along the South West Coast Path, from St Ives to Bude.

Abbie is trying to raise £3,500 to fund an educational expedition to Thailand and Cambodia next summer with the World Challenge Organisation where she hopes to work on various community projects. She has already raised £1,100 by climbing Snowdon.

She recently returned from her walk (in high spirits!) and sent us this diary of her journey...

We left Kidderminster on Friday 3rd August and set up camp in St Agnes. Our first hike was from St Ives to Gwithian Bridge (11.5 miles). It was a lovely hot day and the path mainly took us across sand dunes before reaching cliffs which were quite hard to walk on but we were rewarded by seeing some seals swimming in a cove. After my first day, I ached!

Our second day was walking from Gwithian Bridge to Porthtowan (11.5 miles). We woke up to heavy rain so dug out the waterproofs. When we started walking, we could see the cliffs just disappeared into a cove, but as we walked closer we were greeted by about 100 steps climbing down into the cove - which meant about another 100 to climb up the other side! It was hard going and we had to stop every couple of steps to catch our breath. All of a sudden, a model jet fighter flew overhead and we noticed there was a model aircraft show up ahead, so we stopped for lunch and watched the display for free! 

A couple passed us and pointed to my Dad's t-shirt and said “Helpful Holidays, we've booked with them!”. We stopped for a chat to tell them about the walk. The rain didn’t let up all day but when we reached Porthtowen, the sun came out a little and we saw a double rainbow!

Day three, a rest day, my legs needed it! So far I had walked 23 miles.

Day four, we walked from Porthtowen to Ligger Point, just past Perranporth (10.5 miles). This was one of my favourite parts of the walk. The hill side was littered with tin mine chimneys and the hillside was scattered with rocks containing tin. I it was really interesting and you could climb up around the ruins. The sea was really rough and grey so it gave it quite an eerie atmosphere! We walked through St Agnes and could see our tent – it was hard to carry on and not just nip back, but we did and arrived at Ligger Point just before 6pm. When we got back to the tent our dog Jasper was limping and we could see his feet were sore from walking through gorse. We decided it was unfair to take him any further.

Day five, we walked from Ligger Point to Trevelgue Head (11 miles). We were back in the sand dunes again, they were never ending! But we saw two Peregrines hovering above us and lots of Shetland ponies roaming the cliff tops. The sun came out and it was very hot; the beaches were full of people but there was not a sole on the coastal paths.

Day six, we walked from Travelgue Head to Treyarnon Bay (10.5 miles). This was a hard section to walk, the weather wasn’t kind and the wind picked up. There were so many steps to climb and it seemed like we weren’t getting anywhere fast but it kept my spirits up knowing that, so far, I had walked 44 miles. Looking forward to a rest day tomorrow!

Day seven and eight, rest days and we moved our tent to a campsite in Bude.

Day nine, we walked from Treyarnon Bay to Stepper Point just past Padstow (10.5 miles). This was a lovely part to walk. It was fairly flat and the scenery was amazing. We saw quite a lot of landslides and we had to make our own path through the gorse because the coast path was too close to the edge for our liking! We found lots of little coves which could only be accessed by boat and you could see where the sea had carved caves into the cliff side. I was hoping we would see more seals but the waters were quiet.

Day ten, we walked from Padstow to Port Isaac (11.5 miles). The sunshine had brought everyone out on the beaches which meant we only met a couple of people on the coast path. The heather here was an amazing colour - all different pinks and purples - but it was hard to walk through! We dropped down into Port Isaac and wandered around the little fishing harbour. I just had to have my photo taken outside Doc Martin's house from the TV series!

Day eleven, we walked from Port Isaac to Tintagel (9 miles). This was the muddiest section. It had rained heavily in the night and the paths were really steep. Our walking boots were caked in mud so you just couldn’t get a grip - me and my mum took it in turns to slip over! Luckily, we were wearing our waterproof trousers but we did look a sight. We washed ourselves down at every stream we came to, ready for the next scramble. The scenery around Tintagel was amazing. Even though we didn’t go on the island, you could still see the old ruins and it all looked pretty big. It would have been the perfect spot for King Arthur's castle!

Day twelve, rest day.

Day thirteen, we walked from Tintagel to Crackington Haven (10.5 miles). This was another of my favourite sections to walk. We saw so many ruins scattered around the cliffs and lots of hidden coves. It was very muddy again but we managed to stay upright this time! We came across waterfalls and so many different types of styles to climb across - and lots of people! Walking was quite slow because we had to stop and wait for our turn to climb the styles. Just before we reached Boscastle, everyone seemed to disappear and it was just us again and the sea! Boscastle was a lovely little harbour town and we stopped for a well-earned ice cream before carrying on to Crackington Haven.

Day fourteen, we walked from Crackington Haven to Bude (9.5 miles). LAST DAY! We woke up in the night to severe gales and my Dad had to secure the tent to the car as we thought we would lose it! The rain was heavy and not what we hoped for on our last day’s walking. We started off late that morning, hoping the wind would die down, but it didn’t. After walking about two miles, the coastal path was taking us right on the cliff edge and the winds were very strong, so we decided to find an alternative route away from the cliffs. We ended our 100 mile coastal challenge by walking back to Bude along the road, which wasn’t the plan but the winds were so strong it just wasn’t safe on the cliffs. But WE DID IT!!! Just over 100 miles walking from St Ives to Bude.

Congratulations to Abbie - what a very great effort in such a short space of time and despite some terrible weather. Well done and good luck with the expedition next year. 
If you'd like to explore this section of the coast path, here are our holiday cottages in north cornwall