Friday, 31 January 2014

The South West's most impressive cathedrals

Even if you're not religious, stepping inside an enormous cathedral and looking up at the magnificent stained glass windows is a humbling experience.

Whether you enjoy great architecture, want a chance to take stock or to share your thoughts with God, visiting a place of worship is a an experience that every holidaymaker can appreciate. And on a holiday cottage stay in the South West you'll never be too far from one of the region's magnificent cathedrals.

Here's the lowdown on a few of the finest:

Truro Cathedral (photo 

Speaking of architecture, Truro Cathedral's is quite rare in that it is one of only three such buildings in the whole of the UK with three spires - the others being Lichfield Cathedral and St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh.

Another impressive note about this imposing building is that when work began on creating the gothic revival structure in 1880, it was the first time a cathedral had been started on a new site since Salisbury in 1220.

Truro Cathedral's open-door policy means that tourists can visit for free from 7.30am to 6pm Monday to Saturday and 9am to 5pm on Sundays. However, there is a suggested donation of £5 per adult to help with the upkeep of the building.

One of the cathedral's most popular annual events is the erection of an ice rink on the green each winter.

Exeter Cathedral

Visiting this magnificent gothic cathedral is one of the highlights of any trip to the lively city of Exeter.

Boasting the longest uninterrupted vaulted ceiling in the world and one of the South West's unique collection of 14th to 16th century astronomical clocks (there are similar designs at Salisbury, Wells, Ottery St Mary and Wimborne Minster), there's plenty to admire on a stroll around the grounds.

The cathedral is open to visitors from 9am with the last entry at 4.15pm Monday to Saturday, and from 11.30am with the last entry at 3.30pm on Sundays. Admission costs £6 for adults in order to cover the building's running costs of £1.3 million a year, but children go free.

Wells Cathedral

Regarded as arguably the most beautiful in the whole of England, Wells Cathedral has a host of highlights to amaze visitors. From the magnificent West Front, featuring 300 medieval statues, to the some of the finest examples of 14th century stained glass in Europe and, of course, an astronomical clock the building has treasures at every turn.

As at Truro, admission is free, but £6 donations are suggested to cover the £4,000 per day running costs. The cathedral is open every day of the year and free tours of the site are available all year round except on Sundays. Opening hours are 7am to 7pm between April and September and 7am to 6pm October to March.

For the chance to indulge in a period of true contemplation, visit during one of the cathedral's quiet hours between 12pm and 1pm, from April to October.

Photo Credit: Tim Green

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

We won a Feefo Gold Trusted Member Award!

We're delighted to have welcomed 2014 in great style by earning yet another accolade. Helpful Holidays has been highly Commended by Feefo, the independent consumer reviewer which provides feedback for companies which aspire for excellence by listening to their customers
We won their new customer service award, having scored 99% in the Travel category. This outstanding 99% rating means we have started 2014 on a high, being rewarded by Feefo with its Gold Trusted Member Award. 
Nick Whitfield, Feefo’s Communication Executive, praised our outstanding customer service, saying, “You have really done exceptionally well with your Feefo Service Rating, so a big well done to the whole team”.
Moray Bowater, General Manager of Helpful Holidays, said, “What a great start to 2014Feefo is recognised as an impartial consumer review site and is highly respected. Our customers are extremely important to us; we care about their views and go all-out to ensure they have happy holidays. Its good to know we are getting it right.”
Helpful Holidays offers over 600 holiday homes in Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorsetranging from romantic retreats for two to big country houses accommodating up to 47guests. The cottages are all regularly and carefully inspected and star rated by our own team so they can advise holidaymakers honestly through first-hand experience. Holidaymakers can always speak to someone who has visited any property to get detailed information which may not be covered by the website and brochure descriptions
We're always looking for beautiful properties across the West Country to join our successful portfolio! For more information, call 01647 433593 or visit

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

The Choice of Travel Awards and Top Holiday Home Owners

The go-to names in travel pick Helpful Holidays as a top self-catering provider so it’s no wonder the owners of 635 holiday cottages put their much-loved property in our care.

Which? travel named us a recommended provider after coming top in their survey for 2012 and 2013; we have won British Travel Awards for three years in a row and we took The Sunday Times 2013 travel editor’s choice award.

With so many new properties to boast alongside long-held holiday home favourites, a new colour supplement has been released. It features 43 self-catering properties, many with stunning coast or country views. These range from cosy little nooks in cobbled streets, sleeping two, to grand houses with room for 10 guests. Weekly prices range from £228 for an autumn break in South Devon for two, up to £2,212 for a stunning, contemporary seaside house called Beachwalk at Croyde, North Devon, for 10 during the peak summer season; pets are also welcome in many.

Other highlights include a recently renovated Victorian house for 10 above Dulverton on Exmoor and a large family house for nine near the south-eastern edge of Dartmoor. For smaller families there’s a pretty thatched cottage for six, also on Dartmoor, and an upside-down cottage for four with very stylish interiors in South Devon.

Everyone taking a break with Helpful Holidays will receive a free ‘What shall we do today?’ booklet containing over 80 money saving vouchers for use at a huge range of leading visitor attractions throughout the West Country. It also gives information on local farmers’ markets plus recommendations for the best beaches, coast and country walks, places to eat and quirky events.

For a copy of the new supplement and the main brochure call Helpful Holidays on 01647 434063; or search, check availability and book online at

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Travel writers pick Cornwall as top UK beach destination

Cornwall has received yet another fillip for its tourism sector after it was picked as the UK's best region for beaches by the nation's top travel writers.

More than 100 travel journalists, including Simon Calder of the Independent and adventurer Ben Fogle, were asked by 101 Holidays to pick their favourite beaches in the UK and, once the votes had been counted, Cornwall came out on top as the county with the most.

These included Watergate Bay in Cornwall, which placed fourth on the list of favourite beaches in the UK.

Cornwall's West Country neighbours also fared well in the survey, with Dorset and Devon ranked sixth and seventh respectively, as Chesil Beach made sixth on the best beach list and Bantham in Devon eighth.

It's far from the first time the South West has wiped the floor with the rest of the UK when it comes to the quality of its strips of sand.

Last year, North Devon's Woolacombe Bay and North Cornwall's Carbis Bay took first and third in the Lasting Leaf Beach of the Year competition, with Woolacombe also scooping second in the TripAdvisor Travellers' Choice Awards.

But it's not just the West Country's beaches that continue to impress, with Cornwall named Best UK Holiday County or Region at the British Travel Awards for an incredible fifth consecutive time in 2013 on the basis of its complete offering - from its rugged coastline to its wild moorland interior and its signature foods to artisan drinks.

"Cornwall manages to find a special place in the heart of anybody that visits and this award symbolises all that it great about our treasured county," commented Malcolm Bell, head of Visit Cornwall, who accepted the award.

There was also success at the ceremony for the Eden Project, which took Best Leisure Attraction for the third year in a row; the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth, which secured Silver for Best Heritage Attraction; and Looe, which was given Silver in the UK Coastal Resort category.ADNFCR-1734-ID-801679681-ADNFCR

Cornwall keeps winning praise from experts and holidaymakers alike!