Thursday, 24 April 2014

See The West Country Coast Come Alive at Regatta Time

A West Country regatta is the best way to see the dramatic coastline at its best.

The vibrant atmosphere of sailboat racing and the variety of the many supporting events for those watching from dry land are persuasive reasons to take a trip to the West Country over the coming months. Regatta season stretches across the summer but is in full swing by August.

Saltash Regatta and Waterside Festival (pictured) is a smaller affair than the grand Pendennis Cup (see below for details of this splendid competition, held earlier in the season) and it shows off the beauty of this, the first town you come to when crossing the Tamar from Devon to Cornwall. The event takes place 21st-22nd June and includes live music and pirate fancy dress.

Fowey Royal Regatta is a week-long event from 17th August. If those with land legs need convincing there is something for everyone at a regatta, point them to the crab catching competition, children’s story time and fireworks.

For a bigger event, Cornwall boasts the Pendennis Cup every two years, and 2014 is one of those years. From 26th-31st May 2014, the Cup brings an impressive array of super yachts to Falmouth, home of the National Maritime Museum Cornwall. There’ll be a very special feel to the town that week as it hosts the Fal River Festival with over 150 events varying from music & drama, the arts & heritage to gig racing, swimming, walking & lots more.

Held every year since 1773, Teignmouth Regatta takes place from the 2nd-10th August. The Teign estuary makes a stunning backdrop for water-borne activities, the surrounding rolling fields and localwildlife ensure that there’s more than just the racing to enthral the family. Alongside competitive boat races, there are some wonderful events including a children's crab catching contest at Sand Quay, kayaking and paddleboarding competitions, and a Family Fun Run.

Dartmouth Royal Regatta takes place on the River Dart every August, and boasts a plethora of rowing and sailing races. The Red Arrows put on a display as well as the Blades Aerobatic Display Team, a Battle of Britain memorial flypast and an appearance by the earth-shudderingly noisy Eurofighter Typhoon also on the programme. Some of the quirkier events include the madcap International Trolley Grand Prix. More than 100,000 people are expected to attend between the 28th and 30th, making it the second largest event of its kind after Cowes Regatta on the Isle of Wight.

Beer Regatta takes place in Lyme Bay between August 9th and 16th. Sea shanty singing, a fishing competition, the Regatta Dance, a Family Fun Day with foot races for the young and old, and even an arm wrestling competition are all part of the land-based activities while the races take over the waters.

To see our holiday cottages near each of these events go to the Helpful Holidays website or call 01647 433593.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Happy holidays for your canine companion

For most dog owners, pooch is part of the family so he should join the fun and games of your holiday - it's only fair, right? And where better than the West Country, where we have nearly 400 holiday cottages offering dogs a warm welcome?

It’s perfect dog-walking country, with miles of stunning scenery along the South West Coast Path leading to the region’s many dog-friendly beaches, where your dog can roll in the sand or splash in the surf. Inland, there are wonderful walks, long or short, to suit your dog’s appetite (or leg length) for exploring the great outdoors, with a myriad of interesting scents to sniff out across the heather-clad hills of Exmoor, Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor.

There are a huge number and variety of beaches in the West Country where dogs are very welcome; here are a few in Cornwall to whet your appetite. There’s a three-mile stretch of sand and great surfing at Whitsand Bay, one of south-east Cornwall’s finest beaches. The Times newspaper chose Mawgan Porth as one of its top ten holiday beaches, enthusing, "There are better known beaches in Cornwall, but few can match the raw beauty of Mawgan Porth, near Newquay”, and your four-legged friend is welcome there too. Q324 (pictured above) will set tails wagging...

Or, if you prefer the call of the wild, the West Country boasts some of the most beautiful walking in the country. The heather hills and tors of Bodmin, Dartmoor and Exmoor are well worth the climb when you and your dog survey the wide open spaces from ‘the top of the world’. Be king (and faithful hound) of the castle from A90.

Many 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 and Gardens all welcome well-behaved dogs, whilst Pencarrow, past winner of the ‘We are dog friendly’ award, allows dogs to bring along well-behaved owners. Come to heel at S34...

