Wednesday, 30 January 2013

The Great South West Walk

Can you guess which one of the West Country’s top tourist attractions we’re thinking of? It generates over £300 million for the regional economy each year, but it isn’t a theme park, a building or a shopping centre, so what could it be?

Did you guess that we’re thinking of a path? If you did, well done! But this isn’t any ordinary path – the South West Coast Path is 630 miles of glorious coastline, with rich wildlife and breath-taking scenery.

Despite its huge positive financial impact on the local economy, funding for maintenance of the path in recent years has shrunk. Improvements and upgrades to the path are continually needed to make it more accessible, attractive to different users and a surface safe to walk on all year round.

Thankfully the South West Coast Path Association is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2013 by organising the Great South West Walk, raising funds to give the path some much needed tender loving care. Through individual sponsorship, grants, corporate sponsorship and matched giving, the target is to raise £250,000. 

They hope to achieve this by organising a series of half- or full-day sponsored walks, done in relay over 56 legs, to cover the entire 630 mile path around Dorset, Devon and Cornwall (as well as the entire Exmoor coast through Somerset). Each leg or walk will be guided by local experts, rangers and path wardens.

Helpful Holidays is sponsoring several legs, including:
  • Tuesday 9th April: Seatown to Lyme Regis
  • Wednesday 17th April: Torcross to Prawle Point
  • Tuesday 30th April: Padstow to Trevone
  • Tuesday 30th April: Falmouth to Maenporth

You might like to take part in one of these legs, or any of the other stretches, or perhaps several to build a walking holiday?  If so, you must register by the beginning of March.

For more information, including details about each leg of the walk and improvement projects, please visit

You can also keep up to date by following the event on Twitter:

Friday, 25 January 2013

Our 2013 charity: the Devon Air Ambulance Trust

We live and work in Devon, so when the time came to choose our charity of the year for 2013, the Devon Air Ambulance Trust seemed a natural choice. 

Each year, the Trust raises £4.5 million in funds to keep 2 helicopters flying to relieve sickness and injury across the county of Devon. The result is an outstanding, independent and efficient Air Ambulance service, available to all, 24 hours a day.

The Trust’s story starts in 1986, when 18 year old Ceri Thomas was involved in a collision whilst out on his push bike. A road ambulance took him to hospital, but sadly he died later of his injuries. Ceri’s mother Ann asked the doctors at hospital if there was anything that might have been done to save her son. She was told the quicker a patient receives emergency medical treatment, the better chance there is of survival – so, on 27th August 1992 the Devon Air Ambulance Service went into operation.

We've first hand experience of the Trust’s excellent work. We're based on Dartmoor and no less than three of our members of staff have been airlifted so it is a charity that is very close to our hearts. You never think you will need the Air Ambulances yourself but, when you do, it is so reassuring to know that they are there. We live and work in a beautiful but remote part of the county and the speed with which the helicopters and medical crew can reach us really does make a difference.

The pilots are highly experienced, usually with a military or service background. Paramedics are employed by the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust and seconded to the Air Ambulance. They undergo extensive training on navigation and safety skills prior to becoming aircrew, with regular refresher courses as well as continuing professional and clinical development.  This training is supported by the charity.

A small team works behind the scenes at the charity's office in Exeter and its network of charity shops across the county. Volunteers are also essential to the Trust through their contribution to fundraising, community involvement, public relations, administration, practical support and campaigning.

We hope you'll help us spread the word about this wonderful charity and the excellent work it does. We'll keep you updated on our fundraising efforts during 2013.

If you’d like to make a donation, visit at any time or you can also make a contribution when you book a holiday through Helpful Holidays.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

An eventful year in store

You can always be sure of a chock-full events calendar in the West Country – handy for filling your holidays with interesting experiences and happy memories. Here are a few to consider for the coming months:

Held on 4th February, the St Ives Feast is an ancient tradition that offers a rare chance to watch the game of “Hurling the Silver Ball”, a centuries’ old form of rugby. Take a ring-side seat near the beach and cheer for your favourite team, some of whom dive into the chilly sea to escape with the ball - made of apple wood coated in silver.

We are pleased to be sponsoring Chagword, Chagford’s literary festival held in Chagford from 15th-17th March. Top authors AL Kennedy, Kathy Lette and Kate Mosse are set to appear at the festival, so if you are a keen bookworm you won’t want to miss this! We’ll be covering the festival on this blog in more detail over the coming weeks.

From 14th-24th March, Falmouth Spring Festival celebrates Falmouth's beautiful open and green spaces. With guided walks and talks, garden spring clean events, Gardeners' Question Time and a Spring Fair, there’s plenty to get involved in. If you’re into keeping fit, join in with the largest open air Zumba event ever held in Cornwall!

Trereife House is hosting its fourth Easter Bank Holiday Food and Craft Fair weekend from 29th March – 1st April. The fair, held at this historic Queen Anne manor house kicks off with a series of cookery demonstrations, craft demonstrations and a programme of entertainment. Bring your appetite, as this event attracts some of the finest local food producers including Worthy Farm Cheeses, fish sales from ‘Cornish Smokies’, and locally produced beer, cider and wine. Bring the kids too - Trereife’s Grand Easter Egg Hunt takes place within the woods and around the walled garden.

Many other events can also be found on our ‘Explore the Area’ website map, available on all our property pages on our website. You can also use the Advanced Search function on our website to see which of our cottages are near to your chosen event. And of course you can always call us for human help on 01647 433593.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

25 delightful new holiday homes for 2013...

We recently mailed out our first supplement for 2013, with 25 new holiday homes for you to choose from in our growing collection of special places to stay in the beautiful West Country.

Here are a few to whet your appetite:

A few yards from the pub in Noss Mayo, on a lane that winds beside the river and through National Trust woodland to the coast path, is Pink Cottage. This pretty, colour-washed, 18th century Grade II listed cottage is in a handy spot for pubs, walking and river activities and enjoys pleasant views over the creek. Sleeps 5, no pets. 

Crooked Chimney Cottage is located 50 yards from the bridge and riverside village green in Altarnun. This Grade II listed, granite-built cottage sits prettily, end-of-row in a small terrace with a burbling mill leat passing the front door. In a sheltered valley on the north-eastern edge of Bodmin Moor, this is great a base for exploring moors or dramatic coastline. Sleeps 5, pets welcome.

In the tiny hamlet of Cross Green, 3 miles north of Lifton and just 2 miles from the A30 in beautiful, unspoilt farmland is Jane's Place, a recently renovated cottage. You are welcome to explore the owners’ beautiful large garden that leads down to a big pond, woods and 21 acres of farmland to wander. There's plenty of storage space for your bicycles, golf equipment and surfboards, so make the most of this brilliantly accessible and welcoming spot - great for exploring both the coast and moor. Sleeps 5, pets welcome.

Pittards Farm Cottage is neat, detached, red brick and hamstone cottage, thoughtfully converted from former stable buildings with big arched windows and beams remaining. Around a mile from South Petherton in the smaller village of East Lambrook, this is a stylishly done, comfortable base, well placed for numerous houses, gardens and churches of great interest. Sleeps 2, no pets or children, except pre-crawling babies.

Take a look through the supplement, which can be viewed on our website here, or use the Advanced Search function on our website to see which of our cottages best suits you. And of course you can always call us for human help on 01647 433593.

Short on time? Don’t forget, if you can’t get away for a full week between November and the week before Easter (excluding school holidays), you can book a three or four night break, whilst some properties also offer a  two night weekend booking (with 6pm check out on the last day). Two night breaks can only be booked within 28 days of departure.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Huge holiday homes for large groups - the big attraction

Sheafhayne, Yarcombe, East Devon

A growing trend for large group holidays is making our big holiday houses more popular than ever, with many of our customers finding that clubbing together with your nearest and dearest means that you don't need to wait for a special celebration to spend a fun, sociable week in grand surroundings. 

Some of our large holiday homes are indeed very grand, and you really can become lords of the manor for a week. For instance, you could take over Sir Francis Drake’s shooting lodge (Sheafhayne), or stroll around the 'Court of the Sovereigns' (at Cadhay).

Lamellen House, St Tudy, North Cornwall
Many also offer large, private gardens, many with acres of beautiful countryside, within which you are free to roam. For instance Lamellen House has 18 acres of woodland gardens and grounds with a well-known collection of camellia, rhododendron, magnolia, conifer and many other species of plants and trees, while Rashleighayes is set on a 150 acre working farm.

These big houses offer much more than grand surroundings, however. Parnacott House has everything you need to keep the family occupied: TV/DVD, toys, dressing-up boxes, puppet theatre, children’s videos, PlayStation 2, Wii and a snooker table.

Blagdon Manor, Collaton St Mary, Devon
Often one of the benefits of booking a big holiday house is the luxury of a swimming pool - you'll find a fine outdoor pool at Blagdon Manor and indoor pool at Western House. Or, if lounging decadently in a hot tub is more your style, try The Barn or Brimpts Barn.

Take a look through our 2013 Big Houses Brochure, or use the Advanced Search function on our website to see which of our big houses best suits your family and friends. And of course you can always call us for human help on 01647 433593.