There are plenty of great spring offers at smart apartments, cosy cottages and grand houses where your pet can stretch out after a day rummaging along the hedgerows and winding lanes of the region. Take a look at our special offers page for more details.

With over 390 dog-friendly cottages to choose from throughout Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset, you really are spoilt for choice. Lots of us at Helpful Holidays are dog owners too, so do call for a chat and tips on how to make your West Country holiday with your dog the paw-fect experience.

Friday, 11 April 2014

West Country = Foodie Heaven

Picture yourself relaxing in a sunny, time-forgotten cottage garden with a glass of something chilled and sparkling from a local vineyard, looking forward to a delicious meal out. Sound tempting?

If you’re a foodie you’ll know that the West Country is well known for producing outstanding local fare. Choose from creameries, orchards, farm shops, farmers’ markets, vineyards and breweries – all within easy reach of many of our beautiful holiday cottages.

You can choose to eat out or in – buy from a farmers’ market or farm shop,
or even ‘pick your own’. Then take time to conjure your own culinary masterpiece in your comfy, well- equipped cottage. You might enjoy taking time to indulge in some professional tuition at Ashburton Cookery School and enjoy your very own Masterchef competition.

Or, be spoiled by Michelin-starred restaurants made famous by Rick Stein (Padstow), Jamie Oliver (Fifteen, Watergate Bay), Michael Caines (Gidleigh Park, Chagford), Gary Rhodes (Rhodes @ The Dome, Plymouth Hoe), Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (River Cottage Canteens, Plymouth and Axminster) and award-winners such as Noel Corston (NC@EX34, Woolacombe).

For getting out and about, there are plenty of West Country festivals and events. Exeter Festival of South West Food and Drink will make your mouth water from 25th to 27th April; Mevagissey Feast Week will be cooking up a storm from 29th June to 4th July; English Wine Week offers vineyard tours and tasting between 24th May and 1st June; and Powderham Food Festival on 4th October showcases delicious goodies.

Call 01647 434338 to make a booking or for a chat with our team, who have visited the holiday homes and will be delighted to help you.

Visit for lots more photos, helpful guest reviews and availability and to book online.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Easter Special Offers on West Country Holiday Cottages

The sense of spontaneity in booking a last minute Easter break in the West Country can make it all the more enjoyable…especially when you sign up for our special offers.

It is less than three weeks until chocolate, Easter egg hunts and traditional family time take over the UK. Take a look at this selection of holiday homes in the West Country that have special offers over Easter and the school holidays.

Take your brood to The Studio, Upottery in East Devon and they can burn off some energy – and some of their haul of chocolate eggs – in the garden. The family can polish their history, too, as this cottage is on the site of the former coach house owned by of 19th century Prime Minister Lord Sidmouth. The cottage sleeps six and you can save 20% over Easter week.

If you fancy an indoor pool, 18th century Lower Cowley Farmhouse (pictured) near the tiny Exmoor village of Parracombe also has a special offer over Easter. Set in 10 acres of grounds and comfortably accommodating 16, there’s plenty of room for family and friends to get together but still find an oasis of peace and calm. An open fire, terrace with moorland views and a grand piano as part of the furniture, this cottage is the perfect setting for an overdue catch up.

For an even bigger collection of family and friends, there is the option of Alston Hall in Battisborough Cross, a three-storey detached country residence in South Hams, which sleeps 38. There is currently an offer of 35% off a five-night stay over Easter. Alston Hall was built as a rectory and was later a country house hotel, and so includes an indoor heated swimming pool (the outdoor pool is open 24 May- 12 September). The house is a mile from the hamlet of Battisborough Cross and the sandy beach at Mothecombe. Professional catering, butler or maid service and clay pigeon shooting are available by arrangement for an extra charge.

Rawridge – another small West Country hamlet – is home to recently renovated Rose Cottage, perfect for a more intimate Easter escape. Attached to the owners’ home and B&B, the holiday home sleeps 2 but has plenty of space to include a small paved outdoor seating area and a shared garden with views across the valley. Save 20% over Easter.

To view more special offers, go to the Helpful Holidays special offers page, where there are still deals to be had on Easter week and breaks over the school holidays and beyond. You can also call us on 01647 433593. Each of our properties has been visited by one or more members of our team, so we are able to answer specific questions on them